Archive for August 6th, 2010

I received an email recently from someone who is in the early stages of healing. She is in that place of having a sickening awareness that something has happened but no memories to back it up. I remember that time all too well.

Like so many child abuse survivors in that stage of healing, she is running through a mental list of possible suspects, but she was only considering male culprits. However, her profile screamed “female abuser” to me. This got me thinking that I don’t believe I have covered this topic on my blog.

As I have shared, I had several female sexual abusers, including my own mother. I have offline friends who were sexually abused by women, and I have met numerous abuse survivors online who were also abused by women. I met many on a message board for healing from mother-daughter sexual abuse, but I have also talked with many who were abused by babysitters, family friends, and other female abusers who had access to them as children.

Below is a list of symptoms that I have compiled that are common among female survivors of female sexual abuse. The more “extreme” symptoms tend to be experienced by those sexually abused by mothers or mother figures, and you will not necessarily experience all of them. I, myself, only relate to about half of them. If you see yourself in several of the following symptoms, it is possible that you were sexually abused by a woman:

  • Ability to “see” mother’s naked body in your own head/knowing things about her body that a daughter should not
  • Alter parts (or imaginary friends) who are/were male
  • Anorexia (trying to make the body look more boyish than womanly)
  • Aversion to oral sex
  • Aversion to sexual positions involving your breasts
  • Extreme discomfort discussing periods, bras, and other coming of age issues with your mother
  • Feeling masculine even though you are attracted to men
  • Feeling more comfortable as a “he”
  • Feelings of disdain and scorn toward mother even with no memories of abuse
  • Gender confusion in childhood and/or adulthood
  • Hating your reflection (seeing your physical similarities toward your mother/abuser)
  • Hatred/anger toward breasts
  • Imagining or pretending that you are male on a regular basis
  • Inability to be responsible for yourself (abusive mother encouraged deep dependence)
  • Insomnia when mother is in the same house
  • Memories of inappropriate nudity
  • Nightmares about mother hurting you (not necessarily sexually)

I can only speak from the female perspective. Men – feel free to add a list of symptoms for males. Anyone – Feel free to add to the list.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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