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I think I was sexually abused as a child- (I Was- Updated- #47)

post #1 of 61
Thread Starter 
I don't remember it. I don't remember who- but I have suspicions that I know. I remember a room- a very familiar room. The memory of this room has stuck in my mind for years, a dark, solid preying sort of memory. I don't remember anything that happened in that room, I just have this picture of it and the intense feeling that something happened there.

Something that I don't want to remember, but I can't even tell myself why. I know who's room it is. I know we moved out of that house when I was only eight years old. For years I've been telling myself that this memory is false, that the room I remember must have been in somebody else's house, but I don't know how to explain it, lately I have just known that this isn't true, that it was our house where it all happened.

I don't remember much of my childhood before eight or nine years old. What little I do remember is blurry- literally. I had terrible eyesight, but nobody figured that out until I was nine. I have a few vivid memories of playing sex games with a neighborhood boy who was a year younger than me- I would have been maybe six at the time.

I feel guilty, shameful, disgusting, dirty thinking about it. These were things no six year old has any business knowing about, let alone doing or coercing a five year old into doing. I'm disgusted with myself. I tried telling myself over the years that kids explore sexually and its normal, but after reading a few threads here on people who suffered abuse as children or who's children have suffered abuse, I've come to realize what I knew/did as a child was not a normal childhood behavior.

I will admit I've always had the suspicion/fear that it wasn't normal to know about those kinds of things. This was a wake-up call. There isn't a satisfactory answer for the question of why an otherwise normal and healthy six year old girl would know about those things. Only that I wasn't a normal or healthy six year old girl.

In my heart I believe that is because I was sexually abused, but part of me is terrified that I'm wrong and that really I was just a sick, demented child.

But I also remember always having a severe phobia of snakes, to the extent of not even being able to see one on tv without shaking uncontrollably, and I remember being plagued by nightmares of snakes when I was a kid. I've read here and other places that this might be another sign of childhood sexual abuse.

And In retrospect, I know that as a teenager and even in college I was severely depressed, although I didn't know it at the time. I went to school or classes, studied and went to bed. Laid in my bed literally all day. I had zero social life. Still have zero social life.

Realizing I've always been afraid of men. Not in a casual social setting, such as work. But when it's clear that a man is interested in me, I am scared and I back off so quick it must make his head spin to watch. None of my relationships, including with DS' father, have been normal or healthy. All of them have at least started out as casual sexual encounters, at least one of them years ago started to develop into a more normal and long term affair and I bolted so fast even I was surprised.

Now I'm terrified of the world, a kind of deep irrational fear. Fear of attack on me or on DS, fear of somebody raping me or abducting him. I feel a deep, boiling rage- and a deepeer shame- whenever I hear of a child being assaulted on the news. I can't fathom letting anyone near me or DS, can't fathom living anywhere alone where I'm not permitted to have a guard dog. I'm rambling now...

I don't know why I'm posting this- looking for validation for my suspicions, I guess. But fearing that people will brush it off and say that I'm imaging things, couldn't have been abused, and that I just was or am a sick person.

Terribly embarrassed to post this, but forcing myself to anyway. I've got to get this out, if nothing else. Thanks for listening.
post #2 of 61
couldn't read and not post.

I wish I had some advice or BTDT. I know the wise and experienced mamas on this forum will begin to chime in soon, though, with lots of helpful comments.

In the meantime, know that I'm thinking of you.
post #3 of 61
I don't have any answers for you, but couldn't read without offering you a hug.

I hope that you are able to make sense of it all and find peace. Maybe there is someone - a counselor/therapist that you can talk to to sort out these memories and feelings and fears.

Please don't feel embarrassed or ashamed about what you have posted here, or what you did with the neighbor as a young girl. A crime was committed against you and you were dealing with it the best way you could. There is no shame on you.

Peace.
post #4 of 61
You are not alone.
post #5 of 61
sending you peace. i grew up knowing way too much for my age too so what you're saying doesn't make me think you're a bad person... you were a kid. it was just the environment, but now, as an adult, i look back and get very angry that i was in some of the situations that i was in. i have a sister a few yrs older than me & she has the exact same memories, so there's no doubt that its true. would you feel too unsafe to get hypnosis or some other therapy? i felt "dirty" for even talking with my sister about some of the stuff, but when i found out she'd been feeling the same way it was kind of a relief. we both kept it inside well into adulthood, then it all came out in a very looong phone convo one day. gross. makes me so SO angry that someone is going thru this right now & thinks its normal. i'm so sorry. could you call someone today? i still have never gone for professional therapy. i too have an insane fear of snakes & never knew it has anything to do with a sexually explicit childhood (can't say i was abused b'c i don't think i was ever touched as a kid... just alot of sex/drug/alcohol crap around). i thought snake fears are super common. not doubting, i just had never heard that connection. interesting.

sorry for such a long rambly post, just want to let you know that i hear you. take good care of yourself, hug.
post #6 of 61
I think counseling would be a good idea, but in the meantime I just want to send you some positive energy.
post #7 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by *bejeweled* View Post
You are not alone.
Truly you are not. Remembering that is difficult, but it helps so much!

I'm a sex abuse survivor, and recovery can be a long road. Though it's controversial, I highly recommend Courage to Heal when you're ready to begin working through everything.
post #8 of 61
((HUGS)) I have a similar story, expect I remember telling someone that they peed in my underwear ( I woke up and a penis was in my underwear and they were wet, and I wasn't a bed wetter) I just can't remember who it was. I do remember them telling me that I was wrong. I would have been 5ish. my mom did take me to the doctor and there had been no penetration.

I really wish I could remember who it was because I worry about my kids.
post #9 of 61
I'm sorry .
post #10 of 61
I'm sorry, mama. I don't think you're crazy or dirty or bad.

I was molested by my stepfather as a child but I've suspected for a long time there was earlier abuse. Like you, I remember a room and I don't know why I have such vivid memories of that room.

I also initiated sexual play with at least three other children, male and female, all of whom were younger than me, and I told myself for years that it was normal experimentation. But now I look at my 7 and 5 year old dds and know that it wasn't normal.

Oh, mama. Is there any way you can get counselling? Is there a local hotline you can call? I've had several periods of counselling over the last few years - not enough - but I feel like I'm starting to put the pieces of myself back together. You deserve to live your life, mama. Just remember you aren't crazy and you aren't the one who's wrong.
post #11 of 61
.
post #12 of 61
I'm sorry. I hope you can find a good source of healing.
post #13 of 61
Thread Starter 
Thank you all so much for your replies. I had myself half talked out of this at work- like "no, no I was totally overreacting. It was normal, nothing could have happened". It was both a relief and saddening to come back here and read all these responses- relief to know that I'm not imagining it all and that I'm not alone, sadness because it is more confirmation that it must have happened and also for those of you who have also had personal experiences with this.

I have more I'd like to post, but I'm going to turn in early tonight. I was up late, late last night working things out and then of course DS decided to get up early this morning, so I'm just going to put a movie in and "watch it" (). I just didn't want to go to bed without posting a big thank you to all of you first.
post #14 of 61
I just wanted to let you know I have similar experiences. I have memories of stuff happening to me, sort of, I feel it and see it, but I dont think it can possibly be true. I waver back and forth, between almost accepting it might have happened, and believing I must be making it all up, and only a terrible person would think such things about their family. I have terrible nightmares about snakes, even though I'm not scare of them in real life. And I remember playing sexual games with my younger siblings (we were very close in age) starting when I was 5 or 6. Some of it continued for a long time. I felt horribly guilty and ashamed about . I'm dealing with it in counseling. The awful shame surrounding the sex play is much better, but I still struggle with the memories of abuse and whether or not its true. I've been diagnosed with a dissociative disorder. its really hard stuff to deal with. Counseling does help, although it takes time. Recently I've been thinking I must be the only one with such awful doubts. I'm sorry your struggling with this too, but I also wanted to thank you, as it helps me feel less terrible about my own doubts. If you just want to feel it out a little before diving into counseling, RAINN has a completely confidential hotline- both by phone and online where you can discuss your concerns. My understanding is that your call is completely untraceable, and its for anyone who has questions like yours. Hope you find some peace.
post #15 of 61
I think you need to talk out these issues and concerns with a professional. However, I will caution you to research and be very careful about the professional you choose to go to.

I also want to share with you that repressed memories are EXTREMELY rare. Yes, they do happen -- but they are not as common as popular culture may lead you to believe. http://www.columbia.edu/cu/21stC/issue-2.2/brown2.html

As for childhood sex games... I was obsessed with sex with I was three. I constantly asked questions about it - like nitty gritty stuff. I remember when I was about 5 my friend and I liked pretending like our barbies were having sex. At around 6 we pretended tubular pillows were penises and pretended to have sex with each other. And interest in sex, exploring and touching the bodies of friends does NOT mean there was sexual abuse going on. I was pretty embarrassed by all the sex play for a while, but I've come to peace with it as just part of natural development and exploration. I'm not proud of it or telling the world about it... but I'm not ashamed of it and I certainly don't think it means I was abused.

As for memories... I remember snipets of my childhood (mostly the dramatic stuff like I listed about), but I don't remember much. I don't remember a day of preschool, or kindergarten, or 1st grade... The first time I have any memory of school is fourth grade. Does that mean I was abused at school? No. It just means I don't have a great memory. I still don't! My parents are always upset because I don't remember any family vacations we took (which we took every summer from birth until highschool). I don't remember any vacation, not a single moment or snapshot in my mind, until after 7th grade.

I don't know why you have a bad feeling about that bedroom. It could have just been a room that spooked you when you were a kid. Maybe it was a room where you got spanked or got in trouble. Maybe you had a really bad flu and were sick in that room, and remember staring a the walls and feeling scared and miserable. The possibillities are endless. I don't think you should torture yourself by jumping to "sexual abuse" conclusion.

I'm not trying to minimize what you are feeling. Please don't take my post that way. But I do think that it is very very easy to build up fears in our own minds that become almost indistinguishable from memories. Don't do that to yourself.

The fact is, the vast vast vast majority of sexual abuse survivors remember the abuse. In fact, most remember the abuse quite vividly. Typically, this is how trauma works. It is not impossible, but again extremely rare to block out memories of something traumatic unless there is severe physical trauma (severe bleeding for example) that causes amnesia.

I would work though all of this with a professional. Be very very wary of "repressed memory" hypnotists, though. Your therapist will help you get to the bottom of this. You will have to answer uncomfortable questions. You will quite possibly need to talk to friends and family memories to try to get clues. Who would have had access to you at that age? Who would get alone time with you? When would this take place? Did you ever exhibit signs of abuse at that time? It will be uncomfortable... but is that any worse than how you are feeling right now?


Again, I hope you don't see my post as minimizing your feelings and fears. But I just wanted to say that I experienced much of what you described as a child, but I was not abused. Much of what you described is, frankly, normal!


Sending you strength! Thanks for your honest post, I know it couldn't have been easy to write.
post #16 of 61
Just sending some healing along your way. That must be such a hard place to be in.
post #17 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by mama2landon View Post

I don't remember much of my childhood before eight or nine years old. What little I do remember is blurry- literally. I had terrible eyesight, but nobody figured that out until I was nine. I have a few vivid memories of playing sex games with a neighborhood boy who was a year younger than me- I would have been maybe six at the time.

I feel guilty, shameful, disgusting, dirty thinking about it. These were things no six year old has any business knowing about, let alone doing or coercing a five year old into doing. I'm disgusted with myself. I tried telling myself over the years that kids explore sexually and its normal, but after reading a few threads here on people who suffered abuse as children or who's children have suffered abuse, I've come to realize what I knew/did as a child was not a normal childhood behavior.


I will admit I've always had the suspicion/fear that it wasn't normal to know about those kinds of things. This was a wake-up call. There isn't a satisfactory answer for the question of why an otherwise normal and healthy six year old girl would know about those things. Only that I wasn't a normal or healthy six year old girl.

In my heart I believe that is because I was sexually abused, but part of me is terrified that I'm wrong and that really I was just a sick, demented child.
Quote:
Originally Posted by gaudynight View Post
I'm sorry, mama. I don't think you're crazy or dirty or bad.

I was molested by my stepfather as a child but I've suspected for a long time there was earlier abuse. Like you, I remember a room and I don't know why I have such vivid memories of that room.

I also initiated sexual play with at least three other children, male and female, all of whom were younger than me, and I told myself for years that it was normal experimentation. But now I look at my 7 and 5 year old dds and know that it wasn't normal.
I just wanted to chime in with very similar experiences.
post #18 of 61
post #19 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by IowaAngela View Post
I think you need to talk out these issues and concerns with a professional. However, I will caution you to research and be very careful about the professional you choose to go to.

I also want to share with you that repressed memories are EXTREMELY rare. Yes, they do happen -- but they are not as common as popular culture may lead you to believe. http://www.columbia.edu/cu/21stC/issue-2.2/brown2.html

As for childhood sex games... I was obsessed with sex with I was three. I constantly asked questions about it - like nitty gritty stuff. I remember when I was about 5 my friend and I liked pretending like our barbies were having sex. At around 6 we pretended tubular pillows were penises and pretended to have sex with each other. And interest in sex, exploring and touching the bodies of friends does NOT mean there was sexual abuse going on. I was pretty embarrassed by all the sex play for a while, but I've come to peace with it as just part of natural development and exploration. I'm not proud of it or telling the world about it... but I'm not ashamed of it and I certainly don't think it means I was abused.

As for memories... I remember snipets of my childhood (mostly the dramatic stuff like I listed about), but I don't remember much. I don't remember a day of preschool, or kindergarten, or 1st grade... The first time I have any memory of school is fourth grade. Does that mean I was abused at school? No. It just means I don't have a great memory. I still don't! My parents are always upset because I don't remember any family vacations we took (which we took every summer from birth until highschool). I don't remember any vacation, not a single moment or snapshot in my mind, until after 7th grade.

I don't know why you have a bad feeling about that bedroom. It could have just been a room that spooked you when you were a kid. Maybe it was a room where you got spanked or got in trouble. Maybe you had a really bad flu and were sick in that room, and remember staring a the walls and feeling scared and miserable. The possibillities are endless. I don't think you should torture yourself by jumping to "sexual abuse" conclusion.

I'm not trying to minimize what you are feeling. Please don't take my post that way. But I do think that it is very very easy to build up fears in our own minds that become almost indistinguishable from memories. Don't do that to yourself.

The fact is, the vast vast vast majority of sexual abuse survivors remember the abuse. In fact, most remember the abuse quite vividly. Typically, this is how trauma works. It is not impossible, but again extremely rare to block out memories of something traumatic unless there is severe physical trauma (severe bleeding for example) that causes amnesia.

I would work though all of this with a professional. Be very very wary of "repressed memory" hypnotists, though. Your therapist will help you get to the bottom of this. You will have to answer uncomfortable questions. You will quite possibly need to talk to friends and family memories to try to get clues. Who would have had access to you at that age? Who would get alone time with you? When would this take place? Did you ever exhibit signs of abuse at that time? It will be uncomfortable... but is that any worse than how you are feeling right now?


Again, I hope you don't see my post as minimizing your feelings and fears. But I just wanted to say that I experienced much of what you described as a child, but I was not abused. Much of what you described is, frankly, normal!


Sending you strength! Thanks for your honest post, I know it couldn't have been easy to write.
Part of what's amazing about this board is that people can come from very different ways of thinking but all share a common concern and true support for all here. IowaAngela, I have total respect for you for sharing in that supportive wonderful spirit.

And it's in the same spirit that I need to seriously, completely, urgently disagree with much of what you've said in terms of what's "normal" and what's not. It sounds like you've done your research, so I assume your judgement that repressed memories are so rare is based on your confidence in sources that say this is so. But in my work with abused kids and abusive families, time and time again I have mothers who "didn't remember much about childhood" but then when somethign happens to their kids and the issue is brought into the blinding light of day, they remember... not just vague, possible scary feelings, but often very specific incidences of abuse. The people, the room, what was said, how they felt, the cover ups... sometimes it all comes flooding back.

And most of these women spent years with very similar memories (or LACK of memories) to what you describe.

Would I say EVERY person who doesn't have clear memories of childhood was abused? No, no one can say that. There are always exceptions.

But in a field where that's all we deal with is child abuse, it is far FAR too common a link to ignore. Repressed memories are REAL and VERY COMMON among abuse survivors. Dissociative disorders are so often the brain's way of trying to survive, to get a child's delicate psyche through horrific trauma that no one should go through.

I'm not saying that everyone here who worries they may have been abused and is afraid of snakes and has memories of early sexual acting out was 100% abused. Can't say that because I wasn't there, don't know for sure. But it does a serious disservice to those who have posted and feel these things to say they are NORMAL! They are more common than we'd ever want, but they are usually signs of something NOT NORMAL happening and they need to be treated with care, with love, with support, and with patience and openness. But to call them "normal" makes the inner torment that usually accomplishes child abuse even more brain-melting because it makes the survivor feel "crazy" for being so torn up and scared and anxious.

Not remembering your childhood is more often than not a sign of trauma. Maybe not necessarily abuse, but very often it is about abuse.

And our brains are very powerful organs - they do their job to try to protect our sanity and when we are traumatized, they can shut down and shut out dangerous info and keep it locked away until maybe it's safe to let little bits through (or until other trauma/events unlock the door and it comes flooding out, ready or not).

Most psychologists I work with would say you guys are brave and amazing for being conscious enough and strong enough to CONSIDER that something bad might have happened. My heart breaks to think of the energy and emotion spent wrestling with trying to figure out if something happened or not, feeling crazy for worrying, feeling sick or dirty or other negative things for even wondering about it. It is VERY VERY VERY likely you were victims, and that right there means you are not responsible for what happened to you, and what you may have started with outher children, especially since in your survival mode you were normalizing the behavior as children.

It's the adults in your lives that failed you and any other children who were affected. My heart goes out to you all and the kids you are worried you interacted with, but none of it is your fault if you didn't understand you were doing something wrong. And feeling dirty or wrong at the time is not the same as having a clear understanding that you're making a choice to do something wrong. If you were abused, those incidents of abuse made you feel shameful and wrong, and any acting out that grew out of that is predictably going to have similar feelings attached to it. Doesn't make you evil or bad or even responsible when you were kids too.

Original poster, please consider what many have suggested and seek some counseling. I agree, be careful and trust your instincts about the best fit for a counselor (if someone makes you feel awful, not a good fit - you have every right to keep looking for someone better). But try to get some help in figuringhtis out because it will continue to haunt you if you don't find ways to process whatever is going on.
post #20 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by LROM View Post
Part of what's amazing about this board is that people can come from very different ways of thinking but all share a common concern and true support for all here. IowaAngela, I have total respect for you for sharing in that supportive wonderful spirit.

And it's in the same spirit that I need to seriously, completely, urgently disagree with much of what you've said in terms of what's "normal" and what's not. It sounds like you've done your research, so I assume your judgement that repressed memories are so rare is based on your confidence in sources that say this is so. But in my work with abused kids and abusive families, time and time again I have mothers who "didn't remember much about childhood" but then when somethign happens to their kids and the issue is brought into the blinding light of day, they remember... not just vague, possible scary feelings, but often very specific incidences of abuse. The people, the room, what was said, how they felt, the cover ups... sometimes it all comes flooding back.

And most of these women spent years with very similar memories (or LACK of memories) to what you describe.

Would I say EVERY person who doesn't have clear memories of childhood was abused? No, no one can say that. There are always exceptions.

But in a field where that's all we deal with is child abuse, it is far FAR too common a link to ignore. Repressed memories are REAL and VERY COMMON among abuse survivors. Dissociative disorders are so often the brain's way of trying to survive, to get a child's delicate psyche through horrific trauma that no one should go through.

I'm not saying that everyone here who worries they may have been abused and is afraid of snakes and has memories of early sexual acting out was 100% abused. Can't say that because I wasn't there, don't know for sure. But it does a serious disservice to those who have posted and feel these things to say they are NORMAL! They are more common than we'd ever want, but they are usually signs of something NOT NORMAL happening and they need to be treated with care, with love, with support, and with patience and openness. But to call them "normal" makes the inner torment that usually accomplishes child abuse even more brain-melting because it makes the survivor feel "crazy" for being so torn up and scared and anxious.

Not remembering your childhood is more often than not a sign of trauma. Maybe not necessarily abuse, but very often it is about abuse.

And our brains are very powerful organs - they do their job to try to protect our sanity and when we are traumatized, they can shut down and shut out dangerous info and keep it locked away until maybe it's safe to let little bits through (or until other trauma/events unlock the door and it comes flooding out, ready or not).

Most psychologists I work with would say you guys are brave and amazing for being conscious enough and strong enough to CONSIDER that something bad might have happened. My heart breaks to think of the energy and emotion spent wrestling with trying to figure out if something happened or not, feeling crazy for worrying, feeling sick or dirty or other negative things for even wondering about it. It is VERY VERY VERY likely you were victims, and that right there means you are not responsible for what happened to you, and what you may have started with outher children, especially since in your survival mode you were normalizing the behavior as children.

It's the adults in your lives that failed you and any other children who were affected. My heart goes out to you all and the kids you are worried you interacted with, but none of it is your fault if you didn't understand you were doing something wrong. And feeling dirty or wrong at the time is not the same as having a clear understanding that you're making a choice to do something wrong. If you were abused, those incidents of abuse made you feel shameful and wrong, and any acting out that grew out of that is predictably going to have similar feelings attached to it. Doesn't make you evil or bad or even responsible when you were kids too.

Original poster, please consider what many have suggested and seek some counseling. I agree, be careful and trust your instincts about the best fit for a counselor (if someone makes you feel awful, not a good fit - you have every right to keep looking for someone better). But try to get some help in figuringhtis out because it will continue to haunt you if you don't find ways to process whatever is going on.
Thank you for being so kind and gentle in your disagreement with me. I really do appreciate that because this is indeed a very sensitive topic.

Yes, I have done quite bit of research (or, that is, I've done a lot of reading on the research of others). I do firmly believe that repressed memories are very much overstated in pop psychology and culture and happen much more rarely than some sources lead us to believe. Anecdotal evidence of it happening doesn't negate the fact that it is indeed rare.

My hope in making my post wasn't to belittle everything the OP is going through. My heart breaks for her. She could very well be an abuse survivor - but whether she is or isn't she has issues that I think a professional should help her sort through. My goal in making my post was to encourage her that sexual abuse isn't the only possibility for what she is feeling or what she has experienced. I wanted her to keep an open mind to the possibility that no sexual abuse took place. If she goes into this determined to find evidence (either physical or in her own mind) of sexual abuse, undoubtedly she will find a therapist willing to "help" her make the "discovery". But if she goes into with the idea that there may or may not have been abuse - that sexual abuse is not the inevitable cause of what she is describing - then I think she will set forth on a much healthier journey, and one that is more likely to end in her finding the ultimate truth (whatever that may be).

I admit, I had moments of wondering if something happened to me. It's probably normal to think that. I especially wondered this around the age of 19 and 20, when I was really at a stage in my life of discovering my sexuality. But, the truth is that I have no real reason to think I was ever sexually abused. As I did more reading and research into repressed memories I learned how highly unlikely it would be for me to not remember abuse. I did some reflections on the who/what/when/where's of such abuse and realized there was likely no good opportunities or reasons to suspect.

I was obsessed with sex as a little kid because I was generally precocious. At age three, I asked a million questions about EVERYTHING, and sex was no exception. The sex play with friends was just acting out something we were curious about. The huge gaps in memory are just me being me - which is someone with a poor memory. There are other things that I suppose if I was looking for it, I would find, as evidence of past abuse. (Such as dealing with swinging back and forth between unreasonable fears of people and things and unreasonable trust in some people). Like I said, if you start with a conclusion (ie "I was sexually abused") and then try to build your case around it - guess what? You can. Anyone can. That's why you gotta not start with that assumption. I think the OP should start with the facts and go from there - not start with this fear of sexual abuse and then find facts to support it.

I hope some of that made sense. Thank you again, truly, for the kindness and respect you gave when you disagreed with me. I knew I might be posting something controversial - but I thought my viewpoint should be heard and the OP can either take it or leave it.

mama2landon - Again, I hope and pray that you don't see what I've posted as words meant to diminish the sincere pain you are in right now. I'm so proud of you for reaching out and talking about something so personal and so hard to talk about. I pray for your healing, and I hope you find answers.
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