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.

Research Help Needed


My name is Angela Komar and I am working on my bachelor's thesis. I am looking for adult male survivors of female-perpetrated childhood sexual abuse; if you would be interested in being interviewed either by email, phone, instant message, face-to-face, or Skype please contact me at AKomarCASA@gmail.com and I will provide the letter of consent and answer any questions. This project has been approved by the Colorado College IRB. Feel free to visit my blog: http://adultmalecsa.blogspot.com/

Managing Our Triggers (Part 6 of 8)

(This post comes from Gary Roe.)

"How do I get better at identifying my triggers?"

Memorize and use the four questions. Think of a time you felt fearful or anxious. Work your way back to the original trigger-producing incident. Sometimes you can’t get back to the origin, but go as far back as you can. Pick another instance and go through the process again. Then again. Try it with emotions such as guilt and shame.

You can also do it with positive experiences. Think of an occasion when you felt extremely happy. Ask the four questions and see if you can get back to the first time you felt that way. Similar experiences may produce happy feelings in you. Try it with other emotions such as feeling excited, thrilled, peaceful, content, or satisfied.

A friend says, "Practice makes permanent." If we practice identifying what we’re feeling, and we trace our triggers backward, we can manage those triggers rather than allow them to manage us.

The more I practice tracing my triggers back to their origins, 
the better I’ll become at identifying triggers when they occur.

Managing Our Triggers (Part 5 of 8)

(This post comes from Gary Roe.)

"Can I really discover the root of that trigger?"

It takes practice. The more you practice asking the four questions, the better you are at stopping your thoughts after the initial emotional reflex.

Let's say I’m at a party and I’ve been introduced to someone. I feel uncomfortable. The stranger seems pleasant, but my anxiety expands. I excuse myself. The fear subsides.

What am I feeling and what just happened? I’m afraid. I met a stranger. When have I felt that way before? It happens occasionally when I meet someone new. When do I remember that first feeling? In early childhood when I met one of my perpetrators.

The person at the party reminded me of the perpetrator. That could also be a warning. The person might be dangerous, perhaps an abuser.

We can manage our triggers; If we don’t they’ll manage us.

If I continue to work at it, 
I may be able to trace a trigger back to its origin.

Managing Our Triggers (Part 4 of 8)

(This post comes from Gary Roe.)

"Once I know my triggers, how do I deal with them?"

When we're triggered, our reactions are automatic. We can’t stop reflex reactions, but we can learn to manage what happens next.

For example, I walk into a room filled with people I haven't met. I become self-conscious, because I feel as if everyone is staring at me.

What am I feeling and what just happened? I’m feeling nervous. I walked into a room where I didn’t know anyone. When have I felt this way before? When I entered a new environment. When was the first time I felt that way? I was about four years old at a department store with a female perpetrator. What happened the first time I felt that way? She knelt down beside me and said, "The world isn't a safe place. Stay close to me. I’ll protect you."

What was the trigger? Entering a place where I don’t know anyone. When I am triggered that way, I still hear my perpetrator’s message again. If I realize that, I can learn to see things from a different perspective. Being able to identify the trigger can derail the emotion train.

I don’t have to let my triggers rule and force me to relive my abuse. 
I can learn to unplug the "trigger train."

Goliath Won

After his sentence on October 9, 2012, Jerry Sandusky wrote a letter to Judge Cleland in which he compared his court trial with the biblical encounter of David and Goliath. "I was supposed to be David but failed to pick up the slingshot. Goliath won . . . "

He's right—Goliath won.

However, Sandusky was Goliath—a giant—when he abused those small boys, who didn't have slingshots and stones with which to fight. He won again when he denied his guilt. A third win was the re-victimizing of those boys in court when they were forced to recount their molestation in front of strangers and doubters.

No one knows how many little Davids suffered because of that one overpowering giant. But a few finally picked up slingshots. With tears and deep-seated anguish, those brave Davids testified about their abuse. And the jury believed them. The words at the sentencing make it clear that Judge Cleland believed it was time to punish Goliath.

For a few of us, there is justice.

But what about the cost to those once-innocent children? Those survivors again faced shame, rejection, pain, as well as criticism and denial for justice to prevail.

Managing Our Triggers (Part 3 of 8)

(This post comes from Gary Roe.)

"How do I discover my triggers?"

I suggest we ask ourselves these 4 questions: 

1. What am I feeling and what just happened?

2. When have I felt this way before?

3. When was the first time I felt that way?

4. What happened the first time I felt that way?

Here’s how this plays out. At a restaurant, an older man stares at me. Immediately I drop my head. Suddenly I feel nervous or anxious. I’ve been triggered, but if I’m not aware, I may feel uneasy for hours.

What am I feeling and what just happened? I’m feeling anxious and scared. An older man stared at me.

When have I felt this way before? I felt that way when an older man stared at me.

When was the first time I felt that way? When I was inside an older man’s house.

What happened the first time I felt that way? This older man called me to the back of the house and stared at me. Then he abused me.

Isolating how I feel and tracing it back to the first time I felt that way 
can help me identify the trigger.

Managing Our Triggers (Part 2 of 8)

(This blog post comes from Gary Roe.)

"How do I discover my triggers?" 

A definition of the word trigger from dictionary.com reads: Anything as an act or event that serves as a stimulus and initiates or precipitates a reaction or series of reactions.

The definition says anything can become a trigger—a look, word, situation, a scene from a movie or TV show, a song, noise, smell, or the tone of voice.

". . . initiates or precipitates a reaction or series of reactions." It’s not the initial reaction, but the subsequent ones that create the problem. If we don’t know we’ve been triggered, our emotions spiral downward and take us into depression or despair.

When we experience sudden, strong anger, anxiety, sadness, or fear that is out of proportion with what is happening, we’ve likely been triggered.

If my emotions are out of proportion with the circumstances, 
I may have been triggered.

Managing Our Triggers (Part 1 of 8)

(This post comes from Gary Roe.)

"What is a trigger?"

I was sexually abused between the ages of 3 and 6. It profoundly affected me by skewing my view of self, the world, and God. The abuse conditioned me to feel a certain way when certain things happened.

Here is an example. One of my perpetrators was female. She sometimes became angry and violent during the abuse. To this day, when a woman gets angry, I react strongly. Fear, or sometimes terror, instantly wells up in me. Anxiety isn't far behind. Those emotions control my mind and behavior.

The fear response operates like a reflex—involuntary and immediate—because a woman's anger originally triggered it.

As abuse survivors, it’s important we understand our triggers and how they work. As we become more aware of our abuse-victim-reflexes, we can respond differently when the reflex hits. Knowing what triggers us can aid greatly in our healing.

As I discover what triggers me, I can choose to respond differently.

Waiting to Exhale

(This post comes from Anonymous.)

One of the effects of my abuse has been the feeling of holding my breath inside. Because sexual addiction was a huge result of abuse in my life, I didn’t think I could breathe unless I was acting out the brokenness inflicted upon me through sexual molestation. I found my deepest worth in being used by a man. When that wasn’t happening, I didn’t feel I was breathing.

A therapist related my need to be abused to people who cut themselves. I’m not an expert on cutting, but my therapist said that cutters seem to feel as I did, existing miserably between periods of cutting themselves. He indicated they feel like they can’t breathe until they cut. Once they cut, they feel temporary relief, then all the self-loathing returns. That described me.

I lived for years holding my breath between acting out sexually online or with others as a result of my abuse. If I wasn’t engaging in my addiction I was thinking about it. My life revolved around secrets and shame, knowing that I wasn’t being the man I should be or wanted to be. I understand men who are living a double life and who often become suicidal because of the depths of pain and shame.

Yet the more I've come to understand that abuse wasn’t my fault and that I was victimized by older men, the closer I come to finding wholeness in my life.

I'm learning to breathe on my own and not just exist until acting out my addiction. I understand that my thoughts and feelings are often irrational and overwhelming and that I have to have safety precautions built into my life to help me to overcome them.

Learning to breathe emotionally is a function of the knowledge of being part of a caring community. Knowing I am a survivor is a great step, but I need support and understanding to overcome the abuse.

One day at a time I learn to take a breath, exhale, take a breath, and then exhale. I no longer have to act out my brokenness in order to breathe.

I’m no longer waiting to exhale.