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.

More Emotional Confusion (Part 2 of 2)

It's not easy for most of us to turn against someone we love and whom we thought loved us. Too often the abuser was someone within our family or our circle of relationships.

How is it possible to forget that relative or religious leader? Such people will continue to be part of our lives. Even if we avoid the perpetrator, others will speak of him. If the abuse isn't known, they'll likely speak well of him and wonder why we don't like that person. "He was always so nice to you," someone will say. "He really loved and admired you," another might say. We don't know how to respond and mistakenly feel it's too late to say anything.

Our perpetrator is rarely some stranger who assaults us. Most of the time it's a person for whom we retain good memories. The old man who assaulted me had always treated me warmly and kindly. He lured me into his room by giving me snacks. (And only in retrospect could I use the word lured.)

One of my friends told of his confused feelings. "What did I have to gain if I told on my stepfather?" By telling about the sexual assault, he not only felt he would lose his stepfather but the whole family. "And so I never did."

By speaking up, too often the victims get punished. They're not believed, or they feel they're blamed for "ruining" the family.

We're the victims of the abuse, 
and sometimes we're also victims of the ruined family.


Carolyn Ruch said...

Ninety percent of survivors were violated by someone they know, trust, and love. I heard a counselor who counsels sex offenders speak recently.He told the audience that he's not as concerned about protecting his children from the registered sex offender who lives down the street, who is a stranger to his family, as he is about protecting his kids from the friendly neighbors who live next door.

TomsVOICEToday said...

I think this is the true horror of child sexual abuse. People and families truly believe that by protecting a family member or friend who would sexually violate a child, they somehow hold the family together. Is this a family worth holding together? This response is a second level of abuse for the victim by the family and friends that should help him. A survivor builds a self image based on these reactions that says that protecting family image is more important than truly living the values the family projects as an image.