History of abnormal behavior
I am an 18 year-old male. I have a regrettable and utterly disgusting history of abnormal sexual behavior that has begun to haunt me ever since it popped into my head recently. I am not opposed to any form of advice, personal judgment or opinion. My offences consist of the following:
1. When I was anywhere between four and six years old, I recall convincing a young boy of similar if not identical age to try and recreate sex with me (even explaining to him that "this is what it looks like in movies"). I had neither viewed any porn at that age nor had much understanding of what sex was because we had (in attempt to recreate sex) only partially stripped, hugged, kissed, and rubbed our genitalia together.
2. When I was either 8 or 9, I exposed myself to a young girl who lived in apartment next to my own while she was at my house playing with me and her brother. Her brother had gone somewhere (I can't remember where, but he left the room), and then (with the intention of leaving to go to the bathroom), I had told her I needed to use the bathroom, to which she promptly responded "Can I come?" In an attempt to tease her for asking such a question, I exposed my penis to her and taunted her from a distance; I can't remember exactly what my taunting consisted of, but it communicated the idea "Is this (my penis) what you wanted to see?"
3. When I was 13, I had a nearly one-year-old sister whom I babysat for my single mother so my mother could work full-time (my mother had taken me out of public school the year before and put me in an online school so that I could babysit as often as she worked). One day, I was alone with said sister while she was sitting in a bouncer of sorts, and I reached my hand out, and (through her clothes) pressed the palm of my hand against her vagina. I removed my hand shortly after (having become uncomfortable with the action); she tried to grab my hand and return it to where it was.
4. (This is, by far, the worst of what I've done, and my primary reason for reaching out): Although I'd been uncomfortable with what I'd done with my previously one-year-old sister, it was not a sufficient deterrent. One day, when I was 14 and my youngest sister was two, I went to the bathroom and brought her with me. My mother had instated a rule that, in order for me to keep an eye on my sister, I had to take my sister to the bathroom with me when my mother was either at work or didn't want to be disturbed, so my taking her with me wasn't anything out of the ordinary. While in the bathroom, I masturbated in front of her briefly, then walked over to her, and tried to convince her to fellate me. The second I got close, she turned her head away before I could enter or even touch her mouth, and I stopped right then.
I feel guilty, everyday; from the second I wake up to the second I go to sleep. Although I deserve my guilt – I earned it – I am tired of reliving the past every day; it's getting in the way of who I need to be now; I'm forgetful, tired, irritable, and feel like I'm becoming a burden. I have read articles that explain that guilt is only a tool to ensure that mistakes are not repeated, and others that regard mistakes as learning opportunities, but I can't move past what I did, even though I know it won't happen again under any circumstances (I've grown up; it won't happen again). And the self-loathing keeps spreading and infecting every hopeful or positive thought or experience I have. I find myself not wanting to work hard at the risk of being successful, because I don't deserve success (even though I'm afraid of being a burden, which I sometimes think may be necessary, in that being regarded as a burden is appropriate punishment).
I find myself avoiding friends and opportunities to make them, because I don't deserve friendship or interaction (I won't even let anyone hug me, because I'm secretly not worth their affection). I also feel like I've lost certain privileges as a human being, like the privilege to speak my mind (because I don't deserve to have an opinion), the privilege to feel wronged or owed (I deserve to be wronged), the privilege to imagine or view myself as someone heroic, pure, or proper (I am stained), and the privilege to laugh, love, hope, and/or take pride in anything I am. Even writing what I'm writing, and looking for help feels selfish when the one and only thing I should be concerned about is the person I wronged; how low a human being am I to look for sympathy, relief, or even claim to be negatively emotionally affected by something that I did to someone else that should have affected them. They were my actions after all, and I am the bad guy, which leads to even more confusion about who I am and how I should cope. I attempted to molest someone, but feel I have been raped of everything I am or ever wanted to be, and I am scared that I am truly an indescribably twisted person to even think I am worthy of thinking about my own wellbeing.
I don't want to be "that guy who tried to molest his sister". I feel like, even if I eventually let someone love me, it would only be because they won't know what I've done, or through society's eyes, who I really am, but at the same time, I wonder if this is the consequence that I must live with. Logically, I should go to the police with my past, and then (if my state's statute of limitations allows it) let them do what they want with me, but I'm scared to, not only because of how that may affect my future (selfish), but also how that would affect my family. My mother is single, and I'm still living with and helping my family. we're low-income, and I have the responsibility of caring for the house and my homeschooled sisters as often as my mother works (full-time), and we can't put my sisters back in school because of their resistance to antibiotics (we can't let them get sick). If the legal system had a quicker punishment than years of incarceration or a lengthy treatment program for the behaviorally unstable (which I hold that I am not), then my family could afford it, but as it is, I can't just be viciously beaten or significantly injured and then released, so it may not be the best option for everyone.
So, after coming to the conclusion that going to the police may not be a good idea given that I am no longer a danger and my family might suffer, I conducted research on children who've done what I've done. This wasn't particularly easy because there weren't many articles that investigated abusers or their motives. I wanted to better understand why I did what I did and whether or not there may have been anything that would have justified it in the slightest (even writing that sentence was painful, like physically sickening). I discovered that there were a few highly relevant social and environmental factors that may have contributed to what I did, such as: living in a single parent home and/or low income neighborhood, social isolation, exposure to violence or emotional manipulation, exposure to pornography, and being given parental responsibilities and/or authority at a developmentally inappropriate age.
My mother was adopted and had a (what she deemed to be) highly resentful and manipulative mother, and an extremely drunk and violent father, and as a result, she herself is sometimes very violent and resentful. I do not say this lightly. Being homeschooled and raised by a single parent, there were few reasons my mother had to restrain herself before I physically outgrew her. I have another sister (completely uninvolved in any sexual misbehavior of mine) that my mother once kicked in the face so hard that her nose began to bleed and we thought my mother had broken it. My sister had been doing math homework and wasn't understanding the content fast enough for my mother. On a side note, homework had always been a major pressure point for my mother, and to teach us she would often assign us tasks that she herself said she was not going to fully explain (so we could figure them out for ourselves), and then pair them with (oftentimes, but not always real) threats of physical violence if we should fail to figure them out or complete them within a certain time frame (5 minutes, 10 minutes, 20 minutes, etc…).
Physical abuse was something we expected on occasion, but we mostly endured caustic, loud, and profane verbal abuse that could last for hours (neither being strictly contained to issues regarding homework). I remember (out of embarrassment) checking the windows around the house to make sure they were closed during her rants, and refusing to go out with her because of the way she drove and behaved in public when in a mood. I grew up afraid of her, tried to run away four times, and learned not to fight back. I am wondering if it's possible that her physical and verbal abuse indirectly contributed to my acting out in the form of sexual abuse, or if maybe my sexual misbehavior was driven by a need to feel powerful.
When I was nearly 13 (long before I attempted to abuse my second sister; who hadn't been born), my mother removed me from the school system because she didn't want to put my sisters in school but couldn't afford full-time child care, so she decided I should do it for free. Her boyfriend and future father of the sister who would become my victim couldn't assist because he too had a full-time work schedule and, from what I understand, simply "didn't want to" when he could, so my then only sister (who was around 7 years old) and I were left alone for 8 to 10 hours 5-7 days a week without supervision, and during that time, we were not allowed to have friends at our house or go to theirs. This went on for about year, with the occasional college babysitter. There were no sexual problems. My second sister was then born, but unfortunately to a fatherless family as, before she was born, my mother had discovered that her boyfriend had another family. Everything changed; my mother and I began taking shifts with my newborn sister throughout every night during first few months. Thankfully, my mother found the money to pay for my infant sister's childcare and (from what I can remember) rarely, if ever left me alone with her for 8-10 hours as she did with my younger (but not youngest) sister, but even so, the added responsibility of a child meant that she had much less time for other household chores and responsibilities than she used to.
I rarely spent time outside the house, and when I did, it was with local children that were very"different" from me (highly profane, aggressive, and sometimes inappropriate; one girl tried to give me a lap dance on a swing). I made lunch and dinner nearly every day, was tasked with keeping the house generally clean (sweeping, mopping, disinfecting, de-cluttering, vacuuming, dishwashing, lawn maintenance, etc…), and when my infant sister was home before and after my mother's shifts, was often responsible for her care. When my mother thought that the person that she had been sending my youngest sister to had discovered that my mother wasn't legally homeschooling me, my mother got scared, and removed her from the woman's care (this was around the time that my youngest sister turned one). At the age of 13, my nightmare had realized itself; I was left alone with both my sisters (one-year old and seven years old), expected to keep pace with the housework, and also manage my own and sometimes my sisters' (illegal) schooling. The only babysitters my mother could find to take my one-year old sister to lived outside of town (which meant she left both my sisters much more frequently). It was around this time that I discovered online pornography, and began using it as an outlet. Then, after all of this had continued for a while, I tried to engage in oral sex with my youngest sister when I was 14 and she was two.
Given the isolation, parental role expectations, exposure to violence, verbal abuse, and pornography while living in an unstable single-parent home in a low income neighborhood, is it reasonable for me to blame (in part) the circumstances surrounding my offence? Is it right for me to even think I can? As of today, I am not just a brother to my two sisters; for family, I've given up everything someone my age can give up. I have been the father we never had, the mother who can't be around all the time (or isn't always emotionally "safe" or available), and the brother who is supposed to protect his sisters and act as a role model for them. We have no extended family; my mother and I are all my sisters have (as messed up as we are in our own ways). How should I live now? What should I think of myself? What should I do? I am so afraid that my sister won't be okay, that I've hurt her irreparably, and that I'll never be able to respect myself again.
My dear young friend,
The main thing I get out of your long and detailed letter is that you have learned from your past mistakes. You are now a different, better person than the young boy who did those things.
You'll be surprised at how often people have come to me with this exact issue, or a closely similar one. Your plea for help has induced me to post a readily available explanation on my psychology website. You can read it here. Please read what I have to say there. Then you are welcome to email me so we can continue our discussion.
With love and caring,
This question was answered by Dr. Bob Rich. Dr. Rich has 30+ years of experience as a psychotherapist. Dr. Rich is also a writer and a "mudsmith". Bob is now retired from psychological practice, but still works with people as a counselor.For more information visit: http://anxietyanddepression-help.com