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Old 02-21-2013, 03:53 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I am an adult survivor of child abuse. I am having a very difficult time right now. My 9.5 yr old daughter has become completely obsessed with masturbation the last month or so. One of the issues I am having with her is that she is not doing so privately in her own room, but out in the open where anyone can walk in and see her. We have had MANY talks about this. I have reassured her that pleasing herself is a natural thing, and that everyone does it, but that it is something done in privacy, not around other people. She has told me that she understands every time webhavevtalked about it. I thought we had finally gained some ground here the last couple days, until yesterday when I walked up on her while she was touching herself while on the couch.

But NOW red flags are going up in my head and my gut. I just now picked up my Ipad after leaving the room to use the bathroom for five minutes, to find that she had googled "animals having sex" and had been looking at multiple images of not only animals having sex, but inappropriate images of animals and people. I am totally flipping out. Is it normal for a kid of her age to be acting like this or am I justified in thinking that maybe she was molested over the Xmas break while she was away? I really don't know what's "normal" due to my own history of abuse. I have been struggling with paranoia on this issue ever since she was born, b/c the last thing in the world that I want is for her to endure that horrible trauma and the aftermath. I am sick to my stomach right now just thinking about it...
Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 02-21-2013, 04:04 PM
 
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I answered your last post and I didn't want to say anything, but it threw up red flags for me too.  please take into consideration that this is absolutely only my experience and I am not a professional.  I am not a child of abuse but I am a child of a line of abuse.  it stopped right at my generation but affected many before me.  I am told that abuse happened to me and I don't remember it, but I think that's kind of hogwash.  I start mbating at a very young age and was totally obsessed with it.  later on, I acted out in other ways and someone watching from the outside would probably believe I was a surviver of abuse.  because I am not actually a survivor of abuse, I had to figure out why I was acting out like one...and I eventually realized (and this is just for me and my family) that the patterns, attitudes and behavior of the sexually abused had trickled down to me.  I had picked up on all of my mother's, aunts', grandmother's, ect. "stuff" and the lineage continued.  patterns get established in families and don't stop just because an abuser dies.  they stop when the abused start to change the way they think and act.  does that make sense? I am in NO way blaming you and I am certainly not trying to imply that this is what has happened with your daughter.  just a thought that she may very well be acting out in a familial pattern that is so subtle there is no way you could have seen it before.  

 

my heart totally goes out to you because it sounds like such a scary situation.  can you get her into a therapist?  I think that's your best bet right now.  I'm so sorry mama :(  

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Old 02-21-2013, 04:27 PM
 
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Honestly, that sounds like normal exploring behavior to me. Perhaps one of her friends suggested she look it up, perhaps she heard a character talk about it on TV. I know nothing about childhood abuse, or surviving it(KUDOS to you), but to me... this just reminds me of the odd things me and my friends would google search when we were around her age. In my opinion, she's just exploring. Things she likes, things she doesn't like..etc etc. It probably wouldn't hurt to tell her if she ever needs to, she's more than welcome to tell you ANYTHING. Maybe beat around the bush? Perhaps, depending on her personality which only you would know, maybe you could ask her directly and non-confrontational that you saw what she was looking into and ask her if she wants to talk about it with you or had any questions. I'd definitely remind her that masturbating is for her bedroom. Maybe you could ask her exactly WHY she likes doing it out in the open? Um, is the couch more comfortable for her? And maybe you could set something up in her bedroom so she'd be just as comfortable(If not moreso) to be doing that sort of thing in her bedroom.

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Old 02-22-2013, 12:41 PM
 
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i'm a licensed marriage and family therapist, and have lots of experience working with abuse survivors of all ages (3 yo to elderly). first, i want to say your little one is so blessed to have a mom who is looking out for her, and noticing changes in her behavior.

 

i can't say for sure if your daughter was molested, but in my experience a child of that age (i have a 9.5 yo DS and a 12 yo DD myself) who is masturbating publicly, repeatedly, and *after* having been talked to in the way that you described (sounds like you handled it perfectly, with developmentally appropriate talk and compassion and love. great job, mama thumb.gif that's not an easy talk to have, especially if you're feeling anxious) is a cause for concern. both of my kids (not abused) went thru a phase at around 7-8 yo of discovering that masturbation felt great and both tried it out on the couch, *this* part, i think is a very normal part of sexual exploration for kids. BUT, both stopped the public masturbation as soon as we talked about it. i know they both still enjoy touching themselves, because occasionally they will ask me a question about it, but i have not seen either do it publicly since we talked.

 

in my work, the kids who are seen masturbating in school or in public have often been the victims of sexual abuse, it's actually a red flag for therapists. of course, it is not ALWAYS the case, but it is more likely than not, in my experience.

 

are you seeing other signs that worry you? has her behavior changed in any other ways since she was away from you? (more withdrawn, sad, anxious, fearful?)  does the person who abused you have access to her? keep in mind when you talk to her that if something did happen, its likely she was told not to tell you. my kids like it when i share my own experiences from my childhood with them, this often gets them comfortable enough to tell me something painful that's going on with them. you might talk to her in general about secrets and how when someone does or says something that feels bad & then tells you not to tell your mom, that's not the kind of secret you can keep to yourself. i don't know if you're ready to tell her about your own abuse, but this might be a good time to do so (in a non-detailed, developmentally appropriate way, of course).

 

whatever you do, please make sure you have support for yourself. grouphug.gif

 

anyway, HTH. breathe, mama. she will be ok.

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Old 02-22-2013, 10:55 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you all so much for your replies..

I am worried because I see behaviour in her that I myself exhibited as a sexually abused child. The obsessive masturbation, public masturbation despite being spoken with about it numerous times, the obsession with sexual images. There have been other behavioral changes in my daughter as well, but I chalked them up to all of the other massive changes that are going on in our lives right now. She has been VERY angry, sad, has drastic mood swings, trouble sleeping and nightmares, has been getting into other kinds of trouble like stealing candy and lying repeatedly, even when literally caught red handed. She told me last week that she "is depressed and feels like she has nothing to look forward to anymore." We've been through a lot the last couple of years but IMHO, THAT is not normal behaviour for a 9 year old.
I have talked to her about my own abuse in an age approppriate way, and have tried to abuse-proof her as much as I possibly can. The person who abused me as a child was an older neighborhood boy, and the abuse began when I was roughly 5-6 years old. I don't remember most of my childhood, due to my history of abuse I have repressed a great deal of it, so I don't have all that much to go on to compare her behaviour to, but what I do have to compare it to definitely disturbs me. Both of my sisters and sadly most of the women I know closely were also abused. I did not even know myself that I had been sexually abused, despite being a text book case poster child and having countless therapists tell me as much during my many years in therapy. My younger sister is the one who eventually told me about the abuse about ten years ago, and I went right back into therapy, which is where little bits and pieces of my own long repressed memories finally began to surface more than 25 plus years later. Anyway, that's why I came here for help, I literally have no one else to ask. My parents would be of no help, all of us were abused and they had no idea, and my Dad was abused himself as a young boy.
I don't know if I should get her into therapy now or wait until I know for certain what exactly is going on... I feel so lost, clueless, and helpless. I definitely don't want to over react and act out of my own paranoia, but if she HAS been abused I want to get her the help she needs right away. Better to be safe than sorry? I don't want her to go through life broken, struggling down the same road that I have stumbled down for the last 34 years. Wading through self hatred, shame, guilt, being completely reckless and a danger to herself, continuously trying to drag herself out of the black hole of depression, stave off thoughts of suicide, drinking, self mutilation, drugs, promiscuity, and seeing herself as only being worth her what her body and face can bring her. I definitely do not want that sad, lonely "life" for her, she deserves SOOOOOO much more! And so do the rest of us who have had our innocence and our childhoods stolen from us. It has taken me a really looooooong time to turn my life around and pull myself up from all of that, and it breaks my heart to even think that she may have all of that ahead of her. I hope and pray that I am wrong....
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Old 03-01-2013, 04:23 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Pranamama73 View Post

Thank you all so much for your replies..

I don't know if I should get her into therapy now or wait until I know for certain what exactly is going on... I feel so lost, clueless, and helpless. I definitely don't want to over react and act out of my own paranoia, but if she HAS been abused I want to get her the help she needs right away. Better to be safe than sorry?

 

Mama, you don't wait until you know for certain what's going on.  You get her into therapy to find out what's going on. Here are your own words: 

 

 

There have been other behavioral changes in my daughter as well:

 

1. She has been VERY angry, sad, has drastic mood swings

 

2. trouble sleeping and nightmares

 

3. has been getting into other kinds of trouble like stealing candy

 

4. She told me last week that she "is depressed and feels like she has nothing to look forward to anymore."

 

5. We've been through a lot the last couple of years ...  massive changes that are going on in our lives right now.

 

ALL of these are reason enough to see a therapist. Heck, #4 there is reason enough by itself.  There is no over-reacting in this situation you described.

 

You're made a really good first step.  You came here for some objective feedback, because you're uncertain about your own instincts.  Let me tell you, that's huge. Recognizing your limitations and then looking for some way to work with it-  excellent!! 

 

Don't wait any longer.  Get her in to see a child therapist soon.  She needs some outside, expert help.


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Old 03-06-2013, 10:25 AM
 
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I don't think it's necessarily a sign of abuse.

My mother was from a very large, religious family and was exposed to a lot of inappropriate things from trusted family friends at a young age; I was never abused, not even remotely, although the opportunity was there... My best friend was being raised by a single dad, she had an older teenage brother, I spent all summer on their farm, I slept over nearly every day, we all slept on the living room floor together, most of my friends (other than this girl) were older boys, so all of this was always very concerning to my mother. She would always ask me bizarre questions, like if anyone had ever touched me, if anyone was hurting me, why I did this or that, so as far as I was concerned at the time, the only one in my life who was being inappropriate and creepy was her. Now that I'm older and know what I know, I can understand... there were a lot of "incriminating" signs, I came home once with no underwear and refused to explain (they actually got caught in somewhere where I wasn't supposed to be so I just ripped them off and ditched them), I spilled mayo on my pants and didn't want to get in trouble so I stashed them in the back of a closet, I found a box of condoms outside and took them home and opened all of them out of curiosity, the list was endless... Once we got the internet when I was 10, my curiosity together with a computer in my room, the weirdness was limitless! I used to amuse myself for hours with all of the strange things I could look up. It wasn't even about sex or being aroused, I was just constantly on a quest to find bizarre or taboo pictures I probably shouldn't have been looking at... seeing those same types of things today make my stomach turn, but at the time it was just so beyond interesting. A lot of the weirdest pages I'd end up on weren't even a product of my own creativity, just linking around and ending up on some strange places. 

I would maybe ask someone other than you that she may confide in to see if there is anything to worry about. In my experience, sending a child to a therapist who doesn't need to talk to one just unnecessarily confuses children. 

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Old 03-06-2013, 11:54 PM
 
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Originally Posted by journeymom View Post

 

Mama, you don't wait until you know for certain what's going on.  You get her into therapy to find out what's going on. Here are your own words: 

 

 

There have been other behavioral changes in my daughter as well:

 

1. She has been VERY angry, sad, has drastic mood swings

 

2. trouble sleeping and nightmares

 

3. has been getting into other kinds of trouble like stealing candy

 

4. She told me last week that she "is depressed and feels like she has nothing to look forward to anymore."

 

5. We've been through a lot the last couple of years ...  massive changes that are going on in our lives right now.

 

ALL of these are reason enough to see a therapist. Heck, #4 there is reason enough by itself.  There is no over-reacting in this situation you described.

 

You're made a really good first step.  You came here for some objective feedback, because you're uncertain about your own instincts.  Let me tell you, that's huge. Recognizing your limitations and then looking for some way to work with it-  excellent!! 

 

Don't wait any longer.  Get her in to see a child therapist soon.  She needs some outside, expert help.

I COMPLETELY agree with this. It doesn't matter if she has been abused or not, there is definitely something going on with her and it sounds like she needs some help.


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