Extreme guilt over past behavior


Extreme guilt over past behavior


your avatar   Anonymous, 18-year-old man


I am an 18-year-old boy who has been devoured by guilt and shame lately. When I was 12/13 years old (I can't remember exactly), I lay on top of my little cousin who was only 3 or 4. I remember feeling sexual arousal from it. We were both dressed and it happened twice that day. But it only happened that day. Nothing similar had happened before or after that day. I would like to make it clear that I don't feel attraction towards children. I don't know why I did that and if you ask me what was running through my head that day, I won't be able to come up with an answer. I like children and I would never harm one.

I was reading about the consequences abuse can cause and I am utterly disgusted at my misdeed. I am so devastated on the inside for having done that...I am not an abuser or a molester and it kills me to think that people would label me as one if they knew what I did. If it weren't for this, I could be living a happy and normal life but I can't. I am suffering because of a dark mistake I don't even remember choosing to make. I really don't know what led me to do such an evil thing when I am not an evil person. I have had some sexual experiences during my childhood but the age gap was not significant. The guilt has been so heavy and I got really close to killing myself because I feel like I lost the right to be happy and I am not worthy of living anymore. People would hate me if they knew my misdeed. I really can't picture myself telling anyone. I wanted to hear your opinion because you are an expert and you are probably used to these situations. Not to situations like mine, because I know nobody does what I did, but I really don't know why I did that. I wanted to make it clear again that I have zero attraction towards children. I wanted to live a happy and normal life, get married, maybe adopt a child but now I can't...I messed up in a way I can't take back.

My cousin is almost ten and I am eighteen. He seems to be happy and he acts normally when I am around. But I still feel extreme guilt and I can't forgive myself for wanting to let go of this guilt.


    Bob Rich, Ph.D.

My dear young friend,

I wish you'd left an email address so I could be sure you get my answer. I have encountered your situation many times. If you search the Queendom database, you will find several answers to people with the same problem of shame and guilt. Invariably, like you, the people posting their cries of despair are good people who made a mistake. The ones who are NOT good people don't feel guilt over it, but perhaps gloating. They repeat, and are sexual abusers. You are not. You did something when you were on the cusp of puberty, and have been torturing yourself about it for 5 years now. This will help:

There is no such thing as a mistake, fault, or defect. There are only learning opportunities. When you make a mistake:

1. Apologize to yourself within your heart and forgive yourself.

2. If possible and appropriate, apologize to other people affected.

3. If possible and appropriate, make restitution.

4. Work out how you can do it better next time.

If you find that a past act was a mistake, that's proof that you've gained in wisdom. The worst thing you can do is to beat yourself up with shame and guilt. You are responsible for having made the mistake, and the above addresses that.

It is more than likely that your young cousin felt uncomfortable being under another person, but that for her there was no thought of sex, or even of non-sexual abuse. My strong guess is that she has not been traumatized by this event, and has forgotten all about it. So, I recommend that you DO NOT bring it up with her. That could traumatize her even though the original event didn't.

At 18, you are at the start of your adult life. I suggest you find a career path that makes restitution (pays for it). Become a person who protects victims, and/or leads people who do such things into a place of decency and morality. For example, you could train as a youth worker or teacher, and become a mentor for young people.

If you do read this answer, please email me privately. Queendom has the link.

Your new grandfather,


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


When asserting yourself stand tall, speak in a calm but firm voice, and look the person in the eyes.
"Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment."
Failure is just a way to tell you that you need to try a different approach.