Updated: Jan 5, 2021
The following blog post may be inappropriate for younger readers.
READER DISCRETION IS ADVISED.
My story starts in the summer of 1979, in a hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. I was named Thomas Jr., after my father. I became a thriving toddler who loved to sing and dance and entertain, performing songs while “playing” my toy guitar. I was inquisitive and unafraid. And then, after I turned 2 years old, things changed….
From birth to age 2, I was just a kid. I didn’t know that my father was a workaholic, or that my mother had traded her morals for financial security. Looking back, my father was verbally, mentally and emotionally abusive to my mother, but my mother was conniving in an equal force. My father was angry, overbearing and controlling, and my mother was needy and a pleaser, and she secretly manipulated him into staying the way he was so that she could continue to be the victim in the relationship and place all blame on him. They had contempt for each other and used their children against each other. This was an advantageous opportunity for my father’s parents, who were always around.
After I turned 2, both my grandfather and my grandmother began molesting me in different forms, and actual sexual molestation began at age 5. My grandparents walked around naked when my parents weren’t around and encouraged inappropriate touching; they had sex in front of me and began attempting to groom me to protect and promote and participate in their behaviors. I didn’t always comply, and I did not let them push me around easily, but they threatened me into compliance. My two younger brothers also endured the same kind of abuse. When I was 7, my grandfather convinced my parents to built a new house with an attached in-laws apartment, in which my grandparents lived full-time, causing the abuse to worsen and happen daily.
When my youngest brother was 3 (and I was 9), my grandfather started preparing him to be abused. He was “more beautiful,” and easier to control than I was - my grandparents dressed him up like a girl and it was believable, which was appealing to my grandfather. My youngest brother became my grandfather’s favorite, and because he was so pliable, he would do what my grandfather said without much pushback, if any. I was forced to be present and help hold down my brothers as my grandfather hurt them. I recall the tears on my brothers’ faces and I wish I had been brave enough to speak up and somehow stop the abuse.
If I ever stopped “helping” or told anyone what was happening, he threatened my life and my mother’s life. He said he would kill my mother and that would mean my brothers and I would live with (and be abused by) him forever, or he might instead kill me by running me over with his boat and chopping my body into fishing chum.
He also used gifts of money to control and mentally abuse us - I remember getting less money than my younger brothers at Christmas; I didn’t understand why I got less even though I was doing everything in secret that they were asking from me. Turns out that it was their message to keep my mouth shut. My grandfather had even threatened me by saying that he would stop at nothing to hurt my future children (his great-grandchildren) and there was nothing I could do about it.
My father once found signs of molestation in my youngest brother, and confronted my grandfather, telling him to stop the abuse because if my ever mother found out, my father’s world would end. The abuse never stopped because my father never told my mother (or anyone else) about it.
My grandparents did horrible, disgusting things to me and my brothers that no child should EVER experience. They recruited us into mental and sexual slavery, as well as planted the seed of possibly becoming abusers ourselves.
When I was 11, the sexual slavery finally stopped: my middle brother inadvertently said something that finally ripped the whole thing wide open. My grandparents were kicked out and the world really did end for them when it came to us. They never had access to us again. We moved away from the house with the in-laws apartment. A year or so later, my grandfather openly admitted to my father that he did abuse me, but now that I was 13, he had no desire to hurt me anymore; he still wanted to have a relationship with me but he never got near me or my brothers ever again.
Upon researching and tracing origins of my family in the past few weeks, Anne and I found that my paternal grandmother’s maiden name, Kuchak, traces back to Turkish regions. In researching the meaning of Kuchak, a search brought up a quote and link for a Wikipedia page on Köçek: “The Turkish word is derived from the Persian word kuchak, meaning “little," “small," or “young," which itself is the Persian pronunciation of the Turkish word küçük, “little.”
So we opened the Wiki page to find out more about whatever Köçek was … and found that the köçek were young male “dancers” in the Persian sex trade, often recruited around age 8 from Jews, Romani and Greeks within Persian-based countries until the mid-1800s. These young boys were trained to wear heavy makeup and curl their hair, dress similarly to the women of the time, and appeal to and entertain ONLY men.
These young boys were trained to be "sensuous, attractive, effeminate” with "sexually provocative” dancing. “Köçeks were available sexually, often to the highest bidder, in the passive role” as long as they were beardless and appeared youthful (which would be about age 13 when puberty began to hit). In 1837, köçeks were outlawed because men being entertained by them would go wild, breaking things, shouting till hoarse and sometimes killing each other trying to gain a köçek’s sexual favors.
The reason I mention any of this is because after 30 years of freedom from sexual slavery, I recognized that the world of the köçeks is in many ways the world I endured. I do not find it coincidental at all that we found this information, or that my grandmother’s Persian heritage has deep ties to a type of sexual slavery that she helped carry through into the modern age within her own family.
Seeing the historical photos of köçeks on the Wiki page also reminded me very much of today’s gender identity crisis, especially after reading the final entry on the page about a modern offshoot regarding a köçek-like gypsy struggling with gender identity…
…because I had my very own gender identity struggle. Now that the sexual abuse was no longer happening, I felt that I could breathe. Little did I know that I would face another battle....
…for the continuation of this story, click here