I am aroused by my past sexual abuse; is that a problem?


Further Reading

Hello Dr. Peele,

Thank you for allowing me to email you. I am sure you are inundated with letters, so any reply will certainly be appreciated.

I am 32 years old and very happily married for the past ten years. I am currently in social work school. My husband is a social worker with plans to go to grad school in the next three years. Life is good and stable, for once.

I was sexually abused by my step-father when I was quite young, continuing for several years until he died. For the past several years I have been having sexual thoughts about what happened to me, and I find that I become aroused by these thoughts. Not at remembering the actual events, but more by the idea of them. The idea of being a young girl and being sexually abused (in a non-violent way) is sexually exciting to me. Occasionally my husband and I will role-play with this theme.

I realize that I did not find being sexually abused in any way stimulating when I was a victim. Nor do I find accounts of other people’s sexual abuse to be stimulating. On the one hand I feel that this is harmless, that as long as I can distinguish between the real-life trauma of sexual abuse vs. the concept of being sexually aroused by the idea of it, there is no real problem. However, I must admit that I feel this is an odd thing for a former victim of childhood sexual abuse to be feeling. Have you ever heard of this before? Do you have any insights into why I would be aroused by this? Do you think that this means anything, that it is a symptom of something else?

I will include the following information because it might be relevant to you:

For the past few years my sexual drive has been off the charts. For the week prior and a few days after menstruation, I am almost obsessed with thoughts of sex. I think I might be fantasizing about the idea of sexual abuse because I am just so damned horny. This rings true, but why this particular fantasy? Wouldn’t it seem like because the abuse caused so much trauma in my life that I would be completely turned off by it?

Thank you in advance for any insights you might offer,



The short answer is, if you differentiate between the actuality of sexual abuse and your use of it in sexual fantasy, if your husband and you both participate knowingly and find enjoyment sexually, and if it is not harmful to your relationship with your husband in areas other than sex, then – the rule of thumb is – enjoy yourself. You also indicate that you have other kinds of sex with your husband which you enjoy, indicating that you are not obsessed with sexually expressing your abuse.

We have become so obsessed with childhood abuse that there is a political correctness to saying that one’s life can only be ruined by that experience, certainly without some kind of curative therapy. And those in the sexual abuse “business” would be shocked by and recoil from your story. So I suspect if you sought professional treatment for your “condition,” you would be told you have been pathologically traumatized and are working it out in ways that you don’t recognize. I don’t see that as helpful to you.

Why don’t you enjoy your life, your work, your husband, and sex – and wait until you feel something isn’t working in your life before trying to fix it.

Having said that, if you would like to try a coaching session or two to think through your response, it might be helpful. I would not approach this issue as one of repressed trauma.



  • When I was 7 says:

    I have been having very similar experiences too.

    I was molested once when I was 7 by an another older boy who I think about around 15 or so. I feel so conflicted about it as I’m not gay yet I find myself so strangely aroused by the experience when I look back on it.

    I remember he came into the living room when I was watching tv with his pants down and his penis out and he said he needed help finding something in the bathroom.

    I remember giggling at the site of his penis and him just acting non-chalant the it was out.

    He then tells me not to laugh and I asks if I want to touch it. I was resistent at first but I think he cues me to do it a few times and I eventually reach my hand out and touch it. He then takes me to the next room, we sit on the floor and he says, “theres this place called magic land, its where the magic man lives and if you touch my penis, I will be able to go there and get you all the best video games and action figures”.

    So, I started masturbating and exploring him and as he ejaculates he says, “see, when that white stuff comes out, it makes the magic man happy.” Of course I didn’t know what any of this meant at the time.

    Then he says, now if you pull your pants down, I can do it to you.

    I say no at first and he says, “well, the magic man says I have to make your penis, do what my penis did. Magicland had all these games but I can’t go there unless you pull your pants down.”

    So I let him touch and pleasure me and I remember feeling so confused but still feeling good. It might have been the first time I had ever got an erection. I didn’t cum as I was too young of course.

    I really looked up to this kid. It felt like he was letting me do something that big kids do. There weren’t many other kids my age on my street so I hung out with older kids all the time. It felt so good that he was letting me do something secret with him.

    After getting counselling with this, my therapist says that fantasizing or masturbating about the incident allows me to take back control. When I was young, I didn’t have any control.

    The fantasy comes and goes throughout the years, but lately I’ve felt oddly obessed with it and I don’t know why. It’s kind of like a boomerang that keeps coming back around making my wonder about my sexuality, my sanity and everything else.

    It really does feel good to be able to take back control. Weirdly, I don’t hate him. I think there was a good chance that he was molested too and was older enough to know it was wrong but young enough to be confused himself.

    I’m continuing counselling for it. I don’t want to say I’m screwed up by. I’m just really conflicted about my feelings around it in the retrospect. Feels good to get this out though.

  • Annie says:

    I can’t remember how old I was when it happened, but I was young. Maybe five or six. A man held me face down while analy penetrating me with his finger. Then I have another recurring nightmare of being abused while laying on my back; he touched me and rubbed his genitalia against mine. I can’t sleep on my back to this day. I’ve noticed that I have a tendency to be a bit voyeuristic and seek male attention. For example, I stay the night at my best guy friends house frequently (no sexual relationship, strictly friends), and sometimes when I know he’s about to enter the room I’ll start changing, hoping maybe he’ll catch me. Or I’ll just straight up change in front of him because it makes me feel powerful for some reason, knowing I’m undressed but he can’t touch me. I often fantasize about stripping or being in the adult film industry because I would have power over my sexuality. I also fantasize about being penetrated analy and analy penetrating others. I watch gay porn more often than not for this reason, as it gets me off a lot faster than straight porn.

  • Ashamed- abused trying to understand says:

    I have likewise had abuse and struggles as well as all these posts. What I think I am coming to realize is this : the shame comes from knowing these behaviors may not be appropriate and are wrong in the natural sense. Especially in regards to society in realms of incest it is wrong. We also know that it’s wrong because we would never want to do that to another human being what was done to us . The thing that is happening I believe is our bodies are wonderfully and amazingly created in such a way to have pleasure like a orgasm. The body responds even if you don’t like the pleasure. Example the touching of a man’s penis (erection) or a woman’s clitoris (swollen) stimulates good feelings. I almost think the secrecy of it creates arousal of the hiddenness of something naughty and it causes an adrenaline rush like a thief going to steal and no one got to catch him and the thrill of it .The memories of the trauma still responds in the feelings that our body felt at that moment that felt good. But in our head and our heart we know it’s not right and it was abuse. So enters in disgust shame and guilt once the orgasm has passed. Hating the fact of the abuse and not liking it for a lot of people. Some people associate the good feelings of the orgasm with the feelings for the person but that is a confusion I think. Because of it would have been done in the right way at the right time you would have had the same feelings but with the right person. Anyhow that’s some of my ideas of my own resolving the conflict and struggles of my abuse and my present. Also another note I noticed that for me these behaviors will increase as stress and circumstances in my life are out of control I don’t know if that is the same for you all but that is something I have noticed. So in that regard I think it’s kind of a trying to control your past and your present that maybe if it feels good or feels right you don’t have the yucky feelings of the abuse as strong. Anyhow I don’t know if I wanted this while but it’s the best way I could figure out how to say what I’m trying to say.

  • Liz says:

    I got sexually abused by my father around the age of 5 or 6. He would just have me come into the bathroom while taking a bath and I would massage his penis. I could tell it was hard and he was enjoying it. One day I told my mom and next thing I know a lot of people came over to our house asking questions. At that point I knew what I was doing was wrong and didn’t want to tell anybody and get my dad in trouble so I denied everything. My mom eventually divorced my dad a year or so later I’m not quite sure exactly why other than that he was drinking a lot. My family has never discussed this and I’m 34 today. I’ve told a few of my close friends and my husband but I think it’s affected me more than I realize. I probably need some help. Sometimes while I am masturbating and I can’t get off, I think of my dad and in no time orgasming. Afterwards I feel sick and gross and don’t know what to do with these feelings.

  • Jake says:

    Hi I was abused by a older boy when I was 8 until 11 or 12. This left me wanking and fantasizing about both sexes thru out high school.
    Then I was again abused as a young man by my uncle and this went on for 10 or 12 years. He was married and I was single and learned to participate on my own until I felt it was too messed up to let go on and moved away. But I still go on the internet a look at much older men and like what I see but I don’t get off doing it and fell guilty as hell about. I am married now for 10 years and have trouble letting this all go and allowing myself to enjoy my wife even though I lover her with all my heart. All my fantasies seem to involve pleasing a man not getting pleased myself. I remember my uncle always told me he was ok being bisexual but I was messed up and was gay. He liked to say hurt ful things and had a bad temper and was 30 years older and very masculine as I am physically but a bit messed up emotionally. Please help me figure this out. Am I fat or bi or just badly bent.

  • Kristine says:

    So relived that I am not a crazy sexual dsyfunctional person. I was moslested since I was 5 all the way under I was 11. First being my child mate all I remenber is he touching me under my skirt and feeling so turn on (Fingering fetish) to make it worst I remember doibg this ibfront of other classmates and not caring (Public sex fetish) I remember touching a female classmate in the bathroon, we would kiss, rub and touch each other ib restaurants bathrooms that my aunt use to take us for lunch. I remember being touch by my granddad best friend son and liking it. I remember being told to “play sex” with my neighbours 7 yr old son and 9 year daughter by their 13yr old daughter . Funny thing i remember liking it feelibg but not wanting to show it. I remember their 9 year old daughter always coming over to kiss and massage me and liking it alot (lesbian fetish). I remember chasibg them.away when my little cousin came over but i didnt want them.to touch her, i wouldn’t touch a child. But i get so wet thinking of these memories, i masterbate thinking of them and the best orgasms.

  • Anonoliz says:

    I was molested by my dad when I was 11 and have been sexually assaulted and abused in a few other situations by other men but I’m 21 now and it gets me very horny my bf who is 10 yrs older than me which also turns me on so much role plays as my daddy and acts like he’s molesting me or raping me and tells me not to tell anyone and that I’m his naughty little girl and that he loves how young and innocent I am and I pretend like it hurts me or I don’t like it but it really gets me off OH MY GOD

  • Corey says:

    I am a male survivor or sexual abuse amongst other things. I’ve had a hard time in relationships and I yearn for a healthy one. Marlene hit it right on for me. I fantasize about having the same experience as a child through roll play. I have a huge sex drive. I’m not gay but find myself with men to repeat the same experience. I almost cry after each time in disgust but at the moment it’s home.
    I’m lost and hurt.

    I will fix myself however I hate the fact that this might be a life long process.

    I was with a man tonight and can’t handle it anymore. Suicide is always on my mind.

  • Jenny says:

    I experienced something similiar, although I dont feel strange anymore.

    I was abused, raped and tortured by many men and even women from since I can remember to age 12.

    I really like the thought of abusing people and I only recently tried out to reverse this role play.

    What I want to tell someone who is not attracted to anything “normal” is, that is is learnable. I started out only being attracted to extreme violence, now I am able to enjoy gentle sex too.

  • Maya says:

    General teokyvto all above comments. If something feels good to you and you are not hurting anyone….then allow yourself to enjoy it. Often times the punishing against the desire only serves to make it bigger. I would say this is a way of reframing the abuse and is probably a very healthy function of human survival. Sort of like the way women romanticize what childbirth was like even if it was traumatic. Just my thoughts . blessings ❤

  • Ashamed says:

    I’m so glad to have found these. Mine was a bit different. Mine was a medical “test” that lots of people now consider borderline abuse. It’s called like VSUG or something like that. I was no more than 3 or 4, I remember the humiliation of being forced to do that as well as 2 family members in the room. To my dismay, I have been getting off on videos of that for years and the thought of it. That is how I found an article of others who were affected and it was so comforting, I thought I was twisted, but there are other sources of trauma to kids I guess 🙁

  • Lisa says:

    I was sexually abused by my father at a young age, and even now he tells me about dreams of us making love this disturbs me because I am married even though this abuse happened when I was very young I still fantasize about older men having sex with, and I imagine I’m a little girl. I get the greatest organisms until I feel like I’m going to explode. I want to stop because afterwards I feel so guilty.

  • Clarice A. says:

    To Heather August 21-I finially made my First Holy Communion at age 14 with the class of 7 year olds and was abused after my party!My parents dressed me the same as the little girls in a poofy,sleeveless,top of the knees communion dress with the veil,lace anklets and white shoes.They required me to wear a cloth diaper and plastic pants and undershirt like the little girls wear under their dresses.I felt like one of the little girls in my outfit!After my party,i went over to a friends house to see her and her and her parents were out.Her 20 year old brother was home and invited me in.He told me hoe cute and little girlish i looked and started kissing me.Next thing i knew his hand was under my dress on my butt and he was rubbing it over my diaper and plastic pants.Being somewhat naive,i didnt stop him and next he unzipped my communion dress and pulled it off of me,saw my undershirt,diaper and plastic pants and got very aroused.He forced me to my knees,dropped his pants and shorts and made me give him a blowjob! I gagged,but he just kept going.Now years later,i still have memories of that time and secretly wish i could be manhandled like that again!

  • Kylie says:

    I relate well to your comment. I to was abused at a young age so many time so many ways by more then one person. I to am sexually aroused by the memories. At the time I wasn’t sure how to feel when it was older men such as my best friends dad I found myself terrified and helpless almost to the point of not being able to speak or move but now I think back at how his hand touched my neck so softly And his breath on the back of my neck while his other hand grabbed firmly on the inside of my thigh. I get so aroused and it makes me wonder if it is natural to think of such things. Also I have issues with trust I am so hard to open up I’m a very sexual person but emotionally I am a Armerd truck not willing to let anyone in even though deep down that is all I want. I find I crave deep passionate sex hot close and emotional I want to love some one so hard that the sex will make me cry.. If that makes since.. But no matter how hard I try that will not bring me to orgasm only when I imagine being taken advantage of or forced will I climax and or even the thoughts of my boyfriend who I love doing things with someone else I think about him having sex with an ex of his that I hate thoughts that any other time would make my blood boil ultimately make me climax the hardest.. it feels good to get this off my chest it is a lonely battle in my mind every day.

  • Emily says:

    It’s comforting and sad to see so many people who are feeling as I have often felt. I was molested by my uncle when I was a freshman in highschool, but I didn’t tell him no or make him stop, I liked it. I even went to his room to have him kiss me and touch my body. He went to jail when my parents found out and to this day I blame myself for that because I wanted him to do those things to me. Even now I can’t help but think about it and how I miss him, he was my first lover and my best friend. Is it wrong to want it again?

  • Erin says:

    I’m a female who was molested by a neighbor who would rub his penis on my clit and genital area. This started at age 5 and I had great orgasms from it. I’m often aroused by the thought of how good this felt. This went on from age 5-8. I often think there is something wrong with me that I’m sexually aroused by these memories.

  • Bran says:

    finally i’m not crazy i thought i’m the only one,
    i’ve been abused when i was 12 or 13 by my cousin brother he was 17 one night i was sleeping next to him he pulls down my pjs and his undie as well and touching his d***k against my ass, next night he was telling me that right 60% people are having sex in this world lets do something horny, then it was different and weird he make me sit in hot tub on his lap and he gets hard (didn;t do any thing more then that) then he start sucking my d***k and asked me to do same and forced me little bit to suck, i didn;t enjoyed that at that time but i keep thinking about that for years and it turns me on like really hard ,i don’t really know why not that abuse make me feel but the thought of all those years and it was the time when i just stepped in teen age and but it sounds like freak, now i’m 18 and he’s 22 we meet regularly he acts like he totally forgot that thing but i didn’t though this don’t bother me so much but its an abuse he can’t change that!

  • Veronics says:

    Wow. I have the same thought sometimes. It is nice seeing others with similar concerns and that we are normal.

  • Broken Boy says:

    As a child I was molested many times by many different aged boys. Started when i was 5, a 4 year old thought me the joy (or curse) of oral sex. Since then it seemed like i had a sign on my forehead saying “abuse me”..
    I eventually ended up having anal with an 8 year old boy cousin when i was 13..
    Abused by some, abused many.
    Life’s a curse.
    I hate myself for being aroused by my past sexual abuse.

  • Anon 11 says:

    I am down right obsessed with my childhood sexual abuser. She’s actually my older cousin and was my first sexual experience as a child maybe around 6 or 7 and she was like 13 or 14. She abused me for years and at the time I enjoyed it , but it hasn’t happened in a really long time, and now I fantasize about it daily since I was teenager. It got to the point where I would sneak into her room and sniff her panties or sniff her seat after she got up and nobody was around. I know this is wierd but I really want to have sexwith her but I’m not sure if she has grown out of being an abuser. From time to time she will give me what seems like hints, sagging her pants so her but crack will show , wearing tight shorts around the house. She’s past 30 and I’m in my early 20’s. Should I bring up the conversation and let her know how I feel ? Should I make a pass and grab her butt one day ?

  • Marianela says:

    I’m glad I found this article . I was raped by my brother at 6 years old and he continued to till I was 12, although I hate his face and him as a human I love the way he touched me and looked at me . a older male friend of the family would also touch my developing breasts when I was younger every time we were alone and sit me on his lap while massaging my sore developing breasts he would do this for hours and I was sitting on his lap while he was hard , although I didn’t enjoy it then now that I’m older it turns me on , arouses me and I want to relive the experience over and over and over . I close my eyes now and I begin massaging my breasts thinking its him.

  • Heather says:

    I’ve been feeling the same way. I was MOLESTED from age 10-12 and I often think about and get sexually excited by imagining the sexual things he did (and more) are happening again. I picture myself as a young budding girl and him stimulating my tiny breasts and so much more. The thing is that I like to masturbate while imagining these things. Sex itself isn’t something I want unless my husband enters me after I’ve stimulated my clit with the vibrator. I also like to walk around naked and hope a neighbor will catch a peak, maybe even see me masturbate. But I don’t want them to make themselves known. I’d like to catch a peek of them watching me though. Does that make sense? I’ve even run (briefly) outside completely nude hoping someone would see me. My husband doesn’t know about any of this. He’d freak out! But I get so horny I feel like I could explode! Am I abnormal? I’d NEVER do it to another child!

  • Dani says:

    So glad to see this!! Thought I was crazy or irreversibly broken! Makes me feel a little more normal. Thank you for sharing.

  • David says:

    I had a similar situation. I’m male of you didn’t notice. I completely feel the same way so it can’t be a coincidence. I hate myself for it but it is what it is.

  • David says:

    I am so glad to see this. I was abused at age 12 by an older male. I am male also. I often fantasize about the sexual encounters I had with him and I get extremely aroused by those memories. Not by him the abuser, but just by the act of being sexually pleased while (in my mind) being a young boy. Aren’t our thoughts strange?

  • Maria says:

    I am so glad I’ve come across this, I was sexually abused by my father from she 12 until I left home at 16, I have always had fantasy simlar to these and felt aroused, I thought I was not normal or worse an absolute freak, everything we read tells us we should be damaged and barely coping that it makes a person feel un natural or not normal if there are, I do have some trust and issues when getting emotional with my partner but I think that’s is just me as a person

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