Adult survivor of abuse by another child seeks help

Dear Stop It Now!,

First of all I just really want to thank you for your information on a child harming another child sexually. This happened to me and my whole life I have felt like I shouldn't be as affected by it as I am since the abuser was also a child.  However, this experience had a profound negative impact on me.  It was very comforting for me to find out that this is something that does happen. Not comforting because it's ok, but just to know I'm not alone.
 
I've never really told anyone.  The only people who know now are my therapist and my boyfriend.  I know who the person who did this is and my question is should I consider reporting him to the police?  I have no idea if he is harming anyone now or if he harmed more children than just me when both of us were young.  However, I also feel uncomfortable just knowing he is out there.

I also have questions about how compassionate I should be for him, knowing he was also a child and was likely exposed to abuse himself.  I struggle with trying to have some understanding and anger.

Dear Courageous Survivor,

I’m so sorry that you were abused as a child, but I’m glad to know that you are working with a therapist and have the support of your boyfriend.  Support is vital for anyone in a healing and recovery process. 

Discuss the option of reporting with your therapist

You are asking very good questions, and honestly…I believe exploring these questions with your therapist is best. Hopefully, you can use counseling to help with these serious decisions about contacting the police or others, including even possibly the man who abused you when you both were children.  I appreciate very much your concern that other children could be at risk and certainly,  if you have any reason to believe that this person as an adult is now at risk to abuse children, contacting the police would be appropriate. 

Consider online survivor forums for support

In addition to therapy, have you looked into some of the online survivor forums?  Perhaps sharing experience, thoughts and feelings with other adults who have survived child sexual abuse my further inform you and help you decide on future steps. Of course, I recommend again that you work with your therapist to determine whether seeking out these resources will be a positive addition to your healing.  Read our Online Help Center information, "It's Never Too Late to Begin the Processof Recovery" and also please see below for links to online resources. 

You are not obligated to be compassionate to the person who abused you

In regards to your questions about how compassionate you should be for your abuser…you are clearly a very thoughtful and compassionate person yourself.  You are not obligated to “forgive”, “forget” or “be understanding”. It’s important for you to feel how you feel – with no expectation or judgments.  How you feel now may change later – or it may not.  You get to decide. 

Yes, this person was a child and yes, most likely he was in some way traumatized by some event in his life that fed into his own abusive behavior but the fact that you were harmed is not excusable.  It is very possible to feel more than one emotional response – anger and compassion…as well as others.  That is very normal, even if it feels very confusing. Again, I am hopeful that you can explore this more in your individual therapy.

I hope this information is helpful, and please do not hesitate to contact us back with further concerns or questions.  I wish the very best for you.

Take care,
Stop It Now!

Comments:

Please share your feedback on this question

Last edited on: November 19th, 2012