The first time my mom ever checked my hymen was when I was 13 years old. I had stayed out really late, and my parents had no idea where I was. I came back home at about two in the morning after zero contact all night. My mom was a rape survivor, so it was very important to her that my first sex experience was a positive one.
But this accomplished nothing but creating fear and doubt in me.
The first thing that she did was drag me up to my bedroom, toss me onto my bed, and tell me to take off my underwear. She held my legs open and looked. There was no touching involved.
The second experience, I was 14, and it was another time when I went M.I.A and wasn’t responsive to her calling me. It was probably about 6 p.m. when I got home. She had me lay down and spread my legs and looked.
That day was actually, ironically, my first kiss. But at the time, I didn’t want to lose my virginity. I wanted to have a level head on my shoulders about it.
The last time my mom ever checked, I was 15, and it ended with an altercation.
We were on a cruise. And she found me late at night in the library with another girl and two guys. I was sitting on a couch with a guy at the opposite end. Nothing was happening, but she took me back to our room. When she went to check, I refused. I told her to back off.
“You can’t do this anymore,” I yelled at her. “I’m not a little kid, you can’t just pin me down to a bed and spread my legs.”
She went to strike me. [My stepdad] and my brother just looked at the water while my mother and I tussled on the bed.
That kind of attack just made me want to hide within myself more. And not share myself. It was very confusing for me too, because my mom is a very educated person, and she understands that hymens can break through horseback riding and gymnastics. And horseback riding was something I did on more than one occasion.
I had to wonder, “What is my mom’s image of me?” I felt dirty, unclean.
A lot of my experiences being with boys after that started with me hiding. When I first started [hooking up], it was usually in the school’s stairwell or public parks where you can just make out somewhere and not be scared. I couldn’t go home. I became an extremely secretive teenager. I didn’t like lying, but at the same time, I had parents who were so intense about everything that I did.
It wasn’t something I wanted to talk about with anyone, besides my best friend at the time. I felt really alone in my experience. And it kept me away [from doctors] as an adult. I didn’t go to a gynecologist till I was 21 and the only reason I went was because I needed to have an abortion. That was the first check I ever had.
My gynecologist was very sweet. She made sure I was okay the whole time, which was a breath of fresh air considering the only other experience I’d had was with my mother.
Now that I’m older, I can talk about it. I’ve heard that with rape victims and people who have survived rape, there’s this feeling of separating yourself from body. It doesn’t really feel like it’s happening to you, and it gets so pushed back and internalized. My experience was similarly traumatic.
I’ve been able to find peace with my mom. She has grown a lot. But I don’t think she thinks about the trauma she’s caused me. I don’t even know if she remembers.
When I heard about T.I., I was appalled. I was confused. It’s very controlling. You would expect a doctor to speak to the father, whether it’s T.I. or not, and explain to them why it’s not possible to see if [a woman’s still a virgin].
When I have my own kids, I do want to be somebody who they can speak to, and I don’t want to know every detail of their sexual experience, but they should have a place where they feel comfortable. Where they don’t have to hide.