Doubting if trauma "counts"

Nyoom

New Here
I understand this sort of thing is common, but I still struggle with this particular type of doubt all the time. And I don't even know why because its driving me nuts. I constantly doubt if my CSA counts because it was child on child. It is very textbook, yet I still doubt it. I'll go into it a bit, to demonstrate my point. Feel free to skip, to the next paragraph.

While we were the same age (he abused me from 6-7) and he never used physical force, everything else was textbook. He would take me to a place away from other kids and teachers, he was all secretive about everything. Of course, I assume this is because this was learnt behaviour. I don't know if he experienced any contact CSA, but definitely a form of non contact CSA as his parents completely failed to prevent him from having access to adult materials, which is a form of non contact CSA. He likely learnt this behaviour from porn, but the idea he experienced what he did to me is just as likely since his family background, from the little I know about it, was f*cked. It started off with him getting me to look at his penis, pretty normal, then progressed to getting me to touch it which was a little odd, but then he started to make me lick, suck, and one time bite it (???????). I would say no the the latter 3, literally so young all I knew is that boys peed from there and I was worried there was stuff on there. I said no multiple times on multiple occasions, but he would emotionally manipulate me, coerce me, and even use threats to get me to do it. It lasted so long that eventually I just kinda accepted it, and even felt happy that even though it felt weird and I didn't want, not like it, I was making him happy. And when I did try to refuse, he would manipulate and/or threaten me some more anyway. He was also known o be a violent kid, so I was a bit scared of him even when he wasn't threatening violence. We were only caught because he started doing it in class. We'd sit in the back of the class, usually, and he would show his penis to me, sometimes getting me to touch it. One time when we were caught, I got told off and told to sit at the front. I never got told off before that (I was generally a good kid) so I cried. It was so embarrassing. Eventually it stopped because I was sent to the headmaster, told off again, and told to stay away from him. As far as I'm aware, he was given a talk but no other action was taken. They did not contact my parents, nor did they investigate why this kid was displaying so many sexually inappropriate behaviour despite that usually meaning the kid is being diddled too. And many parents had complained about him inappropriately describing porn to their kids before and after this. I know he didn't fully understand what he was doing either, and I have a level of sympathy for him because he was clearly a victim of some kind of abuse, but he seemed very in control and his actions were clearly deliberate. He did it to humiliate me. Its very apparent in retrospect, and the things he said to me towards the end of the abuse and after we had stopped.

The definition of COCSA is: sexual activity between children that occurs without consent, without equality (mentally, physically, or in age), or as a result of physical or emotional coercion.

Well, I didn't consent. I only agreed to do it after pressure, manipulation and sometimes threats from his end, which means I didn't really consent at all. I also had no clue what was happening. I wasn't physically coerced, but definitely emotionally. The type of behaviours he displayed and the things he made me do were way out of the norm for children our age, and you could also argue that I was easier to manipulate due to me being neurodivergent. However, even as I type this, I'm doubting myself. It wasn't that bad cos we were the same age, he never used physical violence, his threats weren't that bad, I was disgusted and uncomfortable and sometimes scared but it wasn't like I was mortified or really severely effected. Ignore that I started displaying extreme people pleasing behaviours to avoid the behaviours my abuser used on me, I began daydreaming to an unhealthy degree and dissociating, became violent towards my younger sister, developed emotional issues and comfort eating, and showed many many different symptoms of trauma at the time that persist to this day. I don't have the "right" to call this abuse because it wasn't that bad, it wasn't an adult, and it's disrespectful to real survivors of these sort of things. Ignore the fact that there is evidence that suggests that children abused by other children display the same levels of psychological distress from abuse committed by adults.

You would think that the existence of evidence (though, not a lot since this is an under researched area, naturally), displaying that my trauma is just as real and valid as other peoples would get me to stop worrying about this. Furthermore, you might wonder why I even care if other people perceive what happened to me as "real abuse", since their opinions shouldn't matter. I often ask myself that, why do I care? Then my brain replies, because clearly you just want the attention from being a victim. Then I get disgusted with myself and enter a self hating spiral. In reality, I think there's two reasons. Reason one being, I am terrified all this was for nothing. That all the struggles I've had, all the pain this has caused me over the years, the things I am still experiencing to this day, were not the cause of any legitimate forms of abuse or trauma, but because I am weak. I'm too sensitive, over dramatic, weakminded, wannabe victim, etc. That fear is kind of paralysing. Because if my abuse wasn't abuse, why is all these issues here? Why have I been terrified of sex for so long, and to a lesser extent, still am? Why was I always between completely empty, furious, or despairing? Why were so many of my nights spent having panic attacks, why would I get flashbacks, why was I always afraid? If my abuse wasn't real, then why are the emotions real?

The second reason being, I am very concerned with the opinions of others. If other people think my abuse wasn't abuse, then it wasn't abuse, and the above applies. If other people don't think my abuse was abuse, I have no right to feel bad about it or have trauma from it, I am simply being weak minded or attention seeking. I feel this way about other aspects of my life. Its like I need people to validate how I feel. I cannot accept that this is simply the way I feel and that is ok. If it wasn't abuse, I don't have a right to see it as such, I don't have a right to complain or seek help, I'm not allowed to engage on platforms or in discussions on matters such of this, etc. A lot of this is because of other traumas in my life (which I also often fail to view as "real" trauma). I went through long term bullying due to being neurodivergent. I was bullied almost my entire life, though not that badly before the age of 7, but it was most severe when I was about 8-10 and again when I was 13-14 (I think, I am really bad at placing my age to events in my life, I only know I was 6 when I experienced COCSA because I knew I was in year 2 because of the teacher that told me off). My mum has also been critical of aspects of who I am. My appearance, my mannerisms, stuff like that. She has been emotionally abusive on and off for a large chunk of my life, starting from 5. (again, also something I sometimes struggle to accept.) If someone thinks something about me, it must be true in my mind. Especially since the people who have most harshly judged me and belittled me have been the people I cared about most. My mum, my ex best friend, other childhood friends who eventually were turned against me by my ex best friend. So, peoples opinions on me matter. I try not to let them matter, but at the end of the day, I care about how people perceive me. And if they perceive me as weak, attention seeking, or overdramatic, it must be true, and that terrifies me because that is not the sort of person I want to be.

I know this sort of thought process is common. I have had friends experience events I consider 1 million times worse than anything I'd experienced, and they have thought the exact same things I described above. My friends who have experienced both COCSA, CSA, and SA throughout their lives have described how each one effected them, and it was often very similar to what I felt and experienced. Yet I've still never accepted my emotions as acceptable or ok to have. It is endlessly frustrating because this sort of thinking just makes me feel worse about myself while preventing me from reaching out. I've avoided this site many times because I feel like I shouldn't be here, even though the COCSA isn't even the only trauma I've experienced, though perhaps both the one that effected me the most yet also being the most ambiguous. That's probably why this is the one I think this way about the most. It isn't a black and white thing. There's no clear answer. My brain doesn't handle uncertainty and ambiguity well. With other things I've experienced, its a bit less black and white. But even with the smallest amount of gray possible, I still find a way to doubt myself and discredit my emotions. I have a father who has had multiple life threatening conditions. I've dealt with the fact he's almost died multiple times, have had surgeries that could have killed him but wouldn't survive without anyway (on my birthday, too, him living was a good birthday present but waiting all day to make sure he didn't flatline in surgery for my birthday party was still terrifying), and I was placed with a large amount of responsibility in regard to his conditions and had to save his life multiple times. Yet I STILL find a way to discredit my emotions on it. Because it wasn't "that bad". Other situations, like my mum emotionally abusing me, even becoming physical (though, this only happened once, maybe a few others if you count throwing objects at you, but they weren't objects that hurt me or anything so idk). She was very extreme during periods where she was more abusive. She also had many periods of not being abusive, most the time keeping her cool, but she has also done things such as threaten to kill herself and telling me its my fault, storming out the house after doing so, she's called me names and insulted me in public and in private, screamed me into panic attacks. told me to kill myself, threatened abandonment, etc etc. But cos shes normally nice, I have no trauma from it, its all fine.


Idk, I write all this out hoping I'd come to a sort of eureka moment. I was hoping I could crush this irrational thought in my head but it fully goes away. I thought exploring why I think this way would help me learn how to stop it, but ultimately I've known all this for years now. But these thoughts are almost uncontrollable, and I honestly just wanted to vent at this point. Does anyone else know any tips into getting this to stop? It drives me insane.
 
I'm so sorry for all the trauma and distress you've been through and still are. That all sounds like a horrific amount of trauma throughout your life. The thing is, part of ptsd is the brain trying to disbelieve the truth, pretend it didn't happen, it wasn't that bad, you're over exaggerating, others have it way worse so stop this nonsense, and so on. That for me was a bit of a wake up call, that my denial and inability to accept trauma had occurred was one way I was attempting to protect myself, but like you said I questioned/hated my reactions so have that to unpack too.

I don't know if you've had/having therapy, but I'd strongly advise it if that's possible. It's been and continues to be a game changer for me. It's not removed trauma, but the fact I understand the whys and when's have meant life is beginning to be more bearable.

Questioning my trauma and how others perceive my reactions to it has been a massive part of ptsd for me. It seems almost crazy to say I have the same condition to someone who has suffered abuse, torture etc when I "only" was treated poorly by medical staff when my daughter died. What the people here, along with my therapist, have helped me realise is whilst I may not have been physically attacked, I was emotionally and psychologically wrecked by others incompetence when they are supposed to be the professionals you trust, touched against my will with no medical need, not listened too, blamed for my feelings, and all this was happening when I I'd just lost my baby girl. When I made an official complaint, it was buried and I was made out to be "overeating" which simply added to the trauma. All this with no acknowledgement or apology left me wondering if I was right to feel traumatised.

You're not seeking attention, you're not weak. You're surviving a shit ton of stuff most people could never imagine. It's not better or worse than others trauma, just different x
 

Weemie

MyPTSD Pro
I call this the Double-Standard Effect. Basically it happens because our brains aren't capable of logically processing traumatic events due to impaired declarative recall (verbal memory) associated with PTSD. So while we can see other people's experiences && logically understand the cause and effect (they were kids, they were abused, it wasn't their fault) when we try to analyze what happened to us we get stuck in cognitive distortions & repetitive thought loops. It's just your brain's way of protecting you by minimizing your perception of the damage. But it was trauma & it was a big deal.
 

Movingforward10

MyPTSD Pro
I'm sorry all that happened to you and also about how it impacts you and your thinking now.
A lot of what you wrote reasonates so much with me. I spent decades convinced that it didn't matter and wasn't bad, so infact nothing happened to me. When the opposite is true.
What helped me to shift from "it wasn't bad, other people have it worse, their truanabis more legitimate, and I should be over what happened already" was really exploring it with my therapist and moving the blame and resppns off me and onto my abusers. Even the child a abuser.
And shifting the power of other people's thoughts and creating space for your own. That is something I am still working through as it's really hard. I also grew up in a family where I was denied thoughts and feelings and essentially brain washed and gaslighted my entire childhood.
But having a T who highlights that ibam giving someone else's thoughts and opinions more power over me than my own, helps me to realise I am doing it and how it is harming me, and that I can think differently. Let me thoughts shine. It is helping.

I hope you find a path through this
You deserve to have your feelings and experienced validated by yourself. And to not carry around the abusers manipulation.
 

caroline_13

MyPTSD Pro
I understand this sort of thing is common, but I still struggle with this particular type of doubt all the time. And I don't even know why because its driving me nuts. I constantly doubt if my CSA counts because it was child on child. It is very textbook, yet I still doubt it. I'll go into it a bit, to demonstrate my point. Feel free to skip, to the next paragraph.

While we were the same age (he abused me from 6-7) and he never used physical force, everything else was textbook. He would take me to a place away from other kids and teachers, he was all secretive about everything. Of course, I assume this is because this was learnt behaviour. I don't know if he experienced any contact CSA, but definitely a form of non contact CSA as his parents completely failed to prevent him from having access to adult materials, which is a form of non contact CSA. He likely learnt this behaviour from porn, but the idea he experienced what he did to me is just as likely since his family background, from the little I know about it, was f*cked. It started off with him getting me to look at his penis, pretty normal, then progressed to getting me to touch it which was a little odd, but then he started to make me lick, suck, and one time bite it (???????). I would say no the the latter 3, literally so young all I knew is that boys peed from there and I was worried there was stuff on there. I said no multiple times on multiple occasions, but he would emotionally manipulate me, coerce me, and even use threats to get me to do it. It lasted so long that eventually I just kinda accepted it, and even felt happy that even though it felt weird and I didn't want, not like it, I was making him happy. And when I did try to refuse, he would manipulate and/or threaten me some more anyway. He was also known o be a violent kid, so I was a bit scared of him even when he wasn't threatening violence. We were only caught because he started doing it in class. We'd sit in the back of the class, usually, and he would show his penis to me, sometimes getting me to touch it. One time when we were caught, I got told off and told to sit at the front. I never got told off before that (I was generally a good kid) so I cried. It was so embarrassing. Eventually it stopped because I was sent to the headmaster, told off again, and told to stay away from him. As far as I'm aware, he was given a talk but no other action was taken. They did not contact my parents, nor did they investigate why this kid was displaying so many sexually inappropriate behaviour despite that usually meaning the kid is being diddled too. And many parents had complained about him inappropriately describing porn to their kids before and after this. I know he didn't fully understand what he was doing either, and I have a level of sympathy for him because he was clearly a victim of some kind of abuse, but he seemed very in control and his actions were clearly deliberate. He did it to humiliate me. Its very apparent in retrospect, and the things he said to me towards the end of the abuse and after we had stopped.

The definition of COCSA is: sexual activity between children that occurs without consent, without equality (mentally, physically, or in age), or as a result of physical or emotional coercion.

Well, I didn't consent. I only agreed to do it after pressure, manipulation and sometimes threats from his end, which means I didn't really consent at all. I also had no clue what was happening. I wasn't physically coerced, but definitely emotionally. The type of behaviours he displayed and the things he made me do were way out of the norm for children our age, and you could also argue that I was easier to manipulate due to me being neurodivergent. However, even as I type this, I'm doubting myself. It wasn't that bad cos we were the same age, he never used physical violence, his threats weren't that bad, I was disgusted and uncomfortable and sometimes scared but it wasn't like I was mortified or really severely effected. Ignore that I started displaying extreme people pleasing behaviours to avoid the behaviours my abuser used on me, I began daydreaming to an unhealthy degree and dissociating, became violent towards my younger sister, developed emotional issues and comfort eating, and showed many many different symptoms of trauma at the time that persist to this day. I don't have the "right" to call this abuse because it wasn't that bad, it wasn't an adult, and it's disrespectful to real survivors of these sort of things. Ignore the fact that there is evidence that suggests that children abused by other children display the same levels of psychological distress from abuse committed by adults.

You would think that the existence of evidence (though, not a lot since this is an under researched area, naturally), displaying that my trauma is just as real and valid as other peoples would get me to stop worrying about this. Furthermore, you might wonder why I even care if other people perceive what happened to me as "real abuse", since their opinions shouldn't matter. I often ask myself that, why do I care? Then my brain replies, because clearly you just want the attention from being a victim. Then I get disgusted with myself and enter a self hating spiral. In reality, I think there's two reasons. Reason one being, I am terrified all this was for nothing. That all the struggles I've had, all the pain this has caused me over the years, the things I am still experiencing to this day, were not the cause of any legitimate forms of abuse or trauma, but because I am weak. I'm too sensitive, over dramatic, weakminded, wannabe victim, etc. That fear is kind of paralysing. Because if my abuse wasn't abuse, why is all these issues here? Why have I been terrified of sex for so long, and to a lesser extent, still am? Why was I always between completely empty, furious, or despairing? Why were so many of my nights spent having panic attacks, why would I get flashbacks, why was I always afraid? If my abuse wasn't real, then why are the emotions real?

The second reason being, I am very concerned with the opinions of others. If other people think my abuse wasn't abuse, then it wasn't abuse, and the above applies. If other people don't think my abuse was abuse, I have no right to feel bad about it or have trauma from it, I am simply being weak minded or attention seeking. I feel this way about other aspects of my life. Its like I need people to validate how I feel. I cannot accept that this is simply the way I feel and that is ok. If it wasn't abuse, I don't have a right to see it as such, I don't have a right to complain or seek help, I'm not allowed to engage on platforms or in discussions on matters such of this, etc. A lot of this is because of other traumas in my life (which I also often fail to view as "real" trauma). I went through long term bullying due to being neurodivergent. I was bullied almost my entire life, though not that badly before the age of 7, but it was most severe when I was about 8-10 and again when I was 13-14 (I think, I am really bad at placing my age to events in my life, I only know I was 6 when I experienced COCSA because I knew I was in year 2 because of the teacher that told me off). My mum has also been critical of aspects of who I am. My appearance, my mannerisms, stuff like that. She has been emotionally abusive on and off for a large chunk of my life, starting from 5. (again, also something I sometimes struggle to accept.) If someone thinks something about me, it must be true in my mind. Especially since the people who have most harshly judged me and belittled me have been the people I cared about most. My mum, my ex best friend, other childhood friends who eventually were turned against me by my ex best friend. So, peoples opinions on me matter. I try not to let them matter, but at the end of the day, I care about how people perceive me. And if they perceive me as weak, attention seeking, or overdramatic, it must be true, and that terrifies me because that is not the sort of person I want to be.

I know this sort of thought process is common. I have had friends experience events I consider 1 million times worse than anything I'd experienced, and they have thought the exact same things I described above. My friends who have experienced both COCSA, CSA, and SA throughout their lives have described how each one effected them, and it was often very similar to what I felt and experienced. Yet I've still never accepted my emotions as acceptable or ok to have. It is endlessly frustrating because this sort of thinking just makes me feel worse about myself while preventing me from reaching out. I've avoided this site many times because I feel like I shouldn't be here, even though the COCSA isn't even the only trauma I've experienced, though perhaps both the one that effected me the most yet also being the most ambiguous. That's probably why this is the one I think this way about the most. It isn't a black and white thing. There's no clear answer. My brain doesn't handle uncertainty and ambiguity well. With other things I've experienced, its a bit less black and white. But even with the smallest amount of gray possible, I still find a way to doubt myself and discredit my emotions. I have a father who has had multiple life threatening conditions. I've dealt with the fact he's almost died multiple times, have had surgeries that could have killed him but wouldn't survive without anyway (on my birthday, too, him living was a good birthday present but waiting all day to make sure he didn't flatline in surgery for my birthday party was still terrifying), and I was placed with a large amount of responsibility in regard to his conditions and had to save his life multiple times. Yet I STILL find a way to discredit my emotions on it. Because it wasn't "that bad". Other situations, like my mum emotionally abusing me, even becoming physical (though, this only happened once, maybe a few others if you count throwing objects at you, but they weren't objects that hurt me or anything so idk). She was very extreme during periods where she was more abusive. She also had many periods of not being abusive, most the time keeping her cool, but she has also done things such as threaten to kill herself and telling me its my fault, storming out the house after doing so, she's called me names and insulted me in public and in private, screamed me into panic attacks. told me to kill myself, threatened abandonment, etc etc. But cos shes normally nice, I have no trauma from it, its all fine.


Idk, I write all this out hoping I'd come to a sort of eureka moment. I was hoping I could crush this irrational thought in my head but it fully goes away. I thought exploring why I think this way would help me learn how to stop it, but ultimately I've known all this for years now. But these thoughts are almost uncontrollable, and I honestly just wanted to vent at this point. Does anyone else know any tips into getting this to stop? It drives me insane.
I'm so sorry you're going through this.

It is A LOT.

I've suffered a lot with intrusive thoughts; accepting them has always worked the best. Not fighting them, just feeling them.

Hey you can come in and do your thing in this part of my brain, and it's okay; I'll carry on elsewhere.
 

EveHarrington

MyPTSD Pro
The traumatized part of your brain isn’t capable of saying “if someone below the age of XYZ abuses me, then I won’t get PTSD, but if a person above that age traumatizes me, then PTSD is possible, given that the traumas are the same”. Do you see what I’m saying here?

The age of the perpetrator is not a factor in whether or not PTSD develops.

The mental capacity of the perpetrator is not a factor, either. What if someone was abused by a 7 year old, but another person was abused in the same way by someone with the mind of a 7 year old ie developmentally delayed/disabled. They both have the same level of knowing right from wrong, but again the mind of the victim won’t say “well the older perpetrator didn’t know what he was doing so it doesn’t count as abuse!”

Maybe these sound like dumb mind games, but this is how I need to reason things out for myself to be able to accept that my thoughts haven’t gone astray, and that my reactions are normal given what I’ve endured.
 

Freddyt

MyPTSD Pro
Reality is - we are so busy deluding ourselves and trying to suppress the memories that we don't just do it unconsciously, we do it consciously as well......wish it all away.

Sooner or later you face up to the fact it was all real. That it did happen. That it did hurt. That it damaged you.

That's when you can begin to heal and you understand one of my favourite psychologist quotes.

"Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate." Carl Jung
 
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