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Feeling intense guilt over childhood sex play with younger relative

First off, I love this website--it is a wonderful source of information and advice.

I am a male in my mid-20s, living in the US. Recently, I began to remember a series of events that took place when I was much younger, about 9 or 10 years old. I was living in my country of birth at that point (we emigrated several years later).

That year, I was molested by an older girl who lived in the same apartment building. She was about 14 or 15 or so, and had a reputation for being somewhat deranged. She took me to the rooftop of the apartment building, where she took off her clothes and forced me to do the same. She then had me put my genitals in surface contact with hers. There was no penetration, and I wasn't aroused--at that age, I had no idea what those concepts even meant. I thought at the time that this was simply a sort of game.

It is what followed next that fills me with very intense guilt and self-loathing. Later that year (a month later? two months?), I found myself alone in a room with my niece, who is five years younger. I asked her if she wanted to play this "game" (which is what I thought it was at the time); when she agreed, we put our genitals in surface contact with each other. As with the older girl, there was no penetration, nor was I aroused in any way. In fact, I knew nothing of sex.

It only happened once. I asked first, was not forceful, and did not act with malice. At age nine, none of these events were sexual in nature for me. Yet...even today, thinking about it fills me with very intense shame, guilt, and self-loathing. How could I do something like that to someone, let alone a relative?

(my niece and I are on good terms today, but I'm not sure if she remembers this event. I worry it might affect her subconsciously in some way.)

Today, I am NOT sexually attracted to children at all, nor have I ever been; yet this event makes me wonder if I might be a pedophile. I have forgiven the older girl...but I'm not sure if I can, or should, forgive myself.

The guilt is extremely intense, and I honestly don't know what to think anymore.

Re: Feeling intense guilt over childhood sex play with younger relative

Hey Anthony. First of all, you're not a paedophile, so banish that thought. Secondly, what happened there is far more common than I think you realise. I doubt she remembers because of her age and its unlikely it was in any way traumatic. Thirdly, my brother is 4 years older than me and when I was 7, something similar happened. Difference is that he was aroused, though also no penetration. We are good friends now and I have no ill feelings. We were kids. Guilt is a very destructive emotion, let it go, okay?

Re: Feeling intense guilt over childhood sex play with younger relative

Hello Xtine,

Thank you very much for your kind words. It means a lot just to hear that I'm not a monster because of what happened. Hopefully, I can accept it as a childish mistake and move on. Living with the guilt for so long has been hell, and I hope this is the start of a happier life.

Once again, thank you. Your kindness has made a difference.


Re: Feeling intense guilt over childhood sex play with younger relative

Well, I've been trying my best to overcome the guilt I still feel about the incident (recounted in the first post).

Yet...I've failed each time. My mind keeps flashing back to what happened, and the more it does so, the more I feel myself filling up with intense self-loathing. How could I do something like that? What kind of person does that make me? Do I deserve to think of myself as a decent human being?

Though in my mid-20s, I've never experienced intimacy, nor have I been in a relationship. I used to think it was because of some personal reason (wanting to wait, etc), but see now that it's due mostly to the guilt. Given what happened, I find it impossible to see myself as worthy of loving (and being loved by) another person. I know that this isn't true...yet I'm finding it hard to believe otherwise.

That one moment of childhood ignorance has cast a pall over my entire life...And I'm at a loss for what to do.

I don't know if anyone will reply. Whatever the case, thank you for reading this. Just knowing that I'm not alone makes a difference.

Re: Feeling intense guilt over childhood sex play with younger relative

hey you arent a pervert. you just had an impulse, and i think you did the right thing. you wished to play that game with your niece (in life you first wish things and then act.) and you did it, and you didn't repress the need of repeating what that girl did to you.

imagine this different situation, try blocking your guilt with this perspective.
if You had wished to play that game with your niece, and you didn't do it because you were thinking that it was wrong, you would have repressed that wish. and the most probably thing is that the repressed wish, would have turned you into a pedophile. why? because in your subconscious you would have that repressed wish of "what would have happened if i played that game? what if i liked it?"

i dont know if i explained myself (im not a good english speaker) but just because things went wrong that doesn't mean that they couldn't be worst. imagine if you had repressed that wish, that impulse, you could be worst.

and i also don't know if this could work for you, im not sure what is like to feel guilt, since i have traits of a sociopath. but try it, take it just as an external advice, don't take myself seriously, my mind works different than yours.


Re: Feeling intense guilt over childhood sex play with younger relative

Thank you for your advice, Diego. It is helpful (and your English is excellent, by the way!).

Re: Feeling intense guilt over childhood sex play with younger relative

The adult that you are now is looking back and subjecting that CHILD that you were then to the judgement fitting for an adult playing this game with a child. But you were not an adult at the time! Kids don't usually premeditate this sort of thing, they just have curiosity and follow through on it sometimes. If it were an adult, a person who should be now capable of realising an impulse but being capable of good moral / ethical judgement on if it is fitting or not to do so that went and played that game with a child, then this is what we call criminal and peadophilic. But you are not a pedophile if you're an adult and don't have sexual feelings toward children!

So to sum up, you are projecting the way you would judge an adult onto your childhood actions as you are an adult now and it is of course very difficult to seperate your perception of yourself as an adult from the perception of yourself when the incident occured as you see youself as one continuous being.

Try imagining a friend of your own age today, or perhaps when you are older and married, one of your kids of 10 or 11 yrs old approaching you and saying that they had played that 'game' with their younger neice. Well you would probably sayy to the firend what I am saying to you. And any responsible and smart adult (I hope!) would say to the kid something like 'well we shouldn't really go round doing that with each other, but it's okay, no need to feel bad or anything and don't play those sort of games again until you have a girlfriend (well you get my gist.) The responsible adult would hopefuly realise that kids are not as self aware as adults, are curious and prone to experimentation and do not have the same hysterias and associations with sex as adults. I believe to punish the child or cause a big fuss over it would be very harmful to the child's future attitudes. Better just to say 'stop doing silly things like that, keep your 'privates' covered up' or whatever and let the kids involved move on without fixating on it or making it a big deal (making it a taboo in the kid's mind, thus infusing the subject of sex with hysteria.)

I believe recent media sensationalisation in the past 10 - 15 years of Adult child molesters leads people like yourself (I have pretty much an identical experience in my past around the same age as you were with sibling of age close to your niece and it lead to me having severe depression and anxiety for almost a decade because of the guilt and self loathing, I thought I had beenn an abuser- I'm in my 30's - now and eventually social withdrawal and attempted suicide before I went to a therapist who explained as does Dr Robert that it is not unusual for kids to experiment sexually with each other, or even animals, innanimate objects etc because they do so without PRE DETERMING or PRE JUDGMENT and as I had never done anyhting like that as an adult, I was being unfair to myself.) to feel revulsion towards the pedophile and then to suddenly remember 'hey what about that thing I did with ______ when we were kids? Oh ****, I'm as bad as the guy I'm feelign revulsion towards' and then the revulsion and hate is directed inwards towards the adult self, however it is an innaproriate response bacause in actuality it was the more innocent childhood self that was involved in the activity!

This is why kids are handed much lesser sentences in most criminal cases than are adults. They have lesser awareness of right and wrong etc so are afforded lesser responbility.

Anyway, I eventually (it took all the guts in the world) said to my sibling,, hey you remember when we were ---- yrs old and... That's not a big deal to you is it? I have beenn worrying a lot that it might have upset you and just need to know and for you to know it was never done to upset or harmm you or whatever, I was just a kid and didn't really even think about it.'

My sibling said as though she was worried I was going kind of loopy - which as you know, I was - 'what are you worrying about stuff like that for?! Are you okay...?' Of course I had not been okay. But I didn't mention the decade of depression of course or the therapy, but just said, 'oh yeah, it was just playing on my mind a bit that's all, no big deal.'

You can't imagine the wieght off my mind!

She drinks alot so it was worse for me as I started imagining it was because of me that she was drinking etc... Turns out she just likes a drink and theres no actual 'subsconcsious hang up or whatever' as I imagined...

I guess you could speak to your neice if you feel that is the only way too get it ooff your chest. You may also like me (I'd been depressed even before I remembered this incident, over other things) be prone to depression or neuroticism which makes you over react to things or blwo them out of proportion or feel excessive guilt etc.

We as an adult society must not project our sexual hang ups or judgemnts about it onto kids and react to them with hysteria, it is not good for us nor them.

I sometimes even believe that media sensationalisation and over exposure, and demonisation of pedophillia activity (which I must stress is a crimanal act and a severe personality dissorder etc and I do not condone it) can even make it harder for the victims to recover as the hysteria surrounding the subject (or any tabooo subject) infects them, the victim, who internalises something like this 'Well this is one of the worst crimes and awful things in the world and I have had it happen to me' and their perception of others perception of it makes it harder for them to recover. Not that I'm saying having been a victim of sexual abuse does not damage or caue suffering, but that it could be that media and societal hysteria infuses that suffering with aditional anxiety.

Also demonisation does not help. We must understand that Pedophillia is in fact a psychiatric dissorder, and those afflicted (whilst being abusive to minors) most likely did not choose to be born that way so aren;t 'EVIL' but are just, well kind of messed up or sick and in need of intervention and rehabillitation etc.

I wonder if Dr Robert reads these forum posts. If so, I'd be very interested to hear his opinion on my post.

Anyway original poster, you were a kid, it was not forced or violent and was done out of natural sexual curiosity and experimentation, so don't beat yourself up or think of yourself as having been an abuser or whatever, as I keep repeating, you cannot judge your childhood self with the judgment you would profer an adult. It is simply not fair on you and according too researchers a high percentage of kids have simmilar experiences and it really isn't that unusual.

Check it out