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 2 of 2)

(By David Arakelian)

Liz and I met at a church service in Boston. A short time later, we were married. I told her about my past and she accepted me.

I didn't foresee that a friend would set me up for online porn and cybersex. Almost immediately, I became addicted. The effects of my addiction tore at my soul and at the fabric of our marriage.

As a child I believed in Jesus Christ. My family was both Eastern Orthodox and the United Church of Christ. Before the abuse, I felt that I could go to God for help.
After the abuse, I hated God and believed he was against me and I blamed him for taking my mother when I needed her. I also blamed God for allowing the sexual abuse.

Liz and I went to Hope '99 (a local Christian outreach center), not sure what we were looking for. Ultimately, people prayed with us and led us to the Lord. We were baptized a month later. Jesus knew everything that I'd done and took away my guilt and shame. Despite that, I continued to struggle.

Liz and I joined Real Life Ministries Church. I told our pastor, Jim Putman, about my background and he wasn't put off because of my past. I felt like a leper, and yet Jim hugged me with a pure, brotherly love.

One afternoon, I was scheduled to meet with Jim, but instead met with another staff member. I'd messed up again and felt so guilty I didn't want to meet with either of them.

I was afraid of their responses, so I hurried out of the building. I locked myself in our van. Liz rushed out of the church toward the van with the other staff member behind her. Jim came to the van, talked to me, and convinced me to open the door.

He and I went into the church. We sat in the back pew and he put his arm around me. While I sobbed, he prayed. Jim told me that he expected me to turn my back on engaging in cybersex and looking at online porn—but he loved me and he was proud of me for trying so hard.

I could hardly believe his words: I'd never had another guy tell me that he was there for me, or that he loved me.

Our church started Celebrate Recovery (CR) and I received my 7-year chip in 2009. Jesus used CR to dig the junk out of my life. I have gained lasting friendships with other brothers by having gone through the 12 steps together. I’m co-leading a group, and I'm in seminary to get my MA in pastoral counseling.

Liz and I recently celebrated our 17th wedding anniversary. Other changes have occurred in my life as well. Even though my human father and my abuser gave me warped pictures of God's true nature, I stopped seeing God as waiting to zap me. Instead, he healed me and now uses my woundedness to encourage others.

The Bible says, "[God] comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us" (2 Corinthians 1:4, New Living Translation).

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