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.

Rape? Abuse?

A friend who also reads this blog wrote me recently because he was having trouble using the word rape. I responded by saying that I had struggled using the word assault. I chose assault because it's closer to the reality of what happened to me.

Both my friend and I were children, and we were raped or assaulted by someone bigger and older. We were too naïve to realize the implications or the meaning of what happened to us. We were lonely, love-starved kids, who yearned for attention. When they assaulted us, we believed we were being cared about and the affection was genuine. And it felt good.

Now that we're older, some of us have trouble using the right word to describe the secretive attack (and it was a deliberate, planned attack).

The trouble is facing words like rape because our understanding of that term carries many violent implications. TV has filled our minds with brutal and vicious actions. My rapists were gentle, spoke softly, and made me feel special. How could that be rape or assault? And yet it was.

When we can use such strong words, we face the reality of what was done to us. My use of assault has pushed me a little farther down the healing path.

3 comments:

Roger said...

For many years, decades in fact I could not say I was abused sexually. What happened between me and my dad for a long time I assumed was just dad/son stuff like teaching a son about birds and bees you know?

In High School is were I first learned what we did was sex stuff and was what everyone said was gay. That made me mad and I was very angry with him but I just never felt abused. Abuse, assault, rape all those were violent terrible words and I did not feel what he did was anything like that. Painful at times but not violent.

It was only when I finally broke down and admitted I has some sexual problems especially with other men and went to a website for men who were abused sexually did I begin to accept what happened to me was wrong. There I still felt uncomfortable saying abuse.

There was only one time my dad addressed what happened between us. It was years later and after my divorce. He said "I guess I didn't understand about child abuse back then." I was shocked and all I could think of to say was that I didn't feel abused... molested maybe but not abused.

I had the perfect opportunity to have a real dialog but that was all we said and I lay awake for an hour after just stunned and not knowing what else to say.

Most times I am still torn between sympathy for dad and angry at what he did to me. I kind of go back and forth. Even knowing what I know now and knowing that there was stuff done even earlier that I just can't remember I still have difficulty cataloging myself as abused.

I don't know what to make of that ambivalence.

Joseph said...

"love-starved kids." Believe me that was how I was. It was a long time before I realized what happened to me was wrong, much less that I had been sexually molested. Rejected at home, I would have responded to anyone who reached out to me. Unfortunately, it was a man who wanted only a part of my body. But there was a degree of comfort in even that evil acceptance of me, the "love-starved" boy.

Cec Murphey said...

From Cec:
Powerful comment by Joseph. thank you.
Love-starved kids probably describes each of us.

It surely fits me and Joseph stated it well.

I'd like it if any of your would comment on that--particularly how you fit into that love-starved category.