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Am I a victim of sexual abuse?
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Jessie77777 posted:
[TRIGGER] I have no one else to talk to... :-( Sorry it's kind of long.
I have had several things happen to me over my adolescent years. Strange things that I feel are wrong. I'm not sure, but I think it is effecting me. Can some of you give me some insight?

When I was around 5, my cousin, who was about 3 years older, pulled me into a closet. I can't remember what happened, but I remember us being "caught" and him getting into trouble for it, and my aunt talking to me about it. I am assuming he tried or did something sexual to me.

Then sometime around the age of 7 or 8, my brother (5 years older) was babysitting me and my sister (who is a year older than me). He came out of the shower in a towel, and came into me and my sister's room. He told us he would show us his "parts" and we could show him ours. He was probably in 8th grade or so. Anyway, I didn't want to do it, it felt wrong. But my sister said it would be ok, so he dropped his towel and exposed himself to us, and in turn we did to him. After that, things get blurry, and I can't remember how it ended or what really happened. I didn't want to do it, but my older sister and brother had a big influence on me. I idolized my brother. I never told my parents. Were we just being "kids" and experimenting?

In 5th grade, I was a school "safety" that helped the kids cross the street to school. A man pulled up to my post and told me to come over to his car. I did, and he was naked, masturbating. It was kind of a lot for a 10 year old to deal with. A few months later a man exposed himself to me and my friends while walking in the woods behind our house.

Then in middle school, another cousin always wanted to play truth or dare with me. He's a year older. He would dare me to kiss him (with tongue) or feel my breasts. I idolized him also, so I let him. I think even in high school he had a crush on me. Again, were we just being kids and experimenting?

I also don't want to throw the "Freud" thing around, but I didn't have a good relationship with my alcoholic dad. So, needless to say, I wanted male attention and I was somewhat promiscuous as a teen. I though that if I gave boys oral sex, or any type of sex, they would like me and want to spend time with me. Even to this day, I feel I have to flirt and make men want me sexually. I even recently contemplated an affair with a coworker because he has made sexual advances towards me, and I wanted him to like me and be attracted to me.

So, recently I have been thinking about the ordeal with my brother. I am almost 32 now. He is 37. This just has been bothering me. How could he do that to me and my sister? It was never talked about, or addressed. I don't want it to be talked about or addressed with him or my sister, but I think I need to deal with this myself.

When you think about sexual abuse, you think of horrible rape scenarios, years of molestation, etc. Those events obviously effect the victim. But what category do I fall into? I am so sad that my brother did this to me and my sister. But sometimes I feel it's not "harsh" enough to "count" as sexual abuse. But, I have been thinking about it a lot over the past few years. I want to tell my husband that this is what makes me so sad and depressed sometimes, but I don't want him to see my brother or sister in a different light. This is like the only thing (ok, beside my sexual escapades in college) that I have never revealed to my husband of almost 8 years. A lot of times he thinks I am just "depessed" when really I am thinking of that night in my bedroom with my brother.

Can someone help me sort this all out? Give me your "outside opinion" on this. It's really messing me up lately. I think all of this exposure to sexual events early in my life have really shaped who I am, and have contributed to my horrible depression and anxiety that I deal with. But, like I said before, all these events seem so mild when compared to a violent rape or molestation.
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Caprice_WebMD_Staff responded:
Hi Jessie,

I know that others will be responding with their thoughts but, in the meantime, I wanted to welcome you here.

Whatever the definition of all this, it's clear this is still affecting you. Have you ever discussed this with a therapist to help you sort it all out?
 
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Jessie77777 replied to Caprice_WebMD_Staff's response:
No, I haven't. I never really think it is "bad" enough or serious enough to talk to a therapist. Like I said before, I don't know if this is sexual abuse, and constitutes seeking a therapist.
 
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Jessie77777 replied to Jessie77777's response:
Oh- but I am seeking help for depression and anxiety. I am currently on an anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medication.
 
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djtimewilltell replied to Jessie77777's response:
If it bothers you enough to have an effect on you, it's worth talking about in therapy. It doesn't have to be rape or violent to cause problems. Sexual abuse has different levels...and the effects of similar situations can have drastically different on different people. Don't minimize your situation just because it isn't as "bad" as some people's.

The abuse I had wasn't violent...I had a crush on the man who fondled me when I was 16. Like you, I sought out male attention. I think the lack of positive male parenting put us in the position to be vulnerable to inappropriate attention. Maybe if you had a lot of healthy parental support things would have turned out differently. Who knows.

I just think since you are getting help for your depression anyway, if you can trust your T it would likely help you to talk about your past, especially with your brother, to help you sort out your feelings regarding it. It's how we deal with the past that means the most. Hope I'm not rambling too much.

Welcome, and post more if you want. :-)

Donna
 
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Rubberboa replied to djtimewilltell's response:
Agree with D.

If the terminology "abuse" disturbs you, think of it as "inapropiriate sexual contact" which is just as damaging as sexual abuse.

RB
 
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Jessie77777 replied to djtimewilltell's response:
Thanks for your kind words. I don't have a therapist right now. Well, I never have had one! I went to my doctor (finally) about 4 months ago to get some sort of help for depression and anxiety. I did not tell her about the incidences I described above. I have other issues (deaths of my mom, best friend, moving across country, etc.) that contribute to my depression.

I think I may seek out a therapist. It's just hard with new medical insurance and stuff... lots of hoops and red tape.

You're right, Donna. This all does make me seek out male attention. When I got done posting my discussion, I went online and sort of rekindled some inappropriate chat with a former co-worker (one I was planning on cheating with). I think this all stirred up emotions, and made me want to be... "wanted" I guess. The minute I brought all these feelings up, I ran to the nearest man to make me feel "better." Ugh! How can little events in our lives turn out to shape who we are and what we do?

Do I ever tell my husband (who is SO supportive and sensitive and patient with me) about my brother? Or, do I work this out on my own?
 
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Jessie77777 replied to Rubberboa's response:
You're right, rubberboa. I am a reproductive health teacher, and I have a day where all we talk about is sexual abuse. You'd think I would know that sexual abuse comes in may forms and effects people in different ways. Thanks for reminding me. To "abuse" means to mistreat. I was mistreated, right?
 
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Rubberboa replied to Jessie77777's response:
Jessie, I get the fealing you are not ready to embrace your "inner abused self".

that in a way you are looking for, NEEDING someone to tell you "no you weren't abused"

want... need ...perhaps praying that someone will tell you NOPE no abuse happened to you.

would that make it easier to deal with what you are dealing with? Magically give you the power to sweep it under the rug and return you to your previously scheduled program?

and on the flip side it also sounds like you need someone to confirm that you were abused, that you do not trust your own instincts.

If a student came to you and descibed the same info in your first post to you, what would you tell them?

You already know the answer. Your just to afraid to say it allowed.

Is it because of the stigma?

Is it because of the sense of string pulling? ie: if i tug at this little string, everything will come unravelled and fall apart and I fear that I would never get it all back together again.


Healing from SA is like leaping out of an airplane without a parachute. You just decide one moment to go for it and you leap.
Its scary as hell and you feel like you are going to fall forever, but as you face it you realize you have wings and you can fly and you will land safetly.

...for some of us we are buckled in our seats on the plane and suddenly with a loud BAM the whole side of the plane rips off and we are sucked out and sent spinning through the cold air.

Others leap with the coaxing of a therapist in a tandon leap, and once the hand hold on the plane is released they plumit down fast as the weight of all the baggage they carry. The therapist helps them shed the baggage and guides them in for a smooth landing.

How ever you get set on the path to healing doesn't matter. SOMETHING in your life lead you hear and is begging for your attention.

Listen to it.

and if you really need a second opinion. (which you don't, yours is all that matters) Then yes you were abused.

Welcome to the SA board. So glad you found us.

RB

 
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Jessie77777 replied to Rubberboa's response:
I guess I just always swept this under the rug, as you said. That's how I (and my family) deal with things. "Nope. I'm fine. Nothing's wrong." Now that I have moved across country, and have began working on myself (physically- lost 40 pounds and still going!!, and mentally, emotionally, and spiritually). I finally don't have a job, and can work on myself without distractions and band aids to cover things. So, these feelings have been coming up recently, and it just makes me sad, angry, ashamed... all in one.

Part of the "Nope, nothing's wrong" thing in me has always told myself that these incidents were just kids being kids, not a big deal. But, deep down I know it is. You're right, if one of my students came to me with the same story, I would take action and help that child. I feel foolish for not seeing this. I always tell my students that sexual abuse is not a dirty old man in a van trying to get you to take candy. It's parents, neighbors, siblings, people you thought were friends, trusted adults. I tell my students to tell and keep telling if someone is abusing them. I never did that. I rationalized it by thinking my "abuse" wasn't "serious enough."

But boy, has it effected me and who I am. I don't like men. Besides my husband and like a handful (ok, 2 or 3) other men, I think all men are horrible and gross. I feel like they think nasty thoughts all the time. My skin crawls around men. How unfair is that? I have been in so many fights and debates over women being treated like objects. I got into a fight a few months ago with a man who urinated in front of me at a gas station. Here it is... Another man thinking it's ok to just pull his penis out where ever! This episode made me cry and lose it. My husband was supportive, but he had no idea this is all because I am tired of feeling like this thing put on the planet for men to look at and fullfill their sexual needs!

It has also effected our sex life. We had a discussion about how I wanted to have sex more (we go weeks without it), but he said he never initiates because he feels like I fight him off the whole time and it feels like a wrestling match. It's because I don't like to be touched a lot, you know? While my husband is touching me, I get visions of my brother, or other men. It's gross.

It has also almost cost me my marriage. Whenever I feel bad about myself, I seek the effection of men... especially men a bit older than me. I posted an old discussion in the "sex and relationships" board about how I wanted to cheat on my husband. I know I wanted to because I just want validation from a man. I don't want to cheat on my husband, I just want to feel wanted. That means having a man touch me, and wanting to do sexual things to me. Crazy, huh?

Well, my husband should be home from work any minute. Better close. Thanks for anyone who listened.
 
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Contemplating19 replied to Jessie77777's response:
I don't think your mindset is crazy at all, it's a pretty normal reaction given what you've been through.

As someone else said csa doesn't always equate violence. My ex-gf.,.. her csa was very violent. Mine was like yours, I was being touched and "told" to do sexually inappropriate things to a older male cousin of mine. The fact is, my ex and I are both survivors of csa and hers is no different from mine and vise versa.

I went through the period you're going through now where I thought to myself "It was just harmless experimentation". The way I handled that was because when it's just experimentation you don't have to be "forced", or "talked into" doing anything. I experimented with a few girls in high school, and trust we BOTH wanted the experimentation to happen. Yet, with my cousin the "experimentation" left me feeling bad, used, humiliated, etc. It never got violent until the day he tried to perform anal sex with me which caused me and him to get into a physical altercation.

My ex would do the same thing you're doing now. Her abuser was her step-father and we would be right in the middle of having sex when she would suddenly start hitting me and begging me to stop. I would see the women look at me but her eyes clearly showed she was terrified and was looking at someone else.

And, as much as she hated men she would seek out attention from them. She would purposely seek out negative attention from me by picking fights, etc. It didn't even start to get a fraction better until she started counseling.

Are you seeking professional help at this time?
 
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Jessie77777 replied to Contemplating19's response:
I am not seeking professional help right now. I did ask my doctor's office yesterday to send me some referrals, people they like to use. No info yet. I think it's something I need to do, though. I find myself crying to my husband and saying, "I just need to talk to somebody." He knows whatever it is I don't want to talk to him about it, and he even asked if I would talk to my sister or one of my female cousins (she my best friend) about it. I told him no. So, he knows I need some help. He's supportive.

I can't talk to anyone that I know about this because I don't want to ruin their impression of my brother, my cousins, or my sister for that matter.

I completely relate to your ex. To us, sexual attention just feels good for some skewed reason. Maybe because my abusers were my cousin and my brother- who I idolized both so much. They were both "captain of the football team" types. And then, in high school and college, getting completely drunk and running off into rooms with guys at parties was a common occurrence. I thought they'd like me more if I performed sexual acts on them. UGH!!!

Can I ask you, Contemplating19, if you ever confronted your abuser? Did you have to see him at family functions and stuff? How did you handle that? I look at my brother sometimes and want to scream at him and say, "If I was about 8 or 9, you were about 13 or 14. You MUST remember doing this to me!!!" What do you do?
 
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Contemplating19 replied to Jessie77777's response:
No, I haven't confronted my abuser yet. It's actually a bit of a sticky situation.

I was 8 and he was 13. He was being sexually abused by a much older (I'm thinking 40ish) yr old male. His abused was going on for about 1 year. He think decided to hurt me the way he was being hurt sexually because the man wasn't a sexually abusing me and he was jealous. He wasn't sure why the man was hurting him and not me so he decided to act out and hurt me.

After about 9-10 months of him sexually abusing me we got into a physical altercation because he attempted to force anal sex on me. After that fight he disclosed to me what was happening and I told him that he needed to tell his parents. He told me he would in one week, and he begged me to not say anything to anyone about what was happening.

Well, I didn't stay quite. I told my parents what was happening to me, and what was happening to him. My parents then contacted the authorities and his parents. I told my parents the same day he was suppose to tell his parents because I thought he wasn't going to tell. This has caused a huge rift between us because he was in the process of telling his parents when the athorities and my parents contacted his house to let his parents know. From my understanding he had just sat them down in his bedroom and was just about to tell.

So, he didn't trust me. He blamed me for everything that happened afterward because I was a "snitch".

Later on (which I was about 16) he admitted that what he was doing to me when I was younger was wrong. But, he still holds some hatred in his heart for me because I couldn't keep that secret for an extra day. He asked me to do his one favor and I didn't. Which had me blaming myself even on up to now.

Now, when I see him at family functions I speak to him and he speaks back... but that's about it. I would like to have a strong relationship with my cousin but he refuses. He also has children that he refuses to let anyone around without him being present. Which hurts everyone because we're not how to hurt his children.

To handle when I see him I just speak and keep going. It does hurt and bother me a lot though.
 
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Jessie77777 replied to Contemplating19's response:
Hey 19-
What a tough situation to be in. Gosh, so many people are in this situation too. How many of us go to family functions and have to sit across from the person who abused us? And, we have to sit and act like nothing happened!!! And, you did the right thing and told your parents- but it ended up blowing up in your face. How frustrating for you.

What a mess this all creates. No matter how "little" or how "big" we perceive our abuse, it makes a heck of a life, doesn't it?
 
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Contemplating19 replied to Jessie77777's response:
Yeah, it does gives us one heck of a life.

What I realized (after coming here) was that I never did heal from it. I have an anger issues, which is I can't show my anger to save my life. I hold my anger in and just refuse to show it no matter what. So, right now my T is trying to show me what anger is, and how to express it.

However, I'm not afraid that I've held it in for so long that I may have a bit of a rage when it comes to a head. So, even though I don't need to hold it in. I continue to do so.


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