How do I know if I was abused?
Sexual abuse of a child occurs in a variety of ways. "I do remember, but it only happened once." "It was my brother, and he was only a year older than me, so that doesn't really make it "abuse", does it?" "But I was thirteen, I should have stopped it." These are the types of statements that many survivors of sexual abuse make. Such statements are reflective of society's misunderstanding and minimization of abuse. Very often the survivor believes that they are somehow responsible for what happened, so they don't view their experience as abuse.
No one asks to be sexually abused, but most children are abused by someone they know and trust. Their natural craving for love and attention leaves children vulnerable to trusted people in their lives. The abuse of that trust is the responsibility of the perpetrator, not the child. Additionally, acts of sexual abuse may occur once or continue over months and even years. The fact that someone else may have suffered from abuse more "severe" than your own experience does not negate your pain.
Sexual abuse is not limited to intercourse, but encompasses a wide array of experiences. When you were a young child or teenager, were you touched in sexual areas? Were you shown pornography or forced to listen to sexual talk? Were you bathed in a way that felt intrusive to you? Were you coerced into having intercourse, fondle or perform oral sex on a sibling or adult? Were you made to pose for seductive or sexual photographs? Were you forced to watch sexual acts or look at sexual parts? Were you fondled, kissed or held in ways that made you feel violated or unsafe? Sexual abuse occurs when someone, adult or child, forces or manipulates a child into some form of sexual experience.