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I Don’t Know if I Sexually Abused Someone When I Was a Child

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When I was either 6-7, I was at my mom’s friend’s house. My mom and her friend left me and the other child alone that day; I knew her we would play sometimes previously when I was at the friend’s house. I remember lifting up the girls ‘shirt that day and kissing her breast because I saw someone do it on tv and wanted to know if “that’s what sex was” I was a very curious child in all aspects not just what sex was. I only kissed the girls breast for a second or two until I got bored and stopped. She didn’t protest or seem to not want it. My mom and her friend didn’t know. Later on in the year I still was trying to figure out what sex was so I got on top of a girl from my church and was just about to kiss her (because I saw that on tv as well) but my sister stopped me (thank goodness!!). My sister got mad at me and after that I never did anything sexual toward another person again in my childhood. I kinda forgot about those instances until a few years ago and now I’m thinking that sexually assaulted the first girl because she didn’t verbally say to anything, she just went along with it. And I feel bad for what I would have done to the second girl from church had my sister not have stopped me. I know now (and have known since I was probably 9 or 10) that consent is very important and to respect personal boundaries. And I also know I was a child who was exploring and modeling what I saw on television but I am just terrified of the fact I could’ve sexually abused someone no matter how little or unknowing I was.

I Don’t Know if I Sexually Abused Someone When I Was a Child

Answered by on -

A.

As you correctly noted in your letter, you were a child. You didn’t know any better. Children can’t consent because they are too young. Their brains are underdeveloped. The law recognizes that children do not possess the “legal capacity” to give consent.

You did not sexually abuse anyone. You were doing what children do, which is exploring sexuality. Perhaps if you hadn’t been left alone, something like this would’ve never happened.

You were too young to have been left home unsupervised. Many child advocacy organizations believe that leaving a six or seven-year-old at home and unsupervised is inappropriate and constitutes neglect. They recommend ages that typically range between 10 and 12 years of age. If a parent decides to leave a child home alone, they are wholly responsible for what happens when they are not there. If something bad were to happen, they could be charged with neglect, which in many states is a felony crime, and could lead to losing custody of their children. You should not have been left home unsupervised.

You are bothered by the worrisome behaviors that occurred when you were a child but those troublesome thoughts are now occurring to an adult mind and not the mind of a child. You were a child and at no time were you attempting to harm your mom’s friend’s daughter. As you said, you were mimicking what you saw on TV. You did not intend any ill will nor did you purposely attempt to hurt her. If you want to blame someone, blame the adults who left you unsupervised at such a young age.

Perhaps you are aware of Albert Bandura’s famous “Bobo Doll experiment.” It involved two groups of children. The first group had an adult engaging in aggressive play with the doll by repeatedly hitting and kicking it. The second group observed an adult calmly playing with the doll. After the observations, the children then played with the dolls. The results indicated that the first group who observed violent play was much more inclined to behave violently when they played with the toy. The second group also mimicked what they saw and played with the doll in a nice and calm manner. These findings indicate, along with repeated similar studies, that people learn through imitating observed behavior. This experiment suggests that behavior, especially violent behavior, and possibly sexual behavior, is learned through observation.

You stated that you were “exploring and modeling” what you saw on television. You were doing exactly what those children in the Bobo Doll experiment were doing–imitating observed behavior. Had you not been exposed to sexually explicit material on television, perhaps you would not have been modeling such behavior. You were left unsupervised when you were very young and that lack of supervision is probably what led you to viewing sexually explicit programming on television. It would seem that your parents are to blame for leaving you unsupervised, facilitating your exposure to inappropriate programming.

It’s time to stop blaming yourself for something that occurred when you were too young to know any better. Had you had better supervision, it’s very possible that none of this would’ve happened. Again, don’t blame yourself. Blame the people who left you unsupervised.

Good luck and please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

I Don’t Know if I Sexually Abused Someone When I Was a Child

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Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW is a licensed psychotherapist and Assistant Professor of Social Work and Forensics with extensive experience in the field of mental health. She works in private practice with adults, adolescents and families. Kristina has worked in a large array of settings including community mental health, college counseling and university research centers.

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2020). I Don’t Know if I Sexually Abused Someone When I Was a Child. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 23, 2020, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2020/08/25/i-dont-know-if-i-sexually-abused-someone-when-i-was-a-child/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 25 Aug 2020 (Originally: 25 Aug 2020)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 25 Aug 2020
Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.