Alcoholic father beat up my abuser and I feel guilty
Q: When I was young, my parents always fought and my dad was an alcoholic.
When I was seven, I was molested by a teenage boy. It went on for two years. He would fondle me and I would have to masturbate him. When I was nine, my dad found out and beat him up.
I now know it was wrong for the boy to do what he did, but I still feel guilty for my dad beating him up.
I have been to therapy for years about that, but I still feel guilty. Why is that? A: Growing up as you did between fighting parents and a father who was an alcoholic, it is more than likely there was little attention paid to your emotional needs. More to the point, not only were those needs likely not met, but you were also likely in a constant state of fear, never knowing what was going to happen next between your parents. It’s also likely there were safety concerns over which you had no control.
In situations where someone is molested by a person they know, physical force is seldom used. Instead, they employ charm, attention and cajoling. They start slowly and, over time, build a rapport.
Given the lack of appropriate attention shown to you at home and the unpredictable and scary environment you were living in, the positive attention from the teen would naturally be alluring and feel good.
Sadly, though, this attention was part of his strategy to lure you in for sexual exploitation. You may have interpreted this as a small price to pay for his attention and a diversion from what was going on between your parents.
When your dad beat him up, you felt guilty because you liked the teen’s attention and may have felt partly responsible for having, in a sense, colluded with the molestation.
This is why sexual abuse is so harmful. Although you may have felt somewhat complicit in your abuse, you are not to blame. You were vulnerable as a result of circumstances beyond your control. That vulnerability was exploited beyond your ability, as a young child, to understand the true dynamics of the situation.
The boy was absolutely inappropriate and took advantage of you. Your father had his own issues related to alcohol and, likely, anger management. It was a situation ripe for disaster.