When sex and love are not one and the same

A heart-breaking work of staggering honesty: Sins of My Faith. In this Soul’s Code exclusive, a woman who lost her innocence to incest explains why she did not “out” her abuser

sinsofmyfaith_finalcover72-5x71BY MARINA GIULLIANI: It’s commonly understood that incest refers to “sexual acts between close relatives”, but I know from first-hand experience that incest is a heinous act that no dictionary definition could possibly prepare you for.

Fondled by a respected member of our family, from the time I was much too young to know what havoc the guilt of sexual pleasure would bestow on my future, I lost my innocence to incest.

At one time I would have agreed with those who claim that rape is a far more serious abuse than touching. But now that I’ve put all the pieces together, it’s apparent that my subconscious made no such distinction.

My abuser was loving, fun and endlessly funny. I adored him, and I delighted in the extra attention he gave me because where he touched me made me feel good all over. As I grew older and learned more about what was appropriate when it came to personal boundaries, whenever his “indiscretions” crossed my mind, I suppressed them — trusting that he could never have meant to do what his actions implied. I could not possibly consider it to be abuse.There was too much pleasure.

sexandlove1This ugly, guilty pleasure is something I sought out in every relationship that followed, from the schoolyard to the business world.

What transpired after many years of loveless unions meant, that for me, sex and love could not be part of the same relationship.

Why I continue to guard my secret

I believe what occurs in our lives does not happen by accident or coincidence. I feel strongly that not realizing the full extent of what happened and why, until after my father died, meant that I was not intended to expose the perpetrator. My Dad would have been devastated — and since this man isn’t with us any longer, no other child requires protection from his actions.

I’ve chosen to publish under an alias so his (the abuser’s) only living child, now over 80 years old, will not have to endure the pain of knowing his father was a sexual predator. Keeping silent means the rest our family can continue to remember him for the things they choose, and none of them will suffer anxiety from not coming to my rescue when it happened.

Most importantly, an alias means that part of my life is truly over. A very angry woman wrote this book eight years ago. Reviewing it now, I hear the language of a fearful and confused little girl. As I’ve healed, the anger and fear have fallen away, and the person I’ve become is free to move on.

However, throughout the extensive healing work I’ve done, no source has ever explained that sexual pleasure at such an impressionable age wreaks the same emotional anguish as sexual pain. The purpose of this book is to bring the effects of this type of abuse to the forefront so other women recognize what has happened to them and will seek help. The only credentials I bring to this subject are my personal experiences and I offer them with love.

I seemed to have everything, yet was never satisfied

love1Mine was a regular childhood in an upper-middle-class family, the product of Italian Catholic heritage, and third generation Canadian. I had everything I needed and almost everything I wanted. I was totally spoiled without being spoiled rotten. Like most kids from my generation, I was polite when mom and dad were around and a complete brat when they weren’t.

I had a mean streak a mile-wide, and could be the sweetest child you’d ever want to meet. But whatever the situation, my tongue never stopped wagging. That said, I can’t believe I’ve kept my secret this long.

My parents did all the right things. Dad never ran around with other women. He worked hard, and even though neither of my parents were inclined to “keep up with the Jones’,” mom held a job to supplement the head of the household’s income.

They learned to be parents together, providing love, comfort and joy the best way they knew how.

And they always supported each other’s decisions with key messages like: “What did your mother/father say?”

Mom and dad did their best to encourage my older sister Angie and me, even when their best advice was, “perhaps you should take a secretarial course just so you have something to fall back on.” They were supported by, and trusted their Catholic beliefs.

Though the successes in my life have been abundant, I’d never felt truly satisfied. Mom and Dad gave me a solid start. I have an incredibly-loving husband, a house in the country and loyal friends.

I’ve had bigger jobs, better pay and plenty of responsibility that I’d carried with ease. I’d been riding the roller coaster of “when will I ever feel fulfilled,” for as long as I could remember.

But there was no evidence in my life that pointed to the cause of this discontent, until after my father fell ill with cancer, and died nine months later.

Read part two: My first taste of control came in my grandfather’s lap.

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10 Responses to “When sex and love are not one and the same”

  1. Thank you Marina for sharing your experiences. I’m looking forward to reading the rest of your series. I think that incest is more prevalent in our society than we realize and like you make clear in your article there are varying shades of abuse, but the outcome is still devastating.

    It is interesting that Hollywood has finally broached the subject by producing the movie Precious. I just finished reading the book by Sapphire and it’s gut-wrenching.

    Have you read the book or seen the movie? Did it resonate in any way with you and your experiences?

  2. Hello Sarah ~
    I’ve chosen not to see Precious (as yet, I still may) and I have not read Sapphire as I my journey with incest ended after I really finished writing the book. I started it in 2000 and didn’t REALLY finish it until 2009. During that time I was glued to any and every talk show or story that discussed the topic as I was looking for answers. I’ve forgiven and don’t believe it would be healthy for me (or in my opinion anyone else) to relive those emotions over and over. Our pain bodies just love dragging us through the mud!
    Forgiveness is the key to freeing ourselves from all of it so we can only come to terms with what’s happened in our own time and our own way. Everyone deals with it differently.
    I’ve shared my story, as it doesn’t dwell on the actual act, but on the effects on our Spirit.
    Thanks for your comments. I really appreciate the feedback.
    ~ Marina

  3. Awesome. Thank you so much for sharing. As a childhood sexual abuse survivor, I know how difficult AND important it is to share our inner discoveries, recoveries, revelations, and trials. Bless you, Marina!

  4. Jeri ReikiLady - Van Dyke Reply 22. Feb, 2010 at 8:34 pm

    I’ve been there.. Can’t tell you how many times I sat in parents bathroom and wanted to off my abuser who was 10 years older than I was and was a half brother.. But, Divine love, forgiveness and no judgement. I can say now he’s ill and needs help. I have let go.. I have forgiven myself, learned to love myself and know I AM one with God.

  5. Marina,thank-you for sharing your journey with such honesty and courage. I am sure this is part of the healing process for you, even with a psuedonom.
    Although there was a time about 10 years ago when it was quite fashionable to ‘confront’ one’s abuser, and family members in denial, it often had devastating consequences. The response is usually not favourable, the accuser is usually ostracised and believed to be a liar, or trying to get attention.
    Which increases the sense of not being seen, heard or validated, not to mention deserving of love.

    The decision to bring it out or not, is a personal choice, and one that should be discussed in full with a professional that is trusted.

    There are many books in the UK, such as ‘Breaking Free: Help for Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse (Insight) by Carolyn Ainscough and Kay Toon (Paperback – 14 April 2000) … which go into depth as to the emotional scarring of sexual abuse. It is said 1 in 4 children have experienced some sort of abuse. So we still need to hear all about this malignant cancer, because it may be happening right in our own families.

    There are many new healing modalities, that can help release this trauma from the body/mind, so that survivors may move on and begin to enjoy a true sense of joy and fulfillment, without feeling they are scarred or ‘used goods’ And without needing to relive or re-experience the situation.

    Shamanic Soul Retrieval and also EFT with a properly trained speicalist is one option, that has been very useful in healing the inner child, who is still suffering from having so many boundaries transgressed and invaded.

    I look forward to the next installment, and know that this is a good work you are offering the world. I applaud your decision to go about this, in the way that was best for you!

  6. Thank you Soul’s Code for publishing this article…a topic that needs to be broadcasted.

  7. Men *can* stop rape and incest. Any courageous men like to comment?

  8. Namaste, Marina
    Thank you.
    Anam Cara,

  9. all people need to stop abusing children (and each other) not just men. lately there have been a rash of female school teachers seducing 13 and 14 year old boys. many people think this is joke, well, it is abuse the same way as if a male teacher seduces a nubile 14 year old girl.

    power does seem to corrupt in so many sick ways.

  10. Brava! Well done!

    I am astounded by the clarity of emotion with which you presented your life. The madness, the frenzy, the compensating, the perpetuating and the distancing. These are often the pieces women don’t understand as they move through these experiences but until they do can’t move into healing.

    Although I admire your openness and candidness, I am deeply appreciative for the clarity of revelation that appears randomly and spontaneously. There is wisdom and compassion in your understanding of your journey. These are keystones that show just how far you’ve come on your healing journey. It’s one thing to survive, it’s another to thrive as you grow beyond. Too many people try to do the impossible; forget. You’ve shown us how healing not only happens in the remembering, but by using the strengths of the woman you are in the now to embrace the the life of the child self as a valuable source of power for the woman you’ve grown to be.

    Talk about a life well lived;even though you told us you were in a dazy haze most of the time back then, you still made every minute count to the whole of your life – a true pleasure knowing you! Thanks for sharing and letting us experience your courage.