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.

What if I Become an Abuser?

(By Cecil Murphey)

Although he said the words in 2008, I can still see his sad face. "I've been afraid to hug another man. I was afraid that because I've been molested, I might become a perpetrator." Tears slid down his cheeks as he said, "I don't ever want to hurt anyone the way I was hurt."

Although his response was more extreme than what most of us would say, for many of us, a secret, unspoken fear lurks in our hearts. We read that most perpetrators were themselves survivors of molestation.

What if I become one of them?

My response is that the fear may be a positive factor. It can mean the person is truly vulnerable and could abuse a boy. But more likely, it means that such a fear robs us of the joy of life. If we're constantly afraid of what we might do or could become, we can't fully experience life.

Are you afraid because you feel a strong attraction to children? If so, please seek professional help.

Or are you simply afraid that you might become a perpetrator? One of the lies many men struggle with is that they fear they'll do what was done to them.

I refuse to believe the lie that I'll become a perpetrator
just because I was victimized.

(This post was adapted from Not Quite Healed, written by Cecil Murphey and Gary Roe.)

"I Felt as if God Himself Had Molested Me"

(By Cecil Murphey)

"I felt as if God himself had molested me." Objectively and intellectually, he knew the reality, but he said that from an emotional perspective. His pastor was like God to him. "He represented everything I believed and cherished," he said.

He sounded like other church throwaways. I call them throwaways because they have no respect for the church, for ecclesiastical hierarchy, and can't comprehend a loving and compassionate God.

I wouldn't argue with such people. I would hope they could reach the emotional level of forgiving "god" for hurting them and enabling them to turn to the true lover of their souls.

God didn't molest me.
Someone who was supposed to represent God molested me.

(This post was adapted from Not Quite Healed, written by Cecil Murphey and Gary Roe.)

"I Don't Feel Like a Man"

(By Cecil Murphey)

Culture and training gives us a skewed picture of what it's like to be a man—a real man. Many of us pull back, convinced that we don't, or can't, live up to those imposed standards.

We who were sexually molested have struggles with our sense of masculinity. Some take on the macho image to hide from reality; others slink back and don't try. Regardless of how we respond, it's a challenge. We know we have the same anatomy, but we wonder—and sometimes worry—about muscles, strength, and penis size.

One of the biggest obstacles to feeling like a real man is the message that we absorbed, even though no one said it. "If I were a real man, I wouldn't have been a victim. I wouldn't have let him do that to me. I would have fought him."

Here's my message to men who struggle with this problem. You were a child and defenseless then. Now you are facing the issue. You are struggling. That ongoing effort makes you a man—a real man—because you refuse to give up.

I struggle with issues arising from my abuse.
The struggle reminds me that I am a man.

(This post was adapted from Not Quite Healed, written by Cecil Murphey and Gary Roe.)

Embrace the Pain

(By Cecil Murphey)

I remember the first time I heard the term embrace the pain. How could that ever be good? It hurts. It makes us feel weak.

That's probably the reason many of us don't experience healing—we refuse to revisit the jabbing, torturous memories and emotions of the past. I wish we had an easier way to find health and wholeness, but it doesn't work that way.

As much as it sounds like a cliché, we have to embrace the pain before we're free from it.

I saw a film on TV that helped me understand. A boy was bullied by school mates and he determined not to let them destroy him. One of the things he did was to take punches in the gut every day from a professional boxer. As he learned to absorb the pain, the thrusts were stronger and more frequent.

After a few months, the bullies struck again, and he not only deflected their blows by not feeling the pain, he also learned to strike back. They never troubled him again.

That was a powerful lesson for me. And now, in retrospect, I can assert that it's true. I learned to overcome the anguish by accepting the painful thrusts.

This is my pain. I accept it.
Because I accept it, it loses its power.

(This post was adapted from Not Quite Healed, written by Cecil Murphey and Gary Roe.)

Memories and Flashbacks

(By Cecil Murphey)

Some of us struggle more with memories of the past than others do. They come back as quick, spurts of something in the past and they're gone. Or they torment us, often for days.

During those in-an-instant experiences, we relive our molestation. Despite their brevity, often they’re so intense it feels as if the abuse is happen­ing a second time. "I felt like my priest was molesting me again," one man said. "It was horrible."

Who wants to re-experience such terrible moments? It's natural to want to deny them or medicate ourselves so that we don’t hurt again.

But what if we valued flashbacks? What if re-experiencing is a required step toward wholeness? What if they’re signals for us to pay attention because they aid us in our healing?

I hated it when memories haunted me—until I figured out something. I need them. Only by bringing them to the surface once again can I free myself from them.

At least four years have passed since I've had any in-a-flash memories of my childhood abuse. Their absence says enough healing has taken place that I no longer need them.

I need to face the past
to heal the pain of the present.

(This post was adapted from Not Quite Healed, written by Cecil Murphey and Gary Roe.)

Healing Help

Too often we're so engrossed in our own recovery, we can't focus on the pain of others. By opening up about our pain, however, we also become instruments of healing.

Recently someone commented on this blog, expressed appreciation for the words, and said they helped. The person referred to a blog entry by John Joseph.

I forwarded the comments to John, and I added these words: "And you are part of that person's healing." John was shocked (and grateful).

I know John fairly well and appreciate his insightful comments and his transparency. He's struggling, and he shares his deepest, most painful thoughts. I'm sure John didn't send the blogs with the idea that he'll be a healing instrument. He feels the need to speak about his pain and his insights.

That's when healing takes place. We learn from our experience and share the information. Others read our words and find help.

As we find healing and tell others,
they gain insight from our experiences.

Unpleasant Things

"We don't talk about unpleasant things in this family." While he was growing up, my friend Rodney told me that was what he heard regularly.

Whether parents say such words isn't as important as their behavior that implies those words. They probably mean they don’t want to face difficult issues or have their lives disrupted. For Rodney and others like him, there was no openness to talk about the sexual abuse by his much older brother. He obeyed the family rules and kept quiet.

We refer to that as a conspiracy of silence. That term usually means the family ignores, denies, or chooses to remain ignorant. They don't know because they don't want to know.

It may appear as if they are protecting the family; in reality, they're worsening the effects. By not addressing painful issues, parents fail their children.

It's not that all parents say such negative words, but they still don't invite the Rodneys to open up.

I refuse to remain silent 
because others consider abuse an unpleasant topic.

Family Secrets

(By Cecil Murphey)

I dealt with my sexual assault for at least two years before I told my family of origin. I made dozens of excuses for myself, such as:

* It no longer matters.

* They don’t care.

* What difference does it make?

* I talk about it to others; why should I have to bring in my siblings?

* It will only stir up anger and hurt.

* They probably won’t believe me.

Despite all the excuses, I knew that speaking to the people among whom I had grown up was something I had to do. For me, it was a significant barrier to overcome on my healing journey.

I finally spoke up and, to my surprise, my three surviving sisters understood. I felt such great freedom in opening up. Maybe my siblings didn't need to hear as much as I needed to tell them.

To tell my family about my abuse—
regardless of their response—
can be a powerful healing experience for me.

(This post was adapted from Not Quite Healed, written by Cecil Murphey and Gary Roe.)