Understanding Trauma & Violence


When I was 7-8 years old, my friend and I engaged in a game involving clothed touching, imitating abuse that my friend had experienced from a cousin of the same age. At the time, we didn't understand the implications. I enjoyed the physical sensations, but I'm now struggling to process this experience. I'm unsure if I shared information about this game with my own cousin or asked to play it with her, though I don't think we actually did. Does this situation qualify as child-on-child sexual abuse (COCSA)? I'm concerned about how my actions might have affected my cousin. If both my friend and I were willing participants in this game, but it originated from my friend's experience of abuse, is it still considered COCSA?


Thank you so much for reaching out to us. The experiences you've described involve complex childhood interactions. It's important to recognize that how you choose to interpret or label these experiences is entirely up to you. Everyone's perspective on their own childhood events is unique and valid.

What you've described - the play between you and your friend at that young age - could be classified a form of childhood exploration and trauma processing. It's not uncommon for children to engage in various forms of play as they try to make sense of the world around them, sometimes reenacting things they've experienced or heard about. It's also not uncommon for children who have experienced abuse to reenact those experiences through play, often without fully understanding the implications. 

Your participation in this play doesn't reflect badly on you; you were both young children engaging in behavior that felt natural to you at the time. The origins of the play in your friend's experiences, however, add another layer of complexity to the situation. While this situation could technically be classified as child-on-child sexual abuse (COCSA) due to the sexual nature of the play and its origin in abuse, it's important to recognize the context of childhood innocence and lack of understanding which may cause you to not label it as such.

Your concern about how your actions may have affected your cousin is a clear indication that anything you did in the aftermath did not have any malicious intent. This worry demonstrates your empathy and care for others, even in reflecting on childhood events. It's a positive sign of your character and moral compass. 

If you're experiencing distress about these past events, it would be beneficial to seek help from a mental health professional who specializes in childhood traumatic experiences. They can provide you with tools to process these memories and any associated feelings you may be having as a result.

Regarding your cousin, if you're feeling guilt or shame about potentially sharing information about this game, it might be helpful to have a conversation with her to clarify what happened. This could help alleviate your concerns and provide closure for both of you. However, only pursue this if you feel comfortable doing so and if you believe it would be beneficial for both parties.

Remember, you were a child acting without full comprehension of the situation. It's important to approach these memories with self-compassion and understanding. Your current thoughtfulness and concern show your good heart and intentions both then and now.

If you have any more questions or need further clarification, please don't hesitate to ask. Processing childhood experiences can be complex, and it's a big step that you're seeking to understand and come to terms with these events. Thank you so much again for reaching out. You are not alone. 

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