Confusion is a response common to any event that is out of the ordinary. What can be frightening about sexual abuse is that it can continue for a long time and become a normal, accepted part of life of a child. Children commonly feel confused by the sexual abuse because of conflicting emotionsthoughts and beliefs about the abuse, and liking some of what happens. They do not understand what is happening to them.

Conflicting Emotions:

  • Guilt, shame, embarrassment
  • Sympathy for the offender
  • Love for the offender
  • Feeling dirty
  • Feeling trapped

Thoughts and Beliefs:

  • It's my fault.
  • Telling is betrayal.
  • Abuse is punishment because I am a bad person.
  • No one else has ever had this happen.
  • This happens to everyone, and it is normal.

They may like:

  • Candy, money, toys, or privileges that the perpetrator gives them
  • Affection, closeness, and feeling loved
  • Pleasure that sometimes occurs during the sexual interaction

The fact that the body responds when touched is one of the most confusing aspects of sexual abuse. The child is powerless over his body. Some children disappear during incidents of sex abuse (See dissociation). The child blocks the memories of the abuse and hopes that it will never never happen again.   


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