Repressed memory of rape


Repressed memory of rape


your avatar   Pete, 23-year-old man

I am a 23-year-old male. I am a law student with good grades. I am gay.

I do not know if I was raped when I was 5. I remember my neighbor, who was 15 at the time, laying me in bed and putting himself on top of me. He was erect and so was I. I remember him telling me that this was the way adults have sex. But it seems a distant thing. I do not remember what happened. I do not even know if something happened. Could I have suppressed this or is it all in my head? Am I trying to justify my homosexuality?

I have never talked with anyone about this. I have never had many male friends. I am afraid of most men, but as my father was abusive, I do not know if it refers to that.

I am a deeply anxious person, I do not take compliments well, and I have no self confidence. I had trouble controlling my bowels until I was 7 or 8. I gained a lot of weight by that time. When I was 20 I suffered from anorexia. I am just really confused.


    Bob Rich, Ph.D.

Dear Pete,

Yes, what that teenage boy did was sexual abuse. It was rape. In my opinion, all the problems you described started then.

The essence of abuse is power. As a 5-year-old, you had no power, but were completely at the mercy of an older person. You believed what he told you, and you responded to it. Even if you enjoyed the activity, it was still rape, and still wrong. And it left long-lasting damage.

It is perfectly possible for you to fix this. The tool is "exposure therapy." There is a lot of evidence supporting its power, and I have used it with hundreds of people, and also for myself. There are many ways of doing it.

For childhood abuse, my preferred way is through hypnosis. I talk the client into a complete state of relaxation, and into a safe imaginary world. Then the client as an adult travels back to that childhood experience, and observes it, several times. Each time, the distress becomes less, until eventually it's just a story, with no emotion left.

Find a therapist near you who can talk you through this process. The next step is to make this bad thing in your life into a source of good. You are studying law. Perhaps you can specialize in using your professional skills to protect children from abuse?

Have a good life. (You can.)


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:

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