Dear Dr. Saltzman,
A few days ago during a conversation with a friend, I began seriously wondering if I was molested as a child. I have thought this a few other times in my life, but pushed the feeling down and quickly forgot about it. The more I thought of it, the more I wondered if it was true. Naturally, my next thought was who could have done this to me. For some reason, my gut told me it was my father. I am 25 now, and relatively close to my father, so this naturally horrifies me.
The memories I have are mostly, what I believe to be, symptoms of child molestation. I remember being about 5 or 6 years old and pulling out a little boy's (he was about a year or two younger than me) penis from his pants, touching it, and feeling sexually aroused (or as sexually aroused as a child can be). I remember humping my stuffed animals at a very young age. I remember touching myself often. I used to pull at the lips of my vagina vigorously and often. I cannot seem to remember why I did this, but it seems to have been some sort of compulsion. There are a couple of other things that are too embarrassing that I have never even told another soul, just sexual things that I did as a child.
My father has always been creepy. It's something that I've consciously known for a while. My dad definitely has a thing for little girls. It's undeniable. I went to Hawaii with him a few months ago. I looked through his pictures and found one of a little girl (about 7) in her bathing suit. Totally secret picture. I also remember he used to take secret pictures of my friends. I've seen him check out little girls walking down the street like they were hot models or something.
I remembered something that has since convinced me beyond a shadow of a doubt that it happened. I remembered a song he used to sing to me while we were playing Mario Bros. on Nintendo. He would sing it to the tune of the background song that plays when you are in the castle, "Heine, stogie, patchy". Heine being my bottom, stogie being what he used to call my outie belly button, and patchy being my vagina. I don't remember him actually touching me or "tickling" me as I'm sure he did, but I can't think of what else he would have done while singing that song that is obviously directly personalized to me. I asked my mom if she remembered that song, and she said yes, but that he used to tickle my belly button and then "innocently" tickle my groin. My dad is a very smart man. I think he may have done this innocently in front of my mom, in case I ever sang that song in front of her and she questioned me about what the song meant. I believe this all happened between the ages of 3 and 6. I think after that my dad didn't want to risk getting caught so he stopped.
While the molestation was obviously not brutal rape, it was still fondling and molestation and I believe it has affected me immensely. I am now past the point of wondering, and I am now working on this: How do I continue a relationship with my father? When he calls me, my heart drops and I don't answer. I don't know what to say. I don't know if I should confront him, or lead him to believe that I never remembered. My mother has suggested I write him a letter, but I cannot imagine having a relationship after this. I cannot fathom what it would be like to have a future conversation with him, with both of us knowing what he did, and both of us knowing that the other person is aware of it. How embarrassing for him, how awkward for us.
I'm also confused as to what my next step should be. Should I keep thinking about it and trying to remember? If I think about it too much it absolutely ruins my day. I start crying and feeling depressed. Do I NEED to remember the actual molestation? Or is what I have enough for me to believe it? Although I am convinced, do I have enough proof to confront him? What if I'm wrong?!
Thanks Dr. Saltzman!
This is a delicate matter which must be understood from within your own experience. In a case like this there can be no generalized suggestions such as those in self-help books, or from online sources. This is exactly why personalized psychotherapy was invented.
Find a good therapist (a referral from a women' shelter could work well), and approach all of this distressing situation with him or her—everything from what you do and do not remember to how to deal with your father and your family in general.
And you are most welcome. Write again and let me know how things are going.