Have you ever questioned the accuracy of what you think you know?
Discovering by myself in my early adulthood that I was sexually molested as a child was shocking. Not because I couldn’t remember the situation — I did remember it — but because I didn’t understand what happened to me was considered sexual abuse until 15 years later.
My story doesn’t involve an adult as principal actor. Hopefully my story will add some light to the taboo topic of child-on-child sexual molestation or abuse.
It was August 2017, at 21 years old, when I was formally diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD) and severe depression. After eight years of craving to know what I might have, I finally could see some path I could follow to my recovery. Therapy was something I always wanted. Even as a kid, I silently wished to be sent to the school counselor. Without a strong reason behind this wish, at least at a conscious level, I found myself desperately wanting the kind of attention that was given to other more “scholarly problematic” kids.
Maybe this was an unconscious way to reach out for the psychological help I needed. As I understood later on, the mind finds its way to the truth in its own subtle ways.
After six months of therapy and taking antidepressants, I attempted my “most serious” (in closest-to-death, speaking. All attempts must be taken seriously) suicide attempt. It was my fifth one. The time I spent at the hospital was awful, and I didn’t receive the medical attention I needed. Even still, I went on with life. I stopped seeing my therapist and I stopped taking medications.
A whole year passed since my diagnosis and I started to feel the darkness fall over me once again, so I decided to come back to my psychiatrist. As I wrapped my mind around the idea of coming back to therapy with her, I recalled our first meeting. I remember she asked me if I had experienced sexual abuse. At that time, the question seemed so easy to respond to, so I didn’t wait a second before saying, “No, not at all,” adding a few seconds later, “Not that I can remember.” Our session went on, but I couldn’t get my mind off that question. What if I couldn’t remember being sexually abused? Because I did know that dissociative amnesia could be present in sexual abuse victims.
Once more, after recalling all of this, I started to question myself again about it… What if I couldn’t remember being abused? I started my research, read articles, stories, news, watched videos, etc. My stubbornness didn’t allow me to quit the search and then, I found it. There was an article which stated that “childhood sexual abuse” didn’t mean only rape, and that sexual abuse could come from another child. That was the moment it came to me.
I had a flashback of something I could remember, but wasn’t necessarily in my mind when I thought about what sexual abuse was. I was 6 or 7 years old, playing with someone who was my same age in the garden, without any adult around. I remember being told to do something that made me feel uncomfortable and scared. Something sexual. I felt confused. Then, I was threatened. If I didn’t do what I was told, I would be punched and exposed to my parents, as if all the situation was my fault. That was all. I couldn’t remember the rest of it. What I do remember very vaguely is the sensation, and that this situation repeated under similar circumstances.
After realizing this, the internal struggle begun. Could this be considered actual sexual abuse? Was this the cause of my intense fear of being raped? I told myself it wasn’t “bad enough” to be considered abuse, that it might have only been “children’s play,” that it was too late to do anything about it anyway and that if I didn’t know about it before, it couldn’t have affected me that much. Mainly, I told myself I was overreacting and being paranoid.
Today, I decided to write down my story and share it. Because now, I am certain that it is important for me to accept what happened as it truly is.
I was sexually abused by another child and I didn’t even accept that it was abuse. If this is your experience, too, you’re not alone and your story is valid.