Trigger warning

Please note, this piece contains material that may be distressing to some viewers. Contains mention of abuse of children and animals and themes of ritual abuse. If you suspect you are or suspect you may be a survivor of  ritual abuse, please read with caution. 


Animal childhood sexual abuse or ACSA (sometimes called forced beastiality by law enforcement) is defined as a perpetrator coercing or forcing the child to engage in sexual acts with the animal. While beastiality involves a consenting adult and a non-consenting animal, ACSA differs because a perpetrator forces or coerces a child and animal to perform sexual acts together. Neither child nor animal can consent, and both are victims.  Although this piece talks in terms of childhood abuse – its important to note that adults can also be victims.

“I want other survivors to know it was not your fault. You are not fucked up or messed up. You are not the only one.  You can heal. You are believed and you matter so much in this world.” 

NOTE: survivor is a  DID system (Dissociative Identity Disorder) and may use we/I interchangeably. We refers to the collective of parts. 


I experienced ACSA throughout my childhood from a young age. My abusers were family members and used animals to enforce compliance, obedience and control and as a way to condition me. Before age 6-8, I spent a significant amount of time kept in a large dog cage, with various dogs coming and going. As a result, people and animals became quite blended for us.

Dogs were our only reliable family and source of “healthy” connection. We realize now that our abusers wanted us to build a loving relationship with them to normalize SA with the ones you love, including humans. They also wanted to increase both the harm and strength of conditioning.

The perpetrators would normalise and encourage the abuse by saying phrases such as:

“Dogs like to give kisses to people they love. You love (the dog(s)) don’t you?”

“They are trying to love you, that’s how they show love, this is how you let them know you want their love.” 

“When you’re scared or sad, they will make you feel all better.” 

“They will feel sad if you don’t let them love you. You don’t want to make them feel sad do you?”

 It was important to us that the animals knew they were loved. The perpetrators took advantage of our connection with animals – and some in our system completely believed that this was showing love and care to an animal. As a result, we have some in our DID system who would have this done to them “willingly” and “wantingly”. We also believed that was their way of showing us love. We didn’t know we were doing what we needed to do to survive the deprivation and abuse we were experiencing. 

To reinforce our silence, we were conditioned to believe that if we told, others would be harmed or killed, and it would be our fault because we caused it. We were often made to harm others or witness (sometimes fatal) harm to others. We knew we had to be compliant, or bad things would happen to others because of us. 

 They also used humiliation, shame, and double-binds to keep our silence. On the one hand, we were told we had to get close to the dogs, or else they would be so sad and feel hurt and rejected. But on the other hand, we were told that only sick, pathetic, worthless people would let dogs do that to them, and they would get hurt because of how bad we were. Either way, they got hurt, and it was because of us. We couldn’t let anyone know what we had caused or how bad we were. These experiences also played into the larger picture of them conditioning us to avoid forming relationships with anyone out of fear they would be hurt. It wasn’t just not telling, but not getting close enough to anyone to a point where we could ever feel that we could tell anyone or let anyone see us or what was happening to us.

The trauma we’ve experienced has made it very challenging for us to talk in general. However, we are learning how to identify and feel emotions, trust others and let them get close to us. We are discovering that testing connections with others can be safe enough. We are also realising that we can be individuals and don’t have to hide or mask from others.

Currently, we cannot have pets or be around animals in general, especially dogs. We find shame often comes up when others talk about their pets and how therapeutic they are for them. We read books and articles about the healing power of animals; it seems universal. However, our experience is different, and we can’t do that, and we don’t feel that way. I will say we can’t… YET (we now hold hope that this could be possible for us!). We feel terror that they will die if we’re near them because we’re near them. So… we avoid animals of all kinds as much as possible. For now.

Shame really is a powerful silencer. Shame protects us from rage (which was not possible to feel during abuse); it makes us believe it is our fault and that we deserve it or we don’t deserve anything different. And we believed if it was our fault, we could endure the abuse and get through it.

It’s important to break the shame cycle. Shame makes us believe that it all happened because of our existence. But, in reality, it happened because of the choices of those who were supposed to care for us. Shame is the feeling our abusers put on us (This is still a work in progress, but we now believe it more often than we don’t). What happened was not our choice, and it was not our fault. They are bad people for doing what they did to us and making us believe we were the bad ones. We are not. It is important for us and others to know that we were helpless at the time because we were children and had no choice. However, we are not helpless now. We now get to have the chance to live our lives the way we want to, free of our abusers’ feelings of shame they put on us.

Breaking the shame cycle means that we now have hope that one day when we are ready, we will be able to pet a dog. We may even own a pet if we want to, now knowing how to care for them safely and appropriately. We get to choose how we live and learn that we are not the reason everything in the past happened. That idea is freeing and something we continue to work towards.  

We’ve never told anyone before. We have DID system friends and talk about many topics, but this has never come up. We’ve brought up topics that haven’t come up before, but this topic feels different… Shame has been too prevalent. Having someone reach out and say, hey, I know this happens, and it happens much more than research would tell us, was truly what we needed to lift enough shame from us to share here. This is what connection does for healing.

I would like people to respond with compassion that ACSA happened to us, encouragement about how much energy we have invested in our healing journey, and stay connected with us and not leave out of disgust, fear, or feelings like that. Also, I need to remember that if they leave, they are not people who would encourage our healing. We actively and purposefully try to surround ourselves with people who support us. 

I would like there to be more normalisation of this type of abuse and that it really does occur. Not talking about it keeps shame locked up with the survivor. It needs to be with the perpetrators. I wish it wouldn’t be considered the most horrifying part of a horror story. I want the emphasis not on the acts themselves and how “gross” people think it is but on how horrible the perpetrators are who do this to other humans and animals. I wish the emphasis of blame was placed on the perpetrators and not the survivors. In reality, we had to learn to go along with the abuse for both others and our own survival.  

We are part of an online community for those with DID. A tremendous amount of healing has taken place because of the support of this community. However, over the years, we’ve never once heard anyone talk about this topic. Because of that and the significant focus on animals as healing creatures, we feel isolated in our experience of ACSA. Honestly, we hadn’t heard of a single person acknowledging ACSA until the call for contributors for this article came out. Our internal response was overwhelming. We’ve had experiences of being seen and understood in other areas of our lives. Being seen in this way, while overwhelming, wasn’t overwhelming in a harmful way. It was more the feeling of shame being lifted from a place we hadn’t realized shame had remained untouched. Our goal is to share so that others know it does happen and that they are not alone. You are not the only one, and you are not the cause of it. You can heal, and you can have hope. That really is possible. 

I want other survivors to know it was not your fault. You are not fucked up or messed up. You are not the only one. People can’t tell from looking at you. It was not your fault an animal was hurt. It is possible to build healthy relationships with animals and people again. You can heal. You are believed, and you matter so much in this world. Those words may be hard to hear and even harder to believe to be true, as it was for us, but it won’t always be that way, even if it feels like it will.

Author – Anonymous

For privacy and safety reasons – the author has chosen to remain anonymous.

We are a system of dissociated identities that developed in response to the various forms of abuse that we endured throughout our lifetime, starting at birth. Over recent years, we have been able to physically separate from those who have harmed us, which has enabled our healing journey to flourish. We know that our journey will be a life-long process. While it has and continues to be challenging, extremely so at times, we find hope through our chosen family, communities, and multiple healing modes.





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