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If you were sexually abused as a child, it's important to understand that you are not to blame for what happened.
There are no exceptions to this rule.


Even if . . .
Bullet You were quiet when you could have asked for help.
Bullet You enjoyed it.
Bullet It was your idea.
Bullet You believe you were a smart, mature, responsible kid who could have done something but didn't.

If you were abused by an adult, you must remember the abuse is always the adult's responsibility. Children can't, and are not allowed to, make an informed choice about a sexual relationship with an adult. Adults are always responsible for not letting their relationship with a child become sexual. 

Even if your abuser was only slightly older than you, it's important to recognize that age equals power. Free choice occurs only in a relationship where the power is balanced.

Teddy BearOther questions to ask yourself:  Did you really have the power to stop the abuse? 

Even if you believe now that you had that power, did you believe it then? Were you really free to say no?  

Even if you believe that you should have been able to do or say something, your age and your dependent status, as well as your need to feel loved and to maintain a sense of stability and  normalcy, put you in a position of powerlessness or helplessness. 

Even if your abuser was close to the same age, the same power issues come to play--the victim sees the abuser as more powerful or as someone that he/she cannot say "no" too. 

Even if you didn't want to stop the abuse, 
even if
you enjoyed it, 
even if
it was your idea, 
you are not to blame
     because it was always and will always be the adult's responsibility to not let it happen.

Please check back in the future for a Question/Answer page relating to frequent "but what if" scenarios that survivors bring up, leading to blame and increased shame. One rule still holds true:  You are NEVER to blame for what happened to you as a child.

Comments, questions, or suggestions?  Please, email me.

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Jonathan P. Levine, CSW
2300 West Ridge Rd.
Rochester, NY  14626
(585) 225-0330

Updated on 06/12/2002
2002, Jonathan P. Levine, CSW