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Dear Dr. Saltzman,

I've been looking for the answer to the question I must get an answer to and found a post on your site with a similar problem! I thought I was alone!

For a very long time I've been holding grudge against my mother, because of an incident that took place when I was about 10-12. She tried to kiss me with the tongue, and I still remember the way she was breathing and I knew for sure it wasn't a mother-to-daughter kiss. Just recently I confronted her. Her reaction was weird, she said that "that's the way everybody kissed their children back then", then cried, then said she was sorry.

That happened about half a year ago. Suddenly 2 months after that talk something clicked in my head. I have a sister, who is 9 years older, and I suddenly had a flashback of how she touched me inappropriately while she thought I was asleep (we shared the same bed and when she did it I would usually pretend to be asleep, but maybe try to turn around so she couldn't reach me). And all of a sudden everything started to make sense, but I still don't want to believe it.

Basically part of me just hopes she did it out of curiosity (doctors game), but on the other hand is it possible that I'd been molested all this time and because of the lack of information I didn't even know I had, but it STILL affected me so badly, that I would get defensive against my own mother unconsciously? Theoretically could a 10 year old girl without sexual experience know how an adult breathes when he is turned on? And now even worse, could my mom have done something to my sister that turned her on to me?

I AM SO CONFUSED! I have never in my life heard of a female family member molesting a girl and still not sure of what has happened to me.



ask dr-robert ask psychologist todos santos ask psychologist dr robert saltzman

Dear Olga--

Thank you for writing. I am sure that many people will be interested in your question.

Your mom's kiss certainly was inappropriate, and had to do with some kind of disturbed sexuality of her own—perhaps she is more attracted to young girls than to men, for example. I feel confident in saying this based on your statement that, "I knew for sure it wasn't a mother-to-daughter kiss." Her having cried and apologized also adds weight to the idea that your mom had a sexual problem which she acted out by kissing you in a way that felt sexual to you, not just affectionate.

Now I imagine that she also acted out her sexuality with your older sister—perhaps in ways that went much further than the French kiss she tried out on you. Often when children act out sexually in the way your sister did with you, they have been primed or "programmed" to be precociously sexual by having had experiences with adults or much older children who used them for sexual purposes, and I imagine that this is what happened to your sister.

I am sorry to say this as I know it will hurt you to have to think of your mother as a person with sexual problems, but since you are feeling so confused, truth is best.

In simple words, your mom's inappropriate sexualizing of her relationship with your older sister probably did turn her on to you, as you wrote, and, since you felt invaded by your sister's touches, I would say that you were molested by her. Just to be clear, molestation does not require actual sexual penetration, but simply unwanted and inappropriate touching, or even in younger children, simply the use of inappropriate words, or, for example, exposing them to pornography.

I also assume that your defensiveness against your mother was not due to your sister's having molested you, but due to your (unconscious) recollections of your mother's inappropriate behaviors towards you. I don't know if it is fair to say that you mom molested you—unless, of course, you begin to remember other incidents—but she certainly hurt you with that kiss.

I suggest that you try to speak with your sister about this and see if you can get some real talk out of her. If not, please find a therapist who can help you to deal with your confusion and pain about these upsetting family relationships.

Be well.

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