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Guilt and shame
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Guilt and shame

I'm a middle-aged guy. When I was between the ages of 6 and 12, different groups of older boys (and maybe men, I can't remember), exposed me to hard core pornography and touched me inappropriately, and also made me touch them (I think) although there was never any force or coercion/threats involved. At one point I think I might have been penetrated and ejaculated on.

When I was around 13 or 14 (or maybe 15), I then acted out with my younger cousin who would have been 8 or 9 (or maybe 10) at the time. We were always hanging out together outside and somehow we ended up doing some inappropriate touching on several occassions. It was just gentle touching and it never went beyond that (no oral, penetration or anything like that). I can't remember how it even started or how many incidents there were, maybe 3 or 4 in total. It always felt very naughty and I think we both knew it was wrong. My family and I moved away when I was 15 and it never happened again.

All my life I've had deep feelings of guilt and shame about what happened to me and what I did with my cousin, and I've had to deal with all the usual issues of low self-esteem, social anxiety, depression, helplessness etc.

It's only recently with the help of my wife that I've started to get over what happened to me, but I'm now overwhelmed by intense guilt and shame about what I did with my cousin, and I can't seem to categorise it properly: I know boys often explore each other in that way, but I was a bit older so I should have known better. I guess my previous experiences resulted in me not knowing what was 'normal'. I never had any sex education or anything like that, so all I knew was what had happened to me and what I saw in porn films/magazines.

The guilt has become so bad in recent days that I've been feeling like I'm sort of monster who doesn't deserve to live.

Should I talk to my cousin about it with the risk of this becoming known to all the family, or should I just move on and try and forget it?
Tags: guilt cousin shame
10 Comments Post a Comment
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535822_tn?1389452880
Some counseling may help you get it off your chest , speaking it out .Whether or not you speak to your cousin is up to you,he may accept an apology or he may not, hos does he react when you are around ?
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1145691_tn?1291481938
This is a really tough one.. I'm not a guy, so I can't say if it's normal for guys to experiment with each other.. I'm sure no guy would ever admit it even if it was normal. But I do know, that when I was at the pre-teen stage, my friends and I  would participate in "I'll show you mine if you show me yours" with the opposite sex.. Is what happened with your cousin sorta like that?
I can say, what happened when you were a young child with those older boys/men wasn't appropriate.. Where were your parents when this happened? It is understandable that when that stuff that went on with boys was all you knew,
that you would figure that it was a normal thing to do, and when you got to the stage in your childhood where natural experimentation begins, you tried experimenting with your cousin.. But then you felt "wrong", mainly because he was a member of the same sex. Maybe I've got it all wrong, but it just seems that your feeling guilty because your afraid that you did to your cousin, what those men did to you.. But you were both at an age where it's natural to experiment.. I think maybe the feelings that came up as feeling "wrong" maybe had more to do with the fact that he was a male, than anything else.. If these things happened to you, could the same things possibly have happened to him as well, leading him to be confused also?
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Avatar_f_tn
hi there...can i first of all start by saying that you opening up about your feelings here on medhelp is quite something even after all these years..and what happened to you as a young boy...well..there is no way to sugar coat it..it was abuse..as a child..which you were when this happened to you..i cant imagine what you were going thru..and by no means am i saying what happened between you an your cousin is right but have you ever tried to deal with what actually happened to you?...i say this because your prior concern is your cousin...but maybe dealing with what happened to you can maybe help you come to terms with what you did yourself because of this... do u still speak to your cousin?... babysteps...one day at a time..and i wish you all the luck in the world..come to terms yourself and then when your ready talk to your cousin...
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Avatar_m_tn
We have a normal relationship, although of course I feel awkward when I see him.

Talking to my wife about it has really helped, and I'm now looking at counselling.
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Avatar_m_tn
Back in those days kids were allowed to roam around outside unsupervised much more than now, and my father was often away for long periods when I was younger.

From what I've researched, things like this do happen a lot between boys. Teens and pre-teen boys often mutually masturbate, although I never did that.

With my cousin it was pretty much "show me yours and I'll show you mine" but I also remember stroking his behind once or twice, and maybe I touched his genitals. I can't remember anything else about it, just these feelings of it being pleasurable and therefore naughty.

I guess my problem is that I was about 5 years older than my cousin, and when I remember the experiences I remember them as pleasurable and so that feels bad.

I probably shouldn't have been hanging out with him in the first place, but I had social anxiety issues (and still do) and so I had difficulties relating to my peers.

Yes, I worry that what I did with my cousin could have affected him the same way it affected me, although what I did with him was much more innocent than what happened to me. My cousin is now married with kids, and has a very successful career, but I always worry about it.

Sometimes I think I'm making too big a deal out of it.
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Avatar_m_tn
Thanks, it's difficult to speak about it after all these years, but the release of talking about it helps to get rid of all this toxic guilt and shame that I have bottled up for all these years.

In many ways I wish I had told my parents when I was younger so that it would be out there in the open and I wouldn't have had to carry it around inside me for so long.

I do speak to my cousin although we didn't have any contact for about 25 years, and it's only in recent years that our paths have crossed again. The relationship is OK but I do feel very awkward/embarrassed around him. I've also started getting worried that one day he might just accuse me of abuse or something like that.

It's only now that I'm slowly coming to terms with what happened to me, and how it has affected me and those around me, but now I seem to be stuck on what happened with my cousin...I guess my experience, plus early teen hormones goes some way to explaining it, but I still can't justify it to myself.

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1145691_tn?1291481938
Maybe you should write him a "letter" and then rip it up, to help you come to terms about your feelings of guilt.
Though you did cross the line by copping a feel, he did reciprocate I the "show and tell" game, so most likely the vibes your getting from him are him feeling shame about participating in the game, and not bitterness towards you for touching him. The one thing that makes you different than the people who did that to you, is that they felt no guilt or shame in what they did to you, they continued this behavior, not caring about what your feelings were, or if you felt comfortable with what they did. At least you stopped once you got the vibe that your cousin might not be comfortable continuing with the "game".
If you really feel strongly that your cousin deserves an apology, then maybe write a second (less lengthy) letter, with a simple apology and a brief explanation. Maybe he'll write you back, and you'll get a better idea about what his feelings are.
Unfortunately none of us were there, so none of
us can ever really know what his feelings were when you did that.
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Avatar_m_tn
I guess my guilt stems from not knowing what affect it may have had on my cousin, and the fact that we did "show and tell"/touching a few times before it stopped, and that I was 4-5 years older (I was 13 or 14 when it happened), and I do remember it being pleasurable for me and that gives me immense guilt.

After that I never did anything like that ever again nor did I ever have any desire to do anything like it, so it was just a phase and maybe I should just forget it and move on.

Overall, I just wish I had had a purer childhood that was unsullied by what happened.
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3060903_tn?1398568723
I proud of you johnboy, for talking here and allowing others in the same position into the process of healing in healthy manner. You've made me wonder and find that there are 12 step meetings for Sexual Abuse. I didn't know that before, so thank you again, for bringing insight to this incredibly sensitive and grave subject. I truly applaud your candor dear. It is so important that parent's are keenly aware of the potential pitfalls of childhood.

Incidentally, this is the online site i found, if you haven't used it, I'm sure that you have thought about there being a 12 step program, but i just wanted to include this in your thread. http://sia.fabglitter.org/online/  The very best wishes for the best life going forward. You were a victim to a terrible abuse, and you certainly are not a monster.  Put some perspective on that 15 year old boy, and nurture him. He needs you now. You were abused until you were 12 and acted out three years later. In therapy you know that you were stuck at 6 when this abuse first occurred. It was not a 15 year old that had an err in judgement son, it was the 6 year old you and the 12 year old you that was acting out. There are many 40 year old addicts on this site finally getting clean from acting out about abuses that happened to them in childhood. I personally stayed "stuck" and having a 13 year old emotional mentality into my late 30's, before i got help. Hey, You, continue to nurture that little 6 year old boy, and that 12 year old boy, and that 15 year old boy.  For Goodness sake, you were a victim, still three years after your 6 years of torture son. If the timing is ever right for delivery of a simple heartfelt sorry to your cousin, i suggest you take it. Tell him that you were terribly messed up yourself, and you acted out until you were 15 and found your reason to change your life. He'll know from that what you're saying. That that game made a profound difference in your life, and that's all he needs to hear. Maybe he'll then talk to you, and i think it would be to his benefit to do so. You sound like a genuinely caring, and compassionate man, who turned his life around and by doing so, became a hero. He might just want to hang out with his cousin, i know if i met you, it would be my honor. Stay strong, and be happy. Thank you so much for sharing your story here. My tears are flowing for not only what happened to you, but by your own self loathing. Please find peace dear man.
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480448_tn?1403547723
I feel this is something you need to work on with a professional.  Actually, even without the abuse, this kind of event is fairly common, even male to male.  It's certainly nothing "monstrous".

My strong opinion is that absolutely NO good is going to come from telling him, and in fact, you may open one HUGE can of worms.  Most likely he doesn't remember it, and MOST likely it hasn't affected him in the least.

That's a decision you need to come to for yourself...but I would think long and hard about it, and get the input of a professional.  You have that urge to "come clean" to deal with the guilt, that's a common reaction to things we've done that are perceived as wrong.  It isn't always the BEST thing to do, and if it's going to cause all kinds of turmoil, and very possibly some emotional issues and shame for your cousin (where there is none now, likely), then it just isn't worth it.  My opinion.

If something more severe had happened, or this had gone on for an extended period of time, I would feel a little differently.

Good luck in finding peace.
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