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Was I Sexually Abused?

Asked by on with 1 answer:

From the U.S.: When I was about 4-5 yrs old, a boy about 7 would take me into the closet and under the bed and take my pants down and touch me and put objects in my undies and say I had to leave it there for awhile. My memory of the rest is pretty hazy. But we were both just kids so it must be my fault just as much as his? Was I abused?

I struggle a lot today with self harm, suicidal ideation and fear of abandonment and I struggle a lot socially. But I also had quite a few other experiences that affected me as well, including constant emotional abuse all my childhood.

Thanks for taking time to respond! I hope I wasn’t inappropriate in my description of what happened.

Was I Sexually Abused?

Answered by on -


Your letter is not at all inappropriate. It is very concerning. But assigning blame is not going to be helpful. From my point of view, neither of you were “at fault.” Yes, you were “abused” in that an older person (in this case age 7) was being sexual with you without your “consent.” But a 7-year-old generally doesn’t know anything about stimulating another person sexually. And a 4-year-old will generally follow the lead of an older kid.

Both of you were confused and upset. It is highly likely the boy was doing what children do when they are trying to process trauma. He may have been acting out something that was happening to him that he didn’t understand but knew wasn’t right. You probably couldn’t make sense of the situation either but knew that hiding something made it bad. My heart goes out to both of those two confused little kids.

You mention other experiences that affected you including continual emotional abuse. I’m concerned that the result is a damaged self-esteem that is at the root of your emotional and social problems today. I’m very glad you decided to write. You know you are in emotional distress. But you aren’t getting the help you need. Perhaps the same low self-esteem makes you think you don’t deserve it. You do.

You have a long life ahead of you. At 19, you are now old enough to find the help you need without asking permission and without involving the people who emotionally abused you. Make an appointment with a mental health counselor who can give you the ongoing support and guidance you need to claim the sense of self-worth that is waiting to be freed.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

Was I Sexually Abused?

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2018). Was I Sexually Abused?. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 23, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018 (Originally: 25 Mar 2016)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.