Believe all victims

Hi everybody, long time lurker here. I usually am not one to comment on sites like this, mainly for the reason that I’d like to avoid jeopardizing my anonymity and outing myself. However… I feel it is important that I comment on this recent thread:

This person who posted in this thread wrote of an experience that was like staring into a mirror. Why may you ask? Well, I experienced what some may call child sexual abuse too.

For about 6 months, at the age of 7 (around 2010), I was engaging in sex with my 16 year old male babysitter. It started out with very basic things, like me cuddling up on him, sitting on his lap. However, I remember distinctly being fascinated with his body. I didn’t understand why, as I had zero sexual knowledge, but I was interested. I had already begun to notice an interest in same-age boys around this time too.

Eventually, some of this innocent affection started leading to more. I remember I would flash him as a joke, and maybe he would say “do it again”, or something like that. I thought it was hilarious, of course. One of these times he asked if I wanted to learn about something cool. I obliged, and he taught me about masturbation.

I don’t believe he framed it as a game, or tried to disguise the meaning. I recall being confused, but interested. And it felt good. This sort of thing continued for about 6 months. More happened and things progressed further than masturbation, but I doubt it’s appropriate for this forum.

Eventually, my mom didn’t need a babysitter much. She was coming home as I got off school, and so I stopped seeing him for the most part. I do recall I saw him when I was around 8, and we talked a little about what happened. I honestly had not even thought about it in a while at that point. He apologized to me, almost excessively. I believe I accepted his apology? But I really didn’t understand at all why he was apologizing. It seemed so insignificant to me, so it felt like he was apologizing for nothing. He also told me I should keep it to myself, which I also didn’t understand. But I told him I would.

I guess to understand why I didn’t get why what he did was unusual, you have to understand what I (and probably a lot of kids/parents) think a pedophile is. My idea of it was a middle aged man who kidnaps kids in a van and locks them in a basement. Why? Because my parents told me to watch out for strangers and people that may take me. It was never explained why they would do this, or anything like that. So I truly saw nothing strange about what my babysitter did, because I didn’t actually think he was a pedophile like my parents discussed.

I remembered him fondly for about 6 years. He was a really kind person. He always listened to me talk about whatever I was interested in, and put up with my hyperactive personality. He also showed me a lot of cool things which sparked my interest in topics like computer science, like how to pirate video games. I remember we played basketball together until the sun went down, and watched movies together. Most of all, I always felt important and special when I was with him. I always asked my mom how he was doing, as she was still in contact with his mom.


Sometime later, around 12 or 13, I learned about the concept of sexual abuse. I believe it had something to do with the Boy Scout sexual abuse scandal, as people were talking about it at the time I was in scouts. Anyway, at this time, I realized that a pedophile was not an old man in a van. It was someone who is sexually attracted to children. And moreover, I recalled back to my time with my babysitter 6 years earlier, and realized that I had been the victim of this so-called horrible act like what had happened in some Boy Scout troops.

I felt a lot of things when this happened: Fear, guilt, and at the time, betrayal. I had been told, either directly or indirectly, that pedophiles are horrible people who traumatize kids. I began to conceptualize my experience as trauma from what I heard. After all, it’s what I was supposed to feel. And yet, it had been a short moment in my childhood that I had barely thought about before learning what it was.

There was another fear that began to happen around that time, that I may be a pedophile myself as a result of being touched. I had heard that people who had it happen often turned into one, and I was already sexually attracted to same age boys and younger by then. I tried to put that part in the back of my mind. Around 15, I realized the feelings were persistent, and I too was attracted to children, just like my babysitter.


Of course, this realization was crushing. I had become this evil I had heard all about. One destined for exile from society. Once again, my thoughts returned to my babysitter. I started to understand his motivation, and his feelings that led him to do what he did with me. At this point, I still had not talked about this experience to anyone, and I honestly was not interested in doing so. I felt if I revealed that part of myself, it would permanently alter their perception of me. I don’t want to be seen as damaged goods that is “ruined for life”, as people often say.

Anyway, I found people around that time I could trust and started to talk about my story. The more I talked about it, the more I became disillusioned with the societal understanding of CSA. I realized that this rather insignificant event in my life had blown up into causing me intense depression and anxiety.

At this point, I came to a realization: I was a victim because it’s what I was supposed to be. I was simply feeling how I was told all victims felt.

The honest truth for me, is that I was not abused. I enjoyed it. It felt good. And I greatly appreciated the attention from him, which I was not getting from my parents. It’s taken me years to say this, mainly due to societal expectations, but it is liberating for me to say still.

Expressing this opinion is usually shot down almost immediately in public discourse. “CSA is always abusive, period”, they say. But what about when it’s not? Is there any consideration for situations like mine at 13 where I went from someone with a mostly perfect childhood to the victim of child r*pe, all because society told me that’s what happened to me? It’s not fair, and it’s in direct opposition to the idea of “believing all victims” that we all say we do, but we don’t. We only believe the so-called perfect victim, which usually does not exist.

If there’s one thing I would ask, it’s to allow there to be imperfect victims. Allow people to tell their stories, and to let them say whether it was abusive or not. I understand that some others did experience violence or coercion, but I didn’t, and many other people did not. Let these stories be heard.


I think I laid out most of my thoughts on experiences like yours in the thread you quoted, so I’ll let my posts there stand for themselves.

I did want to point out that this is a perfect example of the problems with many people’s excessive and exclusive focus on “stranger danger,” which is something Prostasia has tweeted about before. In situations where a kid is harmed by their experiences, they may still not recognize it as what their parents told them to talk to a trusted adult about if all the examples they’re given are random men in white vans. It’s no secret that many victims don’t come forward, so giving kids a better understanding of potentially abusive situations is an important step that more parents should be taking.


Thank you for sharing your story. Mine was quite similar and I was of the same age, only this was back in 1990 when I was 7. Now I am over the hill, and although I have forgotten much about the daily life of my childhood, that was one summer that I will never forget.