It is fairly clear to me that my struggles with sexual addiction as a teenager were directly tied to my experiences being sexually abused as a child. From the age of three on, I knew far more about sexuality than I should have, mostly based on an understanding that can only come through practice. Unfortunately, what I understood to be true was all wrong. Sure, doing certain things creates certain responses and everything works.The main thing wrong is that the entire perception of it is based on a victim mentality. Who could blame me for having a victim mentality while I was still a victim? My abuse lasted until I was about 12 years old. By then, I had been engaging in all sorts of voluntary behavior with friends and classmates for six years. That voluntary behavior extended another four years until the night I had a wrestle with God and received a promise from him that I would stop my behavior.
Stopping sexually immoral behavior was fairly easy for me once I had the assurance of that prayer experience. What was more difficult for me was to drop my victim mentality. I thought I had dealt with my abuse by forgetting that it ever happened.
Please understand that it wasn’t the kind of mental blocking that many severe abuse survivors do. I didn’t forget it. I just chose not to think about it. I thought that by not thinking about it and acting as if it had never happened, that I was putting it behind me.
There is a division in thought among people who either treat people who were sexually abused or by those who were abused regarding how to deal with behavior, thoughts, and feelings.
Some believe that in order to deal with current issues, one must be enough in tune with the past abuse that they can make a mental connection between current problems and the abuse roots. In other words, if I’m having a difficult time with life, it might help me to see how past abuse may be influencing my behavior today.
Others believe that what happened in the past is mostly irrelevant when it comes to dealing with current issues and behavior. What is important is what we do with these things today.
Let me illustrate. For a lot of my adult life, I’ve been somewhat afraid of men who are fairly aggressive and competitive. It has been problematic for me as I avoided any situation where I might feel intimidated or reluctant. It put me in the role of victim, even when I wasn’t being victimized.
The one approach would say that I need to work through the issues that have created that fear in me. Then, when I am in a situation where I might be afraid, I can relate it to when I was abused by an aggressive and competitive male. Knowing that may help me see the current situation in a different light.
The other approach says that it is irrelevant now what caused my fear of men. What is important is how to change my way of thinking to be more confident around more testosterone-driven men.
The good news is that I am rarely afraid around men now. My approach to it has been more of the latter than the former. I just decided that I would not avoid men that I perceived to be more aggressive. I spent some time learning about assertiveness. I got to know a few. Right now, my best friend is a pretty aggressive and competitive man. He doesn’t scare me.
One weakness in the former approach that I have seen is that many people who practice it seem to still be stuck in a victim role. Tying current behavior to past abuse may explain the behavior, but it also takes you back to that abuse experience. The approach creates a two-way street such that thinking about the abuse can trigger the behavior as well as explain the behavior.
I’m not in favor of completely ignoring the fact of abuse in one’s own life. Abuse has too much of an impact to ignore it. At the same time, I don’t find much of any value in linking my behavior to my abuse in so far as relinquishing the behavior is concerned. What works better for me is to see myself as a competent man of action who can overcome the things that hold me back.
I found a blog article that describes much of what I did for myself to overcome my victim mentality. You can find it here: How to Break Out of a Victim Mentality: 7 Powerful Tips.