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.

That Was Sexual Abuse?

To support his wife, Wayne Jamison attended a two-hour presentation I called "Healing4You." At the end of the evening, as I was packing up my books, Wayne came to me.

He leaned over and said softly, "I—I'd like to ask you something."

I stopped boxing my books. Haltingly, Wayne told me about an older cousin who "did things to him" when he was 12 years old. He described what took place, and added, "It happened maybe four or five times, but we outgrew that, and I forgot about them." He hesitated and asked, "Was that abuse?"

I stared at him, not sure how to answer and then I said, "It was and if you're now aware of it, it says you didn't forget."

He admitted that and went on to say, "I just thought it was things guys did until they were old enough to date girls. That's what my cousin said."

Sounds na├»ve, doesn't it? Yet I occasionally hear stories from men who didn't recognized that they had been sexually assaulted. The predator made it seem like something natural—as the cousin did to Wayne. As one man said, "It felt normal because my dad came into my room at least once a week. He told me he loved more than he loved my mother and my sister."

Normal. That's just one of the ways we don't face our sexual assault as children. Or perhaps we think that if we could convince ourselves that it was normal, it wasn't really abuse.

On some level we know. And we don't forget.


Larry Clemson said...

Part of my abuse included a boy my age at 5 or 6. He would continue asking me to do things over & over until one day I gave in. I knew after it happened that it wasn't right but I felt that I had agreed & it was my fault then. The other part including my friend & two older teenagers. I did not agree to that because I was drugged. I do not even remember what happened. It has been a long hard road to see that the part of my abuse was abuse & not me just doing what a friend asked me to do. This has been a real hurdle to trust people.
A friend should not do that even at that age. It is abuse. I really think it is abuse even when you agree with manipulation or any kind of persuasion. I remember not wanting to at all. This has been a really hard issue for me on trusting people. I really don't like it when I feel manipulated into anything.

Andrew Schmutzer said...

Larry, your last three sentences could have come from me, exactly like that. I still have trust issues. People are either safe or unsafe.

'Normal' is such a frightening word. The more I learned about what happened to me, why it happened, and the chaos that ensued, the more I was angry and had to grieve. Some survivors are shocked...that they survived.

Mark said...

I like Cec's statement, "If you're now aware of it (abuse), it means you didn't forget". I always remembered being abused. But wasn't until my 20's that I recognized it as abuse. And it took another 20 years before I could begin to accept that I couldn't fix the wounds in my own strength.

Just this summer I've admitted that what another brother did to me when I was a child was also abuse; sexual and emotional. Again, I've always known that my relationship with that brother caused me a lot of pain. But until recent weeks, I've carried the responsibility for that pain.

In his previous post, Cec talked about trusting our guts. I'm learning to do that, and as I do it is becoming easier to accept the truth of the past that has felt like a tower of doom.

Accepting that truth, although painful, is NOT accepting doom. Rather it is opening the door to life

Roger Mann said...

It took decades for me to admit that what happened to me was abuse. I think I was around 55 when I finally accepted the word "abuse" when talking about what my father did with, or should I say to me.

I don't remember him ever telling me he loved me. I sure he must have but for some reason I can't remember it. Instead I took what happened in the late night hours in my room as evidence that he loved me. In fact, I clung to it desperately because I wanted to, needed to, believe it.

Decades later I would read stories about father/son incest and fantasize about it. What if I had been more compliant? What if I had been better behaved, would he have been more affectionate? Would he have stayed longer and spent more time with me when he was done instead of just handing me a hanky and leaving?

I know, that is pretty pathetic and I cringe to post it but I was desperate to believe that what he did, he did out of love for me. There is something in a son that longs for the approval, acceptance and affection from his father. There is also a deep longing in a son to look up to his dad; to be proud of his dad. I suspect when that does not happen there is sadness, grief, and eventually anger at that rejection. That certainly was the case for me.

Eventually rejection is what I felt, then betrayal when I discovered that I was not anything special to him, just more available. You have no idea how that hurt and still does. Sexual abuse of this particular kind carries its own special kind of twisted pain. It was a bitter sweet kind of thing to finally accept the word abuse when thinking of those experiences. There was freedom in that as well as another level of grief and sadness which I have not really spoken about much. It is a shaming thing in itself I guess.

just my thoughs

Joseph said...

I was in my late 60s before it clicked with me that as a teenager in the 50s I had been a victim of molestation. But that was the beginning of finding answers and breaking down the walls I had build around myself for so many long, long years. Those were years of struggling with maleness and relationships and "What did I do to start this?". Roger, in your posts you say so much that I relate to. I'm now in my late 70s and sometimes I still long to be held like a 5 year old in a Father's arms.