Dealing with CSA as Adults

We have other posts and items of interests we are working on, but I thought this is a topic of particular importance which takes priority over the others.

Although I do not want to talk directly about the experiences of CSA and prefer to focus on coping mechanisms and healing strategies, I will put a Trigger Warninghere, just in case …

These are some observations we have made from how we are currently dealing with the situation, and I would like to use this post to both reassure our hurt selves that we love them, and also to ask how others handle their own healing journey.

Basics: Dissociation

I should point out that our main coping mechanism is dissociation. We have dozens of selves/parts/alters, whatever one wants to call them, who have had ACEs. There is a clear demarcation between them (the victims/survivors) and us (the caretakers).

This helps us considerably in handling the emotional fallout because those are not my experiences, my feelings, my sensations, etc.

Although this is useful in many ways, we are also mindful that it does delay assimilation of experiences and therapeutic outcomes.

We do like Internal Family Systems as a model to facilitate internal communication and apply our own version of it to our inner therapy sessions.

With that out of the way, I’ll start considering a few points.

Empathy vs Personal Experience

We found that because we differentiate ourselves from our hurt selves, we feel empathy.

However, empathy can be a strange bedfellow. We tend to feel more anger and indignity than actual real empathy. We are reacting to the social construct of CSA, rather than the experience the children (or us as children) had.

We find this to be an obstacle. Mainly because it doesn’t allow us to express how close we want to be to the children and how much we want to support them through this. But also, it cognitively and emotionally prevents us from understanding their true experiences.

This causes communication and trust issues. The children don’t trust that we are going to respond to their sharing appropriately, and therefore do not want to talk to us. We found that a teen, and even a little, prefer to talk to their peers from other systems about things rather than us.

Is CSA different from other types of abuse?

So, as a person capable of critical thinking, I do ask myself why this reaction from me and others to CSA, and to SA in general.

Also, I must make a connection with the kind of vitriolic responses habitually given in relation to sex-related issues, from childbearing to gender identity, by large sections of our societies.

Gender and sex are politicised and religionised, discussed with extended bias from all parties, and rarely taking into consideration the true interests of the people affected.

From a personal perspective, being able to distance myself from my own childhood experiences enables me to analyse the situation somewhat more objectively than the victims themselves, and with more vested interest than the average external professional.

There is a clear demarcation between them (the victims/survivors) and us (the caretakers).




My assessment, from my parts’ experiences, is that there is no difference to the long-term consequence of different types of ACEs. People who have had adverse experiences are more likely to exhibit more overt and risky sexual behaviour no matter what the adverse experiences were. Similarly, people who have gone through CSA may chose abstinence instead.

I would say that the only one that stands out as having more damaging long-term effects is spiritual/religious abuse because it deals with the eternity of the soul. So, possibly considering CSA as a special type of abuse is a form of religious abuse in itself.

Sex is who we are. It is part of our identity. It is our raison d’être.

I am referring to an answer given by one of our exiles.For as shocking as it maybe, especially coming from a child, it is a recurring theme.

And when we look at this sentence with the perspective that one should now have from following the reasoning of the last few paragraphs: how can we respond to that?

Because the anger and indignity is not appropriate. Ordering them abstinence and putting them under strict controls and surveillance always backfires. Being too permissive can also have adverse consequences, especially in terms of managing risks.

And getting it wrong affects trust and communication …

Age matters: Different types of Dissonance

Another important consideration is the age at which the child had the experience.

There is always an element of spiritual dissonance.

Younger children, however, will also experience sensory dissonance because their bodies are not ready for the kind of sensations that are caused by sexual activity.

On the other hand, older children seem to experience more of a cognitive and emotional dissonance related to wanting something “bad” with “bad people” and therefore “being bad”, combined with a biological dissonance brought on by physiological change in body and brain structure.

Positive therapeutic outcomes

No matter how much we study, how objective we are, and how non-avoidant we manage to be, these are difficult issues even for experienced therapists, and more so when we are our own therapist.

Yet, we need to be. I have never been able to talk about my past issues directly with a therapist.

We don’t do flashbacks on demand! Also,something always happens just before a session, and it is always more appropriate to discuss coping mechanism then trauma!

We need to be able to negotiate healing times with our own wounded selves at times and in environments that are suitable. I am more likely to have my inner fam sharing their thoughts and emotions at the park while feeding ducks then in a therapist office …


So, this is what we have been pondering. We are coping and I believe that we are proceeding reasonably well on our healing journey.

But we make lots of mistakes and are always feeling guilty that we could have done something better. Fortunately, we do have a lot of love for our inner fam, and that seems to help them forgive us when get things wrong … for which we are extremely grateful.

But so, I was wondering what do other people think or feel, or how do you go about dealing with these issues?

Thanks for reading

enduring the darkness within, haunting



we make lots of mistakes and are always feeling guilty that we could have done something better

~Charlie 🩵