It is very confusing for people who were abused as children who were very attached to the person who abused them. Sometimes, people who sexually abuse children may also fulfill the child’s emotional needs for love and affection. This creates a paradox of shame and questions for the child as s/he grows up.
Many people who were sexually abused as children were also emotionally (and sometimes physically) neglected. This is a big factor in what makes a child vulnerable to being abused, whether inside or outside the home. Children don’t just want, but they need
adult attention and affection. Any time a love-starved child receives adult attention they cling to it.
If the abuse occurs outside of the home, the abuser probably noticed that the child was lonely. Abusers often take that opportunity to first befriend/get close to the child, possibly doing appropriate things with them first. For the child this abuser may be the first person to hug them, take them places, give them food/sweets, toys or take a general interest in their lives. Often after a positive and appropriate relationship has been established abuse occurs. When abuse occurs inside the home the elements are similar as above, but the relationship is already established. However some things may be more intensified. (ex: An outsider may offer sweets, a person in the home may remove food all together unless the child cooperates.)
If you enjoyed the attention or time you spent with an abuser, then there might have been positive aspects intertwined. Many times abusers will tell children they are so special, beautiful and important to them and that is why the abuse occurs. Everyone feels good when they’re told things like that, especially little ones. Abuse of this nature may also be equated with love. For a child who has not experienced much physical affection, they may accept it as normal love between an adult and child (or child and other child). If the abuse is accepted as normal affection, well, who’s going to refuse love? Even though children sense that sexual abuse feels inherently “icky” or uncomfortable, they may feel loved at the same time. Other things are sometimes told to children, such as what’s going on is a “grown up” thing, which makes them feel special because there is something so advanced in them that they can do very mature things.
Occasionally, there are times people enjoyed some of the attention when there were no positive aspects. (Usually this occurs with someone in the home/family, since no positive relationship must be established before the person has access to the child.) You might have been ignored at home, and never given any hugs or kisses. Instances of sexual abuse may have been the only time you were touched or even acknowledged. Perhaps it was the only time you were ever touched gently. If a child is frequently beaten, but sexually abused in a somewhat gentle manner, it’s very possible they will prefer that gentle touch.
If you were then given a reward or positive experience after an abusive episode, that may have created feelings of the abuse “being worth it”. In fact, the positive things you experienced may have been a reason the abuse stayed secret. As you get older, taking rewards for it may make you feel wrong for accepting “payment” for what was done to you. But really, you did nothing wrong. There’s probably a big chance you were a lonely, sad child, and the abuser gave you the things you needed and wanted. They knew that, and that’s why they did it to entice you in the first place. Children will do anything for adult attention, so don’t beat yourself up over doing what kids do naturally.
So remember, enjoying time spent with an abuser or even looking forward to it does not mean you wanted to be abused. It means you wanted someone to spend time with you, take interest in you, give you treats, tell you that you were special, be gentle with you, and love you. Just because someone who had the opportunity to give you all those good things hurt you, does not mean you were wrong for having the same needs and desires as everyone else.
For questions about experiencing sexual pleasure during the abuse, please see this thread: