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.

Incest?

"I never thought of it as incest."

At least six times, I've heard that statement from survivors. Their fathers, mothers, or older siblings were the perpetrators. They understood it fitted under the title of sexual abuse, but not incest.

"I finally accepted the word rape,” *Barry said two years ago over coffee, "but now I have to face the word incest. Somehow that makes it worse."

To him, the word was limited to a father-daughter sexual relationship. "My mother raped me," he said, "but it didn't hit me until I read the definition in a book about boys being molested. It said that incest refers to sexual activity between close relatives." He paused to wipe tears from his eyes. "How could she do that to me? How could she?"

Although he asked me the question, he didn't expect me to answer (as if I could). For Barry, the word incest was the ultimate evil in any family. "And I was a victim."

As we talked, it was obvious he wanted to make sense out of the situation. Finally he said, "She was lonely because Dad was gone a lot."

"You're excusing her," I said. "I suggest you focus on the crime she perpetrated instead of making excuses."

That shocked him, but then he nodded. "You're right. I have to remind myself that she did an evil, immoral, and illegal act."

Barry and I had coffee together about a month ago. One of the first sentences from him was, "My mother incested me."

Although I wasn't used to hearing the word as a verb, I understood. He had faced the reality of her sexual assault. "Now my struggle is to forgive her."

"Do you want to forgive her?" I asked, "Or is it something you feel you have to do?"

After a lengthy silence, Barry thanked me. "Thanks. My counselor urged me to forgive her—and I know I need to do that, but—"

"But not yet."

"Not yet," he said.

And I admired him for realizing he wasn't yet ready.

One day he will be ready. In his own time.

3 comments:

Andrew Schmutzer said...

I remember when my counselor first used the word as a verb...the ugliness just got bigger. When my son went off to college, I cried. I had preserved for him what I didn't enter college with, a healthy sense of boundaries. And what should incested children do on Mother's and Father's Day? These primordial boundaries were meant to stay put. One year I asked if I could send a good friend a Mother's Day card. She said yes. This works for some of us. But is there no flower for the deflowered child of incest? I haven't found one yet.

Cec Murphey said...

Andrew, you don't post often, but when you do, it strikes a powerful response in me.

Thank you./

Roger Mann said...

Of course I had heard of the word and it came with memories of the usual father/daughter thing. It just never occurred to me about other combinations. Perhaps my mind was just refusing to go there, I don't know.

What me and dad were doing was just something secret, something I wanted but was not sure was ok. Then in high school I began to understand what we were doing was called and it made me angry.

I grew up confused about what happened, what I felt about it and what to do with it all. Like Andrew I too had no boundaries and made a lot of mistakes in my attempts to make friends and be accepted.

When I finally began to accept that label and what it meant I spent years in shame and isolation. I was damaged goods. It has taken a long time to accept that I was just a kid. A good kid that bad stuff happened to. A good man that bad stuff happened to and which I can over come.