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Realization of the cause of my mental illness

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  • #401624
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    I’ve recently had an epiphany about my mental health and actions, and I’ve come to realize that a lot of that is because of toxic family members, particularly my father and an older male cousin who was like a brother to me. The incidents happened when I was six to seven years old when my nine/ten older cousin would forced me to do explicit things with him that I didn’t want to a number of times. For some reason, I never told my mom, not because we have a toxic relationship(she’s the most important person to me), but because I didn’t want to get my cousin in trouble and my understanding of intercourse was limited as 6 year olds’ tend to be. Until recently, I never really had a concrete understanding  of intercourse or what it entailed, and that really effected my view point of the world.. Anyway, I never talked about what happened, and eventually even forgot about it, until a few years ago. We were both teenagers and hadn’t seen each other in a while. I thought that I could put our past behind us and I could finally have my older brother back, but I was wrong. He did the same things to me as he did before, only now he was a 16 year old. I woke up to him touching me inappropriately. Only this time, I finally told my mom. She cried, but regained herself and promised me that I would be safe, that she would take care of it and I would never see him again. My cousin denied ever doing this to me and said that I had just brushed up against a lotion bottle on the ground(I was sleeping on the floor next to him since it was a sleepover), but my mom didn’t believe him and told him I have no reason to lie.She called my uncle and my cousin’s father and he was promptly removed from our family and was put into some type of behavioral correctioning, and I haven’t come in contact with him since. I on the other hand, felt like garbage. I felt like I deserved it in some karmic, ironic way, and I still do. I told my father about it, and he asked if deep down, I wanted my cousin to do that. I felt angry with him, because of course not, and when I confronted him about saying that, he denied it. I’m not trying to use this as an excuse for the things I’ve done, but I’ve done things I’m not proud of as a result of my cousin, rather I was conscious about it being wrong or not, and now I struggle with depression, suicidal thoughts, anxiety and possibly a personality disorder. I have a therapist I frequently talk to, but I don’t want to talk about what happened between my cousin and I as talking about it makes me relieve what happened. I feel abnormal and separated from people and fear they will judge me for what happened. I’ve been to a psych ward already and told them about the incident, but only vaguely because, again, I was afraid they were going to judge me. I’m not a victim, and at the end of the day, the only one who controls you is you. Yet I can’t bring myself to confront what happened. I still feel like I deserve it deep down.

     

     

     

    #401630
    anita
    Participant

    Dear 1873bd:

    I will read and reply to you in about 10 hours from now.

    anita

    #401634
    anita
    Participant

    Dear 1873bd:

    You shared that you recently had an epiphany. I am paraphrasing: you believe that your older cousin who sexually abused you, as well as your father who suggested that you wanted it to happen, both have damaged your mental health.

    When you were 6, your 9 year old cousin forced you to do some sexual things that you didn’t want to do. It happened during the course of one year. You didn’t tell your mother because you didn’t want to get your cousin into trouble and your understanding of what happened, at 6-7 years old, was limited. You never talked about it, and eventually forgot about it until a few years ago when as a teenager (13) , after not having seen your cousin(16) for a while, you saw him again.

    “He did the same thing to me as he did before.. I woke up to him touching me inappropriately”. You told your mother, she cried and promised you that you will not see your cousin again, that you will be safe. She followed her words with action and your cousin was placed in some kind of a behavioral correction program, and you haven’t seen him since.

    You told your father about what happened and “he asked if deep down I wanted  my cousin to do that”. When later you confronted your father about having said that, he denied that he did.

    As a result of these happenings: “I’ve done things I’m not proud of… and now I struggle with depression, suicidal thoughts, anxiety and possibly a personality disorder… I feel abnormal and separated from people and fear they will judge me for what happened… I can’t bring myself to confront what happened. I still feel like I deserve it deep down”.

    My input today: I noticed that you shared that your father asked you if “deep down” you wanted your cousin to do what he did, and you ended your post with feeling that indeed you deserve it “deep down”.

    Here is a website that may be helpful to you, unique foundation. org/ sexual arousal and abuse without shame:

    “Your body does lots of things automatically, without any thought from you. When you eat, your body immediately starts digesting your food… The same thing is true of sexual arousal: it’s a natural process in our bodies.. When we are touched sexually, our whole physiology is designed to give us pleasure. These are natural bodily reactions over which we have no control.. Yet survivors still feel shame and guilt if they experienced sexual arousal during abuse… Abuse can create confusing and conflicting reactions for survivors. On one hand, you wanted to scream out and make the abuse stop. On the other hand, your body possibly experienced pleasurable sensations.

    “THERE IS NO SHAME IN A NATURAL RESPONSE- You should know this: if you experienced sexual arousal or pleasure during your abuse, it doesn’t mean you consented to or enjoyed what happened… It means your body did what bodies are supposed to do… You don’t feel shame that your body digests food without your permission, and there is nothing shameful about any of the other natural things that your body does”.

    Is the above helpful to you in any way?

    anita

    #401637
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    <p style=”text-align: center;”>Dear Anita</p>
    <p style=”text-align: center;”>Yes, this post does help a lot. The thing I’m confused about is whether or not my cousin was aware of his wrongdoings as a ten year old. I understand now that often, children get curious and that there’s a difference between exploration and sexual assault. My cousin has a mother who loves him and a stepfather who would do anything for him, so I just don’t understand why he’s like this. Like I said, because my knowledge of intercourse was so limited, I didn’t really understand that doing what he did was wrong which is why I didn’t really say anything. Would it be considered assault when he did it as a nine year old? Or was it just him being a kid experiencing sexual arousal? I guess the main reason I don’t feel innocent is because of him. He would talk about sexual things and encourage me to do so too, and in my head, those things were “grown” up and I would do the same without understanding why. What I want to know is what the main difference between true child sexual abuse and just being exploring. It’s obvious that my cousin knew what he was doing was wrong as he was 16 years old, but is it possible that he was a victim of grooming in his own right? Would then, reporting him, make me a bad person since he’s a victim as well?</p>

    #401638
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    Also one more thing (I apologize if I’m rambling), but I don’t really want to call this sexual assault because frankly, I love my father and wouldn’t want to label him. When I was seven or eight, I would take baths and my father (after he and my mom were separated) would then remove me out of the tub and examine my genitals, and clean them with a rag. I don’t really remember how often he did this, but it was more than once. I don’t remember feeling panic or fear, but I don’t know why he did this. He never touched me directly or anything, and he certainly didn’t do this anymore as I grew up, but what would that be considered? Was he cleaning me or would that be overstepping boundaries? With him doing this, would this affect my subconscious or how I feel about my cousin in anyway? My mom would clean my brother in the shower when he was a toddler and a small child (8), but somehow, that feels different than what my dad did.

    #401639
    anita
    Participant

    Dear 1873bd:

    “The thing that I am confused about is whether or not my cousin was aware of his wrongdoing as a 10 year old” – if before, during or after the sexual activity, as a 10-year-old, he tried to hide what was happening, if he said something threatening to you, if he told you not to tell about what happened, then he knew that what he was doing was wrong, or that it can be perceived as wrong if found out.

    “Would it be considered assault when he did it as a nine year old? Or was it him just being a kid experiencing sexual arousal?” –

    – it seems clear to me that he was a kid experiencing sexual arousal. The question is whether it was an assault. Again, if he tried to hide what he was doing, threaten you, etc., that would lead me to think (and I am not a lawyer) that it could be considered an assault.

    * Legally, youthful offenders are given special legal considerations because of their natural tendency to be impulsive, to not think before acting and to not consider long term consequences of their actions.

    * There is such a thing as “age gap laws” when it comes to peer-on-peer sexual abuse. From the website Law. com/ peer on peer child sexual abuse: “the laws vary widely in terms of what sexual behavior between peers is viewed as legal and what is not. In some states peers will not be prosecuted when the age difference between them is two years; in others, up to six years difference is acceptable. In some states, the age-gap laws are not effective until the teens are at least a threshold age, such as 15 year old. In other states the age-gap laws apply regardless of how young the youngest teen is”.

    “What I want to know is what the main difference between true child sexual abuse and just exploring” – again, I am not a lawyer, but seems to me- from all that I read and understand about life- that most 9-10 year old children are already familiar with the idea that sexual activity in that age is something that their parents will disapprove of. Some 9-10 year old kids are much more mature than other kids of the same age. I don’t know the level of maturity vs impulsivity on the part of your cousin, at that age.

    If he didn’t threaten you, if he didn’t tell you to not tell, if he didn’t try to hide what happened at 9-10, this would lead me to think that either he didn’t know it was wrong, or that it was significantly wrong.

    “It’s obvious that my cousin knew that what he was doing was wrong as he was 16 years old, but is it possible that he was a victim of grooming in his own right? Would then reporting him, make me a bad person since he’s a victim as well?” – reporting sexual abuse is the right thing to do whether the abuser suffered sexual- or other kind of abuse- or not. Having been once a victim does not justify or excuse victimizing another (I don’t know if a single person would be held accountable for his/ her wrongdoings, if such an excuse was valid!)

    “When I was seven or eight, I would take baths and my father… would then remove me out of the tub and examine my genitals, and clean them with a rag. I don’t really remember how often he did this, but it was more than once… I don’t know why he did this… what would that be considered?” – depends on his intent: assuming that he did this way before you hit puberty, maybe he was puzzled about the task of cleaning a girl’s genitals vs a boy’s because the girl’s has folds that need to be moved sideways for the purpose of cleaning what’s underneath the folds. He used a rag, perhaps to not touch your genitals with his bare hands. This particular detail, (using a rag vs his bare hands)  leads me to think that it was not sexual abuse, particularly with no other evidence that he sexually abused you.

    anita

    #401641
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    <p style=”text-align: left;”>Thank you Anita, I really appreciate your insight. I’m still conflicted about the whole thing, but now I at least have a basic understanding of what happened.</p>

    #401643
    anita
    Participant

    Dear 1873bd:

    You are welcome. When you feel like it (after taking a relaxing break from the topic), you are welcome to return here and share further about  your conflicts. We can continue to make sense of things, if you want.

    anita

    #401831
    anita
    Participant

    Dear 1873bd:

    When I read your original post on the other thread two years ago I did not want to comment on the nature of the two incidents you described there because it is a public forum. I will explain: the two incidents (even if the second was true) were of no consequence to your brother. He wasn’t hurt in any way, like you suggested yourself. But here is the thing: if I said this in that thread, someone reading my words may think something like: oh, it’s a matter of no consequence, so I can touch my own baby sibling and not worry about it. I don’t want this kind of misinterpretation, so I didn’t post there what I am posting here.

    You wrote in that thread, yesterday: “Nothing I will ever do will ever erase what I’ve done… I’m incredibly remorseful and ashamed of what I’ve done… The guilt is unbearable sometimes”- you are way, way overreacting to that one incident and this overreaction will not help you to continue healing and recovering,  it will not make you a better person. Letting go of this undeserved guilt is congruent with your continued healing!

    You need somehow to let go of the guilt and shame, it is very exaggerated and underserved. Everyone makes mistakes, and your mistake was (1) of a very short duration, (2) it was not repeated, (3) it did not involve inflicting any physical or psychological damage to your brother,  not short term and not long-term (4) you were only nine, and I mentioned earlier the concept of “youthful offender”, which the law gives a lot of weight in favor of the youthful offender because a child is limited in the ability to resist impulses and consider long-term consequences.

    I hope this makes you feel better, I really hope so, because from all that you share, you are a  good person who does not deserve to suffer unnecessarily!

    anita

    #402001
    anita
    Participant

    Dear 1873bd:

    I am sorry to see that you deactivated your account. I hope that you resume and/ or continue your healing, if not here on this (or any other) thread, then elsewhere. Perhaps in a more private setting, in a professional setting such as in psychotherapy and/ or in a well managed support group. If you change your mind and would like to return to any of your two threads, or to create a new thread on any topic, you are welcome to do so!

    anita

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