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Sexual Abuse?

I have a question for you. I come from a very dysfunctional family. There is a history of alcoholism and sexual deviancy and abuse throughout both sides of my parents’ lineage.

My question is this: Do you consider what happened to me to be sexual abuse?

My father would sleep with me in bed with him for years. He would put his hands down my pants and hold my bare bottom and put his hands between my thighs (as if to warm them). This is how we would “snuggle up and prepare to go to sleep” every night for years (I was approximately 5-12 years of age…maybe younger) whenever my mother was out of town. This is what I remember, I have always remembered it, and I never thought there was anything wrong with it until I had my own children (two girls, 17 and 23). At that point, I guess, I realized it was “inappropriate” Of course, if ANYONE had ever done this to either of my girls….I would have pressed charges. Or Worse.

My father died when he was 42, and I was 17. My mother recently died at 72. Both of cancer. Both physically healthy before the CA diagnosis.

My father was reared by his alcoholic mother and she had 5 husbands. The primary “father”; to my dad was a millionaire transvestite. My mom and dad named my oldest brother after this man. My mother’s parents were raging alcoholics who both died from alcohol related illnesses. My father was sexually molested by one or more of his “dads.”

I have two biological brothers, 52 and 56 years old, and one younger sister who was adopted from Vietnam. I am 48 y/o. My oldest brother “felt me up” one time when I was about 12 y/o and he was 20 or so. My other brother, 4 years my senior, tried to kiss and I believe would have had sex with me, when I was 17 and he was 21.

I have spent my entire life believing that what my dad did for years was “no big deal” But…..my life has been a textbook case of one who was molested. I have been filled with self-loathing, shame, self-destructive behaviors, dysfunctional relationships…all with men 10-20 years older than me, and rage….so much rage. I began my healing journey 2 years ago after my mother died. I came to an epiphany, that I WAS abused, that what all three men had done to me WAS abuse, and crossed boundaries that were devastating to me, and had devastating effects on my life, and the lives of my two girls.

I told my three siblings about my “epiphany” shortly after I had it in 2016, and they proceeded to cut me out of my mother’s will (as my oldest brother is an attorney and the executor of the will) and their lives. They called me a liar and a thief.

I am currently doing a lot of “work” on my codependency and being reared by a narcissist. It was not until this week, that it occurred to me that I needed to address being a victim of incest, sexual abuse.

Please tell me what you think. I know that even asking you is part of my sickness, my codependency, but I cannot help it and would be so grateful to hear your thoughts on what I have written here.

Thank you in advance for any time you could give me in response to this letter. I know you are very busy and I am so grateful for the work you are doing. Even the little bit I have heard you speak has given me such great insights, information, confirmation, and empathy. Thank you again for ALL YOU DO.

Warmest regards,

I deeply admire your resilience and acting on an epiphany. It is not uncommon for someone revealing their abuse in a family to be cut off by others who were abusive themselves or did not act to prevent it from happening.

Trust yourself. Seek out the therapy that is needed. You are not likely to get anything you need from your family and they are not likely to be forthcoming with help. However, there is an organization Co-Dependents Anonymous that has support for the kind of issues you’ve been facing. Check them out for regular meeting and also find a good therapist. The Find Help tab at the top of the page will help you locate someone in your area.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan

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