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The Voice of the Sexually Abused

I was browsing Gizmodo the other day and I came upon Joel Johnson‘s withering rant about stupid internet commenters. The whole thing is worth reading in its entirety, and it’s basically the exact same philosophy I subscribe to for /Film: “Despite what you may have heard, the internet website you read does not belong to you. You should treat it like a person’s living room and you are a guest.” (hat-tip to CHUD for that last part). The average netizen does not seem to grasp this fundamental rule of etiquette.

While reading Joel’s article, one passage caught my eye:

So I was raped when I was a kid by a parent and I wrote about it. In case you’re wondering: It fucking sucked, but I’m much better, thank you. But when I got into a scuffle with some commenters last week they decided to take something I’d written about that experience and use it to suggest to Brian Lam that I have anger issues. They were concerned for me, you see. They suggested therapy for my unresolved issues. I do have anger issues, you dumb, cruel,, entitled, tunneled vision shit eaters. My anger issues are with you, because you are so foul, so unable to use the internet as a thoroughfare for human compassion or—Christ—even just a civil conversation. It’s so far beyond your comprehension that perhaps you are rude or simply wrong that you’d dredge up something that has absolutely no bearing on—wait for it—arguments about gadgets.

It’s reprehensible that people would use Joel’s past of sexual abuse against him on a blog about consumer electronics, but unfortunately, it’s unsurprising. Nonetheless, I was impressed with Joel’s forthcoming nature. Anytime someone speaks about a history of sexual abuse and puts it out there for the world to see, it is an undeniable act of courage.

I sought out Joel’s original post found it on his blog. It took my breath away with its frank account of abuse, and the panoply of emotions that result from it. Joel’s prose feels effortless and has a momentum to it that makes it impossible to stop reading.

I was particularly troubled by the ways in which religion is used as a weapon of the abuser. Truly a horrifying perversion of Christianity.

Once Glen came barging into my room, furious. “You’re messing with me,” he said. I had no idea what he was talking about. “You’re leaving cum in the toilet for me to find. Why are you messing with me? This is hard enough for me without you trying to make it worse.” In fact, I’d stopped masturbating for weeks at a time, trying to keep any thoughts of women out of my mind entirely, as we were taught over and again by pastors that even thinking about sex was as bad as actually having it. And masturbating? It might be okay, I once heard a pastor opine, if one could do it without thinking any sexual thoughts. But we were told: why take the risk? Instead I would hold out for as long as I could until, usually in the shower, I’d be unable to stop myself. Before the orgasm had even left my body I would begin to pray: I’m sorry, Jesus. I’m so sorry. This is the last time. Never again.

It is one of the most powerful things I’ve read this week. Hell, this month. Bravo to Joel for putting it out there and for giving voice to those who have no one to speak for them. Read the whole thing here.