Content warning: The following article contains a description of rape.  Please be advised before continuing to read.
“I am still disturbed by that story your mom told us as kids.”
I recalled sitting at that kitchen table, my face heated up with embarrassment. My mother was sharing a story about her honeymoon night. My high school friend sat at the dinner table with me, her mouth agape in horror. Years later as adults, we would start to unpack that story.
As a teenager, the discussion of parents having sex is mortifying. But as an adult, you catch the red flags that you missed as a child. With experience comes a different viewpoint of understanding. Decades later, I’m unpacking her story.
My mother is a part of the boomer generation. She grew up knowing her expectations in life were for her to marry and have children. It was viewed as the greatest accomplishment that a woman could achieve. It was the generation that blushed at the mention of sex, the generation that valued virginity and the servitude towards men. It was the generation that was taught to be an obedient housewife, existing to please their husband.
The hazards of this generation is their lack of knowledge and understanding that virginity is a societal construct used to oppress and control women. The breakage of a hymen symbolizing losing virginity is a myth. The age of the internet and medical science will tell you about studies that demonstrate how a pregnant woman’s hymen can look identical to a hymen of someone who has never had sex. Linking purity and worth to virginity helps control how women dress and behave, policing their bodies and contributing to rape culture.
Luckily today’s younger generation is working on educating and debunking these falsehoods (4). They are removing the hush hush stigma talk about sex that made the older generation uncomfortable. I will list at the end a great YouTube link for an example of a young influencer sharing some truths about hymens along with other various articles.  
In my mother’s quest to scare me and my friend to safeguard our virginity, she shared her story. Perhaps she lacked the emotional maturity to discuss the topic of sex in a healthy, non-fearful way. Maybe the goal was to kill any future curiosity we may have had towards sex as teenagers. Or possibly, looking back, it was a story told as a trauma overshare from a victim of rape. Either way, there are things that don’t add up. Let’s evaluate the story and see.

The story

  Photo by Anastasiya Gepp on
Mother described her wedding night as a night of terror for a fearful virgin. Mother had shared how my father had been previously concerned that she wouldn’t know what to do in bed. He had bought her a sex book prior to their honeymoon for her to study. This act reinforces the idea that it was a wife’s role to exist for servicing her husband. Descriptions she gave included sheets that were soaked, ruined with blood. She would describe the pain and struggle of my father not being able to fully penetrate her because she was “too tight”. After repeatedly pushing for an extended time, causing a mess of the excessive blood and her incessantly crying, my father finally stopped. He verbally expressed frustration, shaming her inability to please him. She stated that she later had to schedule an appointment with a doctor to have her hymen cut open. My father angrily slept on the couch for months while she recovered from this outpatient procedure. The story was told as a cautionary tale about the horrific pain that comes from sex and how messy my first time would supposedly be.
A few problems with this story exist. Let’s start with the obvious. No partner should continue sex if their partner is sobbing and bleeding profusely. Was she lying there crying, trying to be that good wife, enduring the pain to fulfill her wifely duties? Was it a case of my father taking what he felt entitled to? Did they not use lubricant back then? Vasoline? Spit? I have questions. The main question being…was my father a rapist?
My mother’s family remembers her going to the doctor when she got back from her honeymoon. But no medical visit on the honeymoon trip? With excessive tearing, why wouldn’t she go get checked out? Was she worried about the inconvenience of the timing or was she not allowed to go seek medical attention? The lack of sexual education may have had her thinking this was a normal experience. Her family never knew the purpose of the doctor’s visit, and she never shared. I don’t know if the visit was for a hymenectomy, or if it was a visit to assess damage endured from marital rape.
Another flag is, “The hymen is a membrane with relatively few blood vessels that – even if torn – may not bleed significantly. Forced penetration and lack of lubrication may cause lacerations to the vaginal wall, both of which are most likely to be responsible for the “blood-stained bed sheets,” rather than trauma to the hymen [1,2,3]. In fact, several studies have documented that bleeding is not routinely observed after a woman’s first sexual intercourse [1,2,3].”
Was my father on the couch because of her alleged hymenectomy? Or was he on the couch because his new wife needed to create a safe space to process her indoctrination into marital rape? Recovery time for a hymenectomy is short. Regular activities can be resumed in days. Two to three weeks and you can be cleared for sex. Weeks, not months. Boomer men don’t often accompany their women to their obgyn appointments, and my father was no different. Whatever recovery time my mother gave, that is what he would believe. Recovering from a hymenectomy doesn’t require separate sleeping conditions. Was my father such an animal, void of empathy and nurturing, that he couldn’t control himself sleeping next to her?
My mother was a grown adult with a menstrual cycle when she was married. Considering she had no problem with blood outflow, why the hymenectomy? An imperforated hymen would have been flagged when she would have first started menstruating. Blood would have backed up and pooled into her abdomen. What would cause the need for this alleged surgery?
Another reason listed for this procedure is excessive scarring or tearing from sexual assault. This was something that my mother had never suggested verbally about her life before my father, nor would she ever discuss if it occurred. She would be the first to tell you that my father is the love of her life, a lifelong marriage, her best friend. Psychological studies have shown how victims can create relationships with their rapist to help survive the ordeal through denial (7). Viewing her life choices and opinions as an adult has given me cause to consider these studies.
Sexualized as a child, I was scolded for not covering up my footed pajamas with an additional bathrobe. I was instructed that topical medicine was never to be applied by a man, only a woman. She was consistently turning father/daughter time into group family time. This kept me distant from my father while limiting unsupervised time with him. This ensured I had zero relationship with my father as I aged.
Adults from healthy family backgrounds do not view children in this sexualized manner. Was my mother raped as a child to give her this view of family dynamics? Or did she subconsciously not trust my father to be alone with his own daughter?
My brother had already seen how I was disregarded as a valuable member of the family after my grandfather molested me as a child. My father’s dad was a pedophile. My grandfather had previously abused his own daughter, and then later abused myself and my childhood friend. When my sexual assault occurred, my mother was more concerned about my father repairing his relationship with his predatory dad. No one entertained or discussed the idea of holding the grandfather accountable. The side effect of tying self-worth to sexual purity, my family had deemed me worthless. This sent a subconscious message to my brother about the lack of repercussions of sexual assault and the disposability of women in general.
Mother’s misogynistic views towards sex would be displayed by an incident involving my brother. My older brother would be accused of rape. He had moved into his friend’s family’s house until he got his own place. He hadn’t been getting along with our parents. This friend had a younger sister, a child. It was within her room that there was an extra bed, extra space, located for my brother to temporarily use.
Mother’s reaction to my brother’s rape accuser? She stated “well, what did that family expect when they let a grown man share a room with their daughter?!”. I imagined that the family expected him to go to sleep, grateful for the spare bed. It was not an invite to sexually assault their young child. They expected him to not be a sexual predator. They correctly placed the responsibility of the alleged crime on the predator, not the victim. Believing in the “takes a village” viewpoint, the family reached out to my family for support and to discuss what allegedly had occurred.
They were shocked when my mother went into the antiquated mode of slut shaming the victim, their child. She would spew hate about how the child probably had a history of sleeping around.  According to her, it was a child with a crush who was just telling lies for attention. Healthy children from abuse free backgrounds do not know what rape is, let alone use it for attention.
Did I believe it about my brother? I will tell you what I do remember. My brother worked as a lifeguard at a local YMCA. I remember, despite me being a child, my brother offered to trade me to an older teenager in exchange for that boy to “hook him up” with that boy’s sister. This sibling pair were regulars at enjoying the pool at the YMCA. I would leave the pool crying after that boy and his friend tried to tear off my swimsuit while my brother would standby laughing. I would later hear chatter about how my brother supposedly raped that boy’s sister in the pool sauna room. She was immediately discredited as someone who was “crazy” and had “mental health problems”. The brother and sister pair stopped coming to the YMCA where my brother was lifeguarding.
As an adult, I see now how generational trauma occurs. Crimes in my family were repeated from one generation to the next. Crimes that stemmed from the generational viewpoint of women having no autonomy, no rights to their own bodies or lives. The generation that never discussed sex also set the stage to never discuss sexual assaults. With this way of thinking, sexual assault was determined to happen before I was even born.
My father stated how he allegedly never knew his sister was being abused in the next room. His own excuse was proof of how little he was involved with his sister’s life. He was not an ally for her to confide in or someone she could turn to for help. Even if he supposedly didn’t know, he still failed her, just as he would fail his future daughter.
I see the effects of not holding sexual predators accountable, creating a generational cycle for more predators to develop. It’s easier to try and justify and explain away behavior than to recognize how monsters exist in our day-to-day life. Sometimes, people marry those monsters and raise more monsters with them.
As various studies discuss the recent increase of lonely men (8), and more women choosing single life, women are recognizing the toxicity of being viewed as sexual beings existing solely for the benefit of men. A first date question asking about the man’s view on therapy is increasingly becoming more common. Those that are open to therapy are getting a green flag since it shows they are working on unpacking outdated societal constructs.
I decided long ago to stop all relationships with my family. I stood up and shared my story of surviving abuse, contributing to the conversation of change. Limiting healthy talk of sex education paves the way of limiting the talk of sexual assault. Without discussion, awareness and change cannot happen.
I watched online as my brother read my eBook. I followed along with him, seeing which page of his eBook he paused on. He always took a break after reading the pages that discussed his criminal ineptitude. Someone with growth would be grateful to have moved on from crime, not be angry about someone calling them a “terrible criminal”. No healthy person should want to be an effective criminal.  
I watched as my mother regularly logged onto my website every few hours for months into years. I seen every click, every download, every time she listened to my interviews. She showed her lack of growth by only being concerned about the media page, not the blog which represents my voice. She never cared about my voice as a child, and years later my voice to her still didn’t matter. Only clicking on reviews and media, the voices of others.  The voices of those that shared my story and contributed to the talk of shining light on abusers and calling them out. No wonder she kept coming back. She couldn’t fathom or understand those voices since her voice was on the opposing side of hiding abuse and defending abusers.
As more and more downloads of my book were purchased by my brother’s family, I wonder how it will impact how his children are raised. I wonder when and if the cycle of trauma will be broken.
Sadly, the apparent lack of growth displayed by their actions does not offer me hope. If only my family members would put their stalking dedication into something more productive like unpacking their issues and trauma with a therapist. Yet, they are so far behind that they are unaware of things like Google Analytics, social media and marketing trackers built into websites like Amazon, or websites built like this one. In the age of social media, online privacy is practically nonexistent.
Back to the original question, was my father a rapist? Was my mother’s behavior the product of marital expectations of her generation, or behavior of a victim who never processed their trauma, passing it onward to her children?
I don’t know. And I no longer care. I guess that’s me moving on from them and finally being healed. But I will always use my voice to have the talks that need to be had. It’s the much-needed change that’s slowly happening collectively across society. As the boomers move on, so should their horrible ideas of marriages and family dynamics that solely suit men.
In the words of Taylor Swift… Fuck the Patriarchy.
Anyone affected by sexual assault, whether it happened to you or someone you care about, can find support from You can also call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.HOPE (4673) to be connected with someone over the phone who can help.
*I am aware that there are generalizations towards a generation and that there are always exceptions. As someone who is autistic with BPD and PTSD, I tend to speak in overall generalizations. 
1)      Rogers DJ, Stark M. The hymen is not necessarily torn after sexual intercourse. BMJ (Clinical Research Ed.). 1998;317(7155):414
2)      Whitley N. The first coital experience of one hundred women. JOGN Nurs. 1978;7(4):41–5.
3)      Loeber O. “Over het zwaard en de schede; bloedverlies en pijn bij de eerste coïtus; Een onderzoek bij vrouwen uit diverse culturen” [About the Sword and the Sheet; Blood Loss and Pain at First Coitus. A study of Women with Different Cultural Backgrounds], Tijdschrift voor Seksuologie, vol. 32, (2008): 129.


Cindy Collins