Sexual assault involves sex. Many of us faced physical beatings or verbal abuse; some of us endured all three.
But when we talk about sexual assault, a significant element comes into focus. We physically responded to the molestation.
"It felt good," *Hal told me before he dropped his head and the tears flowed. "It should have felt terrible, but I liked it."
He had yet to realize, as many of us have accepted, that his penis functions the way God created it to work. Whenever anyone stimulates our sex organs, we respond.
As children, we were helpless and trusting. I particularly remember Mr. Lee, the pedophile who assaulted me. He whispered, "You're a special kid. I love you . . ." Those were tender words no one in my family had ever used. No one else held me, kissed my cheeks, or stroked my hair. Of course his abuse felt good, and he knew exactly how to entice me to come back when he wanted me.
That happened when I was a child, and I didn't understand my response was normal for a lonely, unloved kid.
A major step for many of us is to be able to say, "Yes, it felt good, but it was still rape and I was a victim."
To admit the stimulation felt good doesn't make you less a man; it does make you fully human.