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November 12, 2018 - Welcome Guest!

Advice » Hard Knocks

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How do I forgive myself?


I was sexually abused by my female cousin from the age of 4 until the age of 12. I can't seem to forgive myself. I think it is my fault that I was sexually abused. I don't know why everyone says it isn't my fault. I would talk to my mom about it but she seems uncomfortable. How can I ever forgive myself for what happened? Also how can I feel sexually pure again?

Frowl, 18-year-old woman


Dear Frowl,

My dear, the effects of childhood sexual abuse can be beaten, but it takes a lot of work, a lot of courage on your part. I strongly urge you to seek counseling. There must be psychologists or social workers in your area who specialize in helping people like you.

Help is possible, and it works. I have worked with many people, of various ages and both genders, who are survivors of childhood sexual abuse.

I can assure you: the counselor WILL NOT JUDGE YOU. S/he will not look on you as dirty, or think you have done anything shameful. And also, this person will keep your secret. Nobody will ever know, unless you choose to tell them.

If you are unable to face the thought of telling a person about your painful secret, then the way to go might be email therapy. Click here and check out one way of doing it.

In the meantime, I am not going to tell you that what you feel is wrong. What I suggest is that you do an experiment. Fortunately, it is a lot of fun.

You must know a few little children; say between 4 and 8 years of age: nieces and nephews, kids of neighbors or friends. Get to know a few of them. Play with them, read them books, and take them to fun places. Aim for an understanding of how a little person thinks.

As you observe them, keep the following questions in mind:

  • How much does this child understand?
  • How much does s/he accept from what an adult says?
  • How much responsibility can s/he take for his/her own actions?
  • What level of understanding does a child have about causation?

No doubt there are several other interesting facts you can gather about the way a child's mind works, but I am sure you get the idea. Get to know what it is like to be a little kid. Try to see the world through their eyes.

When you have done this, ask yourself if a person that young can be guilty of anything.

It's a pity you didn't leave an email address, so I can't send you a copy of this reply. If you do read it, please write to me.

Have a good life,


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.

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