Intrusive thoughts of childhood abuse

3 June 2015 - 3:50

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Hello, 

I've been struggling a lot for the past few months and I've recently stumbled across this forum, which I think could shed some light on the things I've been experiencing. I've always had a very active mind and have been diagnosed with generalized anxiety at at young age as well as with depression in adolescence. This past year, I've been going through a very stressful period in my life. I've moved out to start university, far away from my family, I'm unfortunately unemployed, my boyfriend has moved in with me, and I've suffered a couple physical illnesses on top of my usual anxiety. Just general big life changes. 

But, one day, I started thinking about how rampant sexual abuse is and how damaging it could be. Since then, it hasn't left my mind. It started with thinking that my sister might have been sexually abused by someone in our family, then, after concluding that she probably hadn't, I started thinking that I might have been abused too. I spend hours laying in bed, paralyzed, trying to uncover any instances where such a thing could have possibly happened. I lose track of time and check for gaps in my childhood memories (which I kinda have, but they happen at times of incredible school related stress such as skipping a grade) or anything that could confirm the thoughts of abuse. Either that or I fall in a vortex of reading about signs of repressed memories, which I have been doing for the past few hours. I have a loving and fairly supportive family, even though my dad and I have a history of nasty and sometimes violent fights. There is nothing in my family history that could suggest I have been abused, but I am so scared that what I'm thinking is true. I don't know who to turn to and it's causing me severe anxiety, to the point where I'm doubting the foundations of my identity.

Could this be OCD ? Is it just anxiety related intrusive thoughts ? Was I abused ?

Thanks in advance for your help. Anything is appreciated.  

3 June 2015 - 6:40

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Hi. Although I can't officially diagnose you, it does sound like OCD. The disease can be very tricky. There are others in the forum who suffer the way you do, or like me with intrusive thoughts about religious figures & sex. 

Our form of OCD, the intrusive thoughts, will stay w/us & cause major anxiety & panic. A person w/o OCD will have the same thought & let it go. A lot of literature will tell you that everyone has silly thoughts like we do except ours stay w/us. It plays like a scratched record that repeats, over & over & over in our mind. 

Although OCD can't be cured it can be managed. When these thoughts occur you'll know the techniques that will help you stop the repitition in your mind. You'll recognize that the OCD is causing the thoughts. And you'll recognize the thoughts as silly & let them go. That's done through CBT.  

I would suggest reading up on OCD & having therapy. The therapist may even suggest meds. I had the CBT & I'm still on the Effexor I was given & both help so much.

http://raminader.com/PDFs%20Uploaded/OCD%20-%20Thinking%20Bad%20Thoughts.pdf

Good Luck!

3 June 2015 - 13:58

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Yup agreed with above. 

What I will say is that OCD can take many forms and sometimes be combined with other anxiety issues so that it can manifest in strange ways.

It will often focus on areas such as violent sexual abuse. Whilst a lot of 'standard' OCD manifests as the individual worrying that THEY did something, ie guilt, it can switch around to worry that someone else did something or something happened and they can't recall it. The problem is that I expect you are probably looking for signs that something bad happened many years ago? When the brain is looking to find evidence of something bad, it will find something to cling onto to back up that anxious feeling.

I'd start with contacting a GP to be referred for therapy, which will likely be CBT.

It's horrible getting caught up in a thought pattern, but the likelihood is, you are just anxious about sexual abuse in general, the wider picture, as opposed to being specifically concerned that something happened to you. The key is to let the thoughts come in, but recognise them as ure anxiety and not reality. 

3 June 2015 - 16:39

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Hello, 

Thank you very much for your help. This is the first time in my life something like this has happened. I often obsess about things, like thinking I'm pregnant, thinking I might kill myself, or being scared of vomiting after a meal, but none of those affected me to the extent that that thought of abuse are affecting me now. I've been trying for the past week or so to let the thoughts wash over me, but the second I lose focus on that, I think of something dark, or I think "what if I was abused after all? " and the ball of anxiety comes back in my chest. 

I've been reading a lot about it, but couldn't find any story of an obsession similar to the one I'm struggling with right now. It's reassuring to know that OCD could manifest itself this way. 

3 June 2015 - 16:59

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Yes that's one of the toughest things I've found is getting a scared when I can't see a 'comparable' scary thought online. So I wonder, is this OCD or actually is it real this time?

If you have a history of anxiety like myself, the obvious answer is that this is just another version of your anxiety haunting you and actually if you ever think 'maybe this time the crazy thought is real' that's a red flag in itself. 

I've seen various therapists, both OCD and general. One generalist told me, 'stop trying to categorise your thoughts and think of them as just thoughts' which helped. Constantly trying to box them into OCD can be stressful in itself.

9 October 2017 - 20:15

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This is an old thread but anyway. I hope you'be found help!

I've suffered from the same thought. When I was in my 20's I suddenly developed this fear that my father may have abused me when I was little. I had no memory nor evidence about anything like that, yet I couldn't stop thinking WHAT IF.

Later in life I've been in two serious relationships and in both I've been plagued with this tormenting intrusive thought: what if he's a pedophile?

Recently I've been through lots of stress in life and guess what? I started getting these thoughts: What if I am a pedophile? What if my mother is a pedophile? What if my child turns out to be a pedophile? I mean WTF!!!!!!!! These thoughts are so silly, yet so terribly scary.

My compulsive thinking around this issue goes something like this: I feel that I'm somehow responsible. I must know with absolute certainty that they are not pedophile. Otherwise, if something bad happened, it would be my fault. It would mean that I knew but was in denial...

This is so consuming, but luckily I have a supportive therapist and also some medication.

5 June 2018 - 7:20

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This is an old thread but it seems this is a pretty uncommon OCD trait so I just want to add another voice saying you're not alone. I'm incredibly uncomfortable even typing this but I'm also fixated on the idea that I might have been sexually abused. I think the idea originated from my psychiatrists, who always leapt straight to the idea that I must have been abused because a lot of my OCD concerns sexual contamination fears, and because I have no inclination to do it with anybody and am totally repulsed by the idea. I'm not sure I believe in repressed memories, but I can't stop worrying that maybe I actually did repress something. One of my psychiatrists said they didn't think I could have developed this level of anxiety over all things sexual without having been abused. He took as evidence that I could repress stuff my high school story of having used my locker combination for months and then suddenly forgot it altogether (I ended up kicking the lock in frustration and it came apart). For years now, I've experienced various levels of paranoia that I was abused in the past, and sometimes the target of my suspicion is someone like a teacher, but most of the time it focuses on family members, because what could be worse than talking to your dad or brother like nothing's wrong but secretly they abused you in the past, and they know it? Of course, I have no memory of anything at all like that having happened to me. The worst part is that the OCD makes you avoid the person you suspect, and I'm often unable to make eye contact with them and have to stop them touching anything like my cell phone or whatever, because I'll have to decontaminate it afterward and it's extremely stressful. Then I feel guilty on top of everything else because they know I'm avoiding them and deep down in the part of my brain that's not completely psychotic, I know they never did anything to me. (Right? I think?)

And then there's the almost equally debilitating and unacceptable fear that others will believe, based on my avoidance of a lot of male family members, that I was abused and I know it and those family members are the perpetrators. And that their belief will substantiate my own paranoia and I'll actually come to believe it. Or that they'll still think it's going on. How can a psychiatrist or therapist do anything more damaging than suggest OCD fears are based in reality? Way to do your brain in. Which is why I don't bother trying to go back to psychiatrists or getting CBT because I KNOW they'll instantly jump to the conclusion that I was abused, partly because it would be more entertaining for them and partly because sexual abuse is so rampant. Why does every cop/mystery show seem to try to work sexual abuse and deviance into as many episodes as possible? Because the shock factor draws people. 

I obsess constantly about ideas that are popular in the media and pop culture, such as that guys REQUIRE sex and if denied it from willing, legitimate sources, will take it from anything available, including children, family members, strangers, prostitutes, and animals. That's basically what people are arguing when they say all those priests are abusing altar boys in such quantities because priests can't marry. That logic is so disturbing and problematic, because it implies men who would otherwise have no interest in children are using them because females are off limits to them. That would mean any man who isn't getting any for whatever reason - be it a wife's illness or disinclination, a business trip overseas, his own unpopularity with females, a recent divorce, etc etc - would be likely to use children for that purpose. I seriously hope that isn't true. Incidentally, that's also the basis for the argument some people in the media have put forward in support of legalized prostitution - that men NEED sex and if they were allowed to get it from a source such as a professional blow-up doll, rape of women wouldn't occur so often. Those arguments make it seem like men have virtually no self control, which translates into every guy being a potential threat to people around him if his "needs" aren't being satisfied. Well, wolves might not eat you if they've already gorged themselves, but I don't think the way to prevent wolf attacks is to constantly offer them platters of food. If a wolf attacks the sheep, you shoot it.

I'm going on and on, but it's only because I think non-stop about this stuff and it is terrifying.

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