Child on child sexual trauma
This was my experience. Child on child sexual trauma. I still, 30 years later can't fit the word abuse to this experience. Because it doesn't seem justified. Yet I know I experience the same symptoms of many people who were sexually abused as children by an adult. I have had a serious mental breakdown partly because of this.
He was the same age as me, 1 year older at most. I was 9 years old. He was a friend. We played alot. It was the time of life to be exploring those parts of our bodies. But he introduced the idea to 'show me' the way. Something his parents had done, something he'd learned. Something he thought I'd like and would make me feel good. And so started a sexual relationship that went on, in secret, for a year.
It went way past 'if I show you mine, you show me yours'. It went to penetration, masturbation, orgasms and the role play of being in a married relationship. It was done on a regular basis. When my mum was out, at sleep overs... after school...
He said I was beautiful and he loved me. I felt sick. But I also liked the physical sensation. I said we shouldn't be doing it. What if we get caught? What if I fall pregnant? I wanted to stop. But he reassured me it would be fine. No one will know.
I made a pact with God. Just as long as I dont get pregnant, I'll do anything. Including forfeit the ability to have a child in my life when I'm older.
Then I really put my foot down. I don't want to anymore. So I really am stopping. I don't want to play with him anymore. He got annoyed. He tricked me into admitting I had a sexual relationship on the phone with my brother and his friends listening in to get back at me. Now the atrocious secret was out. The truth of how bad and disgusting i was, was out...
I've read literature about when child on child sexual encounters are and aren't considered abuse. And many of the articles I've read, would not consider my experience as 'abuse'. He wasn't 'at least 3 years older" than me, he didn't 'physically coerce' me because he was stronger. He didn't trick me (apart from failing to keep a promise never to tell). And yet, the damage which i have experienced as a result from being consistently violated at a time I didn't really understand what we were doing or whether it was ok, is immense.
My friend was a friend. He wasn't significantly older than me. I said yes. He didn't physically fight me. I liked much of the physical nature of what we did. But I also experienced a deep sense of shame and a self identity became inextricably attached to that shame. Which has lasted a life time and in all honesty, I'm not sure will ever fully be resolved. Shame is like a poison. When you experience it deeply as a child, it grows with you, becomes not 'a part of you, but your actual make up. The fibres of who you are as a person.
I've learned it's not about blame. It's less about whether a 10 year old can be accountable for what he's instigated with a 9 year old. Maybe he was being abused and acted this out on me. I'll never know. It's not about classifying it as abuse or not. But it is about validation. For me.
What I experienced was childhood sexual trauma. I was convinced by another person that it would be good for me to have sex, be penetrated, to have orgasms and be sexually explored by another person. I wasn't old enough to understand this. I didn't know how to say no. I didn't even know if no was an option. Multiple sexual and deeply intimate boundaries were violated on a secretive on-going basis. The fact he was 10 and wasn't violent makes no difference to how I experienced it. It was traumatic.
My point in writing this? Education. Sexual encounters do happen between children. And that's fine. But there's a line. As adults we need to educate our children as instigators or receivers about what is and isn't ok. About where the boundaries are. Please please please don't assume anything about your children's friends being non sexual. Be considerate about who they play with. Educate them about when to listen to their 'uh oh or 'yucky' feelings. Develop sound communication with them. Just be aware.