My Secret: I Was One of Those Girls Who Had Sex With Older Men on the Internet

Yes, there was something wrong, but it wasn't with me, and my cyber sex was nothing more than a symptom of something bigger. It was my way of showing that I felt out of control and helpless.
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Trigger warning: This post contains depictions of sexual violence.

Here's something I don't talk about very often; I'm a survivor of some pretty fucked up cyber sexual relations.

The story? I was 14 when I bought my first laptop with my own money. I was lonely, depressed, suffering from an eating disorder and was recovering from incest. I need a reason to wake up in the morning.

Older men on the Internet gave me that reason.

I fell into this trap and couldn't escape; I became obsessed. Having cyber sex with older men made me feel powerful, untouchable and fuckable at the same time. Hot, sexy, desired....worthy. It gave me a boost of self-esteem like nothing else ever had.

No, I never ran away to have a sleepover with any of them, but it didn't make any of it any better. It was incredibly painful, raw and real. I loved, I cried, I laughed.

My parents found out after about 6 months of this and I was in a sort-of relationship with a 20 year old who lived 2 states over. Yes, we'd exchanged nudes. Yes, we had cyber and phone sex. Yes, I really did love him.

They treated me like a prisoner; it was as if I was a rebel who needed to be tamed. Clearly there was something wrong with me and I was just acting out. Take away the computer, the men, the cell-phone and my privacy and problem solved, right?

Wrong. So wrong.

I fell deeply into depression; there were days where I would stare at the clock and just wait for sleep. My mom removed my door from my room. And I had to like everything was peachy-keen; nothing to see here, folks!

Yes, there was something wrong, but it wasn't with me, and my cyber sex was nothing more than a symptom of something bigger. It was my way of showing that I felt out of control and helpless.

And we never actually talked about it; it was this unspoken thing that clearly affected the relationship between my parents and I, but nothing was ever done to address it.

At the time, all I wanted to do was run away; I was counting down the days until I turned 18. I hated my parents and felt trapped in my houses (my parents divorced when was young).

Eventually, I grew up, learned from my past and found a way to pick up the pieces. I realized that I had been taken advantage of, manipulated and used....essentially, cyber-raped. Hundreds of times.

Which just to clarify is still rape.

How this has effected me is not something I can ever truly understand, given how much it's become a part of me. I know I internalized a lot of what these men said to me, what they did. It's damaged my sexuality perhaps permanently.

I recently received contact from one of these men and had a small breakdown. The reality of what I did, what they did, hit me like an avalanche. Most of all, I felt sad for that girl...the younger me. I wish she could see that she didn't need any of them to feel whole. She had it in her all along.

I just wish other people understood this.

I don't talk about this because honestly, I'm ashamed. I feel foolish and stupid every time I bring this subject up. I also know people will look at me differently and view me as a victim. They'll judge me, shame me (internally or externally) and think that I should have known better. In essence, they'll victim-blame me.

But I know that none of this is my fault. It's the consequence of some fucked up things that happened in my life and that I took to the Internet. I was finding hope in the only way I knew how to as a 14-year-old (and 15, 16, 17 and even 18-year-old).

And because I was treated as if I was wearing a scarlet letter, I internalized it all.

I know there are so many girls who've been through the same, or similar. I wish I could show them all their value. I wish I could tell them that they can make it through, that they're being deceived, that they can have so much more.

Because the fact is, this shouldn't be a secret at all; it should just be another part of my truth.

Hi, I'm Erin, and I used to have sex with older men on the Internet. Yes, it was taxing in everyway imaginable, but I survived.

And now I thrive.

Need help? In the U.S., visit the National Sexual Assault Online Hotline operated by RAINN. For more resources, visit the National Sexual Violence Resource Center's website.

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