Sexual acting out - does it always mean a person was sexually abused?

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by dashcat, Jul 25, 2011.

  1. dashcat

    dashcat Member

    I've been wondering about this - especially lately considering my difficult child's promiscuity, sexual confusion and infidelity.

    She was obsessed with boys - I am not exaggerating - since preschool. She would chase them on the playground, claim to be boyfriend/girlfriend ... to the point where teachers would mention it (though they thought it was "cute"). As she got older, she went into overdrive. I found some pages she'd ripped from her journal (and left in the middle of the living room floor!) when she was 12 .. it was in the form a letter to a boy she constantly called out to as we walked to school, harrassed on the playground, etc .. in which she said she wanted to "have sex". I was appalled as I was vigilant about what she watched on TV, who she played with and where, etc. Around that same time, she went on an internet porn spree and visited about 100 sites. Thankfully DEX (still married and relatively sane at the time) suspected something was up and put monitering software on the computer. She lost computer privileges for a month, was grounded and I sent her to counseling.

    The counselor saw it as an isoltated incident, citing her possibly having ADD in which case her impulse control would be minimal.

    She never did the porn thing again (here), but continued with her hyper focus on boys. She was always in pursuit of someone. Of couse we wouldn't let her "date" and, when she was old enough to do so, we watched her like a hawk.

    Since her senior year in HS, she's been fairly out of control. I've posted before about her meeting guys (and girls) online, having multiple partners, alll while having a clueless boyfriend ..who changes with the weather.

    It's always, always, always LOOOOVVVVEEE. She's always getting married, CB (dex's name for all boys since HS ...intials for current boyfriend) is always perfect ... but then the cheating starts up and she breaks up after she's conquered her next catch.

    She was in counseling all through HS and has denied to me, her dad and her counselors that she was ever sexually abused. My current counselor says she simply had to be ....no kids at the age she started, are talking about sex like she was (there were many little incidents before the torn journal and internet porn binge).

    I have wracked my brain - as has DEX (he was on board at one time) as to how/if this could have happened. We adopted her at age 8 months. Prior to that she was in two foster homes ... one with bio mom until three months. We know both foster families and I know you never really know someone, but still...

    We were careful with babysitters. It is highly unlikely that it would have been a family member .....

    Any words of wisdom? I'm just trying to understand as much as I can.

    dash
     
  2. toughlovin

    toughlovin Guest

    Dash.... I really don't think some one can say she HAD to be sexually abused, certainly that could be ONE reason.... but really adoption issues can be huge in and of themselves... and if she was adopted at 8 months there were some major losses in her short little life at that point that could/were probably traumatic in their own way.

    My observation is that most kids who are really troubled like those we have on this board either have mental illness OR have experienced some major trauma. Sexual abuse is one form of trauma but adoption also involves trauma. I have also observed that the number of kids who were adopted among really troubled teens is much higher than the percentage of adopted kids in the population. And of course there are other things that can be traumatic to kids that involved majore loss... the death of a parent, divorce etc. And many many kids survive various forms of trauma and function well as teens as well as adults. I also believe there is a genetic component to how resiliant kids are to the experiences they have in life.

    I have wondered what kind of trauma my son has suffered... he is also adopted, but we got him when he was 3 days old!!! And yet I think he has major adoption issues.... and I think my mother dying when he was 12 was a trigger to a lot of feelings of loss... he was close to my mom and he really felt she loved him uncondtionally.

    And the other thought I have is that we can drive ourselves crazy trying to figure out why why why do they do the things they do. I have done this with my son along with the if onlys and shoulda couldas..... and in the end it just doesn't help a whole lot. What we hae is the present... and both of us now have adult kids (althougy they act like children a lot of the time) and they must find their own way.... There really is not much we can do except give them help when they are truly ready and truly ask for it.

    So yes I think your daughter experienced some trauma (maybe just the adoption) but I don't think it had to be sexual abuse. It may be that for some reason via her adoption she felt a male figure loss more than female and so went after the boys for love. Who knows....
     
  3. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I dont necessarily think it has to be sexual abuse either. Yes it could have been. I was abused by a female babysitter at age 3/4 ( cant remember which one) so just picking a female doesnt make it safer.

    I know that also bipolar can cause super hypersexuality. My second granddaughter is hypersexual. She has been interested in all things sexual since she was old enough to find herself. She has been after her "best friend" who is this little boy named Adam who is a year older than her and she tries to touch him and she calls him her boyfriend. She isnt old enough to write or anything like that but I can certainly see her doing that stuff.

    I know Cory went through a whole stage of ungodly things. Never been molested. He has outgrown his porn obsession. Now he just swears he has to have sex 6 out of 7 days a week. I dont know if that is macho bragging, 20 something normal, or just wishing...lol.
     
  4. dashcat

    dashcat Member

    I do think she experienced trauma, TL. Her bio mom crawled out of a bedroom window leaving her alone in her crib when she was three months old. That afternoon, she was moved into a new foster home and only saw her bio mom every two weeks for an hour. Does she remember? Of course not .... but it had to have been very scary for an infant.

    At 8 months, she came to us. I owned my own business and worked full time. After three weeks, she went to daycare. In retrospect, that must have been traumatic.

    Janet, I'm so sorry you went through what you went through. I know picking a female doesn't guarantee anything ... nothing does. I do suppose it could have happened, but she's been asked so many times in so many ways.

    Oh, and I feel your pain about your granddaughter. As I said, she was always like this.

    I know I'll never have all the answers. I guess I've really been struggling with guilt and with fear that I could have allowed someone to hurt her.

    I pray that, if she was abused, she can learn to talk about it and get help. If that's it at all.

    It is a reliefe to hear from the been there done that that it's not etched in rock somewhere that this is the only way. I can live without answers, but I have a hard time living with the idea that it is so black and white.

    I think I have to switch counselors .... this has come out at the last two sessions and she's been telling me I "have to find out".

    Sigh.
    Dash
     
  5. toughlovin

    toughlovin Guest

    I have to say I think you should change counselors to..... How does "have to find out" help you? And how on earth are you going to do that? It sounds to me like for whatever reason this is an issue for your counselor and she is letting her own issues get in the way of your therapy. That is just my take.

    I get the guilt... I have that too about a bunch of stuff. Yet really when it comes down to it I know in my heart I did the best I could at the time and that no matter what I have always loved my son and always will. I can't go back and change the past... I can learn from it but dwelling on it just makes me crazy and doesn't do anything to help my son.

    TL
     
  6. HaoZi

    HaoZi Guest

    Tossing in my .02 here from what I've seen and known of friends like that. Some had been abused, yes. Some had been raised in a very strict environment and this was their form of acting out in general. Some had the "Daddy rejection" issues going on and didn't feel like a validated human without a guy. Some just thought love=sex and sex=love. Some were fine once their hormones got more regulated. Some people are just naturally higher geared than others, too.
     
  7. CrazyinVA

    CrazyinVA Well-Known Member Staff Member

    As Janet said, hypersexuality can also be a symptom of bipolar. My Youngest went through a frightening period in adolescence where she engaged in risky and dangerous sexual behavior. No sexual abuse. An awful lot of emotional abuse by her father, however, and I think part of the acting out was also a need for attention for men, any men or boys she could get it from.
     
  8. dashcat

    dashcat Member

    TL, Very seriously thinking of changing counselors. She has been great with so many things though. I plan to talk with her next week and be clear that she's not behing helpful with that line of reasoning. Even if it did happen, it's out of my hands ... at least until she seeks help.

    Hao, I get it..there are so many possible reasons. High sex drive seems a bit of a stretch given the manic way in which she's been acting and the long, long history.

    Crazy, I strongly suspect bi-polar is what she's dealing with. Just wish I could get her to seek help and maybe get a diagnosis.

    All and all, I think I'm smack in the middle of the "bargaining" stage of grief. I went to a friend's son's grad party on Saturday. He was in my youth group at church and his mom is part of a circle of my close friends. Seeing all those healthy happy teens, little kids, babies and families sent me plummeting into the grief stage. I'm happy for them, yet I grieve for my daughter's carefree days ... I grieve for a time when anything seemed possible and she was joyful. I grieve for what might have been and never will be....and I seem to have gone from that into the stage where I look deserately for answers. As if the answers would guide her to a different life. I wonder when - or if - I'll hit the acceptance stage and stay there..... the bargaining stage sucks the soul right out of you.

    Dash
     
  9. keista

    keista New Member

    Ditto what everyone else said.

    You did say there were other smaller incidents before the letter. My question is did she really know what sex was at 12? Just saying it or writing about it doesn't mean that she meant it in the same way an adult means it.

    DD1 informed me a few months ago that she raped a boy. WTH??? I managed to stay calm and asked what she meant. Turns out they were playing a game (tag) but were calling it "rapers rule" I asked her if she knew what rape was, and no she didn't. She turned pale when I explained it to her (in 10y/o terms she doesn't even know exactly what sex is yet)

    in my opinion it seems more as if she was looking for a relationship/"love" than actual sex - the whole boyfriend/girlfriend thing. Sexual abuse would seem to translate more into actual sexual acts and aggression than looking for a relationship.

    Personally, I was very promiscuous in my late teens and young adulthood. I was NEVER sexually abused. I WAS looking for 'THE ONE' but going about it in a very unhealthy manner.

    I do think the counselor has a bit of tunnel vision to be fixated on this issue. in my opinion she's hoping it would be easier to get through to your daughter if there was such a solid starting point, because in many ways it would be.
     
  10. toughlovin

    toughlovin Guest

    Dash, I know exactly what you mean about the grief stage. You described it so well... I had a really hard time with that last year when my son was a senior and I was watching all the seniors at his original HS (difficult child was expelled) being successful, hearing about what colleges they were going to, and not sure how to answer what my son was doing. Gosh it hit me right in the gut with that feeling of grief. And you are so right when in the throes of that grief I too went to that place looking for answers and wondering what i could have done differently. One of the things I realized is that there are many adults who struggle in late adolescence and early adulthood and somehow eventually find their way and that is what I started to hope for. And realizing there is really nothing I could do and the past is past and doesn't really matter now. And alanon has been a big help too. It is just plain hard to think about our hopes and dreams for our kids when they were small and then the current reality. Take care of yourself right now.... her future is out of your hands. One thing someone said at an alanon meeting that has been helpful ... "I am not my childs higher power".... so true so true. They have to find their own path.
     
  11. Blessed Mama

    Blessed Mama New Member

    You can add me to the list of people who does not feel that there had to be sexual abuse for your daughter to be hypersexual and promiscuous. I have a friend who I have known since the beginning of high school who was very sexual, beginning at an early age (she's shared stories of playing doctor with friends when she was 5 - and really enjoying it), and who frequently fell 'in love' and bounced between boyfriends. She was also frequently unfaithful, and still has severe issues maintaining a healthy relationship, and I know she was never sexually abused.

    I also have known many victims of sexual abuse (my mother was a foster parent for a number of years when I was growing up), and things could go both ways. Some did seem to seek out sexual experiences more often, and others were 'typical' or avoided it. My own daughter was inappropriately touched by a family friend, and has expressed feeling very uncomfortable at the thought of any physical intimacy, especially with boys. She recently told me she's a lesbian, but before the assault took place, she was very interested in having boyfriends, and liked and dated boys. So I don't know if that violation has impacted her sexual preference, or if she just felt comfortable enough to 'come out'.
     
  12. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    As someone else said, her hyper-sexuality could have various different causes, could also be a combination of things. But while being promiscuous is often a symptom of sexual abuse, just as many victims don't act out that way at all. I was abused over many many years, still did not become promiscuous in any shape or form. Actually was quite picky about whom I chose to be with.

    If the counselor seems hyperfocused in an area and not willing to alter that focus, I'd say the counselor is bringing his/her own baggage into the counseling sessions. It happens. They're only human too. I've had it happen with a therapist Nichole and Travis happened to share. First I laughed at her to her face.......then reported her because she would not stop pushing an issue that I knew with utter certainty was NOT the case. The woman had sex abuse on the brain, and every client she saw was an automatic victim. After I discovered how many clients she'd done this with.....well, she was eventually fired.
     
  13. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I had one psychologist tell me that Cory's issues stemmed from my being raped....lol Cory was 3 at the time and had no clue that I had ever been abused in any way at that point in his young life. I immediately fired that fool.

    Now many of my issues did stem from a combination of BiPolar (BP), borderline and the fact that I wanted a male to pay attention to me. I dont think that the early sexual abuse contributed too much. Maybe a tiny bit. I did play doctor has a young child and spin the bottle. But all that stopped by the time I was about 7. Nothing else happened until I was about 14. Then all hell broke loose and I was a wild child until I settled down when the kids came.
     
  14. dashcat

    dashcat Member

    you've all given me such a different perspcetive. As a few have pointe out, see seemed to be looking for the "love" connection mostly. I told the therapist of a story when I had a bunch of kids at the house to play. There were 7-8 all around the same ages (6 & 7). I noticed difficult child was not with the crowd and found her in her bed, fully clothed,under the covers with a nieghbor boy. I shooed them out and asked why they were there. "We're playing married" she replied. I made it clear that playing married wasn't going to happen again. therapist thoguht this was significant along with her hyper chasing of boys and, of course, the internet porn spree later on.

    In reading your responses, I see it differently. She never acted sexual toward her prey (lol) in the younger years. She always wanted to steal a kiss, hold hands (whch we put a stop to whenever possible) .. I'm talking preschool through elementary ... but she never exposed herself or touched somone inappropriately (that i know of).

    She talked of sex but didn't seem to know what it meant. When I found the letter, I sat her down and gently explained. She ws mortivied ... for a while.

    I think the internet porn did have a big affect on her. I wish we could have seen that one coming.

    Even in her hyperssexual behavior now, she seems to be looking for some kind of grand love. I felt bad this morning, her tumblr (it is public she knows I see it from time to time) page had all these photos of beautiful brides, brides and grooms kissing and then, right next to that, a few FU diabribes about the world! She's so confused.

    The more I read about bi-polar through your experiences, the more I am convinced it's that - or something like that.

    And thanks, TL, for being so understanding about the grieving. I'm hoping the anger stage hits today so I can pull weeds and get the grass cut!
    Dash
     
  15. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Dash..your daughter sounds a whole lot like me as a child. I remember playing doctor with the little neighborhood kids and we even took our clothes off. I remember we took temperatures with sticks...lol. Yeah I know. Ick. But back then we knew just basics from those little doctor kits we had from the toy stores. I also got caught buck naked in a tent with a neighbor boy playing married but all we did was lay on a sleeping bag together and think well...whats the big deal? LOL.

    Then when I was about 6 or so, some older boys...maybe 8 or so, got our little group to play spin the bottle with them and got us to kiss them. I remember thinking it was interesting but no big deal. I wanted to be wanted though so I went along with whatever the group wanted to do. I so had this need to be wanted and liked. I had this deep drive looking for love that lasted most of my life.

    This part is going to sound extremely strange here so bear with me. When I was a teen, I was extremely naive about sex. I was in private school for most of my elementary school years so I hit junior high with almost no knowledge about it at all. I was an only child so I had always said I wanted a huge family...6 to 10 kids. However, when I learned what you had to do to get kids, I was so turned off that I said I would adopt them! And that was at 13...lol. By 14 I was sexually active so I did a whole lot of changing! One thing though was that I always swore that I would never sleep with anyone that didnt say they loved me. Ha! Well, I didnt realize that boys could say that really easily and not mean it. To me, anyone who said it meant it. I got used and passed around like yesterday's newspaper. I didnt understand either. I thought there was something wrong with me! I wasnt good enough. Where was the love?

    Needless to say, me and Tony's song is Looking for Love in all the wrong places...lol.
     
  16. dashcat

    dashcat Member

    Janet,
    You should write a book! Believe me, I know many, many people lead colorful, adventurous and often dangerous lives and then grown up and settle down. This is my prayer for my difficult child, too. I know I am powerless to stop her from making the choices she's making....and I also know that I could only do so much even when she was a child.

    The episodes of playing "married" and even the lifelong boy craziness - alone - are not big issues. It's the whole package that is disturbing with her.

    I don't know what I'd do without PE. I imagine I'd think I was crazy, incompetent as a mom ... or worse.

    Dash
     
  17. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Your therapist is not firing on all cylinders if she thinks all of this must mean that difficult child was sexually abused, that the only people who act the way your daughter does were sexually abused. So often people get into the therapist profession as a way to deal with their own koi and baggage and then they believe that everyone who acts a certain way has the same problems no matter what.

    I know your daughter is not a child, but have you read The Bipolar Child by Papalous (sp?)? I think it might help you put some of her behavior when she was younger into some kind of perspective if the disorder manifested years ago. It also has some great chapters on how the brain works and medications and other therapies. I know there are great books for adults too, but as you are sort of looking back to help figure things out, this might be a great tool.

    The looking for love type of sexual acting out sounds more like hypersexuality than abuse aftermath, at least from what I have heard. Whatever it is, I hope that she is able to work through to a positive future in whatever will truly make her happy and healthy.
     
  18. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    Ditto to Janet's post. I played doctor/nurse with neighborhood boys as a child - WE ALL DID. Back then, it was just exploratory and not so taboo, almost natural curiosity. Of course, if a parent got wind of it or discovered it, we'd get a lecture about private parts, etc. But the natural curiosity was still there (and is still there today in our little ones). Now, that said, that's all child play.

    As a teen, I also was ignorant about sex and all the details. However, after being ceremoniously dumped at 14 by my first boyfriend FOR NOT HAVING SEX, I made up for lost time. At 15, my then boyfriend talked me into having sex and from there, well, things really took off and I did things I am not proud of. However, while I was seeking acceptance and love, I can also admit that there was sexual abuse in my home growing up. NOT the touching kind, however. It was verbal and simple inappropriateness on my mother's behalf. She would say things about 'time alone' with my dad (and I am using nice words here), or she would refer to women's body parts with slang words instead of anatomically correct names (again, I'm using the nice words here - she did not!). There were other ways in which she prematurely sexualized her daughters, in particular ME for some reason!

    However, I know MANY people who were hypersexual throughout their teens and into their 20's and even 30's who were not in any way sexually assaulted. I understand why many therapists point to a history of sexual abuse/assault when teens/young adults act out in a sexually inappropriate manner. The books all point to that, it's true. But your daughter's therapist needs to do her homework - past sexual abuse is not always the case. And because of your daughter's diagnoses, I would be more inclined to say it's related to that rather than a case of sexual abuse. That said, however, it is ALWAYS a good idea to keep that in the back of your head because you just never know. And it may not have been a physical sexual assault, it could have been emotional or verbal; something that harmed her natural sensibilities. Kids react differently to situations. For example, easy child once walked in on H and I in the middle of the act. She immediately slammed the door shut and went outside with her friend (yes, her friend was right on her heels and saw too!). easy child would not talk about it, covered her ears, and always knocked after that. on the other hand, difficult child was standing behind me one morning in the kitchen without me knowing as I flashed H, who was sitting at the table. He nearly spit out his coffee and then I heard her giggle. She just said, "Oh Jeez, Mom" and walked back to her room. She razzes me to this day over that, but it rolled right off. Some kids who walk in on their parents or catch their parents speaking suggestively have very adverse strong reactions to those situation, such as my nephew. He saw his parents having sex and almost immediately began having problems in school relative to his asking little girls to touch him inappropriately.

    Anyway, the point is, your daughter may or may not have been sexually abused. It is wrong for the counselor to immediately point to that as an excuse for her behavior, however, it is a consideration that should be kept in the back of you mind. I would NOT continually ask daughter in various ways if she was abused as a means of getting it out of her. Often, the best therapy sessions are sessions that are more conversational rather than with a specific goal on the table. Instead of asking daughter about the past, the therapist should be asking her about the present and take it from there. AFter all, we cannot change the past or make it go away, but we can understand what is going on now and change what's to come. As a veteran counseling patient, I can assure you that no amount of digging and dredging helped me move forward with my life. One of the best things a counselor ever said to me was, "Let's think about what you want in your life and what you don't. Once we figure that part out, we can create short term and long term goals - how does that sound to you?"

    Best of luck with this, I hope you're able to find a counselor who looks outside the box and not just through a textbook for the answers. Not everyone is a textbook example. Big hugs.
     
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2011
  19. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I really want to know if there are kids who have not caught or somehow got the suggestion of their parents having sex? I even found condoms in MY parents nightstand and they were old folks...lol. My parents told me they were for the cracked skin on my fathers thumbs. Lmao.

    My boys have walked in on us a time or two. Cory even invented his own term for it. Wild Monkey Time. I have no clue why because we were never loud or anything. Believe me, when you live in a single wide trailer with 3 boys, you have to be discreet. Cory had the uncanny ability to come to our door the minute we started to become involved. We would hear his little feet at the door and then he would scamper down the hall to announce to the others what we were doing! Ugh.

    Payback is heck though. We have walked in on him a few times when he lived here...lmao.
     
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