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.

Our Perpetrators (Part 1 of 2)

I'm not a perpetrator, but I might have been. As I've examined my life and heard the testimonies of many abused men, I understand that some violated others because it was learned behavior. They tended to do to others what was done to them. They followed a pattern they learned through their own sad victimization.

Instead of remaining victims, they became the victimizers. I don't think it was an intentional, deliberate decision. It seems like a natural progression.

The injured boy grows up and practices what he knows as a form of sexual or emotional satisfaction. He copies what he observed and what was done to him.

He wouldn't think in those terms, but by reversing roles he becomes the person with power. He reaches for what he wants and he learns how to do it because he was once the prey.

Think again about ourselves as children. For a few minutes at a time we felt loved because we were needy boys who received physical intimacy. We had some awareness of what it felt like to be loved. It was false and transitory, but the experience was real. Those may have been the only tender expressions we experienced in childhood. At least for me, they're the only ones I remember.

I'm not trying to excuse exploiting children, but I am trying to understand those who do such heinous acts. It helps me to compare them with those who are addicted to drugs or alcohol. The honest ones speak of what it's like when they got high. They tell me they were free from worries, able to forget the misery of their lives, their lack of feeling loved, or the awareness of hating themselves.

I'm not excusing the behavior of perpetrators, but I've determined to understand. I want to open myself to forgiving those who hurt me. In doing so, I move further down my own healing path. I can't be responsible for their decision, but I can forgive them.

My perpetrators were victims of their own compulsions;
as I seek to understand their actions, I also seek to forgive them.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I knew my first perp very well. He was respected and loved by a lot of people. Most times he was gentle with me but not always. He brought others to me and we "played" together. As I got older I'd approach others because I believed at the time that it was just fun and games and brought me a special acceptance I never had before and seemed to get from my perp. It was a way too of assuring that they'd be my friend because after we shared a secret.

This went on for a while with others approaching me in this same fashion and probably for the same reasons. As I got older I began to realize what I was doing was legal. I wish I could say that I realize it was just wrong and hurtful and stopped but that isn't true. I still felt it was fun, harmless and again a special form of acceptance that guaranteed I wouldn't be easily rejected as a friend. It wasn't till I was in my 30's that I began to realize from TV, news articles and movies that what I'd engaged in was very harmful. It was not till I was much older that I began to realize how harmful it had been to me.

I have many regrets I must live with and will carry with me the rest of my life.

Cec Murphey said...

Your last sentence "I must live with and will carry with me the rest of my life" touched me deeply.
Too often that's the result--WE suffer because of what others did to us and taught us to emulate their behavior.

I'm sorry for the pain you must be carrying.

Because of my personal faith in a loving God, I believe I am forgiven. I hope you will find a way to forgive yourself as many of us have.

Cec