“Of course it did. Whenever you stimulate your penis, it’s pleasurable,” I said. “Someone older than you took advantage of your innocence. He did things to you that no child should ever have to experience.”
“But I should have—“
I stopped Gerald right there. “The adult part of you is speaking. You’re looking at who you are now and how you would react if it happened at age 35.” I pointed out that he was an innocent child and his perpetrator (his father) took advantage of him.
Gerald nodded in agreement, but he couldn’t seem to absolve himself as a participant. He understood the logic of his innocence, but he couldn’t get past the emotional resistance. “My dad kept saying he did it to me because I liked it and wanted it.”
“Do this, then,” I said. “Forgive yourself, even though you were an innocent child. Whenever you feel self-condemned, or think of anything you did or might have done, say three words: I forgive myself.”
I’m writing this as a serious Christian and have long believed God forgave me. However, like Gerald, and like many other survivors, it was myself I couldn’t forgive. So for a long time, I spoke the three words I urged Gerald to use.
I forgive myself.
 Real named used by permission.
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