Need to go to confession??? Possible sexual abuse related question


I have a friend who came to me for advice and I cannot really tell her what to do. She told me that she isn’t sure if it’s true or it was just a very lucid dream, but she says she suddenly remembered after 12 or more years that her uncle abused her as a child and as a consequence she thinks she may have done things to her brother when they were little children. She’s not sure if it’s real, she’s not sure if it’s a dream. She said she doesn’t know why she’d suddenly remember such a thing, and if it were real, why then did she forget for so many years. She doesn’t know if she should keep on receiving communion or if she has to confess.

The only thing I was able to tell her is that sometimes, dreams can feel so real, that the person may think that a certain dream actually happened. Another thing I said is that there is always the possibility of a repressed memory and after many years she is actually remembering. I told her the safest thing to do is to speak to a priest in confession, but then again, who am I to judge? I majored in psychology but I’m not a professional, but I know that in the field of psychology, repressed memories are a very controversial subject and some therapists even think that repressed memories can be induced false memories, but they could also be true memories.

I don’t know what else to tell her. She asked I post this on CAF so she can come and read people’s responses. She didn’t want to do it herself because she’s too shy to come and write herself, and said too, that it’d be a bit too emotional for her.

Any advice? Please help me help my friend.


As a child she was probably unaware that it was sinful therefore it wouldn’t be a mortal sin. Lots of kids are ‘rude’ when they are trying to learn about their bodies. Especially those who’s parent’s have neglected to tell them about their bodies. If she was abused, she may well have thought that this was the norm.


God bless her. I would recommend she go talk to a priest – one she can trust to be orthodox and compassionate, ---- and ask him what he thinks. Dreams are sometimes very real to us, and reality can be very foggy and dreamlike. She may never know if what she “remembers” really happened or not. She is certainly NOT culpable morally for acts committed before the age of reason. But I am betting she would benefit and be greatly comforted by some time spent discussing it openly with a priest. She could just tell him what she told you. He’ll let her know whether or not she needs absolution, and may be able to counsel her or give further spiritual direction.

If she is reading this now, I hope she knows, we are praying for her.


I think either way weather if it was a real event or a dream that it is disturbing her. It may be that it was just a lucid dream and it may be something really did happen to her, it may be to hard to tell now. I think what Makerteacher said is right. Go confess, she has nothing to be ashamed of, it was beyond her control. the sacrament is there for you to receive God and to be forgiven and as well to help make you a more holy person so that you can forgive others who have wronged you. Be blunt about your thoughts tell your priest exactly what you feel, not only will it help you heal spiritually but it will do you good mentally to get it out. he may even be able to offer you some sort of counseling to help.

I send a prayer to both of you

God bless.


Whenever I’m not sure as to whether something is a sin or not, I go to confession, just to be safe. Sometimes, when something seems particularly dark(usually a sin of thought rather than action) I actually go to another parish to confess the sin, which may make the task easier for your friend, if she fears her reputation in the eyes of the priest of her parish. She is likely aware of this, but she needs to be reassured that priests can not tell of her sins to anyone, and that she should have no fear of anything that she says to a priest going beyond that priest(in an Earthly sense, obviously, as we are actually confessing to God, through the priest.) When confessing, she should explain her uncertainty as to whether she did this, as well, as not to become guilty of the sin of deception. If she received communion with a lack of certainty that she was forgiven of this sin, she should probably confess that, as well.
As for the action itself, as another poster mentioned, she had to have known she was doing something gravely opposed to God’s will in order for it to have been a mortal sin. In her case, she isn’t even sure whether it really happened, and if it did, that she wasn’t likely aware that she was doing something wrong at the time.


Since she is not even sure that it really happened, then *of course *she can continue going to communion. Doubtful sins are not mortal sins. And in this case, there may be no sin at all.

If she wants to tell it in confession, fine–the confessional is protected by the seal of confession. What’s said there can never be disclosed.

If she tells it to a priest outside of confession, she puts him in a bind. If he thinks that there was actual abuse, he would be obligated to report it. But to report a doubtful crime would be an injustice.

But suppose, two or three years down the road, she decided that it did really happen? And not only that, but that she had discussed it with a priest? And the priest did not report it. The priest would be accused of a cover-up.


You should never have to confess this!!! Your friend hasn’t sinned!!! If anyone needs to go to confession, maybe the uncle. It is a shame that someone would tell you that you have to confess it!!

You probably need counseling for the sin against you!!! Call your priest and ask to speek with him, this is not something that you should do in a confessional…

Jesus said that what ever you do to a child, you do to him personally!!

Tell your friend to talk to her brother and see if he remembers anything like that.


If your friend has a good relationship with a holy priest perhaps she could make an appointment to speak to him outside of the confessional. It doesn’t sound to me that this has anything to do with sin; rather it is about determining whether or not she is having a disturbing dream or remembering something that actually happened to her.

I have to tell you that I have had some very strange dreams in my life that were so vivid as to make me think, “Did that actually happen?”. Our minds are interesting, to say the least. If she is really concerned then she needs to do what is necessary to put her mind at rest. Tell her that she is loved and that she is in our prayers.


The FIRST thing your friend should do is to see a therapist who specializes in people who have been sexually abused.

My wife was sexually abused by her father. She also buried the memories until she could not control them anymore. Then they erupted causing her much harm.

People don’t make up these types of memories. They are not something they want. If she remembers sexual abuse then she was sexually abused.

In counseling she can address the possible abuse she may have done.

Please, please seek a counselor. I know too well what can happen to someone if they think they can just deal with it alone.


She really needs to speak with a professional counsellor. She can speak with a priest too for spiritual guidance. She is in my prayers.


I have to respectfully disagree with this. To the original poster: The whole idea of “repressed memory” has been debunked my most of the medial community. I believe that most people when they are depressed are searching for an answer…when a professional suggests that they have a repressed memory of course they would beleive a professional, who wouldn’t!

I am not a professional, but I have first-hand personal experience with this. Horrible experiences in life do not just get blanked-out completely only to remember later…in fact, this would be the dream of most people! Horrible memories haunt most people daily and they struggle much to get them out of their minds! People that I know who were abused would love to forget years of trauma.

I know this is not a debate on memory and I do not intend to start that. I am just adding this because please tell your friend that it is very unlikely (according to much of the medical community) that she has repressed memory. She needs peace and that is what I am hoping to give you here.


Good post. Much harm can be done to innocent people by making too much out of a dream.


I would definately advise her to a priest for confession. It wouldn’t hurt to tell him that it might have been a dream. She probably has other sins to confess as well (don’t we all). A friend of mine was in the same situation (only he was the one who was abused by his sister who was abused by an adult). He never forgot it and eventually committed suicide. I’d hate for that to happen to anyone else.

Your friend also needs some counciling from a good therapist to deal with her own abuse. She needs your prayers as well as her brother.


Ok, so my friend hasn’t had the guts to come and read the answers. She thinks it’ll be too emotional. She asked me to reply on some of the things I told her were here. About talking to her brother about it, how can she do this? I certainly wouldn’t dare to go up to my brother and say, “hey, did I ever do anything to you?” :eek: Another thing she said to tel you guys is that her uncle passed away a few years ago, so she can’t talk to him about this either. One thing she toldme though, is that a friend of her sister’s asked her, right around the time she remembered about her uncle, if he uncle had done anthing to her because her sister remembers he did something to her.

I asked her if it was before or after she remembered/dreamed this, and she says she’s pretty sure this guys asked her after, but because it’s been over 6 years that she isn’t quite sure any more. About the thing with her brother, she just remembered this, I think she said it was pretty recent.

She didn’t go to confession yet because she wanted to wait to hear the responses. And about going to a therapist, she doesn’t know if she will. Since I majored in psych, I don’t know if it’s a good idea for the moment. If they were dreams, then nothing ever happened and there’s nothing to be worked on. If they are repressed memories, therapists use hypnotization, and sometimes that can trigger false memories. When it comes to repressed memories, one will never know if they are true, unless they speak to to aggressor or to the aggressee. In her case, her uncle, the alleged aggressor is dead, and her brother, the alleged aggressee, well, how can she confront him?

In my opinion, she should just speak to a priest. I know anyone can benefit from speaking to a therapist, but I am reluctant to telling her about speaking to one about this issue, since you never know what would happen. If the aggression towards her brother did happen, isn’t the therapist mandated by law to report the abus? What if the abuse never actually happened and she ended up in jail? What if she was tagged as a sexual predator???

I have known this woman for over a decade, and she’s the sweetest thing on earth. She wouldn’t even hurt a fly. I don’t know what I would do if I were in her shoes.


Since this womans uncle is dead he cannot be hurt if this was a dream.

We can save the debate on repressed memories for another thread.

Horrible memories indeed do in fact get “blanked out”. Just because it did not happen to you does not means it does not happen to others.

I strongly urge this woman seek counseling. The fact that someone else was abused by this man very well may indicate she was as well.

BTW, statstics state that nearly 1 in 3 women were sexually abused at some point in their lives.


Hi Yessi,

What a wonderful friend *you *are to care so deeply about this friend and seek an answer to help her.

You know, I still remember dreams from my childhood that seemed so real and were actually horrifying.

I ‘remember’ visiting a museum with my family and when my oldest sister took me to the bathroom we accidentally got locked in. We were banging and banging on the door, yelling for someone to let us out, both of us were crying, my mother was shaken by the time the security guard unlocked the door and we were finally out.

This event never happened! I checked with everyone in my family and they laughed and said I must have dreamed it.:shrug:

I have lots of ‘memories’ that I later found out weren’t real events, some pretty horrific. I think Satan likes to interfere in our dreams and make us doubt our goodness, our memories, and even our sanity.

I’d agree she should explain to the priest that she has dreams/memories from her childhood, ones of a sexual nature in which she is not sure if she was the victim or the perpetrator and ask for forgiveness.

She is not a bad person. She is not a predator. She is a human being and through no fault of her own, her mind has been toyed with. She needs forgiveness on just the slightest possibilty that the dreams were real events. God knows her heart and He wants to give her comfort.


Please tell your friend to consult with a mental health professional. She cannot get adequate advice about what to do from a spiritual or psychological perspective on CAF.

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