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Dear Dr. Robert,

I found your website while searching online and thought maybe you could help. I am so ashamed and embarrassed about my experience that I'm afraid to talk to anyone in person about it.

When I was about 11-13, I discovered porn on the internet and, in a sense, went "wild" looking at and reading it. It was that time in adolescence when one is so excited by and completely curious about all things sexual. I don't know why or how I became aware of it, but I also began curiously looking at bestiality pornography and also reading erotic stories about incest. I do remember feeling dirty about it at the time, but I eventually "got over it" and stopped obsessing about porn. The incident that I cannot get over and that I have extreme guilt about is one that happened when I was either 12 or 13. I guess after seeing bestiality porn and being curious about sex and how things felt, I attempted to get my dog to give me oral sex, and I attempted to get him to mount me, as well. I don't know if I actually wanted him to penetrate me or not. I think it was just some sort of curiosity about how it would feel. When the dog did not do the above, I actually humped the dog briefly (in an effort to somehow get the dog to realize I wanted him to do the same to me?? I don't know!). This only happened once, and I forgot about it completely until a year ago (I am now just shy of 21) when it sort of "resurfaced" at an event I attended about sexual assault/abuse. I can't get over the feeling that I sexually abused my dog! I feel like a child molester, and I don't know what to do!

After obsessing about this realization for several months, I gradually began to accept it, telling myself, "You were young, you didn't know what you were doing, and you were exposed to (illegal!) porn before you were really able to understand it; you were simply doing what you saw adults in the porn doing," and that got me by for a while. I have recently become very interested in domestic violence/sexual assault/abuse counseling, and these feelings of extreme guilt and regret have again resurfaced. I feel like a total hypocrite considering going into abuse counseling for others, while I, myself, feel like a perpetrator! I, like others, have considered that maybe I was sexually abused as a child, and perhaps that is what really led me to my pornographic interests at such a young age, but I have NO MEMORIES whatsoever, though I do have memories of strange things I did as a child. I recall experiencing episodes at the age of 8 or 9 of what I would now label OCD and experienced what I would consider a form of depression when I was just 10 years old. I also have a memory of when I was 7 or 8 in which I took a doll into the shower and fantasized that it was my baby and I was sticking in the water (abusing it physically). I don't know if any of these things are related or what. I know I should probably seek counseling to discuss issues of depression and OCD as a child, but I really desperately need help coping with what I did to my dog when I was 12-13. I feel like I am no better than a child molester or a rapist. Please help!

Thank you,


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© 2006 Robert Saltzman

Dear Alecia--

Thanks for writing. To begin with, you did not abuse your dog. You did not molest him, and you did not rape him. Since dogs, unlike humans, have no guilty feelings about their sexuality (just watch them doing it in the road with no concern at all for passersby), your dog thought nothing of your actions, and was not hurt by them in any way. If you had hurt your dog physically, that would have been abuse, but short of that, for the dog it was just another kind of playtime. Probably some animal rights types would disagree with me here, but so many of those people, in what probably begins with a noble desire to stop the exploitation of animals, seem to gravitate to an unfortunate extreme which ends up anthropomorphizing dogs, cats, and the other animals with which humans share this earth--projecting onto them, in other words, human feelings which really those animals do not have. To be clear: your dog did not have human thoughts and human feelings (any more than you have canine thoughts and feelings), and so would not have interpreted your behavior as a violation of some kind. You are not a dog rapist after all!

Furthermore, children who are just coming into puberty often experiment sexually in various ways, including playing around with animals. This kind of play with animals is not necessarily "bestiality," as it would be when carried out by an adult, but more often the kind of innocent exploration, akin to masturbation and playing doctor, needed by all children in order to come to terms with their growing sexual needs.

You did not say how you came to diagnose yourself with OCD and depression, so I cannot really comment except to say that abusing dolls is also a normal part of many girls' childhood experimentation, usually occurring just at the age you mention, seven, eight, or nine.

If you are interested in going into abuse counseling--and this is a field which always needs dedicated people--I suggest that you get some training, which would include some personal counseling of your own. During that counseling you would be able to discuss the guilt you feel about "molesting" your dog, "abusing" your doll, and whatever other guilty ideas you carry around with you. Also, you would be able to explore the idea that you may have been sexually abused yourself.

In my opinion, you do not sound at all like a hypocrite, so if counseling abused people is what you want to do, I say, "go for it!"

Be well.

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