Instead of creating a thread regarding this thread, I'm going to continue here.
I admire your dedication and perseverance through recovery and your dedication to following through are empowering to those of us whom you let see it.
Thank you for putting abuse in the context that you have. Given my own experiences, I'd suggest that those feelings apply broadly to all forms of CSA because children respond to a power asymmetry in which he is subordinate by expecting exactly what you've stated: love, care, kindness, and something along the lines of a good example to follow. My behavior has demonstrated that I expected such from my abuser. To your explanation, Geoff, I'd like to add the following regarding empathy. I apologize if my writing seems overly clinical and dispassionate. This is the first time I am considering my CSA in this light and this is the easiest way for me to discuss it.
Children, especially young children, are inherently ego centric: they demand what they want; cannot acknowledge another person's desires, and are unable to acknowledge another person's needs. Children behave this way because they lack empathy, compassion, and sympathy.
Together, empathy, sympathy, and compassion, allow each of us to engage another's experience. (The clichés, "To step into or walk a mile in another's shoes." come to mind.) Without them, all a child knows is his own experience. That another could have any power or responsibility for a situation is incompatible with a child's egoism.
As one matures and develops these tools, he begins to understand that others can hold responsibility for an action. This shift becomes most clear when a child shirks responsibility for explicitly breaking the rules (eating all the cookies when they were off limits) and blaming another. When blaming another, the child also demonstrates an ability to understand his motivation for eating the cookies (They’re yummy and I want them.) and assigns that motivation to another person; it is key that the child understands the motivation to be able to assign it to another person. When the child is unable to understand his motivation (or comprehend the actual motivation of an other), he falls back into the self-blame style of thought. This “regression” is key to part of my understanding of CSA.
Children lack the ability to understand sexual contact: they are psychologically and physically incapable of comprehending it. A child can understand is that he is being treated differently than other children. A child can understand that this feels good. A child can understand that this feels bad. But children lack the ability to process the emotions and sensations associated with sex. So when something feels good stops, the child will fall back into the self-blame and ask, “What did I do to stop this?” When it’s bad, the child will ask, “What did I do to cause this bad thing?” When a child feels isolated or separated from his peers, he will ask, “What did I deserve this?” Children simply lack the psychological capacity to do anything else.
In addition to not comprehending the sexual contact, the child may try to repeat or recreate it so that he can continue get more information about sex and better understand it. This can lead to a pattern of inappropriate and/or painful behavior that continues to adulthood, which may be part of what you’re experiencing, Aiden. For me, developing such a painful psychological pattern for processing sexual relationships explains a lot of the problems I have had, including being intimate with women. I also believe that developing this psychological pattern explains why some of us develop a predilection to recreate the abuse or recreate abuse-like situations and (correct me if I’m wrong on this) are also predisposed to ASA.
Aiden and Geoff, thank you for sharing and thank you for driving me to write this. It has helped me understand a lot of my response to my CSA.
Strength in power is a false victory rooted in vapid grandiosity. Strength in character and integrity is the freedom to act righteously irrespective of the surrounding pressure. True power is the presence of mind to live with character and integrity.