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Feb 14, 2008
Some theories...
by: Darlene Barriere - Webmaster

I am not a doctor, nor do I hold a degree in psychology. I can only offer information based on what I've personally read on the topic.

There are theories about involuntary sexual arousal, theories that are being challenged all the time. As for how common it is, one can only guess, as very few are willing to admit this happens to them. If there are statistics out there, I am not aware of them. Perhaps some of my visitors can help in this regard.

Some theorists say that arousal is imprinted based on past experience. Some say that the physical sensations we feel when we experience fear, nervousness and anxiety are so very similar to those we feel when we are sexually aroused, that the two are often confused. Those sensations can be even more confusing when fear, nervousness and anxiety are COMBINED with an abusive sexual experience, which is usually the case. Add to that, cases where the victim of sexual assault experiences an orgasm—which, by the way, does NOT mean that the attack did not take place, NOR does it mean that the victim enjoyed it; the body can and does betray us—and you can have a situation where the brain and body responses are not in sync.

As children, we incorporate comforting behaviours when dealing with traumatic events. The fact is: it feels good to be sexually aroused. Children who rub themselves or in some way masturbate as a way to comfort themselves can further "imprint" on their sexual awakening. You'll note I say "can" rather than "does" imprint. This is because each of us reacts to stimulus and experiences in a different way. Each of us is completely unique, which makes answering the questions you pose even more difficult.

The BRAIN is the true sex organ of the body. What we TELL ourselves is just as important in sexual arousal as what we do physically and what is "imprinted" in us.

I sense you are questioning your character based on these involuntary and unwanted sensations. I do not believe that what you are experiencing is all that uncommon, nor do I believe that you are somehow flawed for it. You have NOTHING to be ashamed of.

I can appreciate that you want these unwanted sensations to go away. The measure I use to determine if something is a problem that needs to be addressed through counselling, etc. is the degree to which it controls the rest of your life and your ability to live it. Counselling might help you get to the root of these involuntary arousals, and might help you set them aside. You've already done some of this on your own, so perhaps a therapist can help you with this even further. Either way, a counsellor can help you to understand that you are NOT in any way a bad person for having these sensations, which I believe is an even more important underlying issue.

Darlene Barriere
Violence & Abuse Prevention Educator
Author: On My Own Terms, A Memoir



Apr 17, 2008
You ARE Normal
by: Robert P.

Darlene Barriere's reply is right on. For almost fifty years, I struggled with why I kept wanting to relive my childhood shamings. Why it had become a sexual stimulus. I asked myself, "How could something so shameful and degrading become a source of sexual desire?" I felt I must be crazy and yet had no real answers.

After reading her reply to you, I believe she has solved the mystery. Somehow, I must have felt pleasure in a sexual way even though I was traumatized and in total terror at what was happening to me. I was too young to know what my body was feeling other than the horror of the abuse.

A few years later, I had my first sexual response but it was completely involuntary and frightening. I didn't know what was happening to me and thought I was going crazy for reacting as I did. What I now believe is I was responding to an emotional imprint that my body recorded as 'a normal reaction.' to a previous experience. An auto response by association if you will. I do believe this is why a rape victim sometimes becomes promiscuous, seeking, (no... needing) the adrenalin high the body now expects.

I'm no doctor either, but I've lived with this compulsion all my life and this is the first time something possibly explains it. I do hope there is more research into this as it might help others not feel they are crazy or sick. God Bless you and keep you well.

Nov 02, 2009
not okay
by: Anonymous

well i do know what you are talking about, i remember feeling aroused when i was 8 and i had no idea what to do about it or why i felt that way, i remained a virgin til i was 19 and everytime growing up and i felt that a guy was turning me on, i would be ashamed of myself because i knew then at the age of 8 that what my brothers had done when i was 2 and on up, that it was in fact wrong, dirty and discusting....i was threatened, punched in the stomach and had my arm pulled out of socket on multiple occasions....to me, that was just the way it was, yes i did have those feelings at a younger age of being turned on when i would think about the sexual abuse, but all the long still being terrified.....but i do believe that if you are now older and those feelings arent delt with, with some perfesional help then it can be a big problem!!!! that is why the abused turn into abusers!! if the victim does not learn to find a way to turn off those feelings that somehow arouse them from an abusive and preverted situation, then how are we to know that they wont become just like the victims turn into the sick pervs.....our world says its okay to get turned on by the thought of abuse and what is worse (sexual child abuse)??? well its not okay, to just let it go un noticed and untreated...a victim will turn into another child molester...

From Darlene: Anonymous, I say this with nothing but love in my heart: not everyone who has urges acts on them. Not all victims turn into molesters, even when they are aroused. "Imprinting" cannot simply be wiped away with professional help. Abused turned into abusers for far more reasons than being turned on.

From Victim to Victory, a memoir
Darlene Barriere
Webmaster: www.child-abuse-effects.com
author. speaker. survivor. coach
From Victim to Victory, a memoir

Sep 11, 2015
Childhood Imprinting
by: Robert P.

Not all sexual abuse changes the child into an abuser. I can't speak for anyone but myself but for me, it did just the opposite. Having suffered the humiliation and shame of diaper discipline, along with the lonely experience of being an only child in foster care, I grew up very sensitive to other children possibly going through similiar situations. I remember very clearly how I felt less than everyone else. I felt I was a discard even though I knew my mother loved me.

The traumas in foster care only compounded my feelings of worthlessness. So even though I developed a strong fetish to relive the humiliations of being punished in diapers, I also didn't want any other children to go through what I did. I didn't like being addicted to the degrading desires and hated being controlled by them. Though I didn't plan or deliberately direct my life based on my childhood abuses, it had a profound part in my later decisions.

When I was twenty-one, I met a girl who was pregnant (just like my mother was with me), deserted by the boy to deal with motherhood alone. All I could think about was her child not having a father (like me) and facing being called a basted child. I also feared he'd experience the same feelings of being less than other children as he grew up. Though I didn't think he would experience the abuses I had, I knew he would feel unloved if adopted or put in foster care.

So instead of my childhood guiding me to repeat the same mistakes, I was much more sympathetic towards girls being used as sex conquest as many young boys do, and refused to join them. Instead, I became a rescuer. I jumped into marriage with a pregnant girl both out of compassion for her fears but also with wanting to rescue the unborn child.

So we got married even though I knew she didn't love me, thinking in time she would learn to. That didn't happen though she stayed with me out of gratitude rather than love. Needless to say it effected our lives and she eventually had an affair. Finding out was the worst pain I'd ever experienced and I died inside along with all the childhood feelings of being unworthy of love. However, I thought about our two children and feared their experiencing the same pains I had... a broken home.

So I stayed even though I didn't feel loved anymore. I was determined to endure whatever it takes to save my kids. My wife eventually discovered her actions destructive to her life and so she tried to re-commit to our marriage. We stayed married for the next thirty years though the happiness and security of love was gone. Once again, I felt as discarded and alone as I had as a child.

She passed away a few years ago and I still have my children living near by. Seeing their lives evolve with the knowledge they are really loved, has made my life worthwhile. I've written this personal part of my life, not for sympathy, but to show how bad things that happen to us as children doesn't always make us become abusers or resentful people. Sometimes they open us up to deeper caring for others and the desire to make a difference.

Though I spent a large part of my life feeling unworthy of love, I know I have two wonderful children who love me. Instead of letting my bad experiences direct me, I made sure two children know they are valued and deeply loved and in return they have done the same for me. I only wish there was a way to save all those other children out there who are emotionally suffering.


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