by Jennifer Stuck
Still to this day, anytime I hear the phrases “playing doctor” or “show-and-tell,” I feel a shiver run down my spine.
My mother used those phrases to make light of my abuse from an older neighbor boy. She would even speak to other people casually about it right in front of me, like it was no big deal, saying things like, “I caught Jenny playing doctor with the neighbor boy again.”
I think using playful terms like those helped ease her own guilty conscience for not protecting me. If I was just “playing doctor” she could tell herself it was normal childhood exploring instead of seeing the reality that I was being sexually abused by an older child.
When she said those things, it only added to the shame already felt about my abuse; it made me feel like I wanted to climb down inside myself to hide from the world so nobody could see how bad I was.
There are some instances where normal, healthy children may touch themselves innocently or may be curious about the anatomy of another child. However, what the neighbor boy did to me was so much more than normal childhood exploring. He taught me to perform sexual acts, forced me to do things with other children for him to watch, and degraded me in horrible ways. He even urinated on me as part of my abuse, like a dog marking its territory.
When a child acts out sexually on another child the way my abuser hurt me, that means he or she experienced some type of abuse themselves. That of course doesn’t make it okay for them to hurt and abuse another child, and it didn’t make it okay for my abuser to hurt me. The truth is, all abuse is damaging, and abuse from one child to another is just as damaging as abuse from an adult to a child.
When my mother failed to see the seriousness of the situation and called my abuse things like “playing doctor” or “show-and-tell”, then scolded me for allowing those things to be done to me, she put all the blame on me and none on the abuser. It made me feel like I had done something wrong.
Instead of protecting me and keeping this older, more aggressive child out of our home, she told me not to LET it happen again. That was a responsibility I shouldn’t have had to carry at that young age, and it was something that kept me from reaching out for help for many years.
Those terms were also highly confusing to me. At the age my abuse began, I had no idea what sex was or that what was being done to me was wrong. All I knew was, parts of it made me feel really icky, parts of it felt good, and my abuser told me I would get in trouble if I told anyone. Then when my mother found me being abused and I DID get in trouble, and nothing happened to my abuser, that sent the message to me that my abuser’s lies were all true.
Had my family only understood how damaging child-on-child abuse is, maybe they would have stepped in. Maybe they would have kept my abuser away. Or maybe they just didn’t care enough to protect me. I’ll probably never know for sure. But one thing I do know is, now as an adult with children of my own, it’s extremely important for me to spread the word about how damaging child-on-child sexual abuse really is. It’s no game, and it’s nothing to be made light of.
Have you experienced sexual abuse from another child? Have you ever minimized it or discounted it as not “real” abuse? Please comment below and remember to subscribe to the comments. You can post anonymously and emails are always kept private.
Straight Talk to Parents About Protecting Children From Sexual Abuse
Dead Silence: Killing My Voice
Jennifer Stuck is whole-heartedly pursuing physical and emotional health and is determined to heal the wounds of her childhood sexual abuse. She loves to write, especially poetry and enjoys spending time with her three beautiful daughters.
65 thoughts on “Child-on-Child Sexual Abuse: It’s No Game”
Thank you for sharing this, Jennifer. I know so many survivors of child-on-child abuse who minimized the abuse or didn’t recognize that it was abuse. I absolutely agree that no matter who did the abusing, the effects are still damaging.
My mom done the same with me, another child and myself done sexual things with each other. My mom told my grandmother at dinner one day, while my aunt and me both were sitting there. So they all heard. Although i remember my grandma saying what was done was normal. To this day i cant sit in that particular chair at the table at my grandmas because of the shame and embrassement i felt that day .
Having been abused by my brother who was 3 years older than me, having that abuse normalised from a very tiny age by my grandparents and then a very blind eye turned to it by my parents, I know how damaging child on child abuse is and how equally damaging it is compared to adult on child
Thank you for sharing this truth. I think it will get some parents thoughts on he right track and help them to not make “light” of a devastating situation. Great, great, blog.
Thanks Christina. I blamed myself for my abuse for a long time. I’m so glad I’m at a place in my healing now where I can share my story so other victims of child on child abuse don’t have to feel as alone as I did. Just a few years ago when I searched the internet for info about this I couldn’t find as much as a paragraph, but now I’m seeing so many victims start to open up and realize that was was done to them WAS abuse, and that we have just as much right to grieve and heal as anyone else who suffers abuse.
Fi, I’m sorry that you experienced this type of abuse too, but I’m so glad you’re able to talk about it and know it wasn’t your fault.
Helena, that’s terrible that they didn’t take your situation more seriously. It’s not normal for children to do sexual things together, and an adult should always step in when they see a child is being abused or acted out on by another child. I don’t think most people understand how much guilt, shame, hurt, and degradation can be involved in child on child sexual abuse. It’s no different than abuse from an adult. Sometimes it’s through force, and sometimes through manipulation, but the abuse is always damaging.
Thanks Patty! I’m glad you liked it. This was a very emotional blog for me to write, but I think it’s important to talk about.
Yes, the abuse was started by my grandparents when I was a toddler and my brother slightly older. The abuse was normalised by them as “all brothers and sisters do this”. It was just part of my childhood along with all the other abuse. What I find very difficult is what the abuse with my brother turned into as we got older. How he used sex to blackmail and bully me and keep me in my place until he turned into a carbon copy of my mother. And how it turned into a deep incestuous love affair, for want of better words, in our teen years. I feel deep shame and embarrassment over that. I see now how wrong it was but it doesn’t take away the shame, the hurt, the embarrassment and the damage in my life.
So true, Jennifer. It’s just as damaging. Great blog.
I cant post on fbook anymore due to the changes in privacy i dont want everyone to see im commenting so im commenting here now i was abused by 2 older boys in front of other children at schoo when i was 5 l i never ever thought it was abuse until i talked about it in therapy and my therapist told me thats what it was i still find it hard to see it as that as i always felt responsible because i didnt say stop nor did i tell anyone but my parents were abusing me at home so didnt really have anyone to tell. Anyway thank you for posting this and helping me feel my feelings about the shame and disgustingness are validated and i wasnt to blame x
im also so sorry to hear what you went through too x
ok here goes…. it not easy for me to share …but your right it a part of healing ..to talk or write whats inside our souls…one tine i was waling abnormal cause i was hurting..my mom said stand up and walk straight…i said” i cant i hurt my insides hurt too much…she asked me why do you hurt..i told her cause “Jack did things to me…i did not even know what to name the things he did to me… i was nine ys old then.. she then asked me… what did i do for him to do those things to me……i now wonder how she never knew cause there was a lot of blood in my bed… then i knew…when one time i screamed ..not even sure if i screamed out loud… the pain was so bad… then i saw her…..my mom watching him do those things to me… ..why do i still call them things?..then i felt that pole like me deserved …having those things done to me…All the guilt and shame…i felt i was a no body no one cared if my mom did not even care
Tan, I’m glad you aren’t letting privacy issues keep you away from us here. I was abused at school to, in the school parking lot with other kids watching. Your comment described exactly how I felt too. I didn’t say no, so I thought it was my fault. But my abuse started at such a young age, I never learned how to say no. Thanks for commenting. It’s great to hear the blog made you feel validated. It’s a good feeling to not be alone in this struggle.
Fi, it’s crazy to think that the people who abused US could then turn around and use the abuse as blackmail against us to abuse us further. My abuser would tell me that if I didn’t do what he wanted that he would tell people that I let him do things with me. He put that shame into me and then used it to get his way. So manipulative!
I cringe when I hear that phrase “playing doctor” too. A great example of how sexual abuse can be so confusing to a child involves this very lie. My abusers made us believe that what we were doing was normal, like it was ok. I say us because there were usually more than one of us being abused together, at the same time, or in front of others. In no way was it the normal curiosity of small children close in age. These animals were 10+ years older. So we were taught/brainwashed that it was ok, but at the same time, it made me feel strange, wrong, dirty. They also told us that if you tell anyone that you will get in trouble. That our parents wouldn’t understand. So now there is the conflicting emotion of it’s ok, but it’s not okay. Since I bought their crap hook, line, and sinker, I really thought that it was going to get me in a lot of trouble if I told anyone. I didn’t tell anyone for almost 20 years. I told once about something that happened, and my mom flipped out, but I don’t think that anything was ever done about it.
That’s why I am also a big child abuse advocate . I won’t be quiet anymore! Great article Jennifer, I really thought it was great!
Yes, it is so crazy and manipulative in the extreme. My brother was used to getting everything his own way and there was nothing he would stop at to ensure he got what he wanted, whatever the cost to me.
Lisa Marie, Exactly! They tell us it’s ok for them to abuse us, then they tell us it’s not really ok and WE will get in trouble if we tell. So confusing to a young child. No wonder we kept quiet for so long!
jack was not my brother .. he was my stepfather…
Oh Deb, I’m so sorry. That brings tears to my eyes that nobody protected you. You deserved so much better and you didn’t do anything to bring the abuse on. That blame should have gone on your brother, the abuser. This was really brave of you to share.
Oops, I’m sorry Deb, I got your story confused. That’s horrible that he did that to you.
Jennifer, what a great blog on a tough but very important subject. Since there is so little information out there on child-on-child sexual abuse, you will be a pioneer… opening up the dialog for many who have had a history without being able to feel that theirs was indeed abuse, also. Just knowing that they are not alone in their experiences is such a comfort to many. I too hate the term ‘playing doctor’ as I have heard this from adults in dealing with a serious situation between two adolescents. These two adolescents were step-siblings and physically capable of making a baby and that is not “playing doctor”. I was dumbfounded by the reaction of the adults and yes, one was older than the other. Thank you for sharing your experience so that others can benefit in their healing.
This is so difficult to write. I am a survivor of multiple types of sexual abuse. My first experience, for lack of a better word, was child-on-child sexual abuse. I was three years old, and my abuser was three years older than me. He was a victim of adult-child sexual abuse, physical, and emotional abuse. It was very severe, and he was a foster child of my daycare provider’s. I don’t know why my she didn’t inform my parents that she had a foster child that suffered this, maybe it was against the law? Back to the point, from the time he came into that house until my mother pulled me from, we’ll call her *C, C’s daycare I was subjected to sexual and physical abuse. He had hit me in the head with a piece of wood causing me to get a nail stuck in my forehead that still had wood attached to it. He would make me do sexual things to him after he had done things to me. I can remember one incident very clearly. This may be too graphic for some, he performed oral sex on me, told me he was “Eating p****,” and asked me “doesn’t it feel good? Now do it to me.” He also instructed me on how to do it. This always happened at nap time. C would put us upstairs in a bedroom alone for nap time with the door shut. When she discovered things were going on, she told my dad, and said she handled it by not allowing us to nap in the same room upstairs at the same time anymore. What good that did. I wound up being abused still, and eventually I assaulted someone from my kindergarten class while in the bathroom at school. That’s when everyone got involved and my mom finally found out and removed me from C’s daycare. i was thrown into therapy, my family was investigated for abuse despite my insistence on WHO it was. My family got cleared and they figured out I was telling the truth. I don’t know what happened beyond that to my abuser. What I do know for me is I can remember when cops came to my babysitter’s to ask me questions while I was in the back of a squad car without my parents present, some memories from therapy, and only one encounter specifically with my first abuser. I can also remember how my mother refused to talk to me about it. I can remember it being minimized by C. I can remember being terrified every time I heard sirens of any kind, and I am still petrified of the police today. For some reason this incident had my mother turning a blind eye to an ex-boyfriend forcing me to do sexual things with him later on in life, and even have intercourse against my will. I have very skewed views about sex, and I am extremely protective of my children. I do not allow many people into my home because of this, and I also don’t trust strange kids to have sleep overs at my house.
I could write more, but I will spare the page the space it would take up. Thank you for sharing your story. I am so sorry, but also overjoyed at the fact that I have someone I can relate to, and now other’s based on other comments, because you’ve been to the same place. Thinking of you, thank you for sharing your story, and wishing you more years of successful healing!
I forgot to mention. I feel, now that I understand what I went through is wrong, that my mother just tried to sweep it under the rug so it could just be forgotten. That is what hurts the most. When it’s being down-played to “playing doctor” and also when those who are supposed to help you through it just try and make it disappear only for the benefit of themselves, and the misguided thought that it will help the victim/survivor.
Linda I think because there is no adult using brute force and no creepy old man scenario, some people find even easier to stay in denial about child on child abuse. You’re right that there’s hardly any info out there about this subject. I’m proud to be a “pioneer” is speaking about it as you said, although I wish less people needed this information. Thanks for your comment!
Boy, some experiences follow my own. I was sexually abused by a step father and a couple of step cousins. I don’t blame the step cousins because they were kids like I was. Yes, I was hurt with my step cousins but full responsibly lies with the adult. I believe you can be better then how you were raised. I am working on healing with that thought in my mind.
When I finally told my mother after years of abuse she took me to the police and they did nothing. That is when it got worse. Then years later he did the same thing to others made me sick when one child came to me to tell me. Again it went to authorities and nothing happened. When abusers abuse, it takes the freedom from the Innocent. (no matter the age or the type of abuse)
Suzee, I’m sorry nobody understood how serious your situation was, but I’m glad you became a protective parent of your own children.
Thanks Bethany. It’s a complicated subject to write about, but it seems to be hitting home with a lot of people.
I know how it feel. My own brother rape me & yet no one is doing anything. My family still thinks that it is not a big deal. They told me to keep it a secret and even make me the black sheep of the family by saying i elope with a man instead of i ran away from home because my own brother rape me. Keep up the good work Jennifer, you really help me a lot in my recovery..
This is great healing work Jen and you really have broken the cycle. Mom’s seem to overlook abuse a lot. I believe many of them are in denial. I was also a victim of child on child abuse. And these children are always victims themselves. I feel so sad for the girl who did it to me. I wish she would find a supportive group like this one. I have tried to find her but she has gone into hiding. She must be horrified when she realizes what she done. or maybe she’s just blotted that out of head forever.
Thank you for sharing your heartfelt story. I am so terribly sorry that this happened to you and that your mother minimized what was really going on. Speaking out is so important. Praying for your continued healing!
My brother and I were 2 years apart (I’m older), and he was sexually molested as a very young child (3 or so). Later on, he and I “explored”…he, having me do what his molester did to him (oral). I just liked being touched. I don’t remember who brought it all up or how we even started messing around like that. I don’t know if I abused him, he abused me, or if it was all consensual or whatever (because I think we both liked it). Help??
Sometimes, it’s not that clear. I think the important thing to look at is how you felt about yourself afterwards. Did that leave you with the typical false messages that abuse leaves? Did you feel shame or dirty? Did you feel worthless or powerless? Did it lead to other sexual experiences that hurt you? You didn’t say how old you were when that started. It can be traumatic to be introduced to sexual experiences at an early age. The event itself isn’t where the damage comes from– it’s the messages contained in the ways we were treated and the ways we weren’t protected. So that’s what I would look at.
I think I was five or six, and he was three or four when we started exploring. It went on for quite a few years. I actually never remember feeling “bad” or dirty or anything…I knew it was “wrong” (my dad had caught us a few times and spanked us), but I never felt powerless, worthless, or dirty. I don’t know how my brother felt, but he struggled sexually long after this happened (my dad just pretended nothing had ever happened, even though my brother was messed up from his molester, which was an older man…he served jail time for it, but my brother was never put in therapy or anything after the court stuff was over…by the time it was over he was 4-6) and nearly molested a little girl when he was 17.
Shakila I’m so sorry nobody protected you from your brother, but good for you for putting your own needs first now.
Thanks Sharice! Your right, child on child abuse is an all around sad situation. Sad for the victim and sad that any child was ever taught to abuse.
I relate to this so much. My abuse started in first grade by a boy that was a year or two older than me, but had been held back in school. He told me it was just what good friends do and I didn’t know any different. It started with ‘innocent’ touching, nothing that was really a big deal, but it escalated from there. By the time I realized that what he was doing wasn’t what friends did and that friends wouldn’t cause you so much pain, it was too late. The conditioning to not tell anyone and blame myself was already in place. About 6 months after it started, it got much worse than child-on-child. He had older brothers so he was around older boys a lot, and he eventually brought 3 of them into it and an older man in his 40s. Looking back on it, it was very well orchestrated. I will never know how they were all connected and, to be honest, I don’t think I want to know. All I know is that what started as ‘innocent’ child touching escalated to child-on-child abuse and then ultimately resulted in a horror show that lasted at least 4 years. It’s been 17 years since it started and it took me 2.5 years in therapy to stop blaming myself (although I do still have a day here and there where I do blame myself again). I still feel filthy and degraded when I think about it, and I can’t even think about having a healthy, normal sexual relationship with someone now. I’m 22 and the very thought of having a sexual relationship with someone makes me want to throw up. I’m getting help and I have faith that one day I will be able to function, but it’s a long road. And all of this is a result of what began as friends exploring. I wish people would realize that there is a very fine line between normal curiosity and abuse because it could spared many children the pain that so many of us have known.
RM that’s a tough situation. It sounds like your brother who was abused introduced you to sex at an age that was too young for either of you. I heard recently of a case actually going to court were a 5 year old was convicted if assaulting a 7 year old. Even though in that case the victim was older than the abuser, one child had more experience and was more aggressive than the other, so it was still abuse. Even if your brother didn’t mean to harm you, introducing you to sexual activity at such a young age can have huge impacts. It sounds like you both deserve to heal now, regardless of who started it or why it happened. It’s never healthy for children to do those things together.
I, too, was a victim of child on child sexual abuse…then 3 years ago when my daughter was 7 she told me her cousin( who is 1and1/2 yrs older) told her to keep this”game” a secret called “cheetah” .Because of my own background I felt something didn’t add up, didn’t make sense, you know?! So I brought the two of them together with my sister in law to talk about it. My daughter told us what happened but my nephew lied for over a half hour then fessed up! I took my daughter in for therapy and when I found out more details I went back to my s-i-l and step brother to share my concerns with them. That I thought their son was being abused. They tried to tell me that they were just “playing dr” and it was more on the innocent side…I told then that their son had performed oral sex on my daughter and that is NOT dr play and to please not insult my intelligence!! My daughter received 9 and 1/2 months of therapy and they chose to do nothing for my nephew! It still saddens me greatly to see him suffering emotionally and that his parents are in denial!! They told me months later that he obtained porn from the internet…not too sure I believe it…
Gabriella, I’m so sorry that this happened. It sounds very possible that your abuser was being abused by that older man you mentioned and was taught to abuse others. Regardless or where he learned the behaviors, it was totally unfair to you, and You’re right, it’s so much more serious than exploring. Exploring and playing Dr take away from the seriousness of what really happened to us. We were sexually abused, and our abusers just happened to be young in age. That doesn’t change how the abuse effected or the fact that we need to heal just like every other victim of abuse. Good for you for getting help now and thanks for commenting. I hope to hear from you again.
Katie, good for you for being so active in protecting your daughter! I wish more parents were as enlightened as you are. I’m so sorry that you and your daughter had to go through this type of abuse (or any abuse for that matter). I believe she’s lucky to have you, not only as a protector, but also as someone who she can talk to and who will understand what she’s going through. Do you and your daughter talk openly about the abuse? Have you told her anything about your past? It may make her feel less alone to know that mommy has been through it too, and that she isn’t bad. That it can happen to anyone. Thank you so much for sharing your story and being such a good example of what a parent should be!
Jennifer, Thank you very much! It has been a long road of hard work…but the pay off is well worth it! I am striving to do better as I’m sure all of us are. I’m not sure if you remember but when I was baptized this past summer my daughter was there and listened to my testimony! Yes she does know my history and we talk about what happened between her and her cousin every/anytime she brings it up, which surprisingly is somewhat often. When I brought her in for counseling I realized that I wouldn’t be able to help her the way I needed to unless I addressed my own history with sexual abuse. Between that and the issues she was having in school and needing to see a school psychologist ,my own past( I was abused by one)) was hitting me head on through my child. I needed to heal so I could help her do the same. I started seeing a therapist which for me was probably the biggest first step in my healing journey.She will be eleven this January and we have learned so much and have grown so much together! Again, thank you for recognizing the work I’ve done and thank you for doing what you do on this site and through your FB page!! You are lighting the way for many survivors!!
I do remember that now that you mention it. That’s awesome you two have such open communication! I’m sure your daughter appreciates it, and it will make all the difference in her healing. And how cool that she was the catalyst in your healing. While there are other things I’d rather bond over, I’m sure that has made you two very close. I plan to have that same open communication with my girls as they get older. Thanks again for commenting!
This is fantasticly awful! I feel like you wrote what is in my brain—my abuse was very simular to yours. I hope it is ok that I repost it to COH, I want to make sure others see this. Thank you for validating me and yourself.
I’m glad you liked Jennifer’s post. You are welcome to repost up to two paragraphs of any OSA blogs with a link to the rest of the post. Thanks for sharing!
I went through something similar. 3 of my abusers were teenagers. The truth is, no matter what we do, when the family system is unhealthy nothing but their willingness will change a damn thing.
That’s true Victoria. We can’t make anyone heal. All I can do is work on myself and my own healing and hope the things I’ve learned and shared can help others.
I can relate to this. While I am a survivor of sexual abuse by an adult predator, I also experienced encounters with older chidren beginning when I was around ten that inolved explicit sexual acts like oral sex and sexual intercourse. Lookng back, that level of sexual knowledge was beyond my comprehension and the acitvites I was coerced into by other children put a degree of undue stress on me.
Thank you for sharing your experiences and the insights you have learned, it really is helpful to others. What you have to say here is incredibly important and was extremely validating for me. I was sexually abused by my older brother. For years I felt so ashamed because of what had happened to me. I believed all the lies; that no one would believe me if I told, that they would think it was my fault, that I was dirty, that I had to work hard to prove my worth to others and I put on a mask, a fake me to show to the world because I did not ever want anyone to know the real me. It was only after my first child was born and I had to suffer through the unimaginable horror of watching my brother holding and interacting with my daughter that my facade began to crumble. I could no longer pretend everything was fine or that I had this great and “normal” relationship with my brother. It was no longer just myself that I needed to protect. For the sake of my daughter (and the 2 more girls I have since given birth too) I decided I had to confront my brother and eradicate him from my life. It was the most difficult thing I have ever done, but well worth it in the end. Thankfully I was counseled by a very competent therapist, backed up and fully supported by my husband and championed by my sister. Unfortunately they were the only support system I would get, but they were enough. My own mother refuses to believe that my brother could have possibly done anything harmful to me. She seems to think I am making a mountain out of a molehill, overreacting to the whole innocent “playing doctor” type of thing. I have told her over and over that there is nothing innocent or normal about children “playing doctor” but it falls on deaf ears. There is a very thick layer of denial that engulfs child on child sexual abuse. Many people believe that because both parties are children it must have just been innocent, exploratory play. But I know better. I truly believe that for children to be abusing other children in this way they must have first been abused themselves. No 9 year old should know to do the things my brother knew to do to me. Someone must have first shown him. I feel sympathy for my brother, because I know that he too was abused and I feel pity for him because I know he has never addressed his own abuse or the abuse he inflicted on me. I cannot, however, excuse what he did to me simply because he went through it as well. And I can’t pretend that it was no big deal, an innocent game of doctor. It was life altering abuse, plain and simple. I may not ever be able to convince my mother, but now I know that doesn’t matter. I know the truth. It is nice to know that there is someone else out there who does understand. Thank you Jennifer.
when i was 3 and 4 i had too do horible things i was living at my moms gandmothers house my mom wasnt there because she abonded me and even if i see her now and she says she loves me i hate her because its all her fault what my two cousins did to me they also said we were playing doctor they touch me and made me perform oral sex when i was just an inocent child and thats unforgivable.
I don’t know if anyone will see this as this topic was 6 months ago. This is my first post after stumbling across this site. I remember looking for support on-line a long time ago and there was nothing really suitable. This site looks great. Thank you to those that run it. I was severely sexually abused on a weekly basis from the age of 8 to 11 by a male babysitter, when my mother was sick and dying of cancer. Just last year nearly 20 years after the abuse ended I finally finished going through a long and arduous journey of about 3 years of seeking justice through the courts in NZ. I’m happy to say the bastard was found guilty of everything he did to me and sent to jail. Anyhow I have always had in my mind another disturbing time in my life when my male cousin who is younger than me by a year, (he was bigger and stronger than me, it started when I was about 13 and he 12) he would cuddle up to me in bed on holidays, undoing my sleeping bag and then pushing his hand under my pjs down between my legs. I have always felt immense embarrassment and guilt at this as because of my earlier more severe abuse I would just freeze and pretend to be asleep like I did when the original abuse happened to me. I feel guilty because I did not stop him from happening. This happened quite a few times over the next few years. I have always found this confusing and have never talked about this with anyone (ive dealt with the severe abuse that happened to me by seeing a psychologist) I’ve never labelled it as abuse because it was just him feeling me up, its no where as bad as what my babysitter did to me, it just induced the same frozen responses from me and because there was no age gap between us. It has always made me feel confused guilty and yuk and I wish I had told him to stop and that I didn’t like it, I guess he was just “experimenting”. He was always a bit of a bully and spoilt brat, I doubt I would of been able to stop him even if I had been able to verbalise it. Anyway this isn’t abuse right cause he wasn’t older than me, right?
Welcome to OSA, I’m glad you found us! The situation you went through and the confusion over it is really common. It’s common to think that stuff isn’t abuse just because the other child isn’t older. Abuse is about being overpowered and it doesn’t necessarily have to do with age–it can be power from physical strength or positional power like being the favorite child who never gets in trouble. Also, the damage isn’t just from the physical act, so “just feeling you up” can be every bit as damaging as what is generally thought more severe, like penetration. I’m so sorry that happened to you!
I remember being involved in sex play with my cousins and my sister. I feel gulity about that. I don’t know if I can call it abuse, because I don’t remember being coerced into those things or even being introduced to those things. I guess I had to be if I did them. But that did stop. My problem was that when I was bullied at school, my bully also used sex. I can’t deal with that. If i had told my parents, they would not have done what your parents did. I’m convinced that my dad would have hurt or killed my attackers. I don’t think he or my mother could handle it now if I told them what happened. I know they would have protected me.In fact, they did everything in their power to protect us from sexual abuse. We were not allowed to stay the night at people’s houses. We were made to walk on the ground, and not constantly be carried around by different people. We weren’t allowed to sit on other people’s laps, especially in dresses and skirts. They knew what could happen and tried so hard. I wish that I had told them what was going on, but I don’t think there was anything they could have done more.
I am so sorry that your parents minimized what was going on. You deserved to be protected.
That’s a common reason for not telling–knowing that your parents would attack/kill the abusers. Children generally fear abandonment over abuse and since jail/prison would lead to abandonment, it’s not safe to tell.
It’s a parent’s job to provide a safe environment for talking about anything. I’m sorry your parents didn’t provide that and that you were alone with your abuse.
I’m new to dealing with the sexual abuse that I suffered as a kid. It was just one incident. I was asleep and another boy (same age as me) stripped me. I… Don’t know if more than that happened. Maybe I never will. I woke up in floods of tears, though I didn’t know why. The boy was laughing and laughing and my best friend, who was also in the room kept whispering that it was all ok. I’m 25 years old and have no desire to have sex. I also have an eating disorder and can’t take off my clothes (even my shirt) in the presence of any other people. Bit weird for a 25 year old guy. The incident came back to me 18 months ago. I dreamed it, but I remembered it. After the dream I woke up, just like those years before, crying uncontrollably. At least it showed me why I am what I am. It sounds like so little, but I’m so affected by it and being ‘normal’ just doesn’t seem possible to me. I want a girl to love me, but I can’t give them what they expect, so…
Anyway, not that I’m comparing with other stories, but just wanted to re-enforce the message that child on child things are highly damaging.
Just to add, I find it amazing the way people who have been through so much can share on this site. You should be really proud of yourselves. Many of you are incredibly inspirational
Anon,,, I experienced abuse as well and now still suffer from similar things as far as not taking off shirt, etc. I’ve never been able to talk to anyone about these things because I feel like someone with similar circumstances is who i should talk to. Would you be interested in talking about these things?
I…I think I’d be happy to chat stuff through with you. It really can help, even though it hurts like hell. It’s also amazing when you have someone who on some level gets it. Are you willing to give me an email address to contact you?
Thank u guys for all your posts. Really gave me a sense of peace. Similiar incidents happened to me. An older cousin coached me and my younger cousins on “playing house”. We all thought it was normal. Only found out one day at a sleepover when the older cousin whispered to his little brother to do the deed with me after we go to bed and unfortunatly my aunt overhead it and forced a confession out of the younger one and she bit up the older cousin. From then on, I wld say “I will tell aunty”. Unfortunalty it only stopped the 4th base stuff. Yrs wld go by before I could get the strength to stop the 1&2 bases. But remember a day we were @ a friend’s house and one of my cousins bragged about “doing it” with me. Of course I denied but the feeling I got from that embarassment have haunted me since then. Don’t really get close to bfs and always afraid they wld brag of the conquest. Also other incidences where it was spread that I was going all the way, when I had just kissed and all blame and shame put on me especially by adults. I don’t know. I just take it one day at a time. Though I do always wonder how my siblings and cousins involved all seem to have managed to have relationships and I haven’t. It’s been over 20yrs since. I’m just beginning to recognize how it has all affected me.
Hellooo.. thank you so much for the great article..
Im glad i found people who understand what ive been through too..
But my case is weird because it also begun as “playing doctors” thought the abuser was a female older than me in 3 years.. i dont ever like imagine the details which i dont remember much either but i remember she put things over my genitals and over my anus too, like scissors or roll of tape ???? it is horrible i thought it was a game but i still feel dirty and guilty.. my parents blamed me and i suffer from it psychologically.. i even noticed now that i has a weird tendency several years after the incident to want to show my genitals to people or get naked, and i had an early trials of masturbation even before being introduced to porn or explicit sexual act.. i feel bad about it.. i wish i can change my future at least…
Thank you for writing this! My experience is with my best friend, an older boy. I get that he probably suffered some abuse himself or maybe he’s just twisted that way. I don’t know I haven’t seen him since I was 14. That meeting was just brief but long enough for him to remind me, nobody would ever believe me, not over him. It happened over a two+ year period when I was 5. Then I was rejected by him for someone else. You’d think I’d be happy, but I wasn’t. From then on, I blocked it except that I was dirty and unworthy. I’m healing and realize the truth of the situation.
Thank you again for you article, it came on a day I need to feel not so alone.
It was me too. Four older boys:
I have been wondering for years if I was sexually abused because my brother “Played Doctor” with me as his subject in front of neighborhood boys. Although he bullied me into doing it, I derived some sort of pleasure from it…(attention??) I’m 60 years old now, and still feel shame.
Thank you for this post.
I have experienced similar with a cousin and my brother, both around my age, when we were kids, I don’t even remember how old we were, but we had all started school.
I still to this day feel so much shame and embarassment at the memories and I am even too ashamed to bring it up with my therapist to this day (treatment for depression and I might possibly have anxiety and depersonalisation disorder as well).
I have wondered so many times if what happened between me, my cousin and my brother was normal, kids playing doctor and exploring, but something always felt wrong to me. If it had been innocent and normal I wouldn’t feel ashamed and embarrassed I guess. (The following description is a bit graphic so if such triggers you, please stop reading now) I really need to get this off my chest, so I apologize if any of this is TMI…
The earliest incident I remember was at a family gathering or birthday at my house where my cousin and I went to my parents bedroom and took our clothes off. I don’t remember any of it in details, but he kissed and touched me “down there”. His mum, my aunt, came in at one point and I remember her saying something that made me feel ashamed of what we had done, that I have to protect my special place or something like that.
Another incident was in my room with both my brother and my cousin where my cousin made me take turns sitting on top of both him and my brother, penetration invovled. I remember a few incidents of similar nature between me and my brother and also a situation when we were older where I think my mum asked if I was a virgin and I said yes, and my brother was about to protest, I interrupted him saying how the hell would he know. I also remember a few speeches at my confirmation that upset me and made me feel very ashamed, where my aunt and my mum both mentioned me playing doctor with my cousin and with another boy (a situation where I was much younger, which I don’t remember at all).
I almost feel a sense of relief having written this down. I have felt such shame thinking about these things for so long not really understanding why it felt wrong and why I keep thinking about it. How do I move on from these feelings? I really just want to forget that it ever happened so I can move on with my life
For years I used to think that this kind of abuse didn’t existed. It was a lie though as my brother abuse me too. I can remember all the times he used to make me play this game, all the time he was saying how he wanted to help me with my school tests and instead of that he locked the door and started to grope me among worse things.
Until my 25brother used to feel monster for even think my brother as a.monster but now not so. I told him at 13,maybe younger I was abused from our father and wanted to talk to police, wishing for his help -he was three years older than me -but instead he told me “Don’t make a big deal from nothing. If you talk you will ruin the family. What he did.to.you is normal,every parent do it…after all I think you overreacting. Next thing I remember is days later him start to.touch me also and saying he want to.perform oral acts on me as a play.
I guess if its one time hard for society think about incest abuse,its way worse to think that a child can abuse another one.