Survivors who Harm Other Children
Hurt people hurt people. This is true of every human who has ever lived. But child sexual trauma takes it to an especially painful and destructive level. Sometimes the “victim” and “perpetrator” roles fall not only within the same family, but within the same person. Issues of responsibility, harm, shame and trauma become especially intense when this happens--and it happens to a lot of people.
First, it is important to note that not all those who act out sexually against their siblings have been abused. And most sexual trauma survivors do not go on to act out against anyone else. But a person who has had their own sexual boundaries violated and blurred will have more difficulty recognizing and respecting other people’s boundaries.
Usually, those who have abused others after their own abuse have kept both stories a secret. If their abusive actions toward others come to light first, they may feel especially angry that they are being held responsible when the person who violated them has not. They are caught in a double bind. If they tell what happened to them in the past, they may be accused of making excuses or shirking responsibility for their own actions. If they do not tell, they cannot access the understanding, support, and healing resources they need to get to the root of their own pain and prevent future inappropriate behavior. Juvenile justice systems and treatment programs for adolescents are more likely to take these factors into account and address them as part of treatment and planning for the future. Those who have become involved in the adult criminal justice system may, sadly, receive no acknowledgment or treatment for the trauma that was inflicted on them.
If this page describes you, you have already taken a courageous step toward healing yourself and others by coming to this website. Here are some safe places to reach out for help on both your own trauma, and the trauma you have caused others.
WhatsOK.org Ask About Anything, by text, chat, e-mail, phone, for teens and young adults
Stop It Now! Phone, Chat, or E-mail Support for any age
1in6.org 24/7 helpline for male survivors of sexual abuse
Safer Society Foundation: Referrals for Sexual Behavior Treatment (US)
Prevention Resources and Treatment Referrals: StopSO (UK)