PTSD as an Indicator of Childhood Sexual Abuse

I grew up with a father who drank heavily; there was a lot of domestic violence in our home. We moved frequently (his job moved us a lot). We were isolated from extended family throughout childhood. He was physically, emotionally and sexually abusive towards my mother (the last heard and infrequently witnessed). He was violent towards me (verbally, physically, psychologically).


At 4, my mother says i was a happy child, but between four and five, I changed and became silent, fearful and avoided any physical contact with my father. I was sexually precocious, and by 7 was masturbating to orgasm and starting fires and showing signs of cruelty to non domestic animals.

at 5 / 6 i started to seek out dogs, at my house, and at other peoples houses, to let them / coerce them to lick my genitalia. This went on until I was 12 or so. I had a strong aversion to using the toilet and would go outside and hide in the yard and urinate, through ... my underpants, rather than remove them.

I remember blood spots in my underpants as a child and hiding, burying my underpants rather than putting them in the laundry.

I was brought up catholic and struggled with intense feelings of anxiety, shame, disgust and fear of discovery with regards to my sexual play. I was very fearful of hell and retribution. The urge to masturbate was compulsive but I always took care to hide myself. I didn't display overtures to other children. it was my shameful secret which caused me severe guilt distress and emotional trauma.

Our father used to walk around the house often, just in underpants and almost as often, naked. Right up until I was 15 and my parents separated; he had 4 daughters. We were all very uncomfortable with his nudity. He also used to ignore our right to privacy in the bathroom and often walked in on us naked and would get angry if we tried to cover ourselves because 'he was our father, how dare we treat him like that' (when we exhibited shame and inhibition when he 'caught' us naked and defenceless).

I am pretty sure at age 5 I tried to tell my mother that dad was doing something to me, she called him in and asked me to repeat it to them both. Of course i tried, because I didnt KNOW that it was wrong ... but he became excessively violent and angry and verbally abusive and I never said anything again. I knew in grade 2 that 'white stuff' came out of a mans penis. I think this may be what I disclosed in school, along with other details. I can no longer remember.

In grade 2 I told a teacher something similar, and I was taken to the principal's office where I was told to repeat my disclosure and warned that there would be a lot of trouble for our family, whether I was telling the truth, or found to be lying.

I was so terrified that I agreed that I was lying and had made it all up. I still remember the enormous fear of being put in that situation. I felt like I was going to be in LIFE-THREATENING trouble. I had an overwhelming fear of my father and his punishments. I was strapped (skirt up, underpants down, bent over a chair) very frequently throughout my childhood though by 7, I had learnt to be non-responsive to this punishment, which both made him angry but ultimately thwarted him from continuing to inflict punishment until I reacted.

I also had a lot of fear of ending up being an orphan in childhood. I was frequently hit and beaten for being emotionally, verbally and physically non-responsive to my father.

I am missing large blocks of memory of my childhood. I get snapshots but there is a lot of emotional / physical reaction to trying to remember. my sisters all large gaps of memory in their childhoods. They also have suffered the same physical and emotional reactions to our father. discomfort being around him, feeling violated around him, feelings of illness in his presence.

At one stage or another during our lives we have all individually asked our mother if it was possible that our father could have sexually abused us. As the wife of a violent, fear inducing man, locked into a marriage and kept away from her family and social / community support and constantly battling to centre us as we moved from place to place she was unable to remember and adamant that she would have known if that was happening.

However she was very naive, dominated, controlled and a victim herself and had no knowledge of what to look for in our childhood development.

He left us 30 years ago, but still the feeling lingers. I have had no contact with him for nearly 20 years. My sisters see him every few years when he comes to visit. They don't want him here, but they don't know how to say know (guilt, lacking tangible memories they feel obligated to give him the benefit of doubt.)

I suffered extreme nightmares from early childhood and well into adulthood and would often wake up in the night not knowing where I was - never sure where the door was or the wall was in relation to my sleeping position on waking (like I was moved during the night and could never be sure if I was in the same room / bed / position that I went to sleep in). My bed was always messy, like I had ripped the bedding off during the night and pulled it back on. I don't remember this sort of disrupted sleeping behaviour.

My sisters report similar feelings, experiences of their own childhood memories regarding sexual feelings, early orgasm, and repulsion in regard to their memories. We have as children, teenagers, adults and parents have had extreme emotional and psychological difficulties. Some we share, some we don't. These include frigidity alongside being called a 'tease'. depression, suicidal thoughts from an early age, feeling unable to relate to others socially. Feeling that we were bad, ugly, shameful and different from everyone else. Feelings of worthlessness, of being 'dirty' and feeling alienated between ourselves and with our mother.

We still as adults share the need to 'protect our mother' from disclosing to her anything that may cause her emotional or psychological upset. She is emotionally fragile still, to this day and doesn't handle emotion well at all. There is history of self harming behaviour, drug use, alcohol use, anger issues alternating with pacificity issues. psychiatric treatment in hospital. Feeling alienated and emotionally shut down. extreme anxiety, panic attacks. 'freezing' when feeling threatened (or triggered emotionally) the list goes on (and on and on).

Are we 4 girls just damaged by the domestic abuse and psychological abuse by our father during our childhood, or are our fears indicative of something more? Without specific memory, we have been unable to purge ourselves of these feelings and memories (and non memories).

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just a personal comment
by: Anonymous

I just watched the movie Precious with my Mom, similar to you my mother is frail from years of abuse and she has been emotionally shut down so we always tip toe around the facts.

My father passed away 15 years ago, but since the age of 4 through my early teens, he was physically, emotionally, verbally and at a younger age, sexually. I do not have clear memories about the sexual abuse, but did have fragmented flash back dreams through my early twenties.

I have had a weight issue since the age of 16 and the fear of being too attractive and vulnerable to men has always been a fear. My last relationship of five years was verbally abusive and demeaning. I stayed of course until I couldn't take it any longer.

I have since been wiring my story and telling it aloud in order to heal and honor the parts of me that never got their say.

I wish you healing and the strength to accept that you may never have a clear memory but know that their should be no personal shame only pride in surviving such abuse. Good luck to everyone.

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Child Sexual Abuse
by: Laura Ramirez

Since this is a parenting forum, rather than a forum for adults reflecting on events that occurred in childhood, I will keep my answer brief.

You do seem to have some classic signs of someone who was sexually molested as a child. Of course, the symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder could also be a result of the violence, lack of trust and sense of safety in your childhood, as well as your father's inappropriate behavior toward you and your sisters.

When a child has been repeatedly traumatized, repressed memories can be buried deep or even completely obliterated. You may never know for sure exactly what happened. Although some sense of closure is achieved by knowing "the truth," it may be more helpful to go forward and work on healing the wounds inflicted during your childhood, so you can reclaim your life.


I recommend that you purchase, read and do the exercises in the following books:

The Courage to Heal 4e: A Guide for Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse 20th Anniversary Edition

Make sure to get the workbook:

The Courage to Heal Workbook: A Guide for Women and Men Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse

I also recommend that you read my parenting book because it will help you reflect upon your childhood and move past it to become a caring, responsible adult who can create a life that is entirely her own.

I hope this helps. Good luck to you.

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