Understanding Trauma & Violence
Meaning Making


I am wondering if this is child-on-child sexual abuse (COCSA)? When I was around 9 years old, I was exposed to adult content and my siblings decided to try out what we saw. Later, we decided to introduce this game, we called it the Kissing Game, to a few girls from our neighborhood. I have been feeling guilty about this. My siblings don't seem to be affected by it. Recently I discovered the term COCSA and after that I can't stop thinking that I caused harm to others. My mother says it was only experimentation and that I need to move on because my anxiety is only causing me harm. I don't know what to do, I feel like a monster.


Thank you for your courage in sharing your story and the complex emotions you're grappling with. It's clear that this childhood experience has weighed heavily on you. Your feelings of guilt and anxiety are valid. Discovering the term child-on-child sexual abuse (COCSA) can bring up painful memories, worries, and fears, but it's important to approach your situation with nuance and self-compassion.

Curiosity and sexual experimentation are a normal part of child development. Children often mimic or reenact behaviors they've been exposed to, without fully comprehending the implications. While some instances of childhood sexual experimentation can be considered COCSA, it's important to understand that harm is determined by those who experience it. Without direct communication from the other children involved, it would be difficult to speculate about the impact on them. It's possible that they, like your siblings, do not feel negatively affected by these experiences.

Your mother's perspective that this was experimentation is a common viewpoint, as many adults recognize that children's sexual behavior exists on a spectrum and doesn't always equate to abuse. However, it's equally important to validate your own emotions and experiences. If you're struggling with guilt and anxiety related to these memories, your feelings deserve to be acknowledged and addressed.

Healing from complex childhood experiences is a highly individualized journey. It's not uncommon for people to have conflicting emotions and to grapple with shame related to their role in past events. I encourage you to seek the support of a therapist who specializes in childhood trauma and development. They can provide a safe, non-judgmental space to process your emotions, work through the guilt, and develop a plan forward.

Remember, your worth as a person is not defined by your childhood actions or experiences. You have the capacity to heal, grow, and lead a fulfilling life. Be patient and compassionate with yourself as you navigate this process. 

You deserve to find peace and self-forgiveness. Reach out to a trusted professional, lean on your support system, and know that you have the strength within you to move forward. Thank you again for this question.

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