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.

Embrace the Pain

I remember the first time I heard the term embrace the pain. How could that ever be good? It hurts. It makes us feel weak.

That's probably the reason many of us don't experience healing—we refuse to revisit the jabbing, torturous memories and emotions of the past. I wish we had an easier way to find health and wholeness, but it doesn't work that way.

As much as it sounds like a cliché, we have to embrace the pain before we're free from it.

I saw a film on TV that helped me understand. A boy was bullied by school mates and he determined not to let them destroy him. One of the things he did was to take punches in the gut every day from a professional boxer. As he learned to absorb the pain, the thrusts were stronger and more frequent.

After a few months, the bullies struck again, and he not only deflected their blows by not feeling the pain, he also learned to strike back. They never troubled him again.

That was a powerful lesson for me. And now, in retrospect, I can assert that it's true. I learned to overcome the anguish by accepting the painful thrusts.

This is my pain. I accept it.
Because I accept it, it loses its power.

(This post was adapted from Not Quite Healed, written by Cecil Murphey and Gary Roe.)

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One of our readers is considering attending a weekend retreat for male survivors. Have any of you ever participated in such an event? If so, would you email me direct at cec (dot) murp (at) comcast (dot) net and share your experience?

Memories and Flashbacks

Some of us struggle more with memories of the past than others do. They come back as quick spurts of something in the past and they're gone. Or they torment us, often for days.

During those in-an-instant experiences, we relive our molestation. Despite their brevity, often they’re so intense it feels as if the abuse is happen­ing a second time. "I felt like my priest was molesting me again," one man said. "It was horrible."

Who wants to re-experience such terrible moments? It's natural to want to deny them or medicate ourselves so that we don’t hurt again.

But what if we valued flashbacks? What if re-experiencing is a required step toward wholeness? What if they’re signals for us to pay attention because they aid us in our healing?

I hated it when memories haunted me—until I figured out something. I need them. Only by bringing them to the surface once again can I free myself from them.

At least four years have passed since I've had any in-a-flash memories of my childhood abuse. Their absence says enough healing has taken place that I no longer need them.

I need to face the past
to heal the pain of the present.

(This post was adapted from Not Quite Healed, written by Cecil Murphey and Gary Roe.)

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Are there questions or specific topics you'd like Cec to address in upcoming blog entries? If so, please send an email to his assistant at the following address: cecilmurphey(at)mchsi(dot)com.

Unpleasant Things

"We don't talk about unpleasant things in this family." While he was growing up, my friend Rodney told me that was what he heard regularly.

Whether parents say such words isn't as important as their behavior that implies those words. They probably mean they don’t want to face difficult issues or have their lives disrupted. For Rodney and others like him, there was no openness to talk about the sexual abuse by his much older brother. He obeyed the family rules and kept quiet.

We refer to that as a conspiracy of silence. That term usually means the family ignores, denies, or chooses to remain ignorant. They don't know because they don't want to know.

It may appear as if they are protecting the family; in reality, they're worsening the effects. By not addressing painful issues, parents fail their children.

It's not that all parents say such negative words, but they still don't invite the Rodneys to open up.

I refuse to remain silent 
because others consider abuse an unpleasant topic.

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Are there questions or specific topics you would like Cec to address in upcoming blog entries? If so, please send an email to his assistant at the following address: cecilmurphey(at)mchsi(dot)com. 

Family Secrets

I dealt with my sexual assault for at least two years before I told my family of origin. I made dozens of excuses for myself, such as:

* It no longer matters.

* They don’t care.

* What difference does it make?

* I talk about it to others; why should I have to bring in my siblings?

* It will only stir up anger and hurt.

* They probably won’t believe me.

Despite all the excuses, I knew that speaking to the people among whom I had grown up was something I had to do. For me, it was a significant barrier to overcome on my healing journey.

I finally spoke up and, to my surprise, my three surviving sisters understood. I felt such great freedom in opening up. Maybe my siblings didn't need to hear as much as I needed to tell them.

To tell my family about my abuse—
regardless of their response—
can be a powerful healing experience for me.

(This post was adapted from Not Quite Healed, written by Cecil Murphey and Gary Roe.)

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Are there questions or specific topics you would like Cec to address in upcoming blog entries? If so, please send an email to his assistant at the following address: cecilmurphey(at)mchsi(dot)com. 

Two Questions for Me

I nudge other men not to try to walk the road alone. We need to open up and talk to people who are trustworthy.

Here are two questions to help us decide to open ourselves to others.

1. What do I hope to receive? We need healthy, positive expectations. We also need to prepare ourselves for disappointment or skepticism.

2. Do I speak up because I want help from the person who listens to me? If so, we have to learn to say what we want. If we want the other person just to listen and care, we may need to say, "I don’t want you to do anything; I only want you to listen."

You may want to ask yourself other questions, but this is a good place to start.

Before I open myself,
I want to ask myself the right questions.

(This post was adapted from Not Quite Healed, written by Cecil Murphey and Gary Roe.)

"I Can Handle It Myself"

No one heals alone. You may challenge that statement, but I'm convinced it's true. We're survivors, but we need others—at least one person who cares.

As human beings, we're built to relate to others. We need them to love, rebuke, encourage, and inspire us. Those who are willing to hear, who can understand our pain, and assure us that we matter, are the people who help us realize the healing we receive from others.

We need other human beings to help us confront the lies and deceptions of our perpetrators.

I need others. 
My denying that fact doesn't destroy the truth.

(This post was adapted from Not Quite Healed, written by Cecil Murphey and Gary Roe.)

Why Do I Have to Talk About It?

One reason for murky statistics about male survivors of sexual assault is that many of us aren't forthcoming. That is, we don’t want to talk about being molested. It still hurts and we feel less like real men if we admit our pain.

I never want to force anyone to talk about their abusive past. And yet, I know that until we do bring the dark secrets into the light by talking about them, the pain stays inside. We try to ignore it or pretend it doesn’t hurt. But we know differently.

Speaking about our pain-streaked childhood isn't easy. Shame often holds us back, even though we were innocent, pliable children.

But those of us who have the courage to speak out—even when fear and self-loathing keep trying to pull us back—have learned an invaluable lesson. When the truth comes out, it's no longer a secret. When another human being—a person with whom we feel safe—hears and understands our anguish, the healing process becomes operational.

We were abused in secret; we lived with our secrets.
Now we're ready to bring the truth into the open.

(This post was adapted from Not Quite Healed, written by Cecil Murphey and Gary Roe.)

I Need...

Needy is a good word I've used to describe myself since the early days of my healing. At first I saw needy as applying only to me and perhaps to those really, really messed up people who try to glob on to us and want our constant attention.

I still feel isolated and impoverished when I'm in a group of strangers and no one smiles at me or talks to me. Sometimes I tell my circle of acquaintances about my newest success (or failure) and no one seems to listen. In those instances, I feel like that sad, estranged boy again.

Whether it's belonging to a church or a gang, we've been created to be with others. We deserve acceptance, affirmation, and appreciation—the kind we can get only from others.

Some are better suited to relating only to one or two people; others need a crowd. Regardless, when we're rejected, shunned, or ignored, we reflect negatively on ourselves. What's wrong with me?

My alcohol-addicted brother once said to me, "I don't need anybody." Then he gulped down half a bottle of beer and lied to himself once again.

He never changed because he drowned his neediness. I changed because I faced mine.

I need. I deserve.
Those are good healing words.

(This post was adapted from Not Quite Healed, written by Cecil Murphey and Gary Roe.)