Understanding Trauma & Violence


When I was 4 or 5 years old, a girl my age started kissing me. I felt uncomfortable and knew that something about the situation wasn't right, but I felt frozen and didn't know how to stop it from happening. Would this be considered child-on-child sexual abuse (COCSA)?


Thank you for this question. It sounds like what you experienced at such a young age was both confusing and unsettling to you. It's understandable that you felt uncomfortable and had a sense that something about the situation wasn't right. Feeling frozen and not knowing how to stop what was happening is a common response to an unexpected or unwanted experience, especially for a young child.

At 4 or 5 years old, children are still learning about boundaries, consent, and appropriate interactions with others. While curiosity and exploration are a normal part of child development, when one child initiates unwanted sexual behavior towards another, it can be harmful and traumatic, even if the initiating child may not fully understand the impact of their actions.

The term child-on-child sexual abuse (COCSA) is typically used to describe sexual behavior between children that is not developmentally appropriate, is unwanted, or involves coercion or force. In your situation, if the kissing made you feel uncomfortable, scared, or violated, and you didn't feel able to stop it, it's valid to feel that your boundaries were crossed.

It's important to honor your feelings and acknowledge that what happened made you uncomfortable. Your feelings are valid, and you have the right to feel the way you do about the experience. At the same time, it's also important to recognize that the other child involved was also very young and may not have fully understood the impact of their actions. While this doesn't excuse the behavior or minimize your experience, it may be helpful to extend some grace and understanding towards the other child, who was also still learning about boundaries and appropriate interactions.

It's important to remember that what happened was not your fault. If this memory continues to trouble you or if you find that it is impacting your life in any way, it may be helpful to talk to a therapist or counselor who specializes in working with survivors of childhood sexual abuse. They can provide a safe space for you to process your emotions, help you understand the impact of your experience, and work with you to develop coping strategies.

Remember, healing is possible, and you don't have to navigate this alone. Trust your instincts and reach out for support if you feel it could be beneficial. Thank you again for reaching out to us and feel free to browse some other survivor questions we have been asked about similar situations if you think that would be helpful. You are not alone.

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