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.

"Walking in the Rain"

I taped the second Oprah Winfrey show where she dealt with male sexual abuse and watched the program that same night. She had two hundred sexually assaulted men in her audience. I was touched by their openness (and their tears).

Afterward, I thought about what I had seen, and I went emotionally numb. I haven't had that kind of emotional freeze for years. The last time it had happened was when I watched a PBS program on sexual abuse—a documentary by a Canadian woman who had been a victim of incest by her father. After watching her documentary, I wasn't able to talk afterward and went for a long walk late at night.

A similar thing happened after the Oprah segment and I went for a walk in the dark. Even before I was out of my yard, I had a flashback.

I was somewhere between 12 and 14 years of age. I lived on Second Street but at night I often walked down Third because it was darker and I wanted to be alone. During those walks I felt the pain of childhood—not the molestation because I had "forgotten" that. I felt useless and unloved.

As I walked, I felt totally alone. "No one cares about me," I said aloud as I walked along. If I died, I didn't think anyone would miss me. I assumed my mother would cry, but she cried about many things, and she would soon forget me.

A few times I walked in the rain and that caused me to feel even more alone. The rain pelted my face and my clothes and I didn't care.

The brief flashback after the Oprah show reminded me of the pain of my teen years. I had forgotten about those walks, but somewhere, deep inside, the memory had lay hidden.

After my walk I tried to talk to Shirley and called my best friend. With both of them I stammered, trying to find words to explain, and finally quit trying to put my emotions into words.

I went into our guest room and lay on the bed. I kept thinking of that kid walking in the dark, and his pain washed over me again. "I'm with you," I whispered to that confused, miserable teen inside me. "I'm here now and we're both safe."

Eventually I relaxed and fell asleep. Perhaps an hour later I awakened. The pain was gone but the memory remained vivid.

I share this because it reminds me that there seems always to be just a little more hidden pain. But these days I'm older and I feel compassion for that lonely boy who walked in the dark.

From a Registered Sex Offender

It is November 13 and I'm listening to you on the Janet Parshall show on Bott radio and want to say thank you for being who you are and what you are doing.

I was sexually abused at a young age and it affected me through my life and I became an abuser to the point I went to prison. I don't look on the prison as bad because it was God's way of saving me. Each day I grow more in the Lord, but there have been two times in the last seven years when I tried to end my life.

I'm glad you are able to reach people before they go through what I'm going through now. As a registered sex abuser it does make my walk rough.

My wife and sons stand by me, but there are times I wish my life would end to free them so they can have a normal life.

Please keep me in your prayers.

--Name withheld

A Sad Note from the Wife of an Abused Man

I'm encouraged to see people discussing this subject. Maybe there is hope for me. I love my husband, but the dysfunction in our marriage is consuming me. I have been battling for a marriage that I don't believe my husband wants to be in. He stayed in a recovery home for men for five months, but went back to his same behavior. That was roughly five years ago.

Our marriage started on a foundation of drugs and alcohol. God has set me free, but my husband remains in chains. He's an alcoholic and I'm not a professional, but after reading all the blog entries, I think I know the root cause.

He has told me his uncle (also an alcoholic) put his tongue in his mouth when his family housed him there for a while. I don't know what else happened, but I know it ruined my husband.

He's always been uninterested in sex with me, yet I believe he's had numerous affairs. I met a woman in a line at Drug Mart who told me my husband was her boyfriend.

Five years ago, he had a record for indecent exposure for having sex in a van with a woman. Lately, he makes statements under his breath like, "I'm not gay" and "I don't like sex."

We recently did not make love for over two months. His uncle that abused him showed up on Facebook and sent him two friend requests lately and my husband wants to murder him.

He is an expert avoider when I try to talk to him and he says he wants to be married to me, but I feel he's being unfaithful. He lies all the time and hasn't confessed to the affairs. I have prayed and fasted many times and believe God told me to stay with him. I've left him twice since 1997 because of verbal, emotional, and financial abuse and he's recently admitted to the abuse against me.

His mother physically abused him as a child and he is full of rage and anger that he numbs it all with alcohol (and maybe drugs still).

I obviously have codependency issues that stem from all the addicts in my family. I suffer from depression because I don't trust my husband, but I'm torn about divorcing him. He never spends time with me or our two daughters outside of our house. We never have company and he would be happy living in the wilderness away from the whole world. I am lonely and confused. Please pray for us.

--At her request, we have withheld her name.

"Who Am I?"

"I didn't know who I was," Mac said to me after I spoke to a Celebrate Recovery group. "Being molested messed with my brain," he said.

Mac didn't have a lot formal education but he said it well. Abuse affects all parts of our lives. I'm constantly amazed in my own life when I have a jarring realization of something I say or do that connects to my abuse.

Here's an example. I recently spoke with "Matt" about his abuse. He made me uncomfortable because he invaded my space—standing about six inches away from me—far too close.

In our conversation I put my hands on his shoulders as I took a step back, and said, "I'm uneasy when you stand so close." Before he could say anything, I added, "but I think it speaks about your need for intimacy."

Those words rushed out of my mouth without my consciously thinking of them. Tears filled Matt's eyes and he nodded slowly. "I know, but I can't help myself. I feel I have to move close to people and yet they move away from me."

I thought of buzz words like lack of boundaries and a number of things to help him, but instead, I heard myself say, "I'll bet you wished someone would hug you—a lot."

He nodded. "And when they do, I don't want to let go and that makes them not want to hug me again."

In that moment, I realized how many times I've wanted to be held, hugged, or even touched. It became clear to me that I had felt a similar need as Matt, but I reacted to it differently. When I hugged, I did it with great intensity (perhaps I still do). But the difference is that back then I tried to signal that I wanted the same intense embrace I gave them. Instead, I think I made them feel uncomfortable.

Like Mac, I continue to realize how much my being molested messed with my brain.

Didn't Feel Loved

(By Anonymous)

I heard you say that you didn't feel loved and I started to cry. My Dad screamed at me all the time, "I hate you! I wish you'd never been born!" Most days I feel no good and useless.

My wife knows about the man who molested me and she tries to help me. Maybe I'm just slow, but it's taking a long time, but I think I'm going to make it.

My wife tells me every day that she loves me. No one said to me before.

Please don't use my name.

Dan Breaks His Silence

(By Dan, Des Plaines, IL)

I never told my story to anybody. I heard you on radio and had to write something. You made me get it that I have to talk about what happened to me. It hurt and I still hurt and I'm 37. My Sunday school teacher started doing things to me when I was only 10. I was big for 10 and maybe that had something to do with it. He kept at it until he got sick with cancer. He told me that no one would ever love me as much as he did.

I know he was wrong and what he did was bad, but I can't forget what he did to me for 13 years.

I go to a different church and they have a group called Celebrate Recovery. I am better because of them but I still hurt.

"What We Didn't Get"

I wrote an email to a hurting friend, who suffers from the effects of terrible things he's done to others. I'm sorry for his pain, but delighted he's facing himself. It takes courage to look at ourselves and admit that we committed acts we condemn in others. (In fact, condemning others for those very acts is often the way many try to cope with their issues.)

When I faced my childhood physical and sexual abuse, I learned an invaluable lesson. I don't know if I read it, someone told me, or if God whispered it to me, but here's the lesson: What we don't receive in childhood, we spend our lives seeking—usually on an unconscious level.

Like most people I focused on the symptoms—not doing things I knew were wrong. Years ago while visiting an AA meeting, I heard the term "dry alcoholic" and that sums it up for me. Dry alcoholics no longer drink but their behavior doesn't change.

I figured out that "unacceptable behavior" (a nice term to cover compulsive problems) is a painkiller. My dad and brothers killed their pain with beer. The most notorious gossip I've ever known died recently. Many times I've thought that carrying the latest news (true or not) gave her a sense of feeling significant, perhaps even important. The "medicine" each of them took for temporary relief usually worked temporarily.

Because of a loving God who worked in my life through my wife and my best friend, I was able to accept, struggle, and to have those needs fulfilled.

I was a lonely kid who felt different from those around him. When I was 18 months old, a dog attacked me and left terrible scars on my face. Plastic surgery took care of most of the visible scars, but the invisible ones remained for years.

The worst part of my childhood is that I never felt loved. As I ponder some of the things I did which made me feel guilty and ashamed, I now say to myself, "It was my way of searching for what I didn't receive as a child."

I'm probably no different from some of you, so I repeat the sentence that pushed me to face reality: What we don't receive in childhood, we spend our lives seeking—usually on an unconscious level.

Sorting It Out For Yourself

(This post, submitted by Jim Hopper, is from a page at www.1in6.org.)

How people define their own experiences, and the labels they give to them (or don't), are very important.

We're not interested in imposing labels, or even providing definitions. For our purposes, that's not necessary or helpful.

Instead, we're offering tools for thinking about childhood or teenage sexual experiences that may have caused or contributed to current problems.

For some of you, that's why you're here right now. You're trying to sort out, on your own terms:

· "What was that childhood (or adolescent) sexual experience really about?"

· "What effects has that experience had on me?"

· "Is that a reason why I'm struggling with _________?"

The question, "What was that sexual experience really about?" may be the most basic, and could take a while to sort out. It implies other questions, like:

· Was the other person in a position of power or authority over me?

· Was I manipulated into doing sexual things, or into believing I wanted to, even when I really didn't?

· Did sexual activity change what had been a positive relationship into one that involved secrecy and shame?

· Was the other person using me and not really considering my experience or my needs?

· Did the other person take advantage of vulnerabilities I had at the time – feeling isolated and lonely, feeling excited and curious but ignorant about sex?

These questions speak to possible exploitation, betrayal, and disregard for your well-being – experiences that can cause a variety of problems, right away and into adulthood.

No matter how old the other person was, if dominance, manipulation, exploitation, betrayal or disregard for your well-being were involved, the experiences(s) may have contributed to problems in your life now.

We are not pushing anyone to condemn or even to label the other person or people involved… Also, such experiences may have involved attention, affection and physical sensations that, at the time, you found pleasurable and in some way wanted (e.g., in a confused way mixed up with shame).

The point of trying to "sort things out," if you choose to do so, is to understand whether – and if so, why and how – the sexual experience(s) may have helped to cause some problems you have now (like problems with shame, anger, addiction, or depression).

We're providing resources for sorting out what makes sense to you, and for sorting out the options for dealing with your unique experiences and moving closer to the life you want.

Max's Story

(By Max Haskett)

My name is Max R. Haskett. I'm a successful and strongly healed survivor of childhood sexual abuse. I'm 65 years old, having done my surviving through the decades when sexual abuse healing wasn't an open topic. I was—and am— passionate about healing, which led me into the counseling profession as a marriage and family therapist.

I was tenacious about finding solutions and answers to my confusions. I attended every seminar, lecture, and workshop I could find. I read any book that might have a solution. I talked with thousands of people, most of whom were also struggling to heal. I found the 12-step world to be an enormous help, especially the groups called SIA (Survivors of Incest Anonymous) and ACA (Adult Children of Alcoholics). I found Cecil Murphey's book When A Man You Love Was Abused to be especially accurate in describing a male's feelings of being abused. It's excellent.

I offer three specific words to boys and men seeking guidance into their personal healing: hope, safety, and shame-free. Specially trained therapists are quite strongly clear about how to help men and women heal from the pain of sexual abuse. We now have sufficient and adequate answers, solutions, and guidance for healing.

From my perspective, I believe the experience of safety is fundamental to the possibility of telling the pain. To me, offering someone safety is the same thing as offering them God's Grace. To whatever level of felt safety, the person can risk the sharing of their painful truth. The third word I offer is shame-free. When listening to someone share their pain, the spirit of shame-free is the environment needed for healing. Hope exists when someone feels safe and is treated shame-free in response.

Decades of searching have indeed taught us a path to healing. I have great respect for Cec for his leadership in opening the channels of healing to our people that have to heal from their pain. Thank you, Cec.