I have been struggling for a long time with thoughts and issues that I cannot explain. I cannot figure out what is wrong with me, but there must be. I have been to counselors before but have never had the courage to approach them with these things. We talked about my depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, and social issues, but somehow it seems wrong to speak these other things out loud.

I am going to make a list, which might seem a little jumbled, but hopefully you can pull it into something meaningful for me. I just need to know that I’m not an awful person.
-I remember being in early grade school and laying on a couch near a man and telling him he could do whatever he wanted to me and I wouldn’t make a sound. He only tickled me with his foot in my armpit, but I remember wishing he would touch me in inappropriate places. I wanted him to hurt me. I always wanted him to kiss me on the mouth but he would only kiss me on the forehead, not matter how I tried to evade and catch him on the mouth.
-When I was younger I would fantasize about an evil doctor who kept me hostage in his lab. If I did not do what he said he would torture me more. Sometimes he would suspend me naked over a pot of boiling liquid and I lower me closer until I begged to be spared and promised to do as he said.
-I remember licking my mother’s torso- her arms and armpits- when she was wearing a bathing suit, because I wanted to.
-I would stuff objects in my underwear that hurt me and pretend I was being tortured, holding my hands cuffed above my head as I lay on the bed.
-I had a separate quasi-sexual relationship with all of my first/second grade friends. We would touch and lick each other. I remember forcing one against a wall and making her kiss me on the mouth.
I was a child! Why did I do these things? It’s not normal. Even now I cannot imagine having a healthy sexual relationship, but my dreams consist of being raped. The only man who will ever want to be with me will force me and hurt me and leave me. I dream of being locked up and used, forced to have sex and nothing else. Of being abused. I hate being touched, not even hugged by my close friends and family. I am incapable of being close to anyone. PLEASE HELP ME.

A: “Healing takes courage, and we all have courage, even if we have to dig a little to find it.” 
~Tori Amos

Thank you for writing us. I admire you for being able to bring these thoughts forward.

Whenever there are recurring or persistent thoughts we want to pay attention to them. It is as if our psyche wants us to notice there is something going on that needs our attention and keeps nudging us to deal with it. Both the recurrence and your discomfort are informative. Something needs to change in order to help.

Without jumping to conclusions about sexual abuse or trauma, I think it would be safe to say that there is a theme represented in your thoughts that is powerful enough to impact having a healthy sexual relationship. This is where you would begin talking with your therapist. Let him or her know that you are having these difficult thoughts, and your belief that they are having an impact on developing a healthy sexual relationship. This is something you know to be true, and you can go at your own pace with this process. Let the relationship you have with your therapist continue to be a safe place for you to sort out these thoughts and images. If talking about this is too difficult you may want to show your therapist the list you have and let the discussion evolve from there.

Healing takes courage and commitment. It is clear to me you have both.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan