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.

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)

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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.

The Two Sides of My Abuser

(This post comes from Mark Cooper.)

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Many of us felt confusion about our abuse because our abuser was also good to us. We enjoyed the good times, so how could what they did in abusing us be bad?

We may still deal with that confusion. How do we reconcile our conflicting memories of pain and pleasure? 

If we enjoy photographs taken with that person, or if we value a gift they gave us, are we betraying our inner wounded child? If we face the evil they did to us, are we betraying what was good about them?

I’ve had less depression, increased energy, a greater sense of purpose and peace about myself as a man, and more confidence in my relationships as I’ve accepted that my abuser indeed abused me and caused great harm in my life. But then I’d remember the turtle shell he showed me when I was ill, the time he gently held my hand to remove a painful splinter, or the oak plant stand he made for me.

Enjoying the good memories filled me with guilt. If he had been kind to me even once, then how dare I call the other times abuse? Admitting he hurt me caused me to feel as if I were to blame for the pain, just as it did when I was a child.

One day my friend Jason laid a pen on the table in front of me. He said, “The way you’re thinking makes as much sense as saying, ‘There is a pen on the table; therefore, I wasn’t abused.’” He explained what he meant. “Just like this pen has nothing to do with whether you were abused, his doing something good for you has nothing to do with whether you were abused. You were abused because he abused you!”

Now, when I start down my old pathway of thinking, I remind myself that a good memory doesn’t undo the abuse. Neither does the abuse void the good my abuser did. The truth is, my abuser did cause deep pain and damage in my life. He also did good and gave me memories that I still enjoy.

My inner peace grows as I accept that my abuser was capable not only of evil but also of good. I knew both sides of him.

Having a Terrible Time

This post is from Roger Mann.

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Around certain meaningful dates, I’ve experienced times of intense increase in same-sex attraction (SSA) and desires to binge on pornography and masturbation. For me, I finally realized that the fantasies, memories, and desires were deep down my own boy inside wanting to make a different outcome than what actually occurred back then. It was like I was trying to re-write history— my sexual history with my father and others.

It was bad back then. But I didn't understand how bad. It was all new and arousing in ways I’d never dreamed of, but at the same time very unsatisfying. And as I got older and more aware of what kinds of things could have happened, I began to be drawn into fantasy of what might have been had this or that just happened. It fed a porn and masturbation binge time and time again.

Sometimes it led to actually acting out. The thing is, even when I acted out and the situation should have been perfect, there was always something inside me that said, “NO, this is not who you are." And the witness of the truth of that ruined it as it should have.

As I said, it was a terrible time. Finally, I began seeing that it was just my mind desperately wanting a different end—a fantasy relationship with my father. Or later with another my own age. And as I got older, with someone even younger than me. Perhaps it was in an effort to reverse roles to make it end differently that way.

I wanted the love, acceptance, and affirmation that I never got. I got sex from Dad, but nothing more. For the rest of my life I had been willing to trade my body for that. But that's not how one gets that, and that's not who we should look to in order to obtain it.

For me, God is the only one who gives unconditional love with no strings attached and none needed. It took me way too long to learn that, and I left a wake of destruction trying to find it in all the wrong places.

These Ashes

This post comes from Daniel Eichelberger.
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I’m like a man poking through the cold ashes of a long-dead fire—bent, intently combing, sifting, and looking for remnants of a childhood untouched by pain, and where innocence is unshattered by the knowledge of forbidden things. I’ve been poking for a long time and coming up with nothing.

What kind of treasures can I really find in the leftovers of an inferno, the heat of which reduces everything to a substance nearly as light as air? If sifting through them is futile, why don’t I just give up the search? Why can’t I just leave them alone?

Some of my true friends probably silently ask the same question as they observe my persistent behavior. What power is there in the remains of experiences long past? They never ask those questions in my presence. A few of them even poke around with me in this gray-and-black mess. Although I appreciate their support, they really don’t know what they’re looking for or understand the attraction such a fruitless task holds for me.

Neither do I.

Maybe the remnants of a childhood aren’t what I seek. Perhaps it’s redemption.

Roger Mann's Response to "Excess Baggage"

The following is Roger Mann's response to last week's post.
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There has been so much hurt and confusion in my life, and all of it has left its mark. Or maybe I should I say scar. Admittedly, I have not handled it well. To be honest, much of it was in response to my thrashing about trying to find a way to live with the confusion and sadness I carried from childhood disappointments that I never resolved. I hurt those I loved, and when you do that, it leaves a mark on you too.

So I guess I have a lot of baggage—a lot of excess weight that keeps me earthbound. I have walled off my heart from people, and God seems to be the only one I trust enough to allow His love to touch me. I don't want to hurt. That's a fact. But I don't want to hurt anyone else by allowing them to get close and then disappointing them. I overheard my wife ask our counselor, "Why am I not enough?" and I honestly could not tell her. I just didn't know.

Why do I get so sad some days? Why do I get so angry over such little slights? Why am I so insecure with her and so self-assured with strangers? People who don't know me well seem to love me. Those who get close discover a different person entirely. It's a lot of weight to carry around. It's a lot of balls to juggle and keep in the air. And it's similar to the personality of my father. Everyone loved Dad and loved to come and visit. Those of us who lived with him often wondered why he was so different with us.

I suspect there is a root belief somewhere deep that keeps this cycle going. I just don't seem to be able to find where it's located in that bag of mine and what form it takes.