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.

Questions and Answers (Part 5 of 7)

(an encore post by Cecil Murphey)

"Should I confront my perpetrator?"

A man needs to decide that for himself. One female and one male abused me and both of them are dead. Even if they were alive, I doubt that I would confront them.

If you feel you want to confront, ask yourself one significant question: What do I want to accomplish? If you want the person to confess, that probably won't happen. Perpetrators usually molested more than one boy and he's probably become an expert in denial. "I would never do such a thing to you. I loved you, but I never did anything wrong."

Or worse, he may turn it around and say, "You asked for it. You were always clinging to me and demanding love."

If you feel you must confront, I urge you to take someone with you—someone who can stop your second victimization by accusing you or twisting the reality. Remind yourself that the person deceived you once and stole your innocence. He can't do that again, but he can confuse you or bring doubts.

Questions and Answers (Part 4 of 7)

(an encore post by Cecil Murphey)

"If I was abused by a man and it felt good, does that make me gay?"

This is the question most men don't ask aloud. I want to mention that it's natural for sexual abuse to feel good. When someone stimulates our sexual organs, that feels good—that's a natural phenomenon. Tyler Perry, speaking of his abuse, said, "My body betrayed me."

One authority said that sexual identity is established around age 2 or 3—and I pass that on because I'm not a psychologist. But there seems to be no research to prove that being abused makes the victim a homosexual.

Some men become sexually compulsive with women—which I see as part of their unresolved issues. That's a way of shouting, "See! I'm not gay."

One abuse survivor has only one wife but nine children. He said, "If anyone tried to call me gay, I could point to my kids and prove them wrong."

Most of the abused men I've met are heterosexual. My guess is that the therapist was probably right about the formation of sexual identity.

Questions and Answers (Part 3 of 7)

(an encore post by Cecil Murphey)

"Why do some boys become victims and others aren't?"

That's unanswerable, but I'll give you my observation. Some boys (and I was one of them) feel unloved and alone. Every person in the world needs attention and affection. Because they don't feel loved by their parents or other family members, they become susceptible to predators.

There are exceptions and other reasons, but think of it this way. The boy already has a relationship with a family member or someone in the community who is in a position of trust. They might be neighbors, teachers, church leaders, politicians, or a store clerk—anyone whom the boy looks up to, admires, or trusts.

The point is that the perpetrator already has some connection. That authority figure befriends the boy, giving him needed attention. The boy feels wanted, accepted, and perhaps loved. The perpetrator has gone after the innocent boy and destroys his childhood.

Questions and Answers (Part 2 of 7)

(an encore post by Cecil Murphey)

"Is it typical for molested boys to keep quiet and not tell?"

It's definitely typical and there are many reasons they say nothing. Sometimes they fear they won't be believed. They think it's their fault. In my case, I believe it was because I didn't think anyone cared.

The official-and-conservative figure is that one out of every six boys has been abused before they reach the age of sixteen. Oprah Winfrey commented on that and said, "Those are only the ones who speak up."

I think Oprah was correct. I was abused and didn't speak up until I hit 50. I wonder how many more men are around who haven't talked. I wonder how many men carried the dark secret all their lives and died without telling anyone.

Questions and Answers (Part 1 of 7)

(an encore post by Cecil Murphey)

"If it happened only once is that sexual abuse?"

Abuse is abuse, regardless of the number of times it happened. As I see the issues, it's not how many times it happened, but how did it affect the boy who was abused?

If he was traumatized, and it happened only one time, the obvious answer is yes. That's like saying, "The robber stole my money. It happened only once, so was I robbed?"

Logic vs. Emotion

(an encore post by Cecil Murphey)

I once mentioned in a keynote at a conference that I had been sexually molested. I didn't dwell on the issue, but said it affected the way I saw life.

Afterward a woman who identified herself as a pastor-therapist said to me, "You didn't do anything to cause the assault. It was your perpetrator's fault."

I tried to tell her that I knew, but she didn't seem to hear me. She talked for another minute or two, but her words and her attitude seemed to say to me, "I've explained the logic of the situation and you're free."

I agreed with her reasoning. I had been a child, and of course I didn't do anything to bring on the molestation. It was the fault of my perpetrators. If acknowledging the truth were all I needed, I would have been free much earlier.

She didn't seem to grasp that my emotions hadn't caught up with my cognitive perceptions. I could make the same statements she made—and I did—but they hadn't set me free. It was a long time before I could feel free.

And, sad to say, some men never feel fault-free.

"You Don't Need to Feel Ashamed"

(an encore post by Cecil Murphey)

Some statements irritate me. "You don't need to feel guilty," or "You have no reason to feel ashamed" are two of them. I wonder about the people who say those things. How can they speak so glibly?

Of course we need to feel ashamed or guilty—it's a natural reaction to what happened to us. No one explained to us that it was something bad done to us. Consequently, we felt bad. We weren't mature enough to grasp that we were innocent, so shame and guilt invaded our souls.

If I could have disrobed myself of those two emotions, I would have done it long ago. Instead it took me many, many years before I knew the freedom from those enslavements. I don't think I'm unusual.

I'd like to say to those glib-speaking know-it-alls, "Don't tell anyone how he should or shouldn’t feel. That advice helps no one."

But we can say, "I'm sorry you're hurting." As we accept them and express compassion they can slowly free themselves.

But until then, they have valid reasons for feeling ashamed or guilty.

"I Should Be Healed"

(an encore post by Cecil Murphey)

I've heard several men say, "I should be healed by now." When they do, I smile. I smile for two reasons. First, I had made the same statement to myself.

Second, I smile because I think, that's a typical male response. We want to know how long it's going to take, want a time table, and expect it to be over by a certain date on the calendar.

I think of the old joke about a man who talked to a therapist about his depression. He asked how long he would have to undergo treatment. The therapist tried to avoid answering but the patient persisted, so finally the therapist said, "If you come weekly, about a year."

"If I come twice a week," the man asked, "can I do it in six months?"

Because many of us expect healing to have taken place within a certain period of time, we want results—and as soon as possible.

A better response to the statement, "I should be healed by now," is that inner healing doesn't understand time demands or deadlines. Healing happens as it happens.

Instead of thinking what should be, isn't it better to say to yourself, "I'm much healthier right now than I was when I started this journey"?

The Terrible Burden of Secrets

(This post comes from an anonymous reader.)

I felt unloved by my mother; I was unloved and unwanted by my stepfather. “You’ll never amount to anything,” he said. I believed I was worthless. I was rejected at home but at the same time I wasn't allowed to participate in sports, or to join in Scouts. I never had the male companionship that every boy needs and longs for.

The first sexual abuse that I remember was at age five. After that, I told my mother that I could hit my “willie” and it would get stiff; and if I kept hitting it, I would feel good. Shortly after that, they had me circumcised. In those days, many parents believed it stopped masturbation. I don’t remember masturbating again until about 13 when a neighbor boy took me behind our garage and showed me how. That activity became my comfort.

In my mid-teen years, I was enticed by a man. An adult male wanted an unwanted boy. I would have done anything he suggested. And it warped how I saw myself for decades. I had kissed my girlfriend before that, and that had been my most electrifying experience until the same-sex encounter. From then on, I wanted to be a heterosexual man, but I was drawn repeatedly to same-sex encounters.

In my 30s, I married a woman who loved me unconditionally. But I couldn't bring myself to tell her my secrets. How could I survive if she left?

After she died, I comprehended the depths of her unconditional love. I found a folder of poems and letters that she’d written to me when we were dating but had never mailed them. As I read them, I knew she would have been by my side through anything that enabled me to be rid of secrets.

The biggest part of my burden was guilt over my cruising parks where I could watch same-sex activities. I told myself, Watching isn't as bad as participating. Afterward, my guilt was as dreadfully damning as if I’d participated.

As a result, for the last years of our marriage, I was impotent. Had I trusted my wife and let her share my sorrow, we could have had joyful sex.

I finally trusted my pastor enough to tell him some of my story. He sent me to a counselor to whom I told everything. Both pastor and counselor accepted me as a man of worth. They gave me hope.

Secrets are terrible burdens. They can destroy us.