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
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??

Understanding Trauma & Violence
Supporting Survivors

Why is it so common for people to blame sexual violence survivors for their experiences?

Meaning Making

Is it ever possible to fully make amends with the person who abused or assaulted you?

Understanding Trauma & Violence

Was it Child-on-Child Sexual Abuse (COCSA) if we were the same age (11) and I only said yes after being asked repeatedly because I felt bad for rejecting them?

Understanding Trauma & Violence
Managing Trauma Impact

Why can people who experience sexual harm experience hypersexuality after these experiences?

Understanding Trauma & Violence

How often does repeated victimization happen and how often is it by coincidence? Why does it happen?

Managing Trauma Impact

Is it normal to feel so much guilt and shame even years after the rape I experienced at the hands of my then boyfriend? He has lied and deceived me and that has added to my trauma. I also have incomplete memories of the event that I cannot remember clearly.

Understanding Trauma & Violence

I experienced abuse by a family member as a child. He is five years older than me. It was clearly abusive in many ways: it was forceful, manipulative, and there was a power imbalance. He didn’t listen when I told him to stop. The only thing is that I can’t remember when exactly it happened and how old we were, so I feel like I can’t judge him too hard because he might have been too young to be held responsible. I also worry with if he is a danger or not to others. I wish I could know for sure if I was his only victim. How do I know what to think?

Understanding Trauma & Violence

Am I really a survivor if it happened online and I was never physically touched?

Understanding Trauma & Violence

In cases of child-on-child sexual abuse (COCSA), is it okay/normal to continue to be friends with the other child and have it be water under the bridge?

Understanding Trauma & Violence

Does it count as child-on-child sexual abuse (COCSA) if the sexual abuse was by someone familiar to me who was around a year older than me?

Seeking Help After Trauma

I want my family to know the full story about the sexual assault I experienced, but I risk losing them in the process. My cousin was the one that harmed me and my family agreed not to talk about it so she won’t go to jail. How do I get closure when everyone around me wants to keep it in the dark?

Managing Trauma Impact

Why do I keep making myself relive what happened, as well as versions of the event that didn't even happen and are either infinitely worse or are completely different? I keep making myself read or create stories about it and I keep getting lost in daydreams I don't want to have. Does it make me a bad person?

Understanding Trauma & Violence

When does sexual assault count as rape?

Understanding Trauma & Violence

Is it normal to have experienced pleasure during an assault? I think I may have had an orgasm, but I’m not sure. I feel so betrayed by my body. I’m just too embarrassed and ashamed to ask my therapist.

Understanding Trauma & Violence
Meaning Making

How can I cope with the fact there are parts of my trauma and abuse I will never understand, know, or remember?

Safety Exit

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