Molestation is a very painful experience. It hurts you physically, mentally and emotionally. A child carries the pain of molestation well into adulthood, sometimes never fully recovering from the trauma. Sexual trauma, such as rape or other nonconsensual sex, inflicts sudden and devastating pain on adults, male and female victims alike. You go through several stages of healing after molestation and anger is an important step to recovery. You might misdirect or express your anger in inappropriate ways at first as you try to deal with the pain you feel as a result of molestation.

Anger is a natural and normal response to pain – anger puts the fight in the fight-or-flight response. When you feel real pain, or when you are in fear for your life, anger gives you the emotional and physical power to overcome your molester and move to a place of safety. Anger is your built-in protection against molestation. When you use anger correctly, you stop the molestation and make the offender accept responsibility for the harm he inflicted. You might blame yourself, inappropriately directing your anger on your inability to fight back. Appropriately or not, you might be angry at your family for not protecting you from this terrible crime.

Pain from molestation goes beyond the obvious and immediate physical harm incurred during the attack. A child molester depends on the complicity and silence of his victim so he can continue the abuse undetected. The molester will frequently instill a sense of shame or fear that prevents the child from telling someone about the abuse. Sometimes the attacker will tell the victim that the molestation is punishment because she is a bad child.

Molestation is a deeply-rooted betrayal of trust. A child is developmentally wired to believe all adults will act in her best interest, and will inherently trust what an adult tells them. This is why we have to frequently remind children to never talk to strangers – a child is too innocent to comprehend the destructive intentions of some adults. A child is at special risk for long-term anger issues when his innocent trust is betrayed by molestation from a family member or someone in a position of authority over that child. This betrayal teaches you use anger to protect yourself not only from your abuser, but potentially your immediate family members, spouses or lovers, friends and authority figures. You become angry at the most important people in your life because you’ve suffered your worst pain at the hands of the people you love the most.

Anger is also a natural response to adult molestation, like a rape or long-term nonconsensual sexual relationship. Your anger may be a response to not only the physical pain, but the social stigma often associated with molestation. You may turn your anger inward, convincing yourself that you somehow deserved the molestation because of the way you dressed, behaved or because you are not worthy of a normal relationship. Anger might be directed at a spouse or family member because you feel they did not protect you from harm. Your rage can be aimed at police or other officials for not locking up the offender before he got to you. Finally, with treatment and time, you can be angry at the person who molested you.