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My grandfather was a pillar of the community and beloved by his family. He was also sexually abusive. He died when I was a child. I remember only one incident happening to me—during a cuddle session, he encouraged me to put my mouth on his penis, and then told me to let it be our little secret.

I heard rumors as an adult that he molested other kids in the neighborhood. He also had a sexual relationship with my mother. She says nothing happened as a child. But as an adult, he started telling her he loved her in a romantic way. He told her he wanted to take nude Polaroids of her, and she let him. And she loved him—she and her sisters all pretty much idolized him. My one aunt knew (she said nothing happened to her), and I asked her how she reconciled that. She said she compartmentalized it—she thought he was a wonderful father and didn’t really think about the other stuff.

I did lots of therapy in the late 1980s and early ’90s. I read books; I journaled; I talked to my mom and tried to understand what she experienced. And I moved on as much as anyone could.

So now it’s 2019, and I’m almost 50. My mom just moved into a nursing home, and while cleaning out her drawers, I found the Polaroids my grandfather took of her. I know it was him, because he is in some of them, taken into a mirror as she goes down on him. They were taken over a period of years. She had led me to believe he never really did anything sexual with her besides taking photos. But he did. And here’s the thing, Dan: In the photos, she looks happy. I know she was probably acting, because that’s what he wanted from her. But it just makes me question my assumptions. Was it terrible abuse or forbidden love? Both? What am I looking at? What would I prefer—that she enjoyed it or that she didn’t? She kept the photos. Were they fond memories? I know she loved him. She kind of fell apart when he died. Was he a fucking manipulator who had a gift for making his victims feel loved and special as he exploited them for his own selfish needs?

I don’t know if I’m going to bring this up with my mom. She’s old and sick, and I dragged her through these types of conversations in my 20s. So I’m writing you. This is so far out of most people’s experience, and I want someone who has heard more sexual secrets than probably anyone else in the world to tell me what he thinks.

Whirlwind Of Emotions

I think you should sit down and watch all four hours of Leaving Neverland, the new HBO documentary by British filmmaker Dan Reed. It focuses on the experiences of Wade Robson and James Safechuck, two now-adult men who were sexually abused by pop star Michael Jackson when they were boys. Allegedly. It’s an important film to watch, WOE, but it’s not an easy one to watch, as it includes graphic descriptions of the sexual abuse both men claim to have suffered as boys.

The second-most-disturbing part of the film after the graphic descriptions of child rape—or the third-most-disturbing part after the credulity/culpability of Robson’s and Safechuck’s parents—may be what the men have to say about Jackson: Both describe their abuser in romantic terms. They both say they loved Jackson. And they both remain deeply conflicted about their feelings for Jackson then and their feelings for him now. It was their affection for Jackson—their desire to protect him and to safeguard what Jackson convinced them was a secret and a bond they shared—that led both men to lie to law-enforcement officials when Jackson was accused of sexually abusing different boys.

You should also listen to Reed’s interview on The Gist, Mike Pesca’s terrific daily podcast. Reading your letter the morning after I watched Leaving Neverland reminded me of something Reed said to Pesca: “What the film is about is the reckoning. It’s two families coming to terms with what happened to their sons. And a big part of understanding that, you know, (is)—so why the silence? Why did the sons keep silent for so long? Why did they keep the secret? And the key really is to be able to explain why Wade gave false witness and perjured himself on the witness stand. And the reason for that, of course, has to do with how survivors of sexual abuse experience that. And how they keep a secret, and how they sometimes form deep attachments with the abuser, and how that attachment persists into adult life.”

Your mother, like Robson and Safechuck, lied to protect her abuser, a man who abused her and abused you and probably many others. She may have held on to those photos for the same reason Robson and Safechuck say they defended Jackson: She loved her father, and she was so damaged by what he did to her—she had been so expertly groomed by her abuser—that she felt “loved” and “special” in the same way that Jackson’s alleged abuse once made Robson and Safechuck feel loved and special. So as horrifying as it is to contemplate, WOE, your mother may have held on to those photos because they do represent what are, for her, “fond memories.” And while it would be a comfort to think she held on to those photos as proof for family members who doubted her story if she ever decided to tell the truth, her past defenses of her father work against that explanation.

Leaving Neverland demonstrates that sexual abuse plants a ticking time bomb inside a person—shit, sorry, no passive language. Leaving Neverland demonstrates that sexual predators like your grandfather and like Jackson—fucking manipulators with a gift for making their victims feel loved and special—plant ticking time bombs in their victims. Even if a victim doesn’t initially experience their abuse as a violation and as violence, WOE, a reckoning almost inevitably comes. One day, the full horror of what was done to them snaps into focus. These reckonings can shatter lives, relationships and souls.

It doesn’t sound like your mother ever had her reckoning—that day never came for her—and so she never came to grips with what was done to her and, tragically, what was done to you. And your aunt wasn’t the only member of your family who “didn’t really think about the other stuff.” Just as denial and compartmentalization enabled Jackson and facilitated his crimes (and allowed the world to enjoy Jackson’s music despite what was staring us all in the face), denial and compartmentalization allowed your “pillar of the community” grandfather to rape his daughter, his granddaughter and scores of other children. Like Robson and Safechuck, WOE, you have a right to be angry with the adults in your family who failed to protect you from a known predator. That some of them were also his victims provides context, but it does not exonerate them.

I’m glad your grandfather died when you were young. It’s tempting to wish he’d never been born, WOE, but then you would never have been born, and I’m glad you’re here. I’m particularly glad you’re there, right now, embedded in your damaged and damaging family. By telling the truth, you’re shattering the silence that allowed an abuser to groom and prey on children across multiple generations of your family. Your grandfather can’t victimize anyone else, WOE, but by speaking up—by refusing to look the other way—you’ve made it harder for other predators to get away with what your grandfather did.

P.S. There’s a moment in the credits for Leaving Neverland that I think you might want to replicate. It involves some things one of Jackson’s alleged victims saved, and a fire pit. You’ll know what I mean when you see it.

On the Lovecast: Yikes! It’s the trigger show. Listen at savagelovecast.com.

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Published in Savage Love

The sexual molestation began when she was 6. By 11, she was being raped. Her mother was largely absent; she was unsure who her father was; her 80-plus-year-old grandmother did her best to raise three grandchildren on Social Security. Their home was strictly Catholic, in a low-income, predominantly Hispanic community in San Diego.

“My mother ended up on her own with three children, perhaps from different fathers,” Borges says. “She had been the baby of her very large family, so my aunts or uncles were all much older with their own families. She left us with my grandmother. At one point, she returned to take my middle brother, leaving my oldest brother and me with Grandma.”

Borges’ oldest brother was a teenager. His sexual behavior toward her began when she was 6 and continued, including rape starting at 11, until she left for college at 17.

“My grandmother went to church almost every day,” Borges says. “She ruled with a heavy hand, but she didn’t know what was going in her own household. We knew that what happened at home stayed at home. Period.”

Borges never told anyone.

“I know I never felt guilty, but I was extremely introverted, and I looked so sad,” she says. “I was also very bright, and I escaped by spending lots of time at the library, looking for my way out. I had tested as gifted at a young age, so I had teachers—very strong female teachers—who opened doors for me. They taught me to think, to use those muscles, to read poetry, and that if I continued studying hard, today would just be the tip of the iceberg—that there was a big future out there for me.”

In 1997, Borges started a career in law enforcement as a correctional officer working in a protective-custody unit.

“I was around rapists and child molesters, and I began to read files about those crimes, and domestic violence, assaults, murders,” Borges says. “I became really good at figuring out the thought process of molesters—the components and characteristics. I thought about becoming a detective, but I was already a single mom, with a young son, who was hardly ever home. All he had was me. After 10 years in corrections, I opened my own business here in the desert.”

It took Borges 11 years to complete her college degree, with a double major in anthropology and theology from University of San Diego. She went on to earn a master’s degree in theology in 2000, at Princeton Theological Seminary, and a doctorate from the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality in San Francisco. She published her first book, Left Vulnerable, in 2017.

“Although I originally studied anthropology and culture, I pursued theology because it was interesting to me,” she says. “When you’re raised religious and sexually assaulted, you do ask, ‘Why would God let this happen to me?’ It can bring extraordinary recklessness to your life. I had walked that fine line.”

Borges, 49 and a resident of Palm Desert, counsels clients (non-licensed), particularly those who have been in traumatic situations. She also gives public presentations and preaches forgiveness.

“People ask me all the time, ‘How did you learn to forgive?’ I use empathy. I put myself in someone else’s shoes,” she says.

“My brother was only 15 when the molestation started. Our mother was basically absent. My grandmother was over 80, and he was her favorite. He had to quit playing baseball, which he loved, to go to work part-time while in school. His financial contribution made a big difference. How awful that must have been for him.

“People can act super-aggressive when they’re fearful. We default to anger and acting out. It takes a lot more effort to be kind and loving and understanding—and forgiving. As a society, with social media and the news, stories about love and generosity are few and far between. I do believe I see a shift, that people are seeing the need for kindness, and compassion. I think the pendulum is coming back in that direction.

“I get to talk to teachers and students about seeking out and learning how to forgive. It can help for handling volatile situations. Any healthy relationship is about empathy, understanding and tolerance.”

Borges’ son, 21, attends college in San Francisco, studying business and finance.

“I had to work to get through college, so I made sure my son got into college,” she says. “In a way, my mother was a very strong influence on me. When I got pregnant in my mid-20s, I decided to raise him on my own. He has always been very supportive of what I do, and believes that these discussions are necessary in order to lessen sexual assaults and keep the lines of communications open. He really pushes me to seek out speaking engagements. He feels that so much about sexual assault is hidden, and until we are comfortable discussing the topic, it runs the risk of staying hidden. I’m extremely blessed to be his mom.

“I think about how happy we are at times like Christmas, based on people giving to each other with love. I’ve learned it takes a very gentle person to be strong.”

Borges is currently in a 4-year relationship with a woman.

“I never realized I was gay until the first time I was asked out by a woman,” she says. “I didn’t see how that would work. Well, I never went back to dating men after that!”

 Borges’ current venture is her FWord Project.

“I want to collect stories about forgiveness—two or three paragraphs about a time you forgave, or someone forgave you, or things that are unforgivable. I want everything from Holocaust survivors to those in every walk of life. The goal is to incorporate all the stories about how we do or do not forgive. I want to get stories from all over the world to see if other countries are different in the ways they forgive. If we’re aware of stories about forgiveness in others, we can perhaps not fall back into the negative. It’s about coming to the table with love and understanding. I ask people, ‘What do you have to lose by reaching out?’ We have to move past things to get on with our lives, to reach the point where we ask ourselves, ‘Why didn’t I do that sooner?’

“I plan to collect the stories and pictures and publish them all online. People can submit stories or get more information at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..”

Danitza Borges has found peace despite circumstances that could easily have destroyed her. She has dedicated her life to helping others find the strength to forgive as she did.

“Knowing others’ experience can move us toward being able to learn forgiveness,” she says. “It’s hard work, but what we search for, we can find.”

Anita Rufus is also known as “The Lovable Liberal.” Her show That’s Life airs Tuesday-Friday from 11 a.m. to noon on iHubradio, while The Lovable Liberal airs from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturdays. Email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Know Your Neighbors appears every other Wednesday.

Published in Know Your Neighbors

The last two years have been like a horror movie playing out in super-slow motion. Even though progressives made some fantastic gains on Election Day, I find myself exhausted and sad. And ever since Brett Kavanaugh, it’s gotten worse.

I've stopped watching the news—any news. However, I still scroll through comment sections on Facebook, and I hear conversations in bars, at the grocery store, at the office … and I am horrified, because now we are talking about rape—specifically, rape in the 1980s.

Things were a lot different in the ’80s. We were taught through film, TV and books that rape was something that happened to you in a dark alley, or at a rest stop, or in a parking lot, usually late at night, by a total stranger (often black). We were taught that good girls didn’t get drunk, didn’t dress provocatively, didn’t go out alone, and never brought men back to their homes—because that was “leading him on,” and if something happened, we were “asking for it.” It wasn’t until later in the decade that we started to discuss what we called “date rape.” I’m not sure why we had to qualify it with the word ”date” to separate it from “real” rape.

I was 19, with an infant child, working as a cocktail waitress in a busy nightclub. He was tall with blue eyes and adorable blond curls. He came in a few times and eventually asked me out on a date.

I said yes. I got dressed up—a black mini-skirt with ruffles, spike heels and a leopard-print blouse. We went to the club where I worked, and we had a lot of drinks. We danced a little … and he was so attractive.

He took me back to his house. We smoked pot and drank some more, before he offered to drive me back to my apartment. Once there, I invited him in.

Yes … I invited him in. I was attracted to him. I wanted the night to continue, and if I am being completely honest, I have to admit I was considering getting intimate with him.

I was not given a choice.

We sat on my couch, and he started kissing me hard—too hard. I tried to pull back, but he had my head in a vise-like grip. He forced his tongue down my throat … and I knew. Before he pushed me down, I knew. I put my hand on his chest and tried to push him away, but he was strong and determined. I decided not to push very hard, because I was afraid he would make it worse if I did.

I had an out-of-body experience. I could see him on top of me, as if I was looking down from the ceiling. Thankfully, it was over very quickly. He came, got up and pulled up his pants. He kissed me on the forehead, told me he’d had a great time and walked out my front door. I heard him drive away.

I lay there for a long time, paralyzed. I took that famous scalding hot bath, and I cried dry, wracking tears until the tub got cold. All those warnings I’d heard came back to me: Why hadn’t I listened? I was stupid and foolish.

I was never going to tell anybody what I had “let” happen. We whispered about those girls. “She was raped” somehow meant she was tainted, ruined. We thought of her as dirty and slutty—completely deserving of her fate: “Well she should have KNOWN better.”

We didn't report our rapes in the ’80s. To report meant being labeled as a slut, as damaged, as dirty. To report meant getting essentially raped again in an emergency room, by a doctor collecting “evidence.” Reporting meant going to court to get emotionally raped by your rapist’s lawyer and possibly the judge. To report meant everybody knew and whispered behind your back. To report was the equivalent of putting yourself on trial for the crime of being raped.

I was in denial. I prayed no one would ever find out. I started to have the nightmares. I was walking down the street in broad daylight, and I would see him. He was always wearing all-black, always silent. He would see me, and I would try to run, but my legs wouldn’t move, and he would catch up to me, push me down and rape me right there on the sidewalk. The street was typically one from my childhood, a street I had taken on walks home from school. The rape was always much more physically violent than the one I had experienced.

Depression and a suicide attempt followed. I was in a locked ward for eight weeks for my own protection.

It came out during a therapy session. My therapist looked at me with such compassion, and said, ”Honey, you were raped. You were raped, and it wasn’t your fault.” This simple statement rocked my world. The dreams disappeared, and I stopped blaming myself for what happened. But I still felt tainted, soiled. I am one of tens of millions of women who had this experience.

Years went by; decades went by. Today, I don’t often think about the time I was raped—or at least I didn’t until the Supreme Court hearings.

Tens of millions of women, like me, have been triggered. Millennial women are crying out #metoo. Even some men are now revealing the truth about the rapes they have experienced. This can lead to anxiety, depression, a return of nightmares, and reliving the rapes.

Those of us going through this need compassion, nurturing and unconditional love. Please believe us when we tell our stories, even if we can’t remember the details, dates and names. Please reassure us that we are not ruined, not dirty. Remind us that it wasn’t our fault. We need you right now. We need men to believe us, to show us that not all men are violent. We need to heal from the freshly re-opened wounds we are experiencing; whether you thought Ms. Ford was telling the truth is not the issue. Rape is the issue.

The time has come to change the language we use. We used to say, “No means NO.” Now we must learn to say, “Only yes means yes.”

I left my rape behind for 30 years. I’d have left it alone forever if I could have—but perhaps this is my chance to finally be free. I can make a decision to feel those feelings without harsh self-criticism. I may not want to, but I get to process my rape today. As scary as it is, I can allow those petrified feelings to thaw and really feel them for the first time. I’m not anywhere near there yet, but I have hope that such a day will come soon—the day when I can finally set myself free.

Published in Community Voices

I’m a 36-year-old straight woman. I was sexually and physically abused as a kid, and raped in my early 20s. I have been seeing a great therapist for the last five years, and I am processing things and feeling better than I ever have. I was in a long-term relationship that ended about two years ago. I started dating this past year, but I’m not really clicking with anyone. I’ve had a lot of first dates, but nothing beyond that.

My problem is that I’d really love to get laid. The idea of casual sex and one-night stands sounds great—but in reality, moving that quickly with someone I don’t know or trust freaks me out, causes me to shut down, and prevents me from enjoying anything. Even thinking about going home with someone causes me to panic. When I was in a relationship, the sex was great. But now that I’m single, it seems like this big, scary thing.

Is it possible to get laid without feeling freaked out?

Sexual Comfort And Reassurance Eludes Dame

It is possible for you to get laid without feeling freaked out.

The answer—how you go home with someone without panicking—is so obvious, SCARED, that I’m guessing your therapist has already suggested it: Have sex with someone you know and trust. You didn’t have any issues having sex with your ex, because you knew and trusted him. For your own emotional safety, and to avoid recovery setbacks, you’re going to have to find someone willing to get to know you—someone willing to make an emotional investment in you—before you can have sex again.

You’ve probably thought to yourself, “But everyone else is just jumping into bed with strangers and having amazing sexual experiences!” And while it is true that many people are capable of doing just that, at least as many or more are incapable of having impulsive one-night stands, because they, too, have a history of trauma, or because they have other psychological, physical or logistical issues that make one-night stands impossible. (Some folks, of course, have no interest in one-night stands.) Your trauma left you with this added burden, SCARED, and I don’t want to minimize your legitimate frustration or your anger. It sucks, and I fucking hate the people who victimized you. But it may help you feel a little better about having to make an investment in someone before becoming intimate—which really isn’t the worst thing in the world—if you can remind yourself that you aren’t alone. Demisexuals, other victims of trauma, people with body-image issues, people whose sexual interests are so stigmatized they don’t feel comfortable disclosing them to people they’ve just met—lots of people face the same challenge you do.

Something else to bear in mind: It’s not unheard of for someone re-entering the dating scene to have some difficulty making new connections at first. The trick is to keep going on dates until you finally click with someone. In other words, SCARED, give yourself a break, and take your time. Also, don’t hesitate to tell the men you date that you need to get to know a person before jumping into bed with him. That will scare some guys off, but only those guys who weren’t willing to get to know you—and those aren’t guys you would have felt safe fucking anyway, right? So be open and honest; keep going on those first dates; and eventually you’ll find yourself on a fifth date with a guy you can think about taking home without feeling panicked. Good luck.


This is about a girl, of course. Pros: She cannot hide her true feelings. Cons: Criminal, irascible, grandiose sense of self, racist, abstemious, self-centered, anxious, moralist, monogamous, biased, denial as a defense mechanism, manipulative, liar, envious and ungrateful. She is also anthropologically and historically allocated in another temporal space continuum. And last but not least: She runs less quickly than me despite eight years age difference and her having the lungs of a 26-year-old nonsmoker. Thoughts?

Desperate Erotic Situation

If someone is criminal, racist and dishonest—to say nothing of being allocated in another temporal space continuum (whatever the fuck that means)—I don’t see how “cannot hide her true feelings” lands on the “pro” side of the pro/con ledger. You shouldn’t want to be with a dishonest, moralizing bigot, DES, so the fact that this particular dishonest, moralizing bigot is incapable of hiding her truly repulsive feelings isn’t a reason to consider seeing her. Not being able to mask hateful feelings isn’t a redeeming quality—it’s the opposite.


My boyfriend and I love each other deeply, and the thought of breaking up devastates me. We also live together. I deeply regret it and am full of shame, but I impulsively went through his texts for the first time. I found out that for the past few months, he has been sexting and almost definitely hooking up with someone who I said I was not comfortable with. After our initial conversation about her (during which I expressed my discomfort), he never brought her up again. Had I known that he needed her in his life this badly, I would have taken some time to sit with my feelings and figure out where my discomfort with her was coming from and tried to move through it. We are in an open relationship, but his relationship with her crosses what we determined as our “cheating” boundary: hiding a relationship.

How do I confess to what I did and confront him about what I found without it blowing up into a major mess?

Upset Girl Hopes Relationship Survives

Snooping is always wrong, of course, except when the snooper discovers something they had a right to know. While there are definitely less-ambiguous examples (cases where the snoopee was engaged in activities that put the snooper at risk), your boyfriend violating the boundaries of your open relationship rises to the level of “right to know.”

This is a major mess, UGHRS, and there’s no way to confront your boyfriend without risking a blowup. So tell him what you know and how you found out. You’ll be in a better position to assess whether you want this relationship to survive after you confess and confront.


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The 13th Annual HUMP! Film Festival is currently touring the country—go to humpfilmfest.com for more info—and the next HUMP! kicks off in November. HUMP! films can be hardcore, softcore, live action, animated, kinky, vanilla, straight, gay, lez, bi, trans, genderqueer—anything goes at HUMP! (Well, almost anything: No poop, no animals, no minors.) HUMP! is screened only in theaters; nothing is released online; and the filmmakers retain all rights. At HUMP! you can be a porn star for a weekend in a theater without having to be a porn star for eternity on the Internet!

There’s no charge to enter HUMP!; there’s $20,000 in cash prizes awarded to the filmmakers by audience ballot (including the $10,000 Best in Show Award!); and each filmmaker gets a percentage of every ticket sold on the HUMP! tour.

For more information about making and submitting a film to the best porn festival in the country, go to humpfilmfest.com/submit.

On the Lovecast, Mistress Matisse explains the horrifying SESTA-FOSTA bill: savagelovecast.com.

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Published in Savage Love

I’m a 24-year-old nonbinary person living in Florida. I have two wonderful girlfriends. One, I have been with for four years. (We live together.) The other, I have been with for a year and a half. They’re both brilliant, interesting and kind. Both relationships have their issues, but they are minor. They know each other but aren’t close. Neither is interested in people besides me right now, although my longer-term girlfriend identifies as poly. They have both said that they see a future with me, but something doesn’t feel right.

I’ve been having fantasies about leaving them both. It’s not about wanting to find someone I like better—if I met someone I really liked, I could pursue it. I just feel like neither relationship can progress while both exist. My other friends are getting married. I don’t think I want to stay in this setup indefinitely. Even if my girlfriends liked each other, which they don’t, I don’t want sister wives or two families. But I also can’t imagine choosing between them.

I feel like a scumbag for even thinking about it. I’ve talked to them, and they are both having reservations about the current situation. Neither of them wants some kind of three-person family structure, either. The only thing I can think to do (besides running away) is wait and see if one of these relationships fizzles out on its own.

Are my fantasies of escape normal? Is wanting to be with “the one” just straight nonsense?

Engaged Now But Yearning

“The one” is nonsense, ENBY, but it’s not straight nonsense—lots of queer people believe that “the one,” their perfect match, is out there somewhere. But despite the fact that there are no perfect matches, people are constantly ending loving relationships that could go the distance to run off in search of “the one” that doesn’t exist. As I’ve pointed out again and again, there are lots of .64s out there, and if you’re lucky, you might find a .73 lurking in the pile. When you find a serviceable .64 or (God willing) a spectacular .73, it’s your job to round that motherfucker up to “the one.” (And don’t forget that they’re doing the same for you—just as there’s no “the one” for you, you’re no one’s “the one.” Everyone is rounding up.)

Zooming in on your question, ENBY: You say what you have now—two girlfriends who can’t stand each other—is working. Are you sure about that? While fantasies of escape are normal—we all spend time thinking about the road we didn’t take, the door we didn’t try, the ass we didn’t eat—it’s odd to hear someone with two girlfriends wish for one or both to disappear. Perhaps it’s not who you’re doing that’s the problem, ENBY, but what you’re doing. The kind of polyamory you’re practicing—concurrent and equal romantic partnerships—may not be right for you. I’m not trying to YDIW you here (“You’re doing it wrong!), but if you’re envious of your friends who are settling down with just one partner, perhaps you’d be more comfortable in an open-not-poly relationship (sex with others OK; romance with others not OK) or a hierarchical poly relationship (your primary partner comes first; your secondary partner[s] come, well, second).

Finally, ENBY, it could be the stress of having two partners who don’t like each other that has you fantasizing about escape and/or one of your partners evaporating. Each of your girlfriends might make sense independently of each other, but if having to share you doesn’t work for them … it’s never going to work for you.


I’m 27 years old, and I’ve been married to my partner for two years. I’m facing a conundrum: A relative sexually abused me when I was younger. It happened a handful of times, and I’ve never told anyone other than my partner. I’m now struggling to decide not whether I should tell my parents (I should), but when. The abuse fucked me up in some ways, but I have been working through it with a therapist.

The problem is my siblings and cousins have started having their own children, and seeing this relative—a member of my extended family—with their kids is dredging up a lot of uncomfortable memories. I see this relative frequently, as we all live in the area and get together as a family at least once a month. I don’t have children of my own yet, but my partner and I have already decided that this relative will never touch or hold the ones we do have.

So do I tell my parents now? My extended family is tightly knit, and I fear the issues that sharing this secret will inevitably create. Am I starting unnecessary drama since I’m not even pregnant yet?

My Family Kinda Sucks

Your kids may not yet exist, MFKS, but your young nieces, nephews and cousins do—and your abuser has access to them. So the drama you fear creating isn’t unnecessary—it’s incredibly necessary. And since you were planning to tell your parents eventually, the drama is inevitable.

But let’s say you wait to tell your parents until you have children of your own—how will you feel if you learn, after the curtain goes up on this drama, that this relative had sexually abused another child in your family (or multiple children in your family, or children outside your family) in the weeks, months or years between your decision to tell your parents and the moment you told them?


My partner does phone sex work. A lot of the calls are from “straight” guys who ask to be “forced” to suck cock. (We assume the forced part is because they think there’s something wrong with being gay.) We’re wondering if there is a sex-positive word we should be using to describe these guys. If not, your readers should coin one, so all us straight dudes who love dick can take pride in our desires. Fill in the blank: “_______: a 100 percent straight guy who also loves sucking dick (and perhaps taking it in the ass).”

Cocksuckers Need Noun

The kink you describe already has a name—forced bi—and a forced bi scene usually goes something like this: A guy who would never, ever suck a cock because he’s totally straight gets down on his knees and sucks cocks on the orders of his female dominant. Since this totally straight guy sucks cock only to please a woman, there’s nothing gay and/or bi about all the cocks he puts in his mouth.

It’s one very particular way in which male bisexuality is expressed—think of it as male bisexual desire after hetero fragility, gay panic, denial, religion, gender norms, and football get through kicking the shit out of it. Paradoxically, CNN, by the time a guy asks a woman to force him to suck a cock, he’s allowing himself to suck a cock and therefore no longer in denial. (And, yes, guys into forced bi are free to identify as straight—indeed, they have to keep identifying as straight, since identifying as bi would fatally undermine the transgression that makes their perfectly legitimate kink arousing.)

But what to call these guys?

Well, CNN, some people into BDSM call themselves “BDSMers.” But “forcedbi’ers” doesn’t trip quite so easily off the tongue—so maybe we go with “cocksuckers”? It’s an emasculating slur, one that straight-identified men throw around to get, um, a rise out of each other. (Call an out-and-over-it gay man a cocksucker, and all you’ll get in return is a: “No shit.”) But while “You’re a cocksucker” may be fighting words for a straight guy, they’re highly arousing ones for a straight-identified guy into forced bi.

On the Lovecast, a scientific study on gay cuckolding: savagelovecast.com.

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Published in Savage Love

On this week's Pride-tinged weekly Independent comics page: Jen Sorenson looks at our sexual-harassment culture; The K Chronicles gets awkward with pumpkin spice; This Modern World fears that everything is terrible; Red Meat finds a way to keep meal costs down; and Apoca Clips uses the Zoltweet 2000.

Published in Comics

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is often associated with members of the military, but the problem extends well beyond soldiers and veterans: According to the Anxiety and Depression Society of America, more than 7 million Americans currently suffer from PTSD.

Dr. Jill Gover, of the LGBT Community Center of the Desert in Palm Springs, explained the difference between general trauma and PTSD.

“A lot of people experience trauma,” Gover said. “It doesn’t mean they have PTSD. Most of us associate PTSD with war. War is such a huge, catastrophic event that is outside the general course of human experience. That’s one of the definitions that distinguish that kind of trauma as post-traumatic stress. Most of the time, it’s associated with war, extreme abuse or torture. The other large category (consists of) people who’ve been sexually or physically abused, especially as children.

Mac McClelland is a journalist who went to Haiti after the devastating earthquake in 2010. After the assignment ended, she was diagnosed with PTSD, and later went on to write a book titled Irritable Hearts: A PTSD Love Story.

“I noticed I had symptoms while I was still there,” McClelland said. “… When I was having symptoms, I wasn’t like, ‘Oh, this is post-traumatic stress disorder’—I was freaking out. When I got back to San Francisco, I was there for a day before I saw my therapist, and she was the one who said I had symptoms of PTSD. It was very obvious and clear that something was terribly wrong.”

McClelland said she never thought her profession would expose her to PTSD.

“Like most people, I associated PTSD as being related to combat veterans,” McClelland said. “… I didn’t know hardly anything, which I think is true for a lot of people, but I think awareness is better now. I thought it wasn’t even possible for people to have PTSD other than combat veterans, when, in fact, rape victims, sexual-assault survivors and abuse survivors are a way bigger population of people with PTSD than combat veterans are. It’s just not in our cultural knowledge or understanding.”

McClelland said she took a holistic approach to her treatment.

“I was going to a lot of therapy. I was seeing a somatic therapist, which focuses on a lot of sensations in your body,” she said. “I went to that for years, and I still see a therapist who does that. I never took any pharmaceuticals. For me, that was really helpful. I also do yoga, and there’s a lot of research that yoga is very useful in treating PTSD. (I’ve taken) kind of a holistic approach and changed what my life looks like, which not everyone has the option to do. I make a lot more time and space for self-care, which I’m very lucky to be able to do.”

Gover said one of the most effective treatments for PTSD is eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR). According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, “EMDR is a psychotherapy for PTSD. EMDR can help (patients) process upsetting memories, thoughts and feelings related to the trauma. By processing these experiences, (patients) can get relief from PTSD symptoms.”

Gover used plumbing to make an analogy. “Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing is like Drano: It just flushes that memory. That’s the easiest way I can explain it. Looking at the clinical trials that the Veterans Administration has done with it, it’s very effective.”

Gover said there is no typical recovery process or timeline for PTSD.

“It really depends on what the trauma was,” Gover said. “You might have somebody who had a very horrific one-time sexual abuse experience as a child, and afterward, there were PTSD symptoms. But let’s say that person came from a healthy and intact family system, and the child was relatively healthy, and nothing else about the personality development was disturbed in any way. That would likely take a lot less time to heal from than, say, a child of the same age who came from a very dysfunctional family where there’s substance abuse, and then was repeatedly raped in a family system for years. That healing of PTSD would take much longer. It depends on who the individual is—the resiliency, the environment to support them, and how intense the occurrence and frequency is.”

McClelland said she urges anyone with trauma-related issues to seek help.

“I went to see a professional on day one. It made all the difference,” McClelland said. “Otherwise, I’d be flailing and struggling the whole time. I’d definitely advocate seeing a professional, especially someone who has a trauma-specialty background. I live in a really small town in Oregon, and we have amazing trauma-focused therapists here … but not all therapists specialize in trauma; it is a specialty. But therapy is expensive, and not everyone can access it.”

Gover said there are definite risks when PTSD goes untreated. “Somebody with PTSD who doesn’t have it treated is more likely to have problems later on in their relationships; problems professionally focusing on work and employment; and problems with substance abuse.

Fortunately, there are a lot of good resources available locally for those suffering from PTSD or trauma-related problems.

“There’s a good amount of therapists in the Coachella Valley who have expertise in treating trauma,” Gover said. “We’re very fortunate that the Riverside County Public Health department has evidence-based, trauma-informed therapy available. … Of course, we have the LGBT Community Center of the Desert, which has clinicians trained in trauma-informed therapy. (Many) of the therapists in private practice in this area have some training in PTSD. I would recommend any therapist with a specialty in treating trauma.”

For more information on the LGBT Community Center of the Desert’s Scott Hines Mental Health Clinic, call 760-416-7899, ext. 1, or visit thecenterps.org/index.php/services/mental-health-clinic.

Published in Features

Dear Mexican: I’m a Mexican-American Catholic who is really upset about something I saw after Mass last night.

As I waited for my son to come out of confirmation class (yes, I had already attended Mass myself), I noticed something really odd: I saw a grocery cart parked by a curb. It was odd, because it was filled with all those things a vendor sells at parks. Then I noticed another weird thing: Some lady was setting up a little table by the front doors of the church with assorted items to sell. WOW!

What is going on with people? Have we become so desperate for money that we are now hitting up churches like we do parks? I’m not sure if you have seen or heard of this before; I was really offended. I am also struggling financially; I live paycheck to paycheck, but I still don’t think I could resort to this. I felt it was tacky and just adds to the stereotypes we already have to deal with.

What do you think of this?

Dazed and Confused Mexican

Dear Wabette: You have issues with working-class folks trying to make a buck after Mass, thinking it tacky. You know what else is tacky? A Catholic Church hierarchy that allowed priests to rape boys and girls for decades, and not only did nothing to stop it, but protected said pedophiles from the cops and joined their congregants in smearing victims and critics who pointed out the obvious—priestly pedophilia no es bueno. And guess what? More than a few of those victims were—you guessed it!—Mexicans.

But since the Church has done such a masterful job of brainwashing Mexican Catholics into believing that speaking out against the hierarchy is speaking out against God, our raza in the States has universally remained silent about this sex-abuse scandal—hell, you still see Latino politicos and immigrant-rights activists asking for the blessings of pendejos who should be spending life in prison for their cover-ups. Pray to God; pray to La Virgen de Guadalupe, even to La Santa Muerte if you must—but any Mexican who still gives money to the Church might as well also donate to la migra.

I know why the Mexican man digs in the trash can: He can’t believe what Americans throw away.

My mom was from Northern Ireland, and we got many treasures over the years from walking past our neighbors’ trash cans here in the U.S. She grew up dirt-poor and could not believe all of the things Americans would waste and throw away. She felt it was sinful. I dug through trash cans myself and had several yard sales over the years, which helped put me through college.

Mary in Oregon

Dear Gabacha: Gracias for answering your own pregunta so thoughtfully—but please don’t do it again, lest I get reduced to spinning tejanas on my finger at street corners for a living.

Why did all of the conquerors come from Europe? And why were Africans conquered as slaves, instead of Latinos? Are we more rebellious and not easy to control?

Latina Grrl

Dear Wabette: Latinos are not slaves? Look at Mexican Catholics.

Ask the Mexican at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; be his fan on Facebook; follow him on Twitter @gustavoarellano; or ask him a video question at youtube.com/askamexicano!

Published in Ask a Mexican

“You know daddy loves you. … This has to be our secret … just between us. Mommy wouldn’t understand and might keep me away from you.”

Words like these are too often said to little kids—and not just little girls. It happens to boys, too.

Cathedral City resident and Rancho Mirage family therapist Carol Teitelbaum and her husband, Robert, have started programs too address the abuse of children … all children.

The statistics are mind-blowing regarding how many children are abused on a regular basis by the people they trust the most, including parents, teachers and clergy.

Boys are much more likely to hide their fears and think there’s something wrong with them … something they should hide.

Carol and Robert hold workshops for men who’ve been victimized, some of whom are so ashamed that it’s taken years of failed marriages, substance abuse and other self-destructive behaviors to make them realize they need help.

“It happens to boys too!” is their mantra and the name of their conferences, where nationally known speakers (often also victims) let these wounded men know there’s no shame on them … only on the perpetrators.

For more information, visit www.creativechangeconferences.com, or call 760-346-4606. If you are a man who needs help, consider attending a free group counseling session, held on the third Tuesday of every month. Call to sign up.

Do boys report sexual abuse as often as girls?

No, no, no. This why we are working so hard to educate the public, speaking at middle schools, high schools, recovery centers and conferences. Boys have been taught not to express their feelings, buck up, don’t cry … don’t be a sissy. Being boys, they are embarrassed that they couldn’t take care of themselves, no matter how young they are. Another issue is it might have felt good, as sensual touch does feel good. Boys get so confused and start to think maybe it was their fault, and they might have wanted it. There is so much shame.

Why are boys so afraid to tell someone who might be able to help?

More than 90 percent of perpetrators are familiar to the victim. It is very difficult to be believed when it is your word against a family member, (or a) pillar of the community such as priests, coaches, teachers, Boy Scout leaders—and especially if the perpetrator is a woman. Many of the men in our group tried to tell, but were told they were crazy, that (the) person would never do anything like that. One young man I see … told me that he was called “fag” by friends—and that did even more damage to him.

What kind of emotional and physical damage is done to these kids that affects their lives as adults?

The emotional abuse is usually the most damaging. More often than not, there are no visible scars. The emotional scars are so damaging. Women who are abused often report feeling like damaged goods, but rarely ever say they are not “real women.” Men report they do not feel like real men. After being abused, men often repress their feelings, especially anger that turns to rage. The repressed feeling often gets triggered by something in the environment—smell, sound, touch, taste, etc.—and they end up raging: road rage, domestic violence, physically abusing their own kids. The use of alcohol and drugs becomes the way to feel “normal.”

Men and women who were sexually abused often have great difficulty having intimate relationships. When you are holding a secret, it’s difficult to let someone really see you … look into your eyes. They might see the truth. It’s difficult to have self-worth, because the child feels like it was their fault, and there must be something wrong with them.

Why are men so afraid to tell?

Straight boys are afraid they will be thought gay. Gay boys are afraid people will think they wanted it. They’re afraid they won’t be believed, and they’re embarrassed they couldn’t protect themselves.

What happens at your conferences? Do men feel less burdened and better about themselves?

An incredible energy builds at the conference. From speakers to participants, I keep being told, “This is such a safe place. … It feels good being here.” Social workers and therapists have also told me, “I came to learn, but ended up doing my own work.”

Last year, John Bradshaw, a most notable speaker, said when he started to do his workshop … he felt so safe he wanted to share his own story. That was quite a compliment! During our “psychodrama,” men from a local recovery center did their own work … and when they were done, their fellow patients hugged them and cried together. These are some of the toughest guys out there, learning how important it is to feel their feelings if they want to heal.

Some of the members of our own It Happens to Boys group are speakers who share their personal stories with the audience. This vulnerability seems to put everyone else at ease.

What can be done to prevent child abuse? Will shining a big, fat klieg light on the perpetrators keep them from continuing their crimes? Or would an injection sterilizing them stop the drive that creates these monsters?

The only thing that will make things change is education of both children and adults. If we are all watching, reporting and noticing changes in children’s behavior, things will change. There will always be perpetrators! The problem is that our society doesn’t want to talk about this problem … or do anything about it. When you mention that child abuse will be the topic of a program, hardly anyone shows up. An organization that came to the desert had a huge event planned, with lots of (planned) media attention on TV, radio, print. They asked me to speak, and told me they were expecting hundreds of people. I said, “No, that won’t happen!” They asked why I was so negative. … I simply said I have many years of experience dealing with this, and I know how hard it is to get people to show up and support the cause.

When we speak at schools, we let students tell their story privately by filling out 3-by-5 cards and dropping them in a box in the front of the room. We then pull some out and get to as many as we can during the hour of the class. … I have to tell (children) I am a “mandated reporter,” and if they tell me … I have to report it. Sometimes that card is the first time they ever told anyone. We tell kids this could be the most important day of their life, and that they could get help and change their destiny. We get letters of thanks and many good stories later on.

Tell me more about your support groups, and how you can be reached. When is your next conference?

We meet on the third Tuesday night (of each month) at 7 p.m. at my office. Our group has grown from four when we started to a roster of 48 today. Every time we speak somewhere, at least one or two men or boys come forward and say, “This happened to me.” At any one group, at least 20 men are there now. We can be reached by phone: 760-346-4606. Our website is www.creativechangeconferences.com.

The sharing and growth of the men in our group is so amazing. They share such intimate details, and help each other in every way. Straight men who were uncomfortable with gay men are now best friends. They realize we all have the same problems with relationships and communication.

It Happens to Boys’ next conference: We’re branching out to L.A. on Feb. 28, (2014) and March 1 at the Pasadena Hilton. There will be incredible speakers. We have a one day one here in the desert on March 21 at the Doral.

Also, there will be a movie screening of Unlikely Friends (on Nov. 1, 2013). This is the most incredible documentary … and the director will be here for a Q&A. It will be a fundraiser for our It Happens to Boys group. (Visit www.creativechangeconferences.com, or call 760-346-4606 for more information.)

Published in Local Issues