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Was I Sexually Abused?


Is it possible to have been sexually abused as a child and not remember it at all? I sometimes have dreams of being sexually attacked. When I was in the psych ward there were male nurses who would come in the room at night and check on us and this really scared me. I wanted to sleep in my blue jeans because it would be harder to get blue jeans off. The sex with my husband is good (I can climax easily) but I can’t deal with being kissed, hugged, or foreplay. Basically I can’t deal with intimacy. However, I don’t remember ever being sexually abused but why else would I feel like this.? Is it possible I can’t remember? I have also had problems with anorexia. Thanks for your time.

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Yes it is possible to have been sexually abused as a child, to not remember it, and then to experience difficulty with intimacy and other ‘symptoms’ as an adult. However, it is also possible to have NOT been sexually abused as a child and to have the same problems. Since you don’t know if you were sexually abused or not – consider that you don’t need to add to your problems by potentially ‘remembering’ something that didn’t happen. If it did happen or if it didn’t happen – you are still dealing with the same concerns today. There may very well be someone who harmed you – I don’t know one way or another. However, rather than casting about for someone to blame why not spend your energy on making life more livable in the present? The present is where you are living today. What do you think would make your life better today? Developing a better capacity for intimacy? Eating a healthy diet so that your weight remains within safe guidelines? Something else? Why not spend your energy on that? The issue comes down to whether you want to see yourself today more as a passive victim of past circumstances, or someone who actively works on today’s circumstances to make them better.

More "Ask Dr. Dombeck" View Columnists

  • allison

    I had, had strange dreams and passed them off as just that. But recently i've been examining my behaviour and it is suspect. I have the feeling but no proof. I went through a rough patch for a few years. . .and have been struggling with eating for a long long time. But i moved away from my home, to another continent and so i'm sure that whomever has mishandeled me is no longer in my life or dead. I could very well dwell on it and start a series of therapies to get to the bottom of it...but i won't. I refuse to let that feeling control my life any longer and thereofre i have employed my defense mechanisms and make my quirks work for me and not against me anymore, we can't change the past. We can only let it stay there learn from it and move forward. this is truly the only way to go. Dwelling is poisonous and counterproductive. Why sit around crying and asking why me, when it had to be you. . . someone else may not have made it through. I should mention at this point that i'm in a loving, committed and sometimes (due to my issues) a strenuous relationship, but i have to remember that my partner isn't the one who damaged me. He's part of my strength in healing. He is everything i'm not. We have 2 small children and another on the way (not bad) and i'm doing my best to be a great mother/ partner.

    doing me best is all he can ask. and my best seems to get better all the time.


  • Youssef

    I too was sexually abused when I was a child. The only difference between us is that I'm certain who did it and when she did it to me. I'm 19 years old and the person that did this to me is my sister. I'm currently still living with her. I don't know if it's post-traumatic stress but m relationsships and actually my whole life is succumbing to what happend to me when I was a child. I've thought about suicide many times. What happend to me has made more sensitive to external actions by which I mean that normally when people develop into adults they form this barrier which helps them interprete external signals rationally while I interprete them primarily emotionally. Do you think I should just move out of my parent's home where all of this took place?

    Thanks in advance

  • karina

    when i was 7 i was abused by my best friend her step-dad was raping her and she used me because she didn't want to feel alone she only did it once but i went into such shock that i had to go to thearpy for five years before i finally told someone she ruined my life and i don't think i will ever forgive her but now i'm in high school with a bunch of friends so yeah.

  • Abdul

    I was just reading the above article that doctor Mark Dombeck provided... And I have a very important question. Now of course it makes sense to not try to figure out weather someone has been sexually abused as a child or not considering the fact that both scenarios can propose the same set of psychological problems that the person should focus on overcoming. However, does it not help to know that the person was sexually abused as a child to deal with the cause (the abuse) rather than dealing with issues that are nothing but a result of it? and can dealing with the Abuse eliminate the resulting psychological problems?

  • Connie

    Will, I am a 37 year woman and at 18 I remember a boy sitter sexually abusing me and my 2 younger sisters when I was about 7 or 8. Before 18 I had no recolaction of this ever happening. Life have not been easy to deal with at times. I have a loving husband and there are times when I feel I have raped by the man I love because of the mixed feelings I have over what happened. I still feel there are things that I don't remember to this day. I have been to numberous councelers. This is a life healing process but in our own ways we will deal with it. I wish all abusers would feel the torment we do.... I am thinking of confronting my abuser soon. Good luck all and keep on healing

  • sourgirl

    I am a 40 year old woman of 4 boys. As a child my sister was abused by my father. As far as I know there was no actual penatration but she was forced to perform oral sex on him. I did not find out about this until I graduated high school but I always noticed that my sister got a lot more attention from my father than I did. I also read her diary once when I was in the 7th grade and at that time had no idea the all the babble was about my father. It didnt hit me until much later in life exactly what I read so many years ago. As a child I was always disgusted by sex. I was always extremly upset by the mere mention of anything that had to do with sex, body parts etc.. I would litterally scream my head off, call every body filthy pigs and leave the house. However, when I was in the second grade, my neighbor and I used to "play doctor" for hours. This went on for a few months but after that was over, I never did that again with any one As a teen I avoided boys but masturbated quite frequently. As a young adult I became promiscuous but never actually had sex. I performed oral sex instead. Once I turned 21 I drank heavily 7 nights a week with each night turning into a one night stand. This went on for a few years and then I began to struggle with eating disorders (bulemorexia). And so this has been my life up to the present time. I am now in love with a very caring man who I know loves me whole heart and soul. Our intimacy started out amazingly but within the past three years it has taken a serious nose dive. I have no intrest in sex AT ALL. It's dirty and it makes me feel dirty. I can get through love making if it's quick and if he does not touch me. I dont want to "make out", I dont want any part of my body touched and sometimes I feel as though I've been raped after having sex with this man who truly loves me. If he even tries to touch me I become enraged. I dont want to talk about sex, see love scenes on TV and I'm trying to keep any and all sex away from my boys. I guess I'm wondering If my dad managed to get his hands on me and I just totally blocked it out... Now at 40 when I'm supposed to be content, my life is in a shambles, my relationship is a mess and I'm pretty sure that I'm not doing my children any favors by "protecting" them so fiercly. I should also mention that I'm being treated for depression for several years now...

  • Mara

    Once while having sex with my husband I had what I think was a flashback. I gasped as this flashback happened to me. My husband was on top of me and all of sudden I was taken back in this flashback with this large man on top of me. It only lasted a second or two gratefully.

    I do not remember being sexually abused though.

    I was physically abused by mother as an infant. I once had a "memory" of her sexually abusing me, a very specific incident. I don't know how I could remember something that happened as an infant though.

    I wonder....

  • Anonymous-1

    I have not nor will ever say it out loud but I too think something happened to. I remember my pediatric doctor sliding his fingers inside of me to check me out. I was really young...maybe 8 or 9. He said he wanted to make sure things were ok. My mom was in the room but spoke really little Engish so I don't know if she didn't understand or didn't care. We never went back to that doctor and it was never mentioned again. Also, when I was about 6, a boy in my building would touch me in an inappropriate manner. He would even pull up my skirt to smell me. I was too ashamed to tell anyone. To this day, sex means nothing to me. To this day, I feel disgusted.

    :( This is the 1ist time I ever said anything. My heart is racing and hands are shaking. I am ready to grow old and die. That is my life.

  • Britt

    I dont know if I was abused when I was little. I am 21 now and have alot of difficulties with pornography. I am a Christian and I know this is wrong. I think I was sexually abused because I am always having these nightmares with this guys hand all over me. When I was little I already knew alot about sex. The only thing I can think is that I was and thats why I know so much. I just want to know so I can move on.

  • Anonymous-2

    I often wonder if i was sexually abused as a very young child. the farthest back i can remember is when i was three, even then i had an abnormal understanding of sex. as a young child i was always playing with myself even at an age when you know better but the thought of sex even the word made me nervous and even nauseated until i hit puberty and got my period at which point i became sexually obsessed. i was 12 and could not wait to have sex, but i did until i was 16. but i thought about sex everyday, when i did have sex there was no blood no pain nothing, nothing at all. also i only like rough sex, i only want to be dominated i cannot bring myself to be in control during sex. i have always been prone to depression, suicidal thoughts and self image issues, the first time i thought about killing myself i was 9. when i was 15-17 i suffered from anorexia. at other times i have just been constantly saddened and i have cut myself twice in my life, not on my wrists but other discrete places, i have never cut with intent to kill myself but instead it has happend when someone i am close to has hurt me, the first time it was my boyfriend of 5 years and the second my mother who has always been verbally abusive. But to be honest at this point in my life i have moved out of my childhood home and neighborhood and i am a very happy optimistic person, i am not depressed anymore, i have no thoughts of suicide ever, and no eating disorders. I have been a new person since i moved away 3years ago, the only lingering problems are sexual. most problematic is this, i am a christian and in every other way very moral, and i make myself sick because, i have a problem with porn and i dont know why i hate it, and try to stop but i find myself doing it again, i hate myself for it, ='[ i am so disgusted with myself, i pray for help with it, and i will make it a few months but then it happens again. why, why? this cant be normal..

    just talking about this makes me feel so much better i have never ever ever uttered these words or thoughts to anyone in my life, this is the very first time.

  • danielle

    I have one memory of my brother sexually abusing me. I was about 4yrs old and he was 14yrs old. My childhood circumstances were very tramatic. My mother was constantly physically and verbally abused by my father who always was drunk or on drugs. It was like walking on eggshells in our house. She was also very depressed and hostile, yet she was the more stable of the two and I loved her and still do love her dearly. I am now 38 yrs old and have a long history of going to self help therapist, phyciatrist, hypnotist, healers, and acupunturist all to try to be a happier healthier person. My recent therapist said I have progressed but there are these mental blocks that I cant seem to release to truely be a healthy happy person. She wants me to go to inpatient. I am not sure how I feel about this.

  • Questioned?

    I am a 14 year old girl,

    I've had sex with 7 guys, I dont think of myself as a slut but just confused. I've had experience in question with being insest as a young child. I used to not be competely appropriate as I was young, & and my uncle used to get me high. I also used to touch myself. I've wondered if I was sexually assaulted as a young kid and just dont remember? I tried hanging myself when I was in grade three. Last year I over dosed on pills. I heard I am not an adverage 14 year old girl. I want to know why.

    My mom told me... she dated a man who raped his own sister I lived with them evey other weekend. She also said when I was about in grade 1 I was bleeding from my vigina? She is a drug addict I dont know what to beleive?

  • Anonymous-3

    I always had sexual problems. I remember always feeling guilty, filty, and enraged as a young child if someone even said the word "body"! I used to freak out at the sound (and still do, although I try not to show it) of someone chewing their food loudly or not closing their mouth when they chew. I have had bulimia for over 8 yrs, alcohol problems, and a hardcore heroin addiction that led to prostitution. I had many many sexual partners and am so thankful to God that I don't have a disease. I have now been clean for 2 yrs and have a perfect daughter but I KNOW I was molested as a child. I am just not sure who did it to me. I only remember bits and peices, but I DO remember lots of feelings of being uncomfortable with my father and his mother as a child. I never felt safe in my life and I still don't. I have destroyed the relationship with the man I love but I am constantly resentful of him and others who don't treat me in a more sensitive manner. Especially if they used to and now they don't. I have HUGE problems with rejection and my looks. I also flirt with and even have sex with guys that Im not even into, just bc I want them to want me. Its all very poisonous and sick and I don't know what to do. Im 28 yrs old and I feel more helpless now than I did when I was on heroin! Going back to drugs or bulimia is not an option for me, but I have been drinking A LOT lately and I do not hardly eat at all. My brother is completely normal and fine. Why am I so screwed up???

  • Anonymous-4

    was wondering if anyone related to this or maybe i am just making it up, crazy, self indulgent or its the post natal deppression or stress. I get these feelings of being overwhelmed, numb, frozen. It tends to be when i am stressed or alone with my children. the other day i was helpling my son to sleep and was in his cot comforting (he has bad excema) when i felt suffocated, frozen, like there was someone above me, but i didnt have pictures it was just feelings. Its made me feel think all sorts of weird things, like maybe my dad abused me when i was very little which is a horrible thing to say coz i love my dad and am sure he wouldnt do that but feel a bit confused by it all. My triggers for these overwhelming sensations are when i am at home with my kids, tired or feel like i am not coping, and sometime later after other people tell me about their abuse which happens alot in my line of work. Just wondered if anyone thought it was possible that my mind is focusing on the wrong thing or maybe its real? Thanks

  • lonelyvic

    so i have these memories and images of my father showing him self to me and putting on porno if he was watching me and saying dont look away i know you want to watch it. it freaks me out because i also remember going on vacas with him and him making me sleep in the same bed...i was probably 6-8 when this was going on. i never got over this and i dont know why i would remembered these things if they never happened.. i am 20 years old now and when i was 15 i got really drunk and told my mom. but she denied it.i feel like no one would believe me if i said anything so i keep it asecret but it eats me up inside. i dont get close to men on an romantic level just on a sexual one. it sucks because i still live in the same house as them and inside i know!! he did something to me. i live in pain everyday and i dont know what to do :(

  • Anonymous-5

    It breaks my heart to see all of these comments. Every woman in my family has been raped and/or sexually abused and nothing has ever been reported. I see these comments and I have to wonder how many people have been victimized. I have been told by several psychologists and a counselor that they think I was sexually abused as a child because of my repeated sexual victimization as an adult. I too was unusually sexual as a child and I memories that allude to the possibility, but I will never know for sure. I pray with all of my heart for peace within evey victim's soul, and that we find a way to help protect our young from the same fate.    

  • Josh

    I'm so sorry any of this stuff happened to you guys. I'm a 16 year old guy and i feel for you.

  • mobi

    my grandfather was first one to touch me wrongly,he used to tell me about periods and touch my breasts and b/w legs when i was just happened 3,4 times,i had no idea what was it all about,then my brother one year old than me tried to touch me and lip kiss,i had to tell my parents,but that was only day i felt their support,later till now i am alone,they never try to understand i have problem with my brother living under same roof.i hate him now,because in my sub concious i demand care and love as his pentinance for past,but he never does that and though he is completely changed now,quite religious,but ruined me,i hate him,and also it reminds me of grand reminds

  • Anonymous-6

    this was one great answer. thank you so much.

  • je

    When I was in high school my best friend raped me but most of the times I feel like it was my fault like I deserved it even tho I remember I was crying asking him to stop doing that to me. Now I'm a mom and I don't trust anyone with my daughter, I don't even trust my husband (child's father). Am I wrong?

  • me

    I don't know if I was abused in early childhood. I have a few reasons to worry. One, I once had a dream about "Dad" (my ex-stepfather and my half-brother's Dad) having sex with me from above, while I was totally passive and stuck in a crack between floorboards. Two, he had a friend whose lap I used to sit on when I was five or so, and play with his beard, and who liked to play tickling games with me later on, after Mum and Dad split. I know it happened numerous times, but I can only remember the last, which was when I indicated, very passively, that I was uncomfortable with it. This was when I was 10-11. Earlier than this, Mum also told me not to sit on his lap, because he "falls in love with little girls, and when they grow up, wants to marry them". Three, I went through a phase in primary school of being squeamish about bodily functions or feelings, and having to tell someone about them, even something like hunger, though I don't know how long this lasted. Four, at age 7, I took it into my head to undress my infant brother and I think myself, and not touch, but point out and tell him what and where the genitals were. Don't know why, hope that wasn't suspect. I've also been sexually attractive in adulthood to a guy who turned out to also fancy 12-14 yrold girls, and allowed guys to take advantage of me sexually, or done things I didn't really want to do. I sometimes make sexually inappropriate comments in a mixed group, I get excited by the thought of my sexuality being exposed or revealed publically, by circumstances outside or semi-outside my control, and last year, while I still had straight guys in my class at uni, I used to wear high heels, tight, low jeans, with no belt, and a thong, so people could see what sexy underwear I was wearing. But I don't like my personal space being invaded by strangers, or guys on the street who harrass and intimidate, and I automatically hate any guy who fancies me if he's too old for me. Also, my acting lecturer at uni, who's incredibly smart and perceptive, and caring, and was working with me on issues of self-consciousness and my voice, asked me privately if I'd ever been molested as a child, because apparently I show several of the signs, including a dissociation between mind and body. I know my home life hasn't been great for a lot of my life, a lot of financial insecurity and verbal abuse, but I don't know if there's something more than what I've already described, that's happened to me and I just can't or won't remember.

  • Anonymous-7

    im 25, n i dunno if anything happened to me but ive been wondering about it for a while. I feel extremely uncomfortable if anyone shows me that they love me. im fine with my boyfriend.. intimate n everything though ive never really liked having sex. i feel uncomfortable even when my adorable 3 yr old nephew hugs me and have any sorta physical contact with me for too long! i dnt think thats normal, is it? the only odd thing that i remember happened to me was, talking to this 21 yr old guy online when i was 15. he used to tell me how 'mature' and perfect i am. later on he used to tell me how he wanted to kiss me n have babies with me. we met too much on n nothing happened btwn us that i can remember. now that i think abt it, it doesnt really sound right. i wonder if anythin else happened in my life to feel this uncomfortable abt anyones touch!

  • allisen

    i dont know if i was sexually abused as a child or not, but i have a lot of weird problems that just seem to add up. my ex-stepfather was a raging alcoholic to start, physically, emotionally, and verablly abusive. i lived with him up until i was 18. looking back, at a very early age, roughly 10 or 11, i was interested in sex, not even knowing what it actually was. learning about masturbation somehow. i became extremely promiscuous at an early age too, somewhere around the age of 13. i for some strange reason find myself attracted to a rape fetish, but at the same time im completely ashamed to admit that or think about it sometimes. i looked for attention from men through physical contact, i feel as though i need it to be happy.. but the thing that worries me the most, is the constant fear to be alone with my completely uncomfortable around him and i do not like to be in the same room as him when no one is around. i do know he cared for me the least out of my half sisters and i did get "mysterious" bruises and such when i was extremely young. i never felt any sort of love for him and he scared me soo bad when i was little that i would actually wet myself when he would hit me. something is just too weird.

  • Jan

    I don't even know how to say these things but I need to because I feel life is over for me. It is too difficult to explain and too long but my life has been very strange and difficult, I must first say that I have limited memories of my childhood and even some parts of my teen years and even adult years, I am 30 by now and just when I thought all the bad had gone away I am back into the worst crisis ever. As far as I can remember, except the fact that we were rather quite poor and I always wetted my bed, I don't recall anything bad happening to me when I was small, but now we think something was wrong, the worst parts I can recall at all were my teen years, starting a bit before maybe, around 11 or 12, in that time my parents lost their home and many things happened in my family, like problems with addictions, I must say I am the youngest of 4 children, all of my siblings are older than me, being my sister the closest with 8 years difference, plus two brothers, the oldest ones with several mental and behaviour problems. I can't recall any of them in my childhood memories and by the time I was in puberty they were more or less gone. Then in puberty I remember hurting myself sexually, some sort of aggressive masturbation to the point to make myself bleed, I am almost sure my father saw something once but he didn't say nor do anything about it, and then all my life went downhill, I was too depressed about the change of house we had, about my siblings going away, the drug problems with some relatives, plus my father has always been alcoholic, he never hurt me, at least that I can remember, but they did neglect me. I began to have problems in school by the time I got to middle school, I went from being a straight A child to fail the middle school which in my home country is 3 years, and my parents allowed me to drop out, since then I lived in terrible conditions, my bed wetting, even if I was already a teenager, got if anything, worse, I was living like a pig, I was a hoarder, I guess, or I still am, but I haven't done that kind of things since several years ago now, my

  • lola

    I have always felt uncomfortable being alone with my dad in the house,even sitting next to him on the sofa I have dreams of him performing oral sex on me or washing me. He was a heavy drinker and very violent, on several occasions I was physically and mentally abused. I am convinced something happened, yet I was a virgin when I got married. I always end up with abusive men. I self mutilate. AM I just mad?

  • Ally

    I was molested as a child no one knows i have to live with this suffer it in silence , im an adult who is sufering whit social anxiaty and depression never had any sort of relentionchips sexualy is out of the cuestion i will not married or have children , i funtion but it feels to me like im not really there , not one can know i dont like to feel like a victim.


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