Answering your questions.

Here are some answers to questions we have received in the past from our survivor community. We hope these answers can help survivors, advocates, and the general public learn more about trauma and survivor healing.

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Understanding Trauma & Violence
Managing Trauma Impact
Meaning Making
Supporting Survivors
Seeking Help After Trauma
Sharing Your Story
Healing Week
Seeking Help After Trauma

When I was 14, my father sexually harassed me by taking advantage of my curiosity and naivety. What started as innocent questions turned into him sharing inappropriate details about his sexual experiences and desires, including expressing a sexual interest in me. He manipulated me into thinking it was acceptable and even convinced me to let him take inappropriate photos of me. Although he never physically touched me, he allowed me to touch him. I was the one who eventually stopped it, not him. Now, at 18, I'm no longer ignoring what happened. I feel hurt and betrayed, and I don't know how to handle this situation with my father. What should I do?

Understanding Trauma & Violence
Managing Trauma Impact

I have been wanting to confront my abuser. He's my brother. Is this a good idea?

Understanding Trauma & Violence

My ex-boyfriend would pressure me into saying "yes" to sexual acts, even when I was too intoxicated to properly consent, not enthusiastic, or uncomfortable with parts of what he was doing. He's a nice guy who supports victims, so I don't think it was intentional. How do I know if this was sexual assault/abuse or if I was just bad at communicating?

Managing Trauma Impact

What can I do to cope with sexual trauma if I don’t have access to professional help and don’t live in a healthy or stable environment?

Understanding Trauma & Violence

When I was around 9, a female friend and I engaged in sexual exploration together, like humping and rubbing against each other. I was usually the "top" but sometimes felt uncomfortable and worried she might do things to me I didn't want. I feel confused and disgusted with myself. Was this child-on-child sexual abuse? Am I a harmer, a victim, or both?

Understanding Trauma & Violence

Is it still considered sexual assault if I was never touched but I felt pressured to sexually touch the other person when I didn’t want to?

Understanding Trauma & Violence

What is the impact of gender-based violence on families?

Meaning Making
Managing Trauma Impact

After being assaulted, I've become somewhat obsessed with sexual assault as a topic. Is this unhealthy?

Supporting Survivors

How can someone who has been groomed online break the cycle of seeking out abusive relationships, and what can friends or loved ones do to support them?

Meaning Making

I was sexually assaulted, and although my attacker was found guilty in court, I was never allowed to see his face. This has left me constantly afraid of most men. Is there any way for me to find out what he looks like so I can begin to heal?

Understanding Trauma & Violence

I was sexually abused by three older girls when I was 6-9 years old, and as a result, I acted out sexually against my younger sister when I was 10. I deeply regret my actions and want to tell my parents and apologize to my sister, but I'm afraid of losing my family and facing legal consequences. What should I do?

Understanding Trauma & Violence
Sharing Your Story

When I was 8, my 9-year-old cousin convinced me that certain sexually inappropriate behaviors were normal between girls. I don't have many memories of the incidents, but I remember some parts clearly. Months later, she tried to get me to engage in these behaviors with our younger cousin, who was 4 or 5 at the time. Thankfully, our parents found out before anything more serious happened. Most of the family made jokes about the situation, but one aunt kindly explained to me why it was wrong and that children should never touch each other in those ways. The older cousin seems to be doing alright now, but I'm not entirely sure. The younger cousin appears normal on the outside, but she has been pressured to date and refuses. I don't know if this is related to what happened. I hope all three of us can heal from this experience, but I feel incredibly guilty. I keep worrying about what might have happened if our parents hadn't intervened or if something worse occurred that I can't remember. Am I both a victim and a perpetrator in this situation?

Understanding Trauma & Violence

Quiero saber si fui víctima de COCSA. Cuando era niña, a mis amigas les permitían ver contenido para adultos, y ellas intentaban recrear esas cosas conmigo. Me besaban y me tocaban sin que yo entendiera. Una vez, me presionaron para que me desvistiera, y luego se burlaron de mi cuerpo frente a nuestros compañeros de clase, lo cual fue humillante. Eso me dificultó hacer amigas. Ahora que soy mayor, me pregunto: ¿eso fue acoso o abuso? I want to know if I was a victim of COCSA. When I was a child, my friends were allowed to watch adult content, and they tried to reenact those things with me. They kissed and touched me without my understanding. Once, they pressured me to undress, and later mocked my body to our classmates, which was humiliating. It made it hard for me to make friends. Now that I'm older, I wonder - was that harassment or abuse?

Meaning Making

I experienced sexual roleplaying and jokes with a friend and their older friends (age 15 between the ages of 10-12, mostly online. I felt pressured to participate due to the emotional abuse and fear of losing the friendship. Years later, I struggle with hypersexuality, intrusive thoughts, and CSA themes in my art and writing. Was this child sexual abuse, or am I making false claims?

Meaning Making

A los 9-10 años tuve dos amigas alrededor de la misma edad, que al momento de irlas a visitar a sus casas terminaban besándome por curiosidad y yo solamente me quedaba quieta esperando a que terminarán, nunca llegué a entender si fue abuso o algo por el estilo, una de ellas me decía que buscará videos pornográficos en mi celular y años después no cargo ningún peso sobre la situación, me siento neutral al respecto y quiero comprender realmente qué fue lo que me pasó. When I was 9-10 years old, I had two friends around the same age. Whenever I visited them at their homes, they would end up kissing me out of curiosity, and I would just stay still, waiting for them to finish. I never quite understood if it was abuse or something like that. One of them told me to search for pornographic videos on my phone. Years later, I don't carry any burden regarding the situation; I feel neutral about it, and I want to truly understand what happened to me.

Meaning Making

Tengo recuerdos que recientemente recuperé sobre mi hermano mayor haciendo pasar actos sexuales como un juego secreto cuando yo tenía 5 o 6 años. Desde entonces, he recordado otros momentos en los que él me tocó, lo cual me hizo sentir incómodo y asustado. No sé si estos recuerdos son reales y no sé cómo lidiar con esto. No quiero enfrentar a mi hermano sobre este tema, ya que estoy seguro de que él tampoco era consciente de la magnitud de lo que estaba haciendo. I have memories that I recently recovered about my older brother passing off sexual acts as a secret game when I was 5 or 6 years old. Since then, I have remembered other moments where he touched me which made me uncomfortable and scared. I don't know if these memories are real and I don't know how to deal with this. I don't want to confront my brother about this issue, as I am sure that he was not aware of the magnitude of what he was doing either.

Managing Trauma Impact

How do I make the feeling of being touched all over go away?

Understanding Trauma & Violence

When I was in kindergarten, a friend asked me to play a game that she said her parents taught her to play only with people she loves. The game involved inappropriate sexual acts. I felt confused and uncomfortable, but I participated. Years later, I'm unsure if this would be considered child-on-child sexual abuse (COCSA) and I don't know how to process these memories, especially given that my friend said her parents taught her the game.

Understanding Trauma & Violence
Meaning Making

Can two younger children (e.g. ages 9-11) consent to sex? I don't believe they can. But if no adult is around to monitor what's going on, how does the child on the receiving end of the other child's behavior (initiated and lead by the other child) classify their experience? If they don't know what they are consenting to, and no isn't an option for them, is this abuse? This was my experience and I struggle so much with accepting what happened as being abuse. But I have all the hallmark signs of having been abused as a child.

Seeking Help After Trauma

I experienced sexual violence. How do I get over the guilt of reporting it?

What is COCSA? What is considered COCSA between same aged, pre-adolescent children? Are there any resources or research on the subject to help determine what behavior is healthy vs. abusive?

Understanding Trauma & Violence

I had an experience when I was young with another boy around my age which involved guilt tripping and other types of emotional manipulation into oral sex. It really impacted me, but I often struggle with feeling like my experience doesn't matter or isn't as serious as other forms of abuse despite all the research I did on the subject indicating it was child-on-child sexual abuse (COCSA). How can I learn to accept that what happened impacted me and learn not to compare my experiences to others?

I have to insert something inside myself regularly for medical reasons. I really do not want to do it, but my mom is pressuring me to continue to go through with it. I don't know how to explain to her why I hate it so much. I do have some bad experiences with sexual assault but, I don't know if it's related. How can I convince her to not make me do it?

Understanding Trauma & Violence

When I was a child, my parents repeatedly forced enemas on me. I remember screaming and begging to stop then finally giving in, freezing and dissociating. I've only recently (30 years later) had the courage to recall this memory, of which I used to have flashbacks that made me sick. My parents are nice people, but I feel like I am a survivor of a kind of sexual abuse. Can you help me understand what happened to me?

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.

Managing Trauma Impact
Supporting Survivors

I’m a sexual assault survivor that is currently in a healthy relationship. My boyfriend is aware of what I experienced as a child. He’s timid when it comes physical touch because he doesn’t want to trigger any past trauma. How can I reassure him that it’s okay to show affection?

Supporting Survivors

My girlfriend told me that before she was with me, she was sexually assaulted. How can I help her?

Understanding Trauma & Violence

I think I have been sexually assaulted by an ex-friend. Is it sexual assault if you aren't penetrated? She groped me and jabbed at my a**, but I didn't think it was important because we are both female.

Understanding Trauma & Violence

I stayed in a bad situation with my boyfriend because I was afraid no one else would love me again. Is this normal, and how can I "fix" this?

Sharing Your Story

I came out as bisexual to my family recently, and I am afraid that they won't believe me and won't let me date girls. Is this normal? I have a very understanding and supportive family, and I talk about everything with my mom, but it feels like I can't talk about this to her.

Supporting Survivors

Mi hija fue violada por su terapista, quedo embarazada. Soy su Madre como puedo sanar su dolor. El agresor sigue amenazandola. Comparten custodia de mi nieto. My daughter was raped by her therapist and became pregnant. I am her Mother, how can I heal her pain? The aggressor continues to threaten her and they share custody of my grandson. 

Understanding Trauma & Violence

Does being intoxicated excuse sexual harm perpetration? How much does alcohol really impair your ability to control yourself?

Understanding Trauma & Violence
Managing Trauma Impact

I was coerced into having sex with my ex- husband. I feel confused, ashamed, depressed and it's all I'm thinking about. I have moments when I'm okay and then it hits me all of a sudden. Part of me thinks it wasn't that bad because I said fine in the end after saying no repeatedly. Why do I feel like this? I can hardly breathe...

Understanding Trauma & Violence

Are there any red flags you can spot in a person to know if they may assault you or someone else?

Understanding Trauma & Violence

What makes sexual violence traumatizing?

Understanding Trauma & Violence

Why do I get aroused when I talk about my sexual abuse?

Understanding Trauma & Violence

Was I still sexually assaulted if I wasn’t raped, but was touched sexually without my consent?

Understanding Trauma & Violence

Can it count as abuse even if this other person is also a woman and was around 10 years old? I feel like everyone is going to say that it doesn't count as abuse just for this reason.

Understanding Trauma & Violence

When I was about 4 years old my 9 year old sister started forcing me to kiss her on the mouth, I never wanted to do it but she forced me to, does it count as abuse? Or am I just being dramatic?

Understanding Trauma & Violence

When I was a child my neighbor (also a child) showed me sexual things. I only know it happened because I have flash memories of it and her asking if it felt good. I don’t remember ever saying no, or stop, or I don’t like it. After we moved, I was really hypersexual and would masturbate a lot. I would cry and feel terrible about myself because I thought it was wrong. Would this be considered child-on-child sexual abuse (COCSA) or am I just being dramatic??

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