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?


Thank you so much for asking this extremely difficult question. To start, I want you to know that the abuse you experienced was not your fault. The actions taken against you by those older girls were wrong, and it's understandable that their words and actions had a profound impact on your mind at that young age. It's not uncommon for children who have been sexually abused to be confused about sexual boundaries or act out sexually themselves. This is a reflection of the trauma you endured, not a reflection of who you are as a person.

Your desire to take responsibility for your actions and apologize to your sister is a sign of your growth and maturity. It's clear that you deeply regret what happened and want to make amends. Opening up to your parents about your experiences and actions will likely be an emotionally challenging conversation, but it's an important step towards healing and preventing further harm.

I encourage you to consider speaking with a therapist or counselor who specializes in working with survivors of childhood sexual abuse before talking to your parents or sister. They can help you process your experiences, provide guidance on how to approach the conversation with your family, and offer support throughout the process. Remember, your parents may experience a range of emotions when you disclose your past, but that doesn't mean they will stop loving you or caring about your wellbeing.

Regarding legal consequences, it's important to understand that laws vary by jurisdiction, and the specific circumstances of your case would need to be considered. It's crucial to understand that every case is unique, and the specific outcome will depend on various factors, such as the age of the individuals involved and the nature of the incidents. However, there are resources available to help you navigate this challenging situation and understand your legal rights.

Some states have laws that provide certain protections for individuals who disclose past sexual abuse and harmful behaviors in the context of seeking treatment or support. These laws, often known as "victim-counselor privilege" may provide confidentiality protections for disclosures made to therapists, counselors, or victim advocates. However, the specifics of these laws vary by state, so it's essential to consult with a legal professional or advocate who is familiar with the laws in your jurisdiction.

One option is to seek the assistance of a legal advocate who specializes in working with survivors of sexual abuse. These advocates can provide you with information about the legal process, help you understand your rights, and connect you with legal resources in your area. Many states have victim advocacy organizations that provide free or low-cost legal services to survivors of sexual abuse. They may also be able to refer you to attorneys who specialize in working with survivors of sexual abuse.

Down the line, you might also be interested in exploring restorative justice programs that focus on accountability, rehabilitation, and healing for both the survivor and the individual who caused harm. These programs may be an option in certain cases and can provide a structured, supportive environment for addressing the harmful behaviors and working towards healing.

You do not have to go through this alone. Seeking professional help and support can be useful for both you and your family as you navigate these challenging times. Therapy can help you address the trauma of the abuse, develop healthy coping mechanisms, and work towards building positive relationships within your family. Remember, your past actions do not define you. We appreciate your willingness to hold yourself accountable and amends.  Be gentle with yourself. Thank you so much for reaching out to us. 

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