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.

"I Hate My Dad"

(en encore post by Cecil Murphey)

He signs it CGP.

"I think I could have handled it all right if it had been somebody else, but it was my father. I was twelve and he told me it was time for me to learn about sex and he wanted to help me. It began with touching, stroking, and kept going.

"That was my father! How can a man have sex with his own son? How could he do that to me?"

When CGP was sixteen he tried suicide twice. The first time he tried asphyxiation by lying on his father's bed with a plastic bag over his head, but his father came home early and found him. The second time he took a bottle of sleeping pills. As he was losing consciousness, he knew he didn't want to die. He called 911.

"I hate my dad," he wrote, "and I don't know if I'll ever be normal." He also said that he wrote to me because of the blog and he hadn't told anyone else.

We corresponded by email several times a week for about two months and I sensed he was doing better, but he stopped writing and didn't answer my emails.

I wonder how many others out there are like CGP.

Too many.

Stomach Pain

(an encore post by Cecil Murphey)

It was his secret and Larry said he carried a heavy ball of guilt inside. "The guilt ate at me, and I developed stomach ulcers." He gulped down the liquid medicine for relief, and snacked every two hours to keep food in his stomach.

Several times his doctor tried to find out what caused the problem but he kept saying he didn't know.

"But I did know."

Larry's secret was so deep he didn't want to admit it or talk about it. He was sure that if he did, his symptoms would get worse.

"About eight months ago I spilled my guts," he said. And once Larry began to talk about being sexually abused, the healing began. He still snacks and takes medication, but he hasn't had a serious bout with stomach pain for seven months.

"He Said He'd Take Care of Me"

(an encore post by Cecil Murphey)

I had an email in which a young man, age 19, said he had "done things" with his Sunday school teacher for four years. "He bought me things and took me places."

The boy's parents were both "drunks and pill poppers" who "didn't know I existed unless one of them needed me to grab a cold one from the refrigerator."

He went on to say that the teacher promised, "I'll take care of you. You can't live with me because you're a minor, but when you're older we can live together and I'll take care of you."

After a few more details the boy added, "Just before my 18th birthday I asked him about moving in. He said he couldn't do that. He wanted to but he couldn't."

He told me about his agony and feelings of rejection, especially when the teacher began to make excuses for not getting with him regularly.

"It was all a lie. I reminded him of his promise and he cussed me out and told me I was evil and that he had tried to help me but he had failed."

The young man had attempted suicide once and had undergone psychiatric treatment for depression.

He has emailed me three times, so that encourages me to believe that something positive is going on. He also reads my blog (which is why he contacted me). "You can use my story," he said in his last email, "but you can't give my name."

I wish his story had a happy ending.

Maybe one day it will.

"Nobody Understands Me"

(an encore post by Cecil Murphey)

I've heard those words before. In my years of pain, I said them many times. And it was true: No one understood me.

How could anyone? They couldn't read my mind. They couldn't look at the way I walked and say, "There's someone who needs my compassion."

For most of us who start down the healing path, the first big step we can make is to say to someone, "I'd like to talk to you." That person can be a pastor, a therapist, a friend, or a co-worker, but it has to be someone we feel we can trust. I write, "feel we can trust" because we can't be certain about anyone, so we'll have to take a few risks.

Too many pain-filled men haven't spoken aloud about their abuse. Maybe not enough of us will listen. Maybe they don't have the courage to speak.

But unless they give others the opportunity to care for them, they'll have to continue to say, "Nobody understands me."

And they'll be correct.

Relationships?

(an encore post by Cecil Murphey)

I wonder how many men have written to me about their short-term relationships. They speak of anger, distrust, fear, and other significant issues.

I spoke to a man after a meeting in Grand Rapids. With tears in his eyes, he asked, "Will I ever find someone who loves me no matter what?"

I wish I could have yelled, "Certainly! Yes!"

He's suspicious of people and said it was a big risk for him to talk to me. "But you don't know my name and you'll never see me again, so I guess you're safe."

That's when tears came to my eyes. I understood his inability to trust, although his issue was certainly deeper than the matter of trust. As we talked he told me about his abuse and then hurried on to say that he had been in six relationships in less than two years. "At first, I was sure each one would last. I wanted each one to last—I really did."

"What happened?" I asked.

He shrugged. "They let me down. They betrayed me and told lies about me." He went into detail about his last affair. He wasn't able to acknowledge anything as being his fault. He was always the victim.

I could think of many things to say, and I started with a few suggestions. Occasionally he nodded; a few times he smiled. But whenever I paused, he said, "Yes, that's true, but. . . "

Finally I stopped. I had been speaking about practical things he could do but I realized that my words weren't what he needed. "May I hug you?" I asked.

He nodded and I warmly embraced him and held him for several seconds. "You don't need instructions," I said. "You need to feel loved and cared for, don't you?"

He pulled away, mumbled his thanks, and hurried away.

He was right: I didn't know his name. Most likely I'll never see him again. That evening I put him on my daily prayer list. I didn't have a name but I had a memory of a man with tears in his eyes. I've been praying for him daily for more than four months. I don't intend to stop praying.

I can't do anything for him.

But God can.

And God can use other people in his life. I wish I were able to be one of them.

Learning New Things

(an encore post by Cecil Murphey)

Years have passed since I dealt with my abuse. I cried so much the first two years I wondered if I would ever stop. But I gained insights about my behavior. I realized there were times when I spoke angrily and wasn't even aware of the tone I conveyed.

It still surprises me to gain perspective about myself that stems from the abuse of childhood. I constantly see new ways in which my past changed the way I see the world and react to people.

The more those things happen, the more victorious I feel. And even better: The more I like who I have become.

Being Different

(A note from Cec: I hesitated printing this message from Robert because I don't want it to be a self-serving ad for one of my books. Instead, I hope you'll sense the pain and the healing Robert has experienced.)

* * * * * * * * * *

I am reading your Knowing God book and it is really wonderful. Today I read in chapter 12 your aphorism "Everything I am and everything I have come as gifts from God". I also knew the second half, but I am learning the first half since I began my recovery process from my sexual abuse. I have been thinking a lot about this, and reading today cemented in my conclusion. I am so different from my four brothers because of my abuse, yes, but also because God used that to make me who I am. Like you discussed in chapter 13, I too was the child who was kind to the special ed students and made friends with the outcasts. I was driven to do so. I have always been that way, much more sensitive than my siblings. I always used this as another way to hate myself, thinking once again I was too girly because I was sensitive...because I was a boy who had sex too young with older boys. It was the bat I used to beat myself up with. Now I am realizing that this was a gift from God. He made me more sensitive, bringing something good and beautiful out of my abuse. I am more aware of HIM because of this and I am more able to do ministry because of this. I think I love people a bit more than my brothers. I am not trying to build myself up, but rather recognize that my personality is a gift from God, NOT a sign of weakness and less masculine. I am truly thankful to be who I am now and I am learning to embrace this sensitive side of myself....because I know I can better be the hands of Jesus when I accept this gift HE has given me. Thanks for this book too, it is really wonderful.

Feeling My Feelings

(an encore post by Cecil Murphey)

My major coping method of survival from abuse was not to feel. When the emotional level got heavy, I went numb. I didn't do that consciously, but it was my way to handle the trauma of childhood. Once I became aware that numbing was what I did, I also realized that I needed to feel my pain—to re-experience the hurts of my past—if I wanted to be free from the past.

Here's how I did it and this may work for others. Each day I said, "I feel my feelings." I usually looked into the mirror and spoke to my image. I wanted that message to get into my core being.

Although I hadn't talked to a therapist or a pastor, I sensed that facing the hurts and feeling them once again was a step I had to take.

It took months before I became aware of how I felt; it took even longer before I fully accepted the abuse of my childhood. It took years before I knew I had been healed. It wasn't easy and it hurt. At times I felt alone, unloved, unwanted, unworthy—and many negative emotions flooded through my soul.

Each time I felt my emotions, the pain seemed to lessen a little. Now, years later, I can honestly feel my emotions.