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February 16, 2012

Talking About Sex and Sexual Abuse with Latinas

Olga in discussion about

In Latino culture you aren’t supposed to talk about your problems. You aren’t supposed to think about yourself if you are a woman. You are supposed to think about your family and care for them. Discussions around consensual sex are not engaged in very easily.

So what happens when you bring a group of women together who are originally from all over Central and South America to talk about sexual assault, child sexual abuse, trauma and DID?

Well, its an interesting conversation with all sorts of indirect communication through body language, people thanking you for coming in the hopes that they can shut down the discussion, when in fact you are in the middle of your discussion. Generational divides happen. Class divides become more obvious. A frank discussion about rape, abuse, trauma, DID and sex after violence happens. In this room, we did what some were afraid to do and we did it because one woman wanted to know and I wanted to answer as if it were a normal thing to talk about.

At one point several of us had a discussion about the word for disorder in Spanish. Does it even mean what we use it for in English? Most of the women in the room took their cues from me. If I was comfortable talking about it they would try. So we went all day talking about all sorts of taboo topics. And finally at the end, several of the women talked about their own experiences as victims of child sexual abuse and rape, depression and in the discussion we cried, and wondered how we would all talk about this again, with Latinas. Their solution, a book club, where they would choose books that helped them discuss the realities of their lives.

It was magical and sad. In my community I am very different and I want to show others the way.


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