Learning about Love

This post describes my sexual experiences as a child, which were primarily positive experiences. Telling my story is important to balance the popular convention of only reporting negative descriptions of children’s sexual experience. No mainstream publication is willing to publish my autobiographical writings and letters to the editor, or anybody’s autobiography of positive sexual experiences in childhood, so the mass media are not a balanced representation of children’s actual experiences. Many people express shock at reports of children’s sexual experience, in part because there has been a lot of biased research on insensitive and exploitative child sexual abuse. Many people who had no experience of childhood sex play (or only negative experiences) mistakenly imagine that childhood sexual experience is a fate worse than death. Hence the conventional hand-wringing over the need to protect children’s “innocence.” But that popular perspective is distorted. Maybe if people had more exposure to reports of positive sexual experience in childhood, their perspective would be more balanced.


 Image copyright © 2011 Frank Adamo

 One of my earliest memories is standing up in my crib and seeing my father and mother through the doorway nude in the kitchen. If that seems like an unusually early memory, I also remember how I used to say “down the cellar” (dun-ga-lauw), and other baby talk. Other early memories abound. Unfortunately, I was an only child so I had no sex play with siblings at home. But when I was in kindergarten I remember running around with the other boys and sneaking up behind the girls to lift up their skirts. The girls laughed and didn’t express any anger the first few times, but eventually one said: “Stop that or I’ll tell the teacher!” So we stopped. To what extent my interest in girls was romantic might be doubted, but in first grade a classmate said “Hi handsome!” to me, and I remember I used to imagine entering the colorful illustrations of children in our readers, so I could kiss the girls. I also remember a classmate confiding that sometimes his penis “curls up.” I felt perplexed and I still have no idea what he meant. I had three female cousins (3-8 years older) who used to take me and my male cousin (six months older than me) to the public pool in the summer, and I remember them taking us into the girls’ changing room to change our clothes.

 I once asked my mom where babies come from and she said: a mother’s abdomen. I asked how they get out, and she said: a doctor cuts them out. That was all she told me. My first real exposure to sexual information was through the jokes that children hear and repeat, often necessitating that we guess the meaning. A popular joke was about a beautiful actress from the big city whose car breaks down in a rural area and has to spend the night with a farm family. She propositions the farmer’s two young sons, who don’t know anything about contraception. When they agree to have sex with her, she puts condoms on them and says: “This is to prevent me from getting pregnant.” The next day she returns to the big city, never to be seen again. A few days later the two young brothers are working in the fields when one says: “I don’t care if she gets pregnant – I’m taking this damn thing off!” I don’t remember how much of the joke I actually understood at the time, but I think I got the general picture.

I don’t remember when I first heard the expression “blow-job,” but I knew what it meant – more or less. When I was six years old my parents separated, and they divorced two years later. I guess it was probably during my parents’ separation that my mom used to fondle my little penis in the evening while we watched TV. I remember becoming erect and she exposed me to look at my little erection. On at least one occasion I asked her to put her mouth on it, which she did. I then said “Now blow,” which she did also. I remember raising my arms and throwing my head back in an expression of delight. The fondling, oral stimulation and subsequent pleasure seemed perfectly natural and innocent to me at the time; there was no shame on my part.

In the second grade a boy in my class used to come over to my house after school, before my mother came home from work, and we played rape (we took turns being the girl), or Cowboys and Indians in the nude. We felt each other’s genitals and “blew” each other, but I don’t remember any kissing. He said that he liked my penis more than other boys, and although I felt no inhibition about boy-on-boy contact, we both married women when we grew up.

Boys in the second grade confided in each other who our favorite eighth grade girl was. At one point we entertained ourselves by saying “I love you!” to older (teenage?) girls we saw on the street, or even “How about a kiss?” Some of the older girls expressed surprise at our budding boldness, while others laughed or even blew us kisses. I think we enjoyed the shock value rather than actually hoping an older girl might really kiss us.

A teenage boy in the neighborhood once showed me and my male cousin a science book with an illustration of sexual anatomy at the teenager’s house (age uncertain: 7-8?). After an advanced explanation of sexual reproduction the older boy proposed touching us. We both refused, and my cousin left. But I stayed and the teenager offered me some money to touch me. I refused again, until he raised his offer to what seemed like a lot of money. I finally agreed, but when he reached down to expose me I changed my mind and left too.

Later that evening he came to my apartment but my mother wouldn’t let him in, which might have been a mistake. Maybe he wanted to apologize and reassure me that I don’t have to be afraid of him, or maybe he intended to raise his offer. I think I was afraid on account of his apparent anxiety in propositioning me, but I also regretted the missed opportunity to earn some hard cash.

Another neighbor boy my own age explained masturbation in simple terms, describing orgasm as “the thrill.” I was skeptical but I went home and tried masturbating myself. Believe it or not, I counted 10 powerful orgasms in the space of about an hour, before my little organ developed a friction blister (age uncertain: 9-10?). The orgasms were very pleasurable and similar to adult orgasms in every way, except that they were less intense, shorter in duration, and there was no white ejaculate, only a drop or two of clear seminal fluid. After a few days my blister healed and I began masturbating myself to orgasm a few times a day, every day, usually after school, either alone or with my cousin or other boys my own age. The scene in Fellini’s autobiographical film “Amarcord” in which four boys masturbate together, is quite realistic.

In the sixth grade I remember a classmate drawing a picture of herself wearing a bikini, with an arrow pointing to the suit bottom exposing her navel with the word “low.” I think it was the same year when I had my first “girlfriend.” A neighbor girl and I acknowledged that we liked each other and kissed each other on the lips. But another girl I liked (the one who had said “I’ll tell the teacher!” in kindergarten) rejected me in favor of another boy, which disappointed me immensely.

When I was 12 my mom and I moved to a new neighborhood where a boy my age claimed the girls around there “give.” He wasn’t lying. He eventually introduced me to several girls aged 9 to 14, and we enjoyed group sex play on numerous occasions – mostly looking, touching and play-intercourse without real penetration. I was fascinated by the feel of the girls’ soft skin, and I loved the interpersonal play with the girls. The group activities were made up of 2-4 girls + 2-4 boys; and there were also two other girls who only engaged in sex play with one boy at a time, for a total of about 10 children altogether. Once in a cinema the youngest girl (9) in our group sat between my neighbor and I, and she masturbated us both under our jackets at the same time. It was definitely the most exciting period of my childhood. I finally told my mother I was old enough to bathe myself now (without further explanation). She seemed a little surprised, but she didn’t object.

In the beginning of the childish orgies there was some discussion about which boys would be with which girls, but we eventually took turns. Although I had my preferences (the taller and more mature girls), I felt no desire for attachment, and I didn’t see the absence of romance with any particular individual as a problem. I enjoyed myself without any emotional complications. I loved everybody!

There was quite an ethnic mix. The oldest girl (14) of apparently WASP origin lived on the very edge of the white/black divide (what a real estate agent called “the combat zone”), and her family had some conflicts with black neighbors so she refused to let a black boy touch her. One day he eventually insisted and tore her blouse. She went home and told her family, who called the police. When the black boy was interrogated, he evidently defended himself by revealing what was going on in the neighborhood. When the police reported that to the parents, the girl (or her parents) claimed that we boys had all “forced” her to participate in sex play (repeatedly over the course of months or years?).

A mass investigation then followed, in which several children were interrogated in the principal’s offices of schools, and at the police station. We boys were stunned at being falsely accused, and terrified that we might be sent to juvenile prison, but the police eventually decided no force was involved so there was no formal charge or court hearing. Nonetheless, all the girls in the neighborhood became prisoners in their own homes, and we boys resigned ourselves to isolation from girls.

Despite all my early sexual activity I reached puberty late. In high school I was shorter than my age-mates, and girls became more selective. I became obsessed with one girl who I wanted to marry, but she rejected me in favor of an older boy. I eventually realized my fixation on her wasn’t “grown up” but infantile. I had few other intimate relationships with girls in high school, one of which included another visit by the police. When I was 17 I had a girlfriend who was 16. There was a lot of deep kissing and touching of breasts and genitals, and one night we attended a late concert and told our parents we would be spending the night at friends’ homes (“not together”). In reality after the concert we spent the rest of the night in my car in an empty parking lot. Our steamed-up windows drew the attention of a passing patrol car.

The police probably radioed in my license plate number and found out it was registered to a minor. They approached my car with their headlights off, got out silently, and suddenly shined their flashlights in my windows on both sides of the car. We were partially undressed and got dressed as quickly as possible. I saw a badge presented so I rolled down the window and they told us to get out of the car, which we did. One cop questioned me on one side of the car, while the other cop questioned my girlfriend on the other side. I was asked how old I was, how old she was, and if I was “in her.” I answered truthfully: 17, 16, and No, I wasn’t in her. My girlfriend was more imaginative and said she was 18, and she didn’t have any I.D. to prove her wrong. The police told us to go home. I didn’t have full genital intercourse for the first time until I was 18 (with a 19-year-old girlfriend).

After high school I read about the theory that early sexual experience is usually (always?) “traumatic,” so I succumbed to the temptation to ignore the many imperfections in my complex development (e.g. absent father) and instead blame all my problems on my mom fondling me. I dropped out of college at 19, and saw a psychiatrist who lent support to my temptation to be simplistic, calling my mother a “monster” and claiming her casual stimulation was “the kiss of death.” But I eventually realized he was one of the many quacks who was cashing in on the “early sexual trauma” myth. There was no valid evidence that early sexual experience between different age groups is usually seriously harmful, and there is now some strong evidence against that belief.*

My early upbringing was certainly inadequate, but I eventually realized it’s very difficult, if not impossible, to know and verify what early childhood experience “causes” later feelings or behavior. Although I was estranged from my mother for several years during my early adulthood, I went back to my hometown when she got very old and was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, and took care of her myself. Even when doctors tried to put her in a nursing home, I fought to keep her out. I stayed with her until the stressful end-stage when she no longer knew who I was, and I spread her ashes on a mountaintop.

Although my memory might not be 100% accurate, and some readers might even question my honesty, those are potential problems in any self-report of childhood experience. I haven’t embellished this description with fiction or drama, and have left out most of my childhood, but the point is that despite my very early and fairly extensive sexual experience, including what is popularly considered “significant, long-term, incestuous abuse,” I have never “repressed” my early sexual memories, never “split” into multiple personalities, never became gay or pedophile, etc.

I eventually went back to college and graduated, and as a teacher for 20 years I have seen children’s innocent sex play right in the classroom, and have recorded their sexual talk and jokes, some of which make my own childhood memories seem tame. One eleven-year-old girl recorded the joke about a little girl who sees her father undressed, and asks what his male organ is. The father tells her it’s his doll. After the father goes to bed to take a nap, the daughter decides to play with his doll. When the man wakes up, he notices that his genital area is inflamed and wet. “What have you done?” He asks his daughter. She explains: “I was playing with your doll when it suddenly spit in my face, so I pulled its hair.” Some of the other things I have recorded are so politically incorrect that most people probably wouldn’t believe they were spontaneous statements even if critics heard the recordings themselves.

I read the popular literature on incest and was skeptical about many of the reports, so I wrote to one author asking for verification but received no reply. I once planned to write a book myself on incest and solicited reports from victims in North America and Europe. One young woman sent me a tape in which she described her years of sexual activity with her father, and the subsequent break-up of her family. I asked her if I could interview her other family members to hear their sides of the story, but she refused. An interesting thing about the tape is that the first five minutes or so are a calm, dispassionate description of the years of sex, while the next 20 minutes of the tape are a dramatic, tearful description of the day she revealed the secret to her mother, and the explosive aftermath. I wonder how much grief I saved myself and my family by never revealing my mother’s fondling when I was still growing up. The lack of response to my ads seeking incest victims, as well as the incongruous telling in the tape described above, lead me to suspect that at least some of the popular literature on incest is embellished with fictional stories.

Nowadays there are excellent sex education books and videos for children that explain almost everything about the subject. Some, like the series produced for French TV by Folimage-Valence “The Tree of Life,” 1992, which has been dubbed into other languages and is available at newsstands in Europe, feature beautiful graphics, animated characters, and pleasing music, and are intended for kids from age 4. Children also need to learn about the importance of consent, and to avoid witch hunts later there should be parental consent as well, and ideally even legislative reform. Accurate, balanced and comprehensive sex education should be an essential part of children’s general education. How sad and incredible that many parents and teachers today choose to reject sex education, in part due to the distorted popular image of early sexual experience.

*Rind et al. “A Meta-Analytic Examination of Assumed Properties of Child Sexual Abuse Using College Samples” (Psychological Bulletin 1998, Vol. 124, No. 1, 22-53); and Rind et al. “The Validity and Appropriateness of Methods, Analyses, and Conclusions in Rind et al. (1998): A Rebuttal of Victimological Critique From Ondersma et al. (2001) and Dallam et al. (2001)” (Psychological Bulletin 2001. Vol. 127. No. 6. 734-758).

About Frank Adamo

Author of the novel "Revolt of the Children," the eBook "Real Child Safety", a photo-documentary "Girl Becomes Woman," and a video for kids "Buddy Massage." I do not defend, promote or excuse any kind of abuse or exploitation. Become a part of the Foundation for Research and Education on Child Safety. www.FRECS.org
This entry was posted in child sexual abuse, children, parent education, sex, sex education, Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Learning about Love

  1. mercadee says:

    Research is still evolving around what risk factors presage child sexual abuse due to the difficulty involved in getting data.


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  3. Sugel says:

    There is no universal definition of child sexual abuse. However, a central characteristic of any abuse is the dominant position of an adult that allows him or her to force or coerce a child into sexual activity. Child sexual abuse may include fondling a child’s genitals, masturbation, oral-genital contact, digital penetration, and vaginal and anal intercourse. Child sexual abuse is not solely restricted to physical contact; such abuse could include noncontact abuse, such as exposure, voyeurism, and child pornography. Abuse by peers also occurs.


  4. sexhysteria says:

    Thanks for your comment. An adult’s dominant position does not make coercion inevitable, unless you define coercion as anything that takes place from a position of dominance. But following that logic, children can never disobey an adult, which is obviously contrary to reality.

    Edit 30 Jan 2013: I forgot to mention another early memory: I learned how to ride a bike when I was five or six, and some time after that I used to ride my two wheeler down the sidewalk and then stand up on the pedals and coast the last few meters before I came to the end of the block. When I lowered myself and my little penis pressed against the soft seat I felt a sensation of intense pleasure. If it wasn’t an orgasm it was close to it, and I remember that I used to do it over and over again.


  5. Christian says:

    Thank you for sharing your own childhood experiences. They are consistant with other stories I’ve heard of childhood sexuality, and with my own. I remember looking up girls’ skirts when I was only 3 or 4, going to the circus at age 6 or 7 and being “turned on” by the female circus performers in sexy outfits, playing “show me yours, I’ll show you mine” with the preacher’s daughter (and gaining a greater appreciation and respect for her and girls in general in the process), beginning puberty at age 10 and having my first orgasm with full ejaculation at that age, joking and telling sexual stories (some of them about personal adventures with the opposite sex) with cousins and neighbors, finding a pornographic magazine and masturbating to it along with my 9 year old brother (who began puberty the same time I did), and many other things. I never had any sexual experiences with adults, but I did go through a time as a young adult where I had picked up on society’s condemnation of childhood sexuality so that I felt like I was to blame for playing with sex as a child and even faked some symptoms of child sexual abuse (after all, I was a child and having sexual experiences so I must have abused myself and so there must be consequences…) but thankfully I grew out of those negative attitudes and learned to embrace my sexuality as a normal, healthy part of being human. Growing up as a Christian I heard much negative said about sex, but as an adult I started to study the Bible for myself and found that sex there is spoken of positively and is nothing to be ashamed of. The entire book of Song of Solomon is dedicated to sex! I often hear people blame the Bible for our sex-negative culture, but I know that the anti-sexual attitudes of Christians do not come from the Bible at all. They mostly arise from false teaching among religious leaders, and the words of the Bible get twisted by these people in an attempt to justify their teaching. But I know that God said for mankind to “be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28, 9:1, 9:7) and i also know that the anti-sexual attitudes so prevalent in the churches have greatly contributed to the lack of babies in our society.


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  7. John says:

    My experiences, while somewhat different from yours, confirm much of what you are saying about child sexuality. I was abused in the most sickening ways imaginable. I was also sexually abused by my aunt whom I loved dearly. My great grandfather used to make me eat the contents of his spittoon. That started when I was around 5 or perhaps younger and ended when he died when I was around 8. He also would take me to his room where he had a private washroom (half bath as we now call them) and he would make me suck on his penis while he urinated. He would hold my genitals with a crushing grip and threaten and sometimes follow through on bodily harm. He once broke my finger and told everyone I did it my self while trying to steal his silver dollars from his dresser drawer. I was punished with a sound whipping for that. My father whipped me nearly every day of my life until he died when I was 16. Another less sympathetic aunt made me suck on my baby brother’s dirty diapers for shirking my diaper changing duties. I was around 9 at the time. She would also drop kick my scrotum for fun just to see me lose consciousness in a fetal position on the kitchen floor and then kick me back to consciousness. She was a decade older than me. My mother made me stand at attention for hours at a time reading out loud from the bible. I would be beaten when I passed out. I had several teeth knocked out, I have several scars from cigarette burns. I had more than a dozen bones and joints broken by age 12 and none due to my being “clumsy.” But in the 1960s people were not sophisticated enough to know what they were observing and we were taught to obey all adults “no matter what or else!”

    So on those occasions when my mother would announce that I would be spending a weekend at my aunt’s house or in the summer when it might be a week or more, I would silently jump for joy knowing that my aunt’s soothing gentle affectionate touch would be a welcome relief. A child of 7 should not be devoting time to working out the logistics of a painless suicide. Such thoughts would disappear the moment my mother made such announcements.

    Visits with may aunt would always be the same. She had a son two years younger and a daughter two years older. My cousins seemed quite happy when I arrived. I didn’t learn until many years later that my arrival meant that they would not get the unwanted attention my aunt usually gave them. As for me, I looked forward to her giving me three hour long baths, even later as old as 13. I looked forward to our “special massages” which were done with both of us naked. I remember nursing on her while she massaged me in those places that usually send a person to prison for the rest of their lives. I remember the goose bumps of pleasure as her fingers traced all around my body. I remember the first time she gave me oral pleasure and how I thought it was the most wonderful thing. I remember a couple of years later when I had my first dry orgasm and a later at around ten when I ejaculated into her mouth for the first time and not having a care in the world that she would reject me or find any part of what was happening repulsive. I remember she would always pay extra special attention to licking my most recent wounds which actually did make them feel better. She explained to me that mother cats did that with their kittens. The only part of my childhood where I came close to feeling loved was at the hands of may aunt.

    It was a very long time before I could be convinced that what my aunt did could be considered abuse. Even today I place it at a level several orders of magnitude lower than the abuse I experienced by others. In fact today looking back, the only reason I would classify what she did as abuse was that she did not also prepare me for the emotional consequences of feeling incredibly guilty for enjoying it so much. I never told anyone at all until after she passed away. Her children did not have fond memories of what she did to them. especially her son who is gay. When I told my mother what her sister had done she of course didn’t believe me. She wouldn’t talk to me for a year due to Satan’s taken possession of my soul. How else she reasoned could I make up such a horrible lie about her sister? Of course the three bones she broke was for Jesus so that was OK.

    It took years of therapy to realize my aunt abused me and then it took more years of therapy to stop feeling guilt installed in me by the first therapist. I didn’t feel shame until I was a teenager and kept that to myself until my aunt died. The real shame came when that first therapist got ahold of my fragile psyche and shredded what was left of it by proving to me that my aunt was by far the worst abuser and in fact what all my other relatives were doing were actually proving their love for me with their restrained discipline. He explained that they probably recognized the pervert being cultivated by my aunt and were taking appropriate steps, as though a 5 year old could be a pervert.

    The second therapist actually had a license. and an M.D. He was a true professional and taught me that I was not an evil freak of nature cut from the same evil cloth as my aunt. He brought my life into perspective and taught me to do away with the guilt and shame I carried around with me. He actually brought me back to the place where I was when I was just entering puberty in regards to how I felt about my aunt. He agreed with my original assessment regarding the rest of my family, the adults in any case, and gave me to understand finally that there was no shame in loving the only person who showed me love and provided me with the only relief of my childhood.


  8. sexhysteria says:

    Thanks for the information. Your description of such violent abuse seems unbelievable. Adults should protect a child from pain, rather than being a source of pain themselves. Ideally, adults should nurture children in many different ways, not just sexually, but that’s probably too much to realistically expect from some adults. They are incompetent caregivers, if not psychopaths.

    In some places children are still being treated like you were, or worse, and perhaps they always will be until children are loved and respected as individuals with their own desires rather than as somebody else’s private property.

    Fortunately, you survived that horrendous treatment, evidently no thanks to an incompetent “therapist” who probably would have liked to exploit your confusion for as long as possible. The opportunists in the sex abuse rescue business are incompetents and psychopaths no less than the original abusers. We need to expose them for what they are.


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