Originally posted on October 03, 2009
On Men’s News DailyPaul Elam posted about Joe Biden and VAWA. The post included a portion in which Biden described being physically abused by his sister. In his words ““In my house, being raised with a sister and three brothers, there was an absolute. It was a nuclear sanction, if under any circumstances, for any reason -even self defense- you ever touched your sister, not figuratively, literally.”
As I said to Angry Harry, when I read Biden’s description of what happened, it sounds like Biden is fully aware that what his sister did was wrong and horrible, but it also sounds like he wants to maintain the structure he grew up with because that is what he learned. Biden may have simply come to accept what happened and learned to cope with it as best he could by adopting the rules he was taught as hard-fast truths.
Learning to accept it was not an easy thing. The problem in my situation was not necessarily the difficulty of believing what I was told. I had no other point of reference, so there was no reason for me to challenge the family dynamic. The problem was that doing what I was asked to do was in and of itself difficult.
Not speaking about it with anyone was the easiest part. I assumed everyone did the things my siblings and I did, therefore there was little reason to talk about it with others. It was not until I was older that I realized what occurred in my family was uncommon, but by that point I was used to it and I sincerely believed the threats that were made. I did not want my brothers or cousins to be hurt, so I kept it to myself.
Not crying or shouting was more difficult. It is not an easy thing to do to. I suppose it is like other bodily functions. Those reactions are something the body does all on its own. Trying not to cry was like trying not to breathe. Eventually I managed to stop crying, although not completely. Occasionally my eyes would still water, but not enough for any tears to fall. Keeping quiet was a different matter. It took some time before I could manage it, and certain things would make me whimper or yelp no matter what. However, it turned out not to matter much because once I could take it eventually someone would try to make me cry or scream. Whatever was being done would continue until I stopped whining about it and a little longer to make sure it was not just a momentary thing.
The sex occurred every day. I preferred it be done to me than the others, but I did not enjoy it. I disliked that my body would not listen to me. It would do or feel whatever it wanted and it made me feel disgusting. Still, I could deal with doing those things as long as I did not have an orgasm. I hated it. It was something completely out of my control. I would try to stop it, to “hold” it back, but typically did not work and when I got older it simply made for a bigger mess and more intense sensation. I particularly hated when it occurred without any direct contact. It was the most inhuman feeling to do it from being penetrated because I could actually feel the physical loss of control.
Being with a woman was completely different than being with a man. I was unaware of what female bodies looked like or what they did, so when it began everything about a woman’s body disgusted me. I did not like performing the acts, especially nothing oral. What I hated the most was the difference in the sexual limits. A man would ejaculate and that would generally be the end of it. A woman could go somewhat longer, especially if the acts were being done to me. The other difference was that a man were more upfront about it while a woman tried to disguise it. It was not such much that I did not know what was coming, but that it was presented in a very neutral “it’s what you really want” kind of way. The presentation was motherly or womanly to such a point that there was no difference between the mannerisms that lead to the sex and the way women or mothers generally behave. When it became violent, it was much worse physically with a woman, especially if the acts were being done to me because objects were involved.
There were many rules about using the bathroom, taking food from the kitchen, using the phone, turning on the television, playing inside or outside, wearing clothes, how to speak, where to sleep and with whom and so on. After a while, it all became normal. It was simply the way things were. Even once I learned that other families were not like my own, I still accepted what I had been presented as completely reasonable. The only thing I rejected was doing the same things to my children or any other children.
It was not until I was out of that situation, put some distance between it and saw what a normal family looked like that I began to honestly question the situation I grew up in. Certain things still linger, particularly as it relates to discussing family matters with outsiders and a general wariness about rules adults have for children. And while I do not think anyone will ever completely unlearn something they spent half their life participating in, I do think that anything a person learned to accept can be unlearned to a great extent. It may take being confronted with how distorted one’s situation was, but I do think it is possible. So there may yet be hope for people like Biden who have come to accept the abusive situations they grew up in as the way things ought to be.