Fear of being touched linked to sexual abuse


Fear of being touched linked to sexual abuse


your avatar   Alex, 21-year-old woman

I am a college sophomore who is very introverted. I come from a strong Christian household.

Ever since I was young, from about the ages of 6 to 8, I have been very aware of sex and started to have sexual feelings at the age of 6 - feelings that do not seem, when I look at them now, normal feelings for that age. I remember being in elementary school, and going into the bathroom, into a stall, taking off all of my clothes, and running around the bathroom naked (no one was there). I remember feeling sexually aroused during and afterwards. Almost like sexual liberation, if that makes any sense at all.

When I was 8 I was sexually touched by someone I knew. I appeared very un-bothered by the situation until I was about 12 and remembered the situation and realized that what was done to me was wrong. At that age I became aware of porn and I would watch it because of the sexual desire that I would feel, but I would feel so guilty afterwards and hated the feeling of sexual arousal that came with it. Now as a sophomore in college I have this feeling that when I was at least between the ages of 5 or 6, maybe younger, that I could have possibly been raped - I just have no account of it. I can't remember anything about it.

I remember when I was growing up my mom was very cautious about me and my sister staying the night at my friend's house because they could have an older brother or a dad in the house who may try to touch us (not her exact words, but somewhere along those lines, insinuating rape or molestation). I also remember standing in a store telling my sister that "when I get older I can't wait to have sex." In retrospect that is very odd for a child to say. How at 6, would I know what sex was, unless I was exposed to it prematurely, through TV, computer, or a person?

Being raised in a Christian household, we're taught no sex before marriage and that it's wrong, so I distinctly remember at 8 that I vowed between me and God that I would not have sex before marriage. Although at that age I don't recall my parents EVER discussing sex with me or even bringing up the "no sex before marriage" notion. I find that now as an adult, I don't like to be touched and I am awkward around guys. Every time a guy approaches me I automatically assume he wants something from me; that all he wants is sex. I am so bothered by this. Is this a result of rape? I want to discuss this with my parents, but I don't want to look crazy for feeling this way.


    Bob Rich, Ph.D.

Alex my dear,

Your intuition is supported by scientific evidence. Sexualized behavior by a prepubescent child is a strong indication of sexual abuse in the past. You are actually fortunate: many children acting like that are found out, and then they are punished for the symptoms of the past abuse.

Having no memory of the childhood abuse is also common. This could be for one or both of these two reasons: 1) It may have occurred before you developed the ability to speak, so it is not possible for you to put it into words, although it can still effect your emotions, thoughts and behavior; and 2) The experience was so awful that as a child you internally "ran away from it." This leads to repression of the memories.

Your mother's behavior implies that she either knew of the abuse (and put a stop to it, then chose to protect you from memories by keeping it a secret), or at least strongly suspected it.

I have worked with many people in this kind of situation. Therapy can be very effective and powerful. You can transform your life by finding a good psychologist. If you were to come to me, I'd use "age regression hypnosis" with you. This is getting you into a fully safe situation, then in imagination you go back in time. When you are ready, you will visit traumatic episodes, but still from within a situation of safety. Then you can calmly deal with the terror, disgust, shame, and helplessness - whatever emotions surface. Also, you as an adult can now give love to that poor little girl. This is very powerful. I've done it for myself (except that I was a little boy of course).

If you don't want to use hypnosis, find someone qualified to use a technique called "Traumatic Incident Reduction." This is slower, but can achieve the same result. Look them up at http://tir.org .

Not all men are predators. Trouble is, you don't have the past experience to sort out the users from the givers. I suggest you avoid situations designed to pair people up. Instead, engage in activities that interest you, and deliberately make friends with nice young men. Be clear that you want friendship, not a romance. Once you get to know their good and bad qualities (we all have both), you may feel safe enough to allow one of them to get closer to you.

With (grandfatherly) love,


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


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