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.

Roger's Response

Over the years, Roger Mann has been a generous contributor to this blog, and I’ve been impressed with his insights and honesty. I’ve asked him to write occasional posts to help out. His response to my request impressed me, and I asked his permission to share it with you. I look forward to his posts in the future. (Cec)

* * * * *

Years ago, I'd only been working on my recovery for five years or so, and all I wanted was to get fixed and get on with my life. Once I was "normal" I never wanted to hear about this stuff ever again or anyone else who had experienced it. It was ugly, dirty, shameful, and socially unacceptable.

I laugh now, because once I began to accept what happened to me and deal with it I became aware and in contact with others who shared so much of what I felt and was going through. It tugged at my heart, and I found myself responding, replying, and supporting them in their struggle too. I was not alone. It was not my fault. I needed to share those truths with others who also were hurting. I couldn't leave them.

The site I most frequent now I have two threads that I post on for my personal stuff—the single men's forum and the married men's forum. I have noticed I have six times the views of the next most popular thread. God has blessed me with insight and the compassion to articulate it. I guess I know why. Someone needs to say perhaps the things that I say and to share the hurt and victories that I experience.

And so I stay. Even though my wife thinks it's too much, I know I am needed there on those forums as His voice. Deep down I still wish I could walk away but I know I can't. I'm not done yet. God's not done with me yet.

That said, we both feel I should accept your offer and do what I can to help others along this journey, if only by pointing out what not to do. Let me know where to go from here and I will do my best to send you what I can.

An Email from Preston

Preston Hill emailed me the following note in response to the post titled “Naming Myself.” He gave me permission to share it with you here. (Cec)

* * * * *

I have treasured your emails for a long time now. I have been feeling prompted, in my own healing, to reach out. This email is, perhaps, the straw that broke the camel's back.

Identification is a power healing step, one I have been feeling my own heart inviting me into. My first public admission was with one of my professors in Bible college. I later started a support group with this safe sojourner. This group brought more self-disclosure, more safe solidarity, and therefore, more disruptive naming of pain that was necessary for healing to occur.

We used to always say in the group, "You cannot heal from what you have not named." In many ways, my journey of healing has been a process of learning my name, and naming myself.

A Story and Guidelines

First, I’ll tell you a story.

For more than 30 years, I’ve made my living as a professional writer (primarily a ghostwriter). Back in 2010, male survivors contacted me after I spoke at conferences. By then, each time I made oblique references to my abusive childhood.

Almost every time I spoke, some man would come to me afterward and say sheepishly, “I’m—uh, one of those—uh, men.”

Often, I was the first person he had ever told. I felt those men gave me a precious part of their trust and I didn’t want to violate it. And, as many of you know, trust is hard for us.

Second, those experiences made me sense the need for a blog—a safe place for hurting and healing men. That’s why I started MenShatteringtheSilence. The blog is to offer insight and encouragement for sharing our lives with each other.

This isn’t a chat room or a typical sharing group. Please don’t send personal messages to other blog readers. I want the entries to be of a general nature and focus on healing and growth.

Third, I’m a serious Christian, and several blog readers don’t embrace the same faith. I don’t want them turned away because of the posts. That’s not to ignore God in our lives, but to ask you, the readers and commenters, to be sensitive to them.

Some of you experienced sexual assault by those individuals who were supposed to represent God—pastors, Sunday school teachers, youth ministers. I want this blog to be the kind where any hurting man can find healing for his soul.

Fourth, if any of you want to talk to me personally, you may email me at cec.murp@comcast.net. If you want to make direct contact with someone on the blog who gives his name, I’ll send your request to that person and leave it up to him whether to respond.

Finally, thank you for reading this blog. I’ve been on the healing path a long time. I’m still learning and growing when I read your comments.

An Email from James

The following is an email I received from James Fitzwater in response to the post titled “Naming Myself.” James gave me permission to share his words. (Cec)

* * * * *

Hi, I’m James.

Almost 5 years ago, my wife and I had come to a terrible place in our relationship. I was incapable of developing intimacy. In my mind I blamed her for her disagreeable attitude. Things were spiraling downhill fast as among other things she threatened divorce, left me and the kids a few times, and occasionally slept in the closet. As I tried to understand her behavior, it was suggested that she might have a personality disorder. I became convinced that this was the problem and sought pastoral counseling. When she ran across my email and found out that I had labeled her with a mental illness, she became angrier.

My wife was convinced that I was gay and wanted me to tell her what was going on with me. One night she was determined to get an answer, and under threat of divorce hours into the night—turning lights on and off and throwing water on me—I broke down and confessed that I was sexually abused. I felt relieved to not be in denial, or having to keep my secret any longer.

It has been a long journey of seeking help, joining and leaving a survivor’s group, CR, marriage counseling, and still having significant moral failures before a divorce this year. Now I realize my wife’s issues were primarily brought on by my issues. Beginning in June of this year with Not Quite Healed, I began a real recovery journey finally surrendering to Jesus. Now I’m in therapy, a sex addicts group, Celebrate Recovery, and a home Bible study group.

Sharing my story has been very difficult, the consequences of my sins almost unbearable, but those steps were necessary to get me on a healing journey. They were a tremendous grace extended to me. I am grateful for the mercy I’ve received, the strength to make changes, and the hope that I now have. Taking it one day at a time.

A Number (Part 2 of 2)

By Daniel K. Eichelberger

I am a statistic. The experts say that one out of every six boys have experienced the things that I have. A staggering number of individuals...boys…children...youth. The number is thought to actually be higher, as it is estimated that as many as 90% never disclose that they have been through it. And of this selected group (yes, we were certainly selected), there are yet more statistics. Disheartening statistics that indicate all of us nameless, faceless numbers are likely to engage in unhealthy and risky behavior in adulthood—drugs, crime, abuse, sexual deviance and promiscuity. The percentages there are shocking. Almost 80% are left with at least one psychological disorder.

Can anything less be expected when you have been robbed of your identity and ushered into that selected group where you are only one of a number of others, useful as long as your flesh is warm? (Did I say selected? Certainly, we were that).

I am a number. Yes. I am a statistic. But I am also something else. It is the miracle of God’s grace that, statistic though I am in the first sense, I have not become one in the second. I am definitely part of the one in six. Maybe part of the 80%. But I have been spared from the statistics of unhealthy and risky behavior. God’s love and grace caught me just in the nick of time.

So, while I am still just a number in one sense, I will rejoice that I am not in the other. I will praise my Maker for loving and seeking me out before my life was wrecked by destructive behavior. And I will dedicate my time, my life, my compassion, my empathy, my love to being His hands and feet in helping those other numbers, those nameless faces—those part of all of the statistics. It is the least that a fellow number can do.

A Number (Part 1 of 2)

By Daniel K. Eichelberger

I am a number. I am one of many, a part of a selected few. Selected? Yes, but in reality, maybe we are not really few. If I am to believe experts in this matter, the number in this special group is more than most could believe.

Yet, among so many, I am just one. A number. One of the faceless amid the multitude that carry the dark secret, the unnamable burden, the smothering past. While it is certain that I am not alone, I am still just a number. Isolated. Disconnected. By my thoughts and emotions, separated from most.

To them I was just a number. Yes, I had a name and personality uniquely my own. They knew this. They called me by name. They gave me attention. They gave me their time. (Did I say gave me their time? I paid a high price for it). They taught me things. Things I should never have known at that age and under those circumstances. In teaching me, they robbed me of my identity and foisted on me a new one, for I could no longer be carefree and innocent. I could no longer view myself without abhorrence and shame. They distorted my self-knowledge and made me believe things about myself that were never true. To them, I might as well have been nameless.

I was only one of many. How many others like me did they use to satisfy their baser passions? Many before me. Who knows how many after me?

I can prove that I am just a number. I have the newspaper articles related to one of them. There were over two hundred like me. Over two hundred! Mine was the case that blew the whole thing wide open. Mine. The scope absolutely stunned the local authorities. Journal entries. Drawings. Photos. Spanning years. Years! I am positive that my photo was in there. Was there a journal entry in his diary about me, too? A drawing? One? Two? Eighty?

You see, I wasn’t special after all. Not to him, or to any of the others. I was one of many. A face. When it all boiled down to it, I was a body. That is all.

Running from the Past

My friend Gary Roe sent me a copy of his book Heartbroken: Losing a Spouse. Much of what he writes applies to healing from abuse as well as from the loss of a spouse.

One sentence stayed with me long after reading: "As we allow ourselves to feel the pain, our hearts will begin to heal."

Wonderful words, but the problem comes for many with the statement, "allow ourselves to feel the pain." That's what many won't or can't do.

"It hurts too much," is a common response.

Of course it's painful and traumatic. If it didn't hurt, the healing would have taken place long ago.

Instead of facing the situations, too many medicate themselves so they can run from their past—and it's not a conscious choice. It's our individual way of coping. Some resort to drugs, others by cutting off their emotions. My medication was busyness. For years, I was a driven man but had no awareness of it. "That's just the way I am," I often said.

Gradually, I learned to stop running (which is what my busyness was accomplishing). I wrote gradually because that's probably the best expression I know.

After I became aware, I decided to do something about coping with my drivenness. I read everything I could on how to live in the present and slow down. Taking time to read, in itself, was part of my slowing down. Yet slowing down was painful because I had time to think. And to feel. But I stayed with it and I'm making progress.

The struggle to run from my pain was useless. I couldn't outrun my childhood trauma.

But I could face it.

And I have.