I Deserve To Go To Prison

Published: April 30, 2013
Dear I Deserve To Go To Prison,

When I was 8 I was sexually abused by my best friend. She made up this whole story about some streakers that we told her younger sister. This led to me doing things to her younger sister that I feel terrible about to the point of being suicidal. I deserve to go to prison, don't I?

Dear I Deserve To Go To Prison,

You don’t deserve to go to prison. You are a victim not a perpetrator. At eight years old you do not have the cognitive development or understanding of your actions. Children at 8 sometimes will recognize that they might be doing something wrong because sexual abuse is done in secrecy and coercion like; “you will get in trouble” or “they will take you away from your parents,” is used to ensure silence. As a result the child is stuck with feelings they don’t understand and manifest themselves in feelings of guilt and shame. Eight year olds are not sexualized beings and if they are showing that behavior it usually is modeled by an older person in his/her environment. If your friend was the same age as you then all three of you would to be too naïve to commit a sexual crime.

You have been holding onto this secret too long and need to talk to someone about it. Secrets have a way of eating away at our self-esteem to the point that we can begin to loathe ourselves.It would be a good idea to talk to your parent(s) about what has happened to you. You may think they might get mad at you but this usually is not the case. They will recognize that you are not to blame and have been extremely hurt by this whole ordeal. If you can’t talk with parents first then seek out a school counselor, school nurse or a responsible family member to talk with. It is so important that you no longer suffer in silence. It would be a good idea to seek out a mental health professional with expertise in treating sexual abuse victims. She/he will help you gain perspective on what happened and help you cope with all the negative emotions that you have kept pent up for all these years. You deserve understanding and compassion for what you have been through.

If you live in northern New Jersey and need help finding a therapist you can call the Access Center from Atlantic Behavioral Health at 888-247-1400. Outside of this area you can log onto the US Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website for referrals in your area.