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


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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.


Pity the Unhappy Rich! Not...
Tribute to Alan Marlatt


12 thoughts on “I am aroused by my past sexual abuse; is that a problem?

  1. Emily

    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?

  2. Erin

    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.

  3. Bran

    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!

  4. Broken Boy

    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.

  5. Anon 11

    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 ?

  6. Marianela

    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.

  7. Heather

    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!

  8. Dani

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

  9. David

    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.

  10. David

    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?

  11. Maria

    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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