HAVANA TIMES – A person’s sexual awakening should be a natural thing. It happens for everybody in their own time, according to their own interests and nobody should ever experience it at somebody else’s pace.
Unfortunately, more often than not, this process is sped up in young children, in different ways. Adults groping, making sexual innuendos and practicing acts of various degrees on children, speeding up and harming the beginning of something so essential to their personal development.
A lot of the time, this happens in the bosom of their own families and always with adults who their families trust. We have to teach our children to tell us who forces them and how, but in order to do this, we need to first accept that sexual violence can take place anywhere, anytime, to anyone, regardless of their age.
Caridad tells us about her first experiences in the world of sexuality and what came later. Her story shares many common features with the story of many Cuban women.
My first sexual encounter happened when I was five years old, and they didn’t stop until I left Cuba.
I was born in Havana, but on the outskirts of the outskirts. Alamar was the nearest neighborhood to my house, so I always just say that I am from Alamar. I had a humble and pro-revolution family.
My aunt was a teacher and she went on an internationalist mission when I was just starting first grade. Her husband, a military man, lived in a wooden house next to ours. It was there that he showed me what sexuality was to him and, as is common in these cases. I told my mother and she didn’t believe me. I don’t know whether she thought it was just my imagination (which was quite wild, but it wasn’t interested in nudity and sexual organs), or whether she just preferred to pretend like she didn’t hear me.
These events kept happening, but not so full-on, until I was 8 or 9 years old and my “uncle” did it again. I told my mother again and she told me that my aunt (who had already come back from her mission abroad) should never find out. That’s when my aunt walked in, like in any bad telenovela, and found out about everything. Chaos broke out.
My father, who was a military man like my uncle, went out looking for him. I was shit scared because my father was a little bit violent and even though he had never hit me, his verbal violence always made me fear he would, so I waited for the famous beating that night that luckily never came. I guess the adults resolved the matter amongst themselves. But the world continued to spin in the same direction.
I was always a lot taller than the average for girls my age, so I maybe I drew a lot of attraction from harassers on the street because of this. Things have been like this since I was eight years old. From penises exposed in between bus seats (so I could touch them without me realizing) to groping in stores or public places, spanks on the backside from cars passing by me, the occasional and routine “masturbator” on my way to school.
When I was 14 years old, I went to the Cultural Center to attend music classes. The professor only gave classes to me and found the perfect excuse to do this behind closed doors. It was the ‘80s and I was still quite naive to all of this in spite of my bad experiences. The teacher couldn’t let the opportunity slip to touch himself discreetly, then show his penis… and that was the end of my classes.
People always ask me how I can adapt to living in a city like Caracas, where you always have to be on the lookout, so you don’t get robbed, when I come from Cuba, such a safe place. That’s when I respond that I am just used to it. Used to going out on the street and looking in all directions, not just because there are thieves everywhere, but because I am a woman.
Because in Cuba you don’t have to be “gorgeous” to feel eyes undressing you from the moment you leave the house because there are exhibitionists on many street corners in periphery neighborhoods or even in the center of Havana, or someone masturbating or a rapist. I always felt like getting home at night, alone, was a challenge, just because I am a woman.