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          Are Childhood Sexual Games Abuse?

          October 29, 2002

          “Donna,” 34, wants to know if what she experienced growing up was normal. She is confused as to whether the “games” her brothers played with her were innocent, or if she experienced abuse.

          When she was about 10 years old, and her brothers were 15 and 16, one would hold her down while the other would touch her. They called it a “game of rape.” Years later, she learned that they had also drilled holes in her bedroom walls to watch her undress. Her siblings justify it as “innocent curiosity,” and disagreement over how to define what happened has caused a rift in her family.

          Dr. Phil makes it clear that what happened was unacceptable.

          • What they did was wrong. You have the right to object ” and you should.
          • Don’t hold yourself responsible for anything that happened. There’s nothing you could have done to prevent this, and nothing you were expected to do differently at that time.
          • You have a right to be angry and feel violated. Give yourself permission to have the feelings you have. You have every right to object to what happened ” even if other family members see it differently.
          • You need to do whatever you have to do to get closure on this. Confront them. Write a letter. Do whatever you have to. Don’t carry this as something you’ve done wrong because that would be a miscarriage of justice.
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