Another-Was it sexual abuse? {Triggers}

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-04-2003
Another-Was it sexual abuse? {Triggers}
Fri, 04-04-2003 - 12:44am
So, I've been wanting to ask anyone about these things but I can't get the words to actually form in my mouth so I'll write them instead. I think I might have been sexually abused by my mother. When I was in 5th grade, and going through puberty, she always insisting on coming into the bathroom with me when I was changing pads, or in the dressing room when I was trying on bras, etc, and touched me on my chest. She also "inspected" my privates once because she was worried I wasn't developing normally (I have long labia minora) and then took me to the doctor to make sure I was normal. I also found a diary from around that time in which I wrote "She touched me there again, I hate it when she does that". I had an active imagination as a kid and my mother and I have a pretty good relationship, but it always weighs on my mind. Any input is welcomed. Thank you.
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-19-2003
Fri, 04-04-2003 - 6:18am
Hi and welcome. Isn't it amazing how much easier typing can be than verbalizing?

Your mother certainly seemed to step beyond your personal boundaries. Man, you must have hated it. But to find out if it was abuse or not I think you have to look at how this has affected your life. Has this influenced your sexuality or your relationships today? Can you find any place in your life that has been disturbed b/c of this? You said you have a good relationship with your mother now. That's great but do you ever wonder if it's too good, do you ever worry that it's unhealty good? Does that make sense? Sometimes we have this indescribable bond to our abusers. I was just curious.

I guess I hesitate to call it sexual abuse just yet. I'm not a professional so don't take my answer as definitive. From what I know though, I think for it to be considered abuse it would have influenced your current life in some way. But it does sound like your mom has a few of her own issues if you don't mind me saying so. That sort of concern about your body seems a bit off.

I'm only giving my personal opinions here. I think if this bothers you then you are probably better off getting an answer from a professional therapist, preferably an abuse specialist. And if it's still too hard to verbalize then you can hand him/her a copy of your post. I thought you articulated yourself very well.

Others may have more to offer but those are my thoughts. Good luck with your search.

Edited 4/4/2003 7:28:03 AM ET by cl-opal45

Avatar for sunshineydays
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2003
Fri, 04-04-2003 - 8:59pm
I agree with what Gail said about whether or not it's abuse, looking at the effects it has on your life now, and seeking professional help to truly delve into the possibility of that. I also agree that whether or not it was abuse, your mother overstepped a boundary with you (evident by your diary). Welcome to the board, by the way, and take care. Stacy
iVillage Member
Registered: 04-04-2003
Sat, 04-05-2003 - 1:38am
Thanks for your posts. I agree that there is some fuzziness about whether or not I can call what happened sexual "abuse". It hasn't seemed to affect me except to create some anxiety. My mother also used lots of emotional, psychological and even occasional physical abuse, though, and I'm dealing with all of that concurrently with this, so it's hard to suss out what exactly is affecting me. I'm not having any sexual problems in relationships, thank God...just a tendency to not trust people very easily. Again, thank you. Sara
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
Sat, 04-05-2003 - 6:03pm
Hi, I can really relate (triggers).

My mother would come in the room with me while I was dressing, using the bathroom, trying on clothes, having doctor/gynelogical exams, etc. When I was 22 I finally told her that I was uncomfortable having her watch me undress, etc. She took it extremely personally, thought it meant that I didn't love her or want to spend time with her, and acted very hurt and rejected.

When I went to my dad about it hoping for some validation, support, and protection, he simply told me that since I was getting married in a few months and would be moving out of the house, it wouldn't be an issue any more. He said I shouldn't have brought it up and made a big deal out of it, that it wasn't worth hurting my mom's feelings over it. I should have just put up with it for a few more months and not said anything because it hurt my mom.

They both made me feel very inconsiderate and unloving to even think to say such a thing to my mom as that I was uncomfortable having her watch me undress, and made me feel guilty for desiring some privacy and personal boundaries.

I am sad to say that, because of their reaction, I felt guilty for having a desire for modesty, and sometimes allowed my mother to watch me undress, etc. even though I was extremely uncomfortable with it, so that she would not feel hurt and rejected. How sad that a daughter would feel she had to undress in front of her mother to keep her from feeling rejected. I do think that is a form of sexual abuse, or at least very closely related to it and having many of the same effects.

I think, more than the actual circumstances of my mother watching me dress, etc. the fact that I was consistently not allowed to have personal boundaries and made to feel guilty for having them caused a lot of harm to me. From childhood, my "no" was not respected when I didn't want a particular kind of touch, etc. and my feelings were not valued and listened to. I grew up in a culture that treated women and children as possessions with no real rights or identity of their own, and that attitude helped to set me up to submit to boundary violations, etc.

Something in your post stood out to me. You said, "I also found a diary from around that time in which I wrote "She touched me there again, I hate it when she does that". I had an active imagination as a kid and my mother and I have a pretty good relationship, but it always weighs on my mind."

What does an active imagination have to do with that diary entry? Why would a 5th-grader "imagine" something like that? What do you think the diary entry means? If little 12-year-old girl said that to you in a conversation or letter, what would you think and how would you respond? Take a look at a girl you know of that age and see what you think. Would it concern you if a 5th grader made that comment to you today?

TA (a.k.a. 2s4a)

~ TrustingAgain ~

Going on 11 years since I joined DH on his recovery journey (he'd been working on recovery already before that); 8+ years since DH l

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-21-2003
Sat, 04-05-2003 - 7:14pm
I agree with TA/2SFA. That line about your imagination struck a chord with me, too. But I also agree with the earlier posts. I don't really think it matters if you call what she did abuse or not; the important thing is to deal with how it affected you. You mentioned trust being a problem. I would say that not trusting others is one of the biggest problems my abuse caused me. It led to an extremely isolated life for me, growing up, and I have to learn now at age 32 how to connect with people--something I should have learned as a child. I feel it has put me at a real disadvantage personally and professionally.

Welcome to the board!