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.

David Arakelian's Story (Part 1 of 2)

(By David Arakelian)

I'm a believer who struggles with sexual brokenness and the effects of sexual abuse.
During most of my childhood, my mother was extremely ill, and my father vacillated between being emotionally absent and raging at me. I had no close friends and spent most of my time playing alone in my sandpile.

I had extremely low self-esteem, and believed that I was less than other guys. I have struggled with body-image issues as well.

When I was 13 or 14, my next-door neighbor, the youth pastor of a church, started sexually abusing me. He said he wanted to lead me to the Lord. After he sexually abused me, he'd tell me, "Now we have to repent, or else we'll go to hell."

I was alone in my grief about my mother's passing. The continuing sexual abuse left me feeling hopeless and powerless to stop it. I regularly felt suicidal and developed intestinal symptoms that mimicked my mother's disease. I was convinced that I was going to die at a young age. I was equally certain that I was bound for hell because of my involvement with homosexuality. The idea of death terrified me.

The abuse lasted until I was 17, when I went to college to study for the ministry. Other people seemed to be impressed by my knowledge of Scripture and of doctrine. I had answers for other people, but none for myself.

At the beginning of my freshman year of college, I met my wife. We both came from horribly dysfunctional homes. My wife's father was an alcoholic, who made it known that he was going to divorce his wife as soon as all of the kids were out of the house.

I had my own set of hurts, hang-ups, and habits. People from our church told my wife that it was morally wrong to bring children into this world, because of the overpopulation issues. That drove a wedge between my wife and me.

Her parents didn't like me and kept telling her to leave me. After three years of marriage, my wife left. She refused to talk to our pastor about the issues in our marriage. I didn't want the divorce, and didn't believe the issues were so bad they couldn't have been solved.

After we separated, I discovered adult bookstores, and various other places where sex addicts hung out.

I was hooked.

I became sexually active with other guys—almost daily. I was filled with guilt and shame. I was sure that people would be repulsed if they really knew the extent of my behavior. From other guys, I desperately sought acceptance, affirmation, affection, and a sense of belonging.

Later, I lived in a Christian community in Boston. I'd been horrible to my housemates. As my addiction worsened, I lashed out at them. My room was right off of the kitchen, and I was one of the few housemates that had their own phone. I talked on my phone with my bedroom door wide open. They could hear me telling others I hated my housemates and how much they were trying to restrict my leaving the community to go to my acting-out places.

Finally, members of the community told me that either I had to stop acting out, or I'd have to find a new place to live. I started going to SLAA (Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous) and gained sexual sobriety from involvement with other guys.

I thought that I was over my biggest problem, and that I could get on with my life.

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