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 2 of 2)

They too live in pain.

I've said that sentence hundreds of times when I refer to perpetrators. I've chosen to say it that way instead of seeing them as vile and totally evil.

I sometimes wonder if their pain isn't worse than most of us survivors. If they were molested, they not only have to cope with those issues but also struggle with the driving compulsion to do to other children what was done to them. It's not that they don't know what they're doing, but I see it as a drive so strong they can't defeat it.

As I've studied the research, it's common for the perpetrators to rationalize their actions. Here's how I define rationalize: It's an attempt to provide a reasonable explanation or to justify wrong or unacceptable behavior with a logical explanation.

To rationalize isn't a thought-out action, but it's instinctive—an act to "save face" for unacceptable actions.

The research doesn't excuse them and might even make us angry. I also realize that it means the victimizers probably can't face the heinous crimes they committed so they give themselves explanations to be able to live with themselves. The only way they can live with their actions is to find some way to self-justify.

If they face themselves—and it occasionally happens—they loathe themselves and their actions. One former predator said, "It was like an addiction. After each time I sat and cried, pleading with God to take away the desire."

They ruined many lives, but worse—for them—they ruined their own lives.

God, give me compassion for perpetrators.

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