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.

Lies Destroy

(By Thomas Edward)

Much of the sexual abuse boys encounter is not a single incident, but rather a prolonged period of multiple incidents. Whether a single incident or prolonged, the child's belief structure is shattered.

He is stamped with the idea that people are not trustworthy. They abuse, exploit, and hurt. They lie and deceive. Therefore, the boy's self-concept of being a man has been traumatically altered. His mindset and behavior in every relationship he encounters going forward is skewed.

Even in adulthood, his relationships are tainted with this violation of trust. His inner circle may consist of an army of one, himself. His life may feel unfulfilled, incomplete with the intimacy he desires.

He has experienced distorted values. He learned that violence in relationships is normal, sex is the way to achieving love, and being distant provides safety and protection. He has discovered that rape and homosexuality is normal.

The effect of these lies created pain that continued into manhood. Never trust men or women, he believes. For me, fearing and distrusting any type of intimacy placed me in isolation. Because of my feelings of rejection, I was unable to connect with people.

Other ramifications of abuse may incline the abused toward frequent, short-lived, or volatile relationships. This stage is a little better than isolation, but due to our suspicious nature, and the possibility of rejection, we invest no quality time in our relationships.

We mistrust words and the actions of others. Candid, open communication does not exist. When confronted with problems in relationships, we use silence, or hostility, and withdraw into ourselves. We blame others for our failed relationships. We often think, "I knew he couldn't be trusted!" Or, "She would hurt me."

Similar to domestic abuse survivors, we sometimes enter a relationship that recreates the abusive victim mentality for us. It feels comfortable. We are familiar with the scripted behavior pattern. We trap ourselves in a cycle.

The ramifications and results of the sexual abuse can be overwhelming, but with God's help, the desire to change, and the fortitude to work, we can find new life.

--Excerpted from Healing a Man's Heart (Holy Fire Publishing, 2009), by Thomas Edward, Pages 63-64

Thomas Edward is a speaker and the author of HEALING A MAN'S HEART. His desire is to help men of faith experience freedom from the pain of childhood sexual abuse. For more information about Thomas, his book, or his Healing Broken Men workshops, visit www.healingbrokenmen.com.

Tyler Perry Admitted It! Oprah Winfrey Announced It! And 200 Male Survivors Will Face It on November 5.

Writer/actor/producer Tyler Perry spoke about his childhood physical and sexual abuse in front of millions of Oprah viewers on October 21. He shared his story in an effort to liberate himself emotionally. On November 5, 200 male survivors will give voice to the issue of their abuse.

Physical and sexual abuse survivor and veteran author Cecil Murphey agrees that healing comes in the telling. But for every man who opens up about his abuse, millions of others wrestle with shame and the emotional bondage that keeps them quiet. What does it take for abused men to shatter the silence of the torment that has held them captive to their past? How can a friend or loved one help a survivor through the recovery process?

Tyler Perry told Oprah that as a child his unrelenting abuse made it nearly impossible for him to trust adults. Cecil Murphey says, “That’s normal and most of us carry distrust of people into adulthood.” Murphey said it wasn’t until he was shown unconditional love by his wife and a good friend that he was able to open up about his childhood trauma. Once he opened up, he was on his way to recovery.

Cecil Murphey offers the following suggestions to help a man you care about move through his recovery.

1. Be honest about your feelings. Don’t lie or hide how you feel.

2. Be a reflective listener. That is, pay attention and accept his thoughts and feelings.

3. Seek eye contact. Look at him as he talks.

4. Suggest regular times to talk. He might not know what he wants to say, or be unwilling to divulge more. As he speaks and you accept his words, it enables him to probe deeper into his past. As he probes, he heals.

5. Accept him as he is. He won’t be perfect at the end of his healing journey.

6. Recognize that healing won’t be in a straight line. After months of progress and increasing intimacy, he may suddenly reject you or create distance. If that happens, be patient. Think of it as time-out for him.

7. When appropriate, remind him that you love him, that you pray for him, and that God created him loveable.

8. Accept the pace of his progress. This is his painful past, not yours.

9. Avoid blaming him for problems in your relationship. His behavior was probably the best way he knew to cope.

10. Encourage him to empty himself of the trauma of his childhood and let go of resentments and anger of the past.

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).

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.

When Forgiveness Will Occur

Some men don't resolve the forgiveness issue. Until they perceive God's grace and forgiveness toward them, they can't truly forgive. Until they recognize they are made whole only by divine help, they can't push away the anger and grudges they hold.

He's ready to forgive when he no longer blames himself for the abuse or punishes himself for what he did or didn't do. Getting to that point is a gradual process and doesn't occur at one moment. As he learns to accept himself as he is and begins to treat himself with respect and affection, he may come to realize that forgiveness is an act of compassion toward himself.

It took time for me to grasp that. Whenever the topic of molestation came up, I thought of Mr. Lee and what his actions had done to me. At one point I said, "He ruined my life." He didn't ruin my life but he made it extremely painful for me. After I finally tired of exerting energy toward hating him, I chose a different path to follow.

Many of us want revenge in some way, especially if the perpetrator is alive. But even if we find a way to see the other punished, our pain won't be gone. We might be satisfied that justice has reigned, but it changes nothing for us.

So keep this clearly in mind: abuse is always wrong; abuse is always sinful; abuse always hurts.

Forgiveness allows our hurts to go into the Past file. Pain doesn't have to live in the Present file or Future file. We transfer the emotional energy we used for resentment and spend it on healthy relationships.

--excerpted from When A Man You Love Was Abused by Cecil Murphey, Kregel Publications, 2010, page 229.

Why Forgive?

"Why should I forgive him?" During the year I spent in the state-sponsored group for survivors, I heard that question several times. At first, several of us tried to answer the question.

One day, one of the group said, "That's a good question. When you know the answer yourself, you're ready to forgive."

I agreed with him.

As I've pondered the issue of forgiving perpetrators, here are reasons I've come up with to forgive:

* I now have freedom from the painful controls of my past. They no longer torment me.

* I have decreased the likelihood that my anger will be misdirected toward others who aren't responsible for the abuse, including myself.

* I have reduced the fear that I might have violent impulses.

* I grow in the process. I grow in relationship with other people. As long as I withhold forgiveness, I'm isolated from many things in my own emotional life. The stronger the anger and pain, the less open I am to positive emotions.

--excerpted from When A Man You Love Was Abused by Cecil Murphey, Kregel Publications, 2010, pages 228-229.

A Couple of Resources

Here are a couple of resources that might interest you:

On Wednesday, October 6, Kyria’s editor, Ginger Kolbaba, talked with bestselling author and physical and sexual abuse survivor Cecil Murphey on the subject of abuse. Cecil is also the author of When a Man You Love Was Abused (Kregel Publications). If you missed this powerful and important webinar, sponsored by Kregel Publications, check it out here in its entirety: http://blog.kyria.com/2010/10/overcoming_physical_and_sexual.html

Tuesday, October 5, was the debut of the Cec and Me radio show. The topic was sexual abuse, and the podcast can be heard at http://toginet.com/shows/cecandme

What Forgive Doesn't Mean

Many nonbelievers, as well as believers, don't fully grasp biblical forgiveness. To forgive doesn't mean that the victim needs to seek a relationship with the perpetrator. The offender needs the grace of God, but that doesn't mean the victim has to be the dispenser. The victim forgives because God's grace is at work in him.

To forgive doesn't mean that the offender's behavior was acceptable. It wasn't and it will never be acceptable. Forgiveness doesn't mean that the victim concedes that the perpetrator didn't mean to hurt him. Of course the victim was hurt.

To forgive doesn't mean that the crime--and it is a crime--has been wiped away or that the guilty won't ever be held accountable. To forgive doesn't condone or overlook the abuser's action.

--excerpted from When A Man You Love Was Abused by Cecil Murphey, Kregel Publications, 2010, page 228.

Don't Push Him to Forgive

"My Sunday school teacher told me I had to forgive," Tom said. "He said that if I didn't, God would hold my sin against me. And he quoted: 'If I regard [hold] iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me'" (Ps. 66:18 KJV). At the insistence of the teacher and a church deacon, Tom went to the front of the church, fell on his knees, and confessed that he had not been forgiving. A number of people knelt around him and prayed for him.

When Tom finished his story he looked directly at me. "Maybe I went through the right steps, but I didn't feel as if I'd forgiven my abuser." He paused and said, "In fact, I didn't want to forgive him--at least not then."

I know that script. Too many well-intentioned people want us to rush into forgiveness before we're ready. Yes, forgiving is a part of healing, but a lot of people make forgiveness and reconciliation the goal of healing. Don't urge him toward premature forgiving. To him, when someone makes him feel that he must forgive or he's not a good Christian, that's one more form of manipulation. When he's ready, he will forgive.

Just as you accept the pace at which he releases his pain, accept the pace at which he's ready to forgive his perpetrator. I believe in both, but to push, urge, or insist on it can become dangerous to his healing. When he's healed enough, he'll want to forgive. He's carried the pain a long time and it doesn't dissolve immediately. For some men, it's years before they can release the pain, and years before they can forgive.

--excerpted from When A Man You Love Was Abused by Cecil Murphey, Kregel Publications, 2010, page 227.

Loss of Nurture

A third serious loss--and there are many others--is the loss of a healthy, nurturing environment. Children deserve to be loved. We can't protect them from falling when they start to walk or from fumbling the first time they try to catch a ball. But shouldn't they have--and don't they deserve to have--an atmosphere of acceptance and love?

Children need to know that they are wanted and that they are loved. They also need to know that no matter how bad the world is, they have families to protect them. This isn't to blame parents for the abuse of their children by someone else. It is to point out again the loss that abused kids feel. When kids can't feel protected and safe, they've lost something that they can never regain. Because of not being loved and valued as children, it's difficult for them as adults to create a sense of healthy self-esteem and worth.

--excerpted from When A Man You Love Was Abused by Cecil Murphey, Kregel Publications, 2010, pages 44-45.