I hurt for a long time because of childhood sexual abuse. Now I want to provide a safe place for hurting men to connect with other survivors of sexual abuse. Talk to us. You don't have to use your real name to share your experiences or ask questions.

The Man Card

(This post is from Roger Mann.)
I hear this concept every now and again as part of some joke. For me it’s no joke. I understand what they are talking about, but I’m sure I don’t have one and don’t have a clue as to how to get one. Dad never taught me how to dress, how to play sports, how to shave, or anything else but to shut up. Children were to be seen and not heard.

I began elementary schooling wondering what it was all about, being a boy that is. I had all the right equipment but no clue as to what to do with it all. How do you make your legs run and not look stupid? How do you throw a ball and not look like a girl? How do you keep from flinching when a ball is thrown your way so you can catch it like you know what you’re doing?

How do you not react like some little baby when you fall and hurt yourself? Most of this stuff I learned by watching others and risked looking like an idiot trying to imitate their skills. As I went through the educational system learning my math, English, and science, I was constantly in a state of anxiety trying to pretend my “man card” was fully legit and endorsed.

I thought after I graduated from high school that I was finally finished with the game of “am I just as good.” But as I got into the work place, the rules changed once again, and I was on edge once more trying to figure out this thing of being a grown-up man. Of course, there was the sex thing too, which now complicated an already complicated navigation. Now I had to pretend I knew what that was all about. So here comes the eyeroll, the nudge, the grin, the “oh yeah, I know what you mean there, buddy.”

I didn’t know what they meant—not really—and I ached, feeling all the more exposed.

It has taken me a long time and a lot of stupid mistakes and bad choices to realize most of them were as clueless as I was. I shunned many a potential good friend because I didn’t want anyone to find out how clueless I really was.

Scott's Story

I recently received this poignant email from Scott (which I’ve edited with his approval). He wrote an additional 500 words, and the pain was so obvious. I was especially touched when I read that he wasn’t believed. Many of us know that experience. (Cec)

* * * * *

I reached puberty at age 16. I was put on growth hormones at age 15, as I had not started growing.

Around that time, a teacher fondled me at least once. He was reported by other parents for doing the same to their sons and dismissed from the school. I remember feeling sorry for him as I didn't realize he had done anything wrong.

The serious abuse started when I was 14 or 15. A friend, only 6 months older, began to abuse me. That situation continued for 5 years until I was 19.

All that is mild, and I could live with it. Now comes the bombshell: I became a perpetrator, and I’ve never truly forgiven myself. I had a sexual experience with a 7- or 8-year-old boy. I was 16.

Then on a Tuesday—a day I’ll never forget—the boy’s mother knocked on our apartment door. My life forever changed on that day. I confessed and had to go to the police. I was lucky because the case was dropped by the judge.

I had stopped by then, although I’m pretty sure I would not have done it again even if I had not got caught.

I explained to my parents and the psychologist that I did it because it had been done to me. They didn’t believe me because the person who had done it to me was not much older than I was.

I accepted that, and never understood why I had committed that most awful sin. Eleven years later, I realized I was re-enacting what happened to me when another psychologist suggested it— as a reason, and not as an excuse.

Maybe that’s why I let the abuse to me go on—as self-punishment.

A Letter from a Female Reader

The letter below comes from Jen Puckett, a female follower of this blog.

* * * * *

Dear Cec,

I want you to know what your willingness to share about your abuse has meant to my husband and me. After reading your book, my husband felt understood and not alone or like something was wrong, defective, or disgusting about him. We’re especially grateful that as a Christian man you were gut honest about same-sex attraction and the struggle that causes when you genuinely love your spouse. I read your book for wives too and found encouragement in your words and in the ways you said your wife supported you most, even when she least knew how.

My husband is reading More Than Surviving right now. He appreciates knowing he’s not alone. He's 48 years old, and his abuse happened from childhood through age 16. It's been a long road. We've been through intensive individual and marriage counseling over the last couple years and are rebuilding our seventeen-year marriage.

A few years ago, I felt a desire to write a book of my own from the wife’s perspective—before we were ever ready ourselves—and treasured it in my heart until now. I struggle to tell the agonizing stories, but my husband and I agree that unless the raw truth is told, it won’t help other survivors’ wives. Your honesty and transparency in writing are what enabled him to open up toward healing.

We both know the price in exposing the truth is high. My husband’s ministry could be devastated, or we could have a shift in the way people look at abuse—especially male sexual abuse among Christianity. The chasm between true compassion and hope for the hurting and the shock or discomfort with the symptoms of abuse seems insurmountable; therefore, the church often refuses to acknowledge it. But you gave it a voice long ago, and voices are beginning to join yours. Ours will. Others will too.

We sincerely thank you, Cecil, for sharing your harrowing journey. You risked so much to help other hurting men heal and know they’re not alone. You exposed light into the darkest places of unspoken shame. You opened never-before-opened doors for abused men and showed them firsthand the courage it takes to walk through them. As a wife to an incredible survivor, I am beyond blessed that you chose to use your voice and write your words.

God bless in every way,

Jen

Same-sex Attraction

This post is from Roger Mann.

* * * * *

It's been a difficult struggle to accept God's truth about me. I impose so much of my dad's attitudes and vocalizations when thinking about God. It's not fair to God and not fair to me, but those ruts in the road of my logic journey are deep. The wagon just doesn't want to slip out and turn onto a different direction, a healthier direction without heroic effort. I feel I need some kind of an aha moment to turn that corner and leave this mental track.

From my high school days into in my fifties, I secretly accepted I was what everyone else probably thought: I'm gay. But I refused to admit it out loud. The closest I came was to tell someone I was bi and even that hurt and gave me a mental cringe.

I now admit that I have an unwanted same-sex attraction that I struggle against due to my childhood sexualization by my father and others. While I believe that to be accurate, it is not what God sees when He looks at me. At least I hope so. But even if he does see me that way, I love the fact that he loves me anyway, is not uncomfortable with my telling Him I love him and knowing there is no misunderstanding when I say it.

I’ve been uncomfortable telling another man that I love him, especially if he knows my history. Hugging another guy is fine if he doesn't know, but hugging one who does is awkward for me.

What is he thinking? Am I releasing fast enough so he doesn't think I am enjoying the contact too unduly?

Years ago, when I attended my first men’s conference, I was uncomfortable with any physical interaction for that reason. I also was careful not to seem like I was favoring certain guys so no one would get any ideas.

For me it's been a mine field. So, yeah, it's different from "I have a problem with alcohol, so let's not go to a bar."

I need male fellowship—healthy male fellowship— but I isolate because of the above. I feel like heaven's misfit toy. Still usable but marked down as defective.

A Note from Ben Franklin

Last year, at age 62, I began seeing a psychiatrist for sleep problems. On my second visit, he told me I showed classic signs of depression and PTSD and asked how long I’d been depressed. I mentioned the verbal and emotional abuse I suffered at the hands of my father, but some of the traumatic events were blocked from my conscious thought.

One day, my wife asked why I was so angry. I told her about flashbacks I had of my father violently raping me as he accused me of being a reminder of two men he had sex with during his time in the army. Because I was named after those two men, he couldn’t forget what he had done.

My wife was dumbstruck. By the time I finished my story, I was huddled in a corner of the patio with tears streaming down my face. I had never told anyone. Who would I tell? Who would believe an eight-year-old child?

Back then I didn’t understand the sexual content. I just knew the physical and emotional pain and the betrayal. After the rape, my father never hugged me again. He never said he loved me, and he belittled my accomplishments until he died.

My psychiatrist transferred me to a psychology resident. He’s been wonderful help along this journey. But while reading your book Not Quite Healed, I realized that many of the trials and tribulations I’ve dealt with all these years aren’t unique to me. I see myself in almost every chapter, and I can usually read only one or two before tears overtake me.

When my therapist asked me what I hoped to get out of our sessions, I told him I wanted to quit hating myself. You’ve helped me take the first positive steps in that direction. Thank you!

My wife is reading your companion book and is trying hard to work through this with me. Just writing this to you has helped. I’m not quite healed, but I’m working on it!

Ben Franklin (not my real name)

Self-confidence

Roger's post below originally came in as a note to me, but I felt it needed to be read by everyone.

When I read his comments, several memories flooded me.

I’ve been there—too many times. I assume most of you men have had such experiences.

Here’s mine:

One time the table was full, but I pulled up a chair and joined the group. Several of them nodded or acknowledged me, but no one spoke to me or invited me to join the two or three conversations going on around me.

I was surrounded by people I knew and yet totally alone. I ate my meal, got up, said “Excuse me,” and left. No one acknowledged my leaving.

That happened in 1990. Why do I still remember? The pain. The rejection. Those two things hit me, and yet, had I asked, I’m sure each of the people would have been shocked that I felt rejected.

READ ON.

(Cec)

* * * * *

Not sure if it’s shame or fear of rejection, but when I was at a church sponsored men’s conference this weekend I felt awkward and had difficulty joining in. If it was a meeting where we were all supposed to be there or a small group like in our cabin where all were expected to be present, then I was okay walking in late and joining. It was expected. But to just walk up to a group and join the conversation, I was not comfortable.

At one point, we were all sitting around a table and talking before breakfast. I went to the bathroom, and when I came back everyone had gone to the tables where they served breakfast. No one looked for me or waved me over. I finally saw them all the way across the room and felt completely abandoned. All the seats at their table were taken, so I got a plate and sat at an empty table. I finished eating and went for a walk.

I just couldn’t bring myself to walk all the way over there and look for a seat. I was afraid there wouldn’t be one and it would be awkward. I’m not shy, but I found myself angry that I could let myself get in that situation. All of them are good guys. Why couldn’t I go over and ask to sit with them?

(Roger Mann)


A Note from Cec

Monday, May 14, 2018
Since I started this blog in 2010, I’ve never deleted or restricted points of view. That has changed with the ongoing comments about masturbation.

IMO, the comments have gone beyond helping and encouraging men in their struggles for healing, inner-peace, and self-esteem.

This is a blog aimed at healing for hurting men.