I didn’t say NO

braam (18)I never said: NO!

Girl meets boy. Girl is 15 years old, boy is 18 years old. It’s a case of puppy love. The boy expects sex. The girl is naïve and in love. She gives him what he wants, even though she is not ready for sex.
She tries to tell him. His firm response is: “Don’t be a bore, sex is part of it and it’s fun.”

Is this sexual abuse?

According to the law: Absolutely! She’s legally a child, he’s legally an adult. In addition: his behavior is designed to make her feel powerless. When she tells him she doesn’t want to have sex, he manipulates her into doing what he wants. He doesn’t give her any choice. So yes, this is sexually abuse. It’s because of the very fact that children tend to be naïve and easily influenced, that the law protects them by being very clear: Sex with a minor is statutory rape.

This is sexual abuse:

Although the law is pretty clear about this, your feelings and experiences may be very different and confused. Ask yourself these questions if you’re not sure:

1- Was the sex consensual?
Sometimes sexual abuse is forced and rough. But most often it’s used by bribery and manipulation. Drawing you in with words like: “C’mon you like it too, don’t you?” He’ll give you presents and/or attention to make you feel you’re in this together.

2- Was there equality?
Obviously when you’re a child and your abuser is an adult it’s not an equal relationship. Take a 30 year old male with a 14 year old girl… But what if you’re 15 years old and your boyfriend is 18 years old, like in our example. Do you feel overpowered? Is he bigger/taller? Does he listen to you when you feel reluctant?

3- Does it matter who initiates sex?
No. You start to cuddle up and kiss, he takes over. At one point you don’t want to take it any further but can’t back out. When you feel there’s no point of return without unpleasant consequenses you’re being abused.

4- Does it make a difference if you enjoyed it?
Physically your body reacts. An abuser will try to make you feel good, so he can fool himself ( and you!)  into thinking you’re part of this. It still doesn’t mean you want this, though. So it’s still sexual abuse.

5- Does it make a difference if you had actual intercourse?
No. Sexual abuse happens in many different ways: He wants you to leave the door open when you shower. He wants to take pictures of you undressing. He forces a child to look at sexual images etc.

6- Does he tell you over and over again that you’re special?
On average an abusers victimizes 30 children…

Absolute certainty

Only when BOTH parties consciously decide they want to have sex it’s consensual.
A child cannot consciously say yes to sex. EVER.
An adult who has had a few too many drinks at a party cannot consciously say yes to sex.

When either one of you is not 100% sure from the beginning or during sex and the other tries to force you physically or emotionally, it’s sexual abuse.

Of course this story applies to men as well. I used girl-victim, man-abuser, but we all know it happens the other way around way too often as well!


For more information about the long term effects of child sexual abuse and how to heal from them, buy the book ‘I Thrive. Healing child sexual abuse’ at Amazon.com

My partner was sexually abused

Your partner was sexually abused

0022At some point in your relationship you came to find out your partner was sexually abused as a child.
Ideally your partner told you this before you started a relationship, but it doesn’t always work this way.
Some survivors from sexual abuse don’t know they were abused because of suppression or dissociation. Others do know but don’t want to talk about it, yet.

“Sweetheart, I’ve been sexually abused”

It’s not that easy to talk about, especially when you just start a new relationship. That’s why your loved one keeps quiet about it or procrastinates in telling you. Then all of a sudden you’re confronted with a dark cloud from the past. Your lover was hurt. Deeply.


It’s natural to become angry. But your partner will probably react in a different manner. It’s strange to realize that he/she may not share your anger. Especially when this is the first time he/she shares this, your partner may be inclined, out of misplaced loyalty, to defend the abuser. I think it’s important to remember that, although you feel like a bomb has just dropped on you, she has lived with this a long time. Knowingly or not.

Partners need help

At one point in my coaching practice my clients consisted of partners more than survivors. Men (and women) who’ve tried so hard for so long to be the ideal. understanding partner, but get stuck in: will it ever get any better? and When will we ever have a “normal” relationship?

It’s not easy being the partner of …

What are expectations of a so-called normal relationship? Intimacy, sexuality? Sure. Holding hands? Absolutely. Partners go without for long periods of time. Sometimes years. Add to that the unexpected, irrational outbursts when their loved ones are triggered and as a partner you can feel extremely lonely in your relationship.
You can call it a secondary trauma, if you will.

Don’t heal your partner, heal yourself

The question I most often hear is: Can you heal my partner?
I would like to share a very important tip: Please,help yourself.
You cannot change another person. The only thing you can change is your reaction to the other person. What can you do to change the pattern of you feeling sorry for and being scared of triggering your mate. Be conscious of what your wants and needs are.
Communicate. Communicate often.


For more information about the long term effects of child sexual abuse and how to heal from them, buy the book ‘I Thrive. Healing child sexual abuse’ at Amazon.com There’s a chapter in it geared towards partners specifically, but in addition, it will further your understanding of what child sexual abuse can do and how it can play out in the adult survivor.

New book on partners

note: Ivonne is writing another book as we speak, about partners of sexually abused survivors. Filled with tips and based on her experience as a coach to both survivors from sexual abuse as well as their partners. We will keep you posted. Expected in Dutch in April 2016.