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It happened to me many times over the past 10 years to write about the sexual abuse of minors and about the consequences that these abuses entail in the lives of the victims. I would like to dedicate this post to clarifying some fundamental points. I will start from the concept of abuse to illustrate the most typical situations in which the abuse takes shape. I will then stop on the effects of the abuse on the victim's sexuality in childhood, adolescence and later in adulthood. I will focus in particular on the concrete risk that those who have suffered sexual abuse may in turn perpetrate child abuse and on sexual addiction as a result of the suffered abuse.

A premise is a must, my speech is based on the experience gained in Gay Project and, of course, only deals with situations where guys have come to speak explicitly of the suffered abuses. Basically these guys have already a rational awareness of what they have suffered and, at least in a relative way, they are able to objectify it, so they are guys who have already followed an important individual path and have overcome many of the conditioning induced by abuse.

Let's start with the concept of abuse. Sexual abuse is distinguished from sexual violence because, unlike this, it almost never presents itself with violent or intimidating methods and, very often, at the beginning, in the future abuser there is not even a clear desire to make an abuse. The collective imagery depicts the abuser as a perverse-minded maniac who, after having spotted casually the child, consciously conceives a project of abuse and stubbornly completes it, but things are objectively very different. The abuser, in the vast majority of cases, is not a stranger but a close relative of the child or a family friend who habitually frequents him and who has considerable familiarity with the child. 

It should be emphasized that a child generally doesn’t have inhibitory brakes and his childhood play has an immediate physicality that is difficult to understand for an adult. The beginning of the path, often long and non-linear, which leads to abuse, lies precisely in the familiarity between the adult and the child. This familiarity also means at least relative freedom of language, freedom of play and often physical contact. 

Since statistics make us aware that a high proportion of abusers are adults who in turn have been abused, it is easy to understand that if an adult who was abused when he was a child is in situations similar to those in which he has suffered abuse, he can, more or less consciously, remain conditioned. The temptation to play the role of the abuser can become very strong and the ability to resist this temptation can reach the breaking point. 

Generally when the abuser is an adult who has been abused in childhood, the initiative of the new abuse is really of the adult, even if the path towards the abuse is very gradual and goes through stages of advancement and regression. On the other hand, if we consider an adult who has never been abused, things often develop with much less awareness, without a predetermined scheme and almost spontaneously. 

The adult grants the child too much freedom without understanding in advance the risks that this behavior may entail. The adult underestimates, or better, is led to underestimate the seriousness of the abuse, and commits some typical errors of evaluation induced, or rather self-induced by a need of justification. He believes that since the boy is very young, he will take the thing as a game, he will not understand the sexual implications and above all he will forget very easily that experience, but evidently these three hypotheses are totally unfounded, and are destined only to fuel the irresponsibility of the adult. The adult who ends up accepting a risqué sexual game with a child pretends to find a justification in sentences such as: "the child was consenting" or even: "I did nothing but play his game". It is evident that these two formulas, which may make sense to legitimize free sexual behavior with an adult, cannot absolutely apply to a child, because the child is objectively unable to understand the long-term consequences of what he may have also sought. 

It is evident that sex education should aim, among other things, also and in particular, to make adults aware of the severity of the consequences of pedophilia, also making it clear that in many cases people slip towards pedophilia very gradually, and often have no awareness of it, and when the awareness arrives, the damage is now irreparable. 

It should be noted that one of the fundamental parameters for quantifying the harm produced by sexual abuse on a minor is the duration of the abuse. When the abuse occurs in a single episode, it certainly leaves much less traces, especially if the abuser is not a family member, but if the abuse is repeated and becomes routine and is accompanied by threats such as: "Don’t tell no one, if not, you don’t know what will happen!" creates a state of subjection and real compulsion, that is, becomes a true form of violence. 

Anyone who has committed a single abuse of a child would do well, if he has a minimum of conscience, to go and live in another city to avoid that his presence can help to consolidate the memory of the abuse. The behavior of the adult who starting from the assumption that "since now the damage is done", thinks it is worth to make the abuse become a habit, confuses two totally different plans, that of the abuser and that of the abused. In legal terms after the first abuse one is guilty of a serious crime, technically of a delict, and there is the risk of being denounced and prosecuted, even if the continuation of criminal conduct over time aggravates the crime, the termination of those conducts does not cancel the crime anyway, and the adult who transforms the abuse into a habitual fact starts just from this reasoning; but from the point of view of the child, the repetition of the abuse can really create years after very dangerous situations, as forms of self-blame, interruption of dialogue with parents resulting in a progressive isolation of the guy, and above all can represent for the guy a sexual imprinting able to affect his whole life, creating addictions and heavily interfering in the formation of sexual archetypes and therefore in his sexual orientation and related preferences. 

If the abuse is not violent the victim may not immediately notice the danger, but after years, when the level of awareness will be adequate, the memory of the abuse will work in the depths of the guy's conscience. Most of the damage resulting from non-violent abuse occurs within adolescence. When the boy's deep and innate sexuality awakens; if it is a straight sexuality, the boy, although deeply suffering for the memory of what happened, in going to (hetero) adult sexuality will also feel a sense of release from the memory of the abuse suffered, in essence the memory of the abuse will be completely separate from adult sexuality. 

On the other hand, if adult sexuality were to manifest itself as gay, things would become complicated because gay feelings would be strongly conditioned by the memory of the abuse to such an extent that the guy would think he is gay only as a consequence of the abuse and this would mean that an atmosphere of negativity linked to abuse would be automatically extended to the nascent gay feelings. What I have just written is not a theoretical discourse but it is what I have seen practically in gay guys who have suffered abuse. But there's even more: the negative light cast on the nascent gay dimension due to the contamination with the memory of the abuse often provokes attempts to escape towards heterosexuality (the so-called escape-heterosexuality) destined to end up miserably and sometimes in long times, leaving behind feelings of frustration and depressive thinking. 

It should be immediately clear that the negative effects of the abuse are practically always extended to adulthood. The memory of the facts, especially if they were systematically repeated for long periods, becomes obsessive, the guy, now grown up, often reviews the scene of the abuse that becomes the core of an obsessive-compulsive disorder and as such, despite being substantially an intrusive and disturbing thought, ends up taking on more and more attractive characters. The guy tries to recreate in his current life situations similar to those of the abuse, in some cases creates more or less unconsciously intergenerational relationships in which however the genuine sexuality is very intimately mixed with the obsessive thought of the abuse, and slowly, the abused guy , becoming an adult, begins to wonder how he would behave if he were on the side of the abuser, and here often moments of deep crisis come, because a grownup man realizes that the abuse has not only conditioned his sexuality but may have transformed him in a potential pedophile, that is, in turn, in an objectively dangerous person. 

In their sexual life, adults who were abused when they were children tend very often to reproduce sexual behaviors and practices corresponding to those that were the object of the abuse. The compulsion to repeat those behaviors can be close to addiction. In essence, an adult comes to the awareness that the abuse has literally ruined his life and has marked his sexuality in a very negative way so much so that he becomes a potential pedophile through obsessive fantasies of that type. 

We will now try to understand how an adult who has been abused in childhood tends to build an emotional and sexual life. Obviously, here the speech will be restricted only to situations concerning adult men abused in childhood by men. When I say adults, I intend to refer to people aged at least twenty. It should never be forgotten that those who come into contact with these adults don’t know their story because even in the context of an important emotional relationship, the adult who has been abused in childhood, if he arrives to talk about these things with his partner, what is not to be taken for granted, will do it only after a long time, when the affective relationship will be well established and it will be reasonably foreseeable that a clear discourse will not undermine the relationship itself. The fear of not being accepted that seen from the outside seems to be connected right away to the abuse, actually hides a much deeper and more consistent fear linked to the fact that adults abused in childhood can have and in fact often have sexual fantasies concerning minors, and at this point the partner may feel deeply uncomfortable. 

It should be added that often, when not exclusively, the adult who has been abused as a child tends to create intergenerational relationships, and in these relationships the oldest partner is afraid of being accused of something, in some way, akin to pedophilia. In these cases the older partner tends easily to marginalize the younger because this one is a carrier of more or less sporadic fantasies about minors, and because he realizes that the intergenerational relationship tends to be a repetition of the abuse scene. It is obvious that the adult who has been the victim of abuse, let's call him an adult A, tends to keep the subject for himself, but in doing so he realizes that the relationship is deeply conditioned by unspoken things that are still very important. It sometimes happens that the adult A tries in a more or less transversal way to share with his partner fantasies about minors, which for him are sometimes true obsessive thoughts; this serves to probe the ground without arriving at explicit discourses. 

When the explicit speech arrives, the partner's reaction is fundamental. Every rejection reaction is particularly traumatic for the adult A, because it attributes to him a fault that he does not have, turning in fact him into a potential criminal, who is in reality only a victim. At the statistical level it is practically impossible for the partner to share the fantasies of the adult A about children, also urged and solicited by adult A, the partner should not respond by complacency stating to share those fantasies, at least partially, but must tell the truth in the clearest way, remembering that adult A is not asking him for a sharing of fantasies that he himself would not want, but in reality he is asking him if the more or less obsessive presence of those fantasies can be able to undermine at the base the relationship itself and he is also asking (if it is an intergenerational relationship) if the fact that the relationship is "also" a way of reliving the moments of abuse can destroy its actual affective interpersonal meaning. 

If the partner who does not share the fantasies of the adult A about minors is really interested in maintaining a strong emotional relationship, he must make it explicitly understood. The most irresponsible behavior of the partner is to pretend not to have understood or worse in minimizing, because to speak clearly on these issues, for the adult A is at the same time very difficult and fundamental. The most reassuring speech on the part of the partner is to make clear some elements: 
1) Having fantasies about minors and putting them into practice are two very different things. 
2) The fantasies, especially the obsessive ones, are not easy to be controlled, but if an adult A has a sense of responsibility, those fantasies remain only fantasies and never turn into acts harmful to others. 
3) If an intergenerational relationship may have been established "even" to reproduce a situation similar to that of the abuse, it is still a totally different thing precisely because in that relationship it is possible to talk about the abuse, because now the sexuality has a profound emotional value. 

An adult A needs above all emotional stability, to be able to trust and to be himself with his partner, without hiding his neuroses, his obsessions and his most intimate thoughts. An adult A should not be accepted only as an adult but specifically as an adult A. The partner must be fully aware that the memory of the abuse will always be present at the bottom of the personality of the adult A, and that being able to talk about it is liberating. Often, unfortunately, attempts to create serious affective relationships by the adult A, clash with moralistic resistance and prejudices that lead to blame the adult A and to his marginalization. It would always be useful for two ex-partners, once the relationship is over, to maintain a friendship, bearing witness to the fact that the relationship of mutual esteem has not failed, this is all the more useful and necessary in the context of couples with an adult A. 

For the adult A there are also other consequences of the abuse, consequences of a more general type, such as the decline in average levels of self-esteem, the easy tendency to discouragement and the lowering of resilience when one becomes a victim of the aggressiveness of others. From the outside it could be mistakenly assumed that the abuse leaves no room for recovery but it is not so. Generally adults A show a peculiar characteristic: they don’t abandon relationships with people, they demonstrate a very strong emotional fidelity, even if not always accompanied by a corresponding sexual fidelity within the couple, and above all they try, when possible, to keep the dialogue absolutely authentic and truthful, far from social rituals or habits. 

Relationships with an adult A, when born from mutual acceptance, even partial, but authentic on both sides, have an emotional solidity that leads them to resist over time without losing intensity. Obviously adults A can have highly diversified individual personalities, beyond the experience of abuse, but it should never be forgotten that that experience remains a heavy conditioning that must be understood and accepted for what it is, any mental reserve on what the experience of abuse can cause, even after many years, is a very heavy mortgage on any kind of relationship involving an adult A.