I had a highly traumatic childhood of emotional abuse, smothering, and neglect at the hands of a substance-abusing parent. I was also molested through my diaper by older children as a toddler. I believe these led to the development of my severe, chronic dissociate disorder and OCD. I say all this for context, not as an excuse. As a kid, I had horrible violent and sexually deviant intrusive thoughts as well as PGAD in conjunction with them. I hated them and wanted nothing to do with them and tried to suppress them, but was convinced I was evil. Therapy has helped me realize they weren’t my fault back then. However, as a teen, I decided those thoughts were inevitable and began to let awful scenarios play out in my head instead of rejecting them and masturbated to some of them. I found online communities of people who shared these thoughts but considered them harmless “kinks” when explored only through fiction. I never intended to act on any of them and considered them divorced from my true opinions, but now I see they were still affecting me and I want nothing to do with them. I don’t believe an immoral fantasy can be harmless anymore. I became hyper-sexual and a chronic masturbator. My twin cousins who are 7 years younger than me slept in my room when they visited my house. I was around 15-17. When I knew they had fallen asleep, I silently masturbated. It happened a couple times. I think they were asleep and I don’t think they knew, but it haunts me everyday and the remorse and self-disgust I feel is indescribable. It had nothing to do with their presence, I just wanted to orgasm, but it was SO irresponsible of me no matter how careful I was. In the only other instance of this, I once compulsively touched myself through my pants in an upstairs room of their house, only for a sec, planning to stop before anyone entered. One of them walked in unexpectedly and I was mortified, but pretended I just had an itch, apologized, and went to wash my hands. I don’t know if I can tell my therapist, but it’s eating me alive. I don’t know if these instances count legally as indecency to a minor. If so, I’m ready to turn myself in. I want to kill myself.

A. You grew up in an unstable and abusive household. The people who were supposed to protect you, hurt you. The failed you when you were at your most vulnerable. Children are helpless and must rely on their parents to protect them, but not all parents are capable, good or caring. Some were raised by bad parents and some of these will go on to mimic what was done to them. A small minority of parents deliberately hurt their children. Intentional or not, the effects of poor parenting can be lasting. But thankfully, they are correctable.

As an adult, it is your responsibility to correct the damage inflicted by your parents and this is best achieved with counseling. Many people are in therapy because of bad parenting.

It is good that you have already made progress in therapy. The next step is to tackle this issue. Your biggest challenge, however, might be your mindset of shame. It is important to realize that you are not a criminal. Your counselor will not judge you or turn you into the authorities. You have done nothing illegal.

It took courage to write this letter and it will take courage to address your sexuality in counseling but it is the essential next step. It might also help if you read about child abuse and neglect. You’ll learn about its effects on children and more importantly about the ability to heal. With good counseling and a willingness to address painful topics, your prognosis is positive.

You might also discuss, with your therapist, the possibility of consulting a sex therapist. Sexuality is a complicated and poorly understood topic and you could benefit from a specialist in this field. You and your therapist should discuss the best approach for you.

You have already experienced progress in counseling. It is proof that counseling works. It can work for this issue too. Good luck.

Dr. Kristina Randle