Sharing Your Story


As a child, I was exposed to a highly sexualized environment by my father and experienced sexual abuse from a peer. Later, I engaged in inappropriate sexual play with my younger brother who is on the spectrum. I had a vague understanding that it might be wrong, but I didn't fully comprehend the implications at the time. I now understand it was sexual abuse. I feel guilty and hope my brother doesn't remember. Does this make me a bad person? I still feel very guilty about this event.


Thank you for sharing this deeply personal and painful experience. It takes immense courage to confront these memories and seek understanding. The situation you've described is complex and layered, involving multiple instances of abuse and inappropriate behavior.

First and foremost, it's crucial to understand that you were a child in an extremely inappropriate and abusive environment. The sexualization you experienced from your father could certainly be labled as a form of sexual abuse, even if it didn't involve physical contact. His comments and behavior were deeply inappropriate and harmful. The harm you experienced from your peer may have compounded this experience and was also not your fault. These experiences can have profound impacts on a child's understanding of boundaries and sexuality.

Children who experience sexual abuse or exposure to inappropriate sexual content may sometimes act out sexually with other children as a result of their own trauma and confusion. This is often referred to as "sexually reactive behavior." It's a way that some children process or try to understand their own experiences of abuse. In your case, the play with your brother seems to fall into this category.

Your feelings of guilt are understandable, but it's important to recognize that you were also a victim in this situation. You didn't have the understanding or capacity to fully comprehend the implications of your actions at that young age, especially given the harmful environment you were in. The fact that you felt uncomfortable, stopped the activity, and felt guilty afterwards shows that even then, you had an instinct that something wasn't right.

This experience does not make you a bad person. You were a child trying to make sense of a confusing and traumatic situation with limited understanding and coping mechanisms. Your brother, being younger and on the spectrum, likely had even less understanding of the situation.

It's common for survivors of childhood sexual abuse to question their memories and experiences. This is partly because trauma can affect memory formation and recall, and partly because the nature of the abuse can be confusing and disorienting, especially for a child. The guilt and confusion you're feeling are normal reactions to abnormal circumstances you were placed in as a child.

Moving forward, it's important to focus on your healing. Consider seeking support from a therapist who specializes in childhood trauma and sexual abuse. They can help you process these experiences and emotions in a safe, non-judgmental environment. They might use techniques like EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) or other trauma-focused therapies to help you work through these memories and associated feelings.

If memories of the incident with your brother continue to cause distress after working with a professional, you might consider whether discussing it with him could aid your healing. This is a deeply personal decision with no right or wrong answer. If you ever decide to have this conversation, you might consider doing it under the guidance of a trauma-informed therapist. Remember, your well-being is the priority, and any steps should be at your own pace and comfort level.

Remember, healing is a journey. Some days might be harder than others, and that's okay. Your feelings are valid, and you deserve compassion and understanding as you work through this. Be gentle with yourself. You've already shown tremendous strength by confronting these memories. Remember, you are not defined by what happened to you or by actions you took as a child in response to abuse. You are worthy of healing, peace, and healthy relationships. Thank you again for reaching out to us. You are not alone.

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