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How to break shame cycle re my role in csa

beaneeboo

MyPTSD Pro
Been deliberating whether to think about this, let alone post about it. But it keeps surfacing and knocking at my door strongly in the last 3 days.

Think it is because I read about the need to accept when abuse happens to you. That it's abuse. If only parts of it were that simple.

I have one part of me which I know is responsible for the deep shame I have about my part in some of the abuse. The one which keeps pointing a finger, not allowing me to accept that it happened TO me. Telling me instead it was because of me. I've been working really hard to look at everything objectively, from adult eyes. And I hoped it would be enough to stop blaming me and berating me, for my part in it. To step attacking the core of my being. I'm really trying to work on understanding shame. On working through it. Letting it go. Releasing myself.

But it appears there is still a part that continues to hang on to old ways, continues to, for some reason, hang on to that shame story. And I don't know why that is or what I can do about it. I am trying. It seems just telling myself I'm not bad, disgusting, shameful isn't enough. But I don't know what will be enough. Maybe because it feels like this is operating outside of me.

The one thing I can't get out of my head atm (the thing this part is shouting at me for an answer about) is the fact that I orgasmed whilst being 'on top' 😒. I think this part believes that because I was on top i must have participated to some degree in order for that to have happened. In all honesty, I can't remember exactly how it played out. I was about 9/10 years old ffs. But I think there was initially a level of intrigue (10/10 shame saying this) of what these bodily sensations were. It was so confusing to experience orgasm in among disgust, shame, fear. I know from my adult pov it's a natural bodily reaction which I couldn't have helped. But part of me says I could have helped it and I did enjoy it. And this feeds alot of my shame story.

I don't really know what else to tell this part of me. Or parts of me. One is berating - I think this is 3. And the other one is submitting to this. It's a hard cycle to break which appears to operate separately from me.
 
In any situation, the adult is always fully responsible for not being sexual with a child.

Always.
No exceptions.

So, to examine a hypothetical worst case scenario that:
A 10 year old who has had advanced education for their peer group about sex, sexuality and consent, decides they would like to explore sex. They have conversations with people about the pros and cons. They find an adult male who is happy to help them explore sex, and who has a conversation with the child’s parents, who agree. Prior to, throughout, and after sex, they seek out the child’s enthusiastic consent. The child enjoys the experience, and no trauma is suffered.

Wildly unrealistic.

The child still has zero responsibility for that sexual encounter.
It is still child sexual abuse.
The adult(s) are still 100% responsible for not being sexual with that child.

That responsibility encompasses not just refraining from being sexual with a child, but actively stopping sexual advances from a child, no matter what.

With that in mind, there is no scope for you to be considered responsible in any way, to any degree, for what happened to you. Considerations like the sexual position, enjoyment, or orgasm has any bearing on that.

When it comes to adults having sex with children, it’s one of the few areas in life where there isn’t a big grey area. There’s a crystal clear line that every adult, in every situation, must observe. And failure to, is child sexual abuse, and 100% on them, not the child.

That was a conversation I had with one of my Ts about the issue. That was how they explained it to me, and I found that really helpful. Hope it’s a little helpful to you too.

The hard part for me was actually the shame attached to it. Which was the driving force behind my brain’s attempt at that sort of reasoning. And much harder to shift.
 
TThanks @Sideways ..
The hard part for me was actually the shame attached to it. Which was the driving force behind my brain’s attempt at that sort of reasoning. And much harder to shift.
Yeah I think this is the bit I'm struggling with... the part which logic and understanding doesn't reach... it's like 'Sorry, different part of the brain here. Don't hear or understand what this explanation is'. That driving force you're talking of is the hard one to address. When I'm in the side of my brain (like tonight) where I'm not feeling the shame and I want to try to address it (but I'm not connected to it), I can see all that you've said. I get it. But how to address when the brain flips. When the shame leads the way?

I think for me, there's an added difficulty at play in that, this also happened with another minor. I can accept logically at least, the knowledge that a child has zero responsibility with an adult. I think I can more readily accept that on a logical level for myself.

But I struggle with the cocsa experiences, because the orgasms were at the hands of another child. So he can't take responsibility like an adult can. Yet he knew more than me, convinced/coerced me into it, lead me... And, at the point I was engaging in that way with him, he wasn't threatening. That came afterwards. So I guess I thought I was consenting. Even though I know logically a 9/10 year old can't consent. But to cut that shame is so much harder when there's no, or much less, culpability for the abuser... like there is in cocsa... it's not no culpability. But it's very different to the clear cut culpability with most adult abuse.

I've done alot of work of separating intent to hurt / culpability of my abusers from my experience of being abused. But the cocsa experience is even more difficult for me to separate out my shame for my part in it...

Can children consent to having sex with each other? I know when we get to teenage years then there's room for more discussion. But when one is pre- pubescent and one is going through the former stages of puberty, can they consent? Was it consent? Did I want it? I don't think I did and its done so much damage. But then i orgasmed and also thought the sex was love at some points, at the same time as being scared and feeling sick.

It's just one massive confusion fest.
 
gentle empathy, beeneeboo. for what it's worth, an orgasm is a biological response. we don't get to control that any more than we get to control our need to pee. how pissy it that? ? ?

i have personified my own psycho ticks, with the blamer/shamer having a metaphorical cage of her own. i don't believe these psycho ticks are separate persona, but they do seem to have lives of their own. when my inner blamer/shamer gets on her soapbox. i consider the source and treat her like a kooky blamer shamer damning us all to hell on a street corner. more judgemental than righteous. just another irritation. the world is full of 'em.
 
. i don't believe these psycho ticks are separate persona, but they do seem to have lives of their own. when my inner blamer/shamer gets on her soapbox. i consider the source and treat her like a kooky blamer shamer damning us all to hell on a street corner. more judgemental than righteous. just another irritation. the world is full of 'em.
Thanks @arfie ... this is interesting to me because my own therapists, and I hear generally on the grape vine, that we should be treating those more difficult voices/ parts with understanding (they played an important protector role), and to try to treat them with compassion...

my own T, contrarily perhaps, once told me to tell my voice to 'F*ck off ' and that was hard for me. Because I was scared of it. And that brought more fear. May be I should try it rather than psyco-analysimg it to shit and giving understanding as to why it's there 🤣

Seems to be working for some...
 
my own T, contrarily perhaps, once told me to tell my voice to 'F*ck off ' and that was hard for me. Because I was scared of it.
my personal favorite visualization for personifying my gnarlier psycho snot knots is lion taming. a particular fave is an old lithograph photo of a lady lion tamer sitting on a circus ring floor in her victorian garb with her lions lying peacefully around her. i play with my bull whips allot during these personifications.
May be I should try it rather than psyco-analysimg it to shit and giving understanding as to why it's there 🤣
in my own case, psychobabble is as powerful a deflection/denial tool as workaholism, especially when i ply it to the shifty understandings of, "why." it is what it is, whether i understand it or not. knowing the whys of global warming doesn't stop me from filling my gas tank or buying package intensive products. action required.
 
my personal favorite visualization for personifying my gnarlier psycho snot knots is lion taming. a particular fave is an old lithograph photo of a lady lion tamer sitting on a circus ring floor in her victorian garb with her lions lying peacefully around her. i play with my bull whips allot during these personifications.
I love this...

One of my abusers (not overtly sexual, but covertly and highly emotionally abusive) was my dad's partner. I think the image you've used here is perfect for her. She had such vitriol towards me growing up from very young. And although she's in her mid 80s now, part of me is still scared of her. But I also want to just bull whip her into submission. This is going to be a helpful visualisation thanks!!

in my own case, psychobabble is as powerful a deflection/denial tool as workaholism, especially when i ply it to the shifty understandings of, "why." it is what it is, whether i understand it or not. knowing the whys of global warming doesn't stop me from filling my gas tank or buying package intensive products. action required.
It's great you got to this point. I'm still searching to find the pieces, and, like a jigsaw, put them back together again. To make sense of them.

I think this is where the root of this post comes from. I want to know what feelings and parts belong to / developed from what experiences. I want, a bit like a secretary, organise them, file them and have it neatly sorted in my head. And then maybe that way, this elusive shame can be managed. Or there will be less need for it because there's a greater understanding. An explanation which sorts the feelings.

Like @Sideways said, the one clear cut thing in this world is that adults who sexually abuse children are 100% in the wrong and have the responsibility to stop advances from a child and to not be sexual in any way with a child. I get that in my own story. I still have shame about things I felt etc but I do get it.

But this logical clear cut reasoning is less so when the abuser is a child. For so many different reasons.

I don't think I did a lot of searching / instigating with the cocsa (I remember a few occasions). But equally I wasn't able to stop it for a long time and I beat myself up for that. I feel really stupid i didn't see it for what it was and after he wouldn't listen to 'no' why I couldn't just stop him coming to my house. I do feel complicit in it perhaps more than the adult abuse. I was petrified of getting pregnant and still I let it happen.

I thought when @Sideways said this about the adult - child SA dynamic, it would be interesting to consider this from a child - child abuse dynamic:
The child still has zero responsibility for that sexual encounter.
It is still child sexual abuse.
The adult(s) are still 100% responsible for not being sexual with that child.
Being 9/10, i know logically from my adult perspective, i don't have responsibility for being taught and talked into having sex and engaging in sexual acts with a child who sought me out to do so, for his own sexual gratification

Regardless of the fact he was a child, it was still sexual abuse to me. It was secret, he tricked me into it, I wasn't allowed to tell anyone, I was scared, i was afraid of getting pregnant, he threatened to tell everyone how disgusting i was etc.

But the thing that's different is he wasn't 100% responsible in that dynamic because he was a child too.

So I think my shame stems from 'We were both children so therefore we just have both been responsible for it'. Plus 'If I orgasmed there must have been a part of me which enjoyed it'.

Maybe it's those two parts who need bull whipping.
 
my own T, contrarily perhaps, once told me to tell my voice to 'F*ck off '
I had no idea this was something a T would suggest. I actually did that myself, out of frustration, I suppose, and maybe a little bit the need to stick up for myself. It was VERY helpful. Having someone stick up for me has been rare. I suspect I took that to mean I didn't deserve it. That obnoxious "part" did shut up, at least at the time, and it's been more inclined to shut up when asked to ever since. I'm not sure that "part" represents a part of ME as much as it's some form of my mother my brain decided needed to be carried around forever. My mother wasn't particularly useful when I was a kid, so that really isn't useful now either.
A 10 year old who has had advanced education for their peer group about sex, sexuality and consent, decides they would like to explore sex. They have conversations with people about the pros and cons. They find an adult male who is happy to help them explore sex, and who has a conversation with the child’s parents, who agree. Prior to, throughout, and after sex, they seek out the child’s enthusiastic consent. The child enjoys the experience, and no trauma is suffered.
According to my former T (and I didn't fact check this) historically, around the world, there actually HAVE been cultures that operated kind of like that. His point, I think, was that it isn't the sex that's the problem. It's the coercion, the secrecy, and the basic idea of using another person (or being used by another person) rather than a mutually caring situation. This isn't how things work in the "western" culture that most, if not all, of us grew up in, That's going to affect how we feel about things. It's also kind of what makes a perpetrator a perpetrator. They know the local cultural rules too and they know they're violating them. (Even if they've found ways to rationalize that.
Can children consent to having sex with each other?
This is just my own answer to that. I think children can consent to anything, they just may not realize what they're consenting TO. As far as that goes, I think you find, in a lot of situations that turn out to be abusive, the victim DOESN'T know what they're "consenting" to. That's what makes it "abuse". It's a trick. And by the time you figure that out, you're trapped. (And are probably beating yourself up for being stupid enough to get trapped.)

Kids can explore sex with each other, no harm done and they do it all the time. It's "normal", even in the culture most of us grew up in. Except that there are parts of this culture that put sex in generally on kind of shaky ground when it comes to the question of whether or not it's an ok thing. And the idea that kids are supposed to be "innocent" I suppose. All that mixed together makes this complicated. I think, though, what makes sexual abuse a problem isn't the sex as much as it is the abuse. And the guilt/shame? I'd bet a big part of that comes from a culture where sex isn't really thought of as a positive, good thing. There's already guilt and shame attached to it.
 
I had no idea this was something a T would suggest. I actually did that myself, out of frustration, I suppose, and maybe a little bit the need to stick up for myself. It was VERY helpful. Having someone stick up for me has been rare. I suspect I took that to mean I didn't deserve it. That obnoxious "part" did shut up, at least at the time, and it's been more inclined to shut up when asked to ever since. I'm not sure that "part" represents a part of ME as much as it's some form of my mother my brain decided needed to be carried around forever. My mother wasn't particularly useful when I was a kid, so that really isn't useful now either.
Interesting that it helped you. That makes sense from a having no one to stick up for you. At the time when T suggested it, I immediately had a bit of a threat response as I thought it would make the part/ voice stronger which I'd have to deal with, without him alone. But this part has definitely hasn't been as much control of me over the past few months. And T's suggestion was very strong and stuck in my head. Although I haven't dared turn round to say it to that part, it's like T did it for me. Someone stuck up for me. And maybe that has had more of an impact than I've realised.

According to my former T (and I didn't fact check this) historically, around the world, there actually HAVE been cultures that operated kind of like that. His point, I think, was that it isn't the sex that's the problem. It's the coercion, the secrecy, and the basic idea of using another person (or being used by another person) rather than a mutually caring situation.
This is helpful to read, and I think does sort of confirm parts of my own therapeutic work on it. When I entered therapy about it, my stance was I'm disgusting, bad to the core because I've done this awful thing (talking very much cocsa related). As T unpacked what happened over the approx 18 months with this boy, all the themes you've mentioned here started coming out (secrecy, coercion, the feeling of being used by someone else who sought me out to work through their own sexual issues (child or not), being objectified). Add to that the later threats when I started to speak up, it all felt like one big trick.

This isn't how things work in the "western" culture that most, if not all, of us grew up in, That's going to affect how we feel about things. It's also kind of what makes a perpetrator a perpetrator. They know the local cultural rules too and they know they're violating them. (Even if they've found ways to rationalize that.
I guess this is where maybe there's a grey area with kids being perps. Just because they are kids doesn't mean they aren't culpable at all or have zero awareness. In my case, the fact he knew to tell me to keep it secret showed some of that. So I guess there was some level of him knowing he had to violate a cultural code. But I'll never know to what level he understood the consequences of his actions.
This is just my own answer to that. I think children can consent to anything, they just may not realize what they're consenting TO.
What I've been asking myself about this, then is that consent? If you don't know what you're saying yes to, is it really consent? I consented to him 'showing me something he knew 'I'd love' which would be 'good for me' but which would need to kept secret. I was worried, said no many times but he kept trying to convince me... On and on. He made it out to be i exciting initially but then soon realised more or less what he was talking about. But it was too late, I was in a dynamic i had no voice to get myself out of.

I thought I consented to the sex with him for the last 35 years of my life because thats what i told myself as we were both kids. But my T says if I'd have consented, why would this still be causing me so many deep problems this amount of time later? If I hadn't have felt tricked, coerced, used, f*cked over.

This i can see.

As far as that goes, I think you find, in a lot of situations that turn out to be abusive, the victim DOESN'T know what they're "consenting" to. That's what makes it "abuse". It's a trick. And by the time you figure that out, you're trapped. (And are probably beating yourself up for being stupid enough to get trapped.)
This. Is. Exactly. It.

I think this is really helpful for me because it helps me realise where that shame was born. It was in the time when I had thought we were friends, and I had thought I had consented. I thought I entered into something I trusted he was going to lead me on. I thought we were somehow equals initially. But then I didn't want him to do those things, had no voice, took a long time to say no and then he turned. Told me we would continue and then the threats.

The latter stage I can see was abusive but there's still a part I'm this particular story that made me feel like I was allowing it to happen at some point. This is the tricky bit to work with.
Kids can explore sex with each other, no harm done and they do it all the time. It's "normal", even in the culture most of us grew up in.
Do you have a cut off age for that? Do you think it's normal for 2 x 8/9/10/11/12 year olds to be having sex with each other? I'm not at these early ages I think that it is 🤔
Except that there are parts of this culture that put sex in generally on kind of shaky ground when it comes to the question of whether or not it's an ok thing.
agreed. But for older children in puberty.
And the idea that kids are supposed to be "innocent" I suppose. All that mixed together makes this complicated. I think, though, what makes sexual abuse a problem isn't the sex as much as it is the abuse.
really interested in this sentence... and separating them out...sex. abuse.

that was another issue for me in my healing. How can I recover from the sex as being abusive if my body reacted?
And the guilt/shame? I'd bet a big part of that comes from a culture where sex isn't really thought of as a positive, good thing. There's already guilt and shame attached to it.
Yes you're right... it's just out there in alot of western culture..


Thank you for your thoughts, it's really getting me thinking objectively
 
The one thing I can't get out of my head atm (the thing this part is shouting at me for an answer about) is the fact that I orgasmed whilst being 'on top' 😒. I think this part believes that because I was on top i must have participated to some degree in order for that to have happened

Cocsa isn’t something I have experience with and therefore I’d not be the person to know enough to have the words.
However, this little section here, perhaps my approach/experience might help or perhaps it might not. As per see above, if it doesn’t, feel free to ignore me 😊

Your body is wired to protect you. That’s what the body does. If you touch an electric cable, your muscles contract super fast. Sometimes that snaps your hand shut away from the cable, sometimes that clamps your hand around the cable, making it impossible to let go. The intention of the body with both movements was instinctively to protect you, it just happened to get one of them wrong for the right reasons.

Orgasm or similar during sexual abuse does not have to mean you liked it. That was your body doing what bodies do, it just happened to get it wrong for the right reason, it was protecting you, enjoyment doesn’t have to come into it.

On a personal level, I had the opposite reaction, and my body did not ‘protect’ me in that way. I have a lot of shame around that & the results of that. Either way, neither of us should be ashamed for something out of our control that wasn’t a ‘mental’ decision, just a bodily reaction. It doesn’t make one reaction more valid than the other.

This should have been a mutual exploration of your body & sex with someone safe, and instead it ended up being overwhelming with you having no idea of what you were consenting to. Not every minute spent with abusers has to be abusive for it to count. There can be grey areas, there can be times when things are okay, there can be times you are unknowingly coerced and there can be times when things are not consenting & all of that still defines an abusive relationship.
 
I want to know what feelings and parts belong to / developed from what experiences. I want, a bit like a secretary, organise them, file them and have it neatly sorted in my head. And then maybe that way, this elusive shame can be managed.
i believe this the motivating force between my use of psychobabble as a deflection tool. more and more i believe it is counter-productive. over the course of "taming my lions," i give myself creative liberty in personifying them in whatever fashion suits my healing needs. as i read about your dad's partner, i wondered if you should train her to cavort in tutus and bozo slippers. keep whip and chair handy.

this use of personification is not about legally defensible accuracy. it is about healing the wounds of a child's broken heart.
 
Cocsa isn’t something I have experience with and therefore I’d not be the person to know enough to have the words.
However, this little section here, perhaps my approach/experience might help or perhaps it might not. As per see above, if it doesn’t, feel free to ignore me 😊
Thanks for saying this...I have seen posts written about cocsa here where I can see others' well- meaning posts have glossed over or down played the issues at play... none of us have the exact experience of others here - always parallels... but it's important we don't claim to know more about someone else's experience than they do... but just because you don't have cocsa experience, doesn't mean your insights won't be helpful... I'm grateful for your input ...

The intention of the body with both movements was instinctively to protect you, it just happened to get one of them wrong for the right reasons.
Wow. I've never seen it in this light. I'll have to think about this some more... so you mean the orgasm was wrong because of the circumstances it happened in, and it was wrong because it was in an abusive dynamic?
Orgasm or similar during sexual abuse does not have to mean you liked it. That was your body doing what bodies do, it just happened to get it wrong for the right reason, it was protecting you, enjoyment doesn’t have to come into it.
I'm struggling to understand the protecting me bit 😩 ... do you mind explaining it a bit further?
On a personal level, I had the opposite reaction, and my body did not ‘protect’ me in that way. I have a lot of shame around that & the results of that.
sorry that's caused you difficulty 🤗... if you feel like telling more I'd be genuinely interested. This is not a topic which I've ever discussed with anyone. I'm clueless. But... please don't if its going to bring up too much and cause any negative reaction...
Either way, neither of us should be ashamed for something out of our control that wasn’t a ‘mental’ decision, just a bodily reaction. It doesn’t make one reaction more valid than the other.
Agreed
Not every minute spent with abusers has to be abusive for it to count. There can be grey areas, there can be times when things are okay, there can be times you are unknowingly coerced and there can be times when things are not consenting & all of that still defines an abusive relationship.
This has almost blown my mind... there are initial elements to our relationship which were good before things went down hill...I had built trust with him (or him me) and some things initially felt good... it was everything that happened thereafter that totally changed that ... that then I realised, it was all a ruse/ fake... but because of the initial period, and thinking I consented, I never allowed myself to see it as abuse...

Thanks @No More
 
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