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.

“But It Felt Good” (Part 1 of 2)

I don’t know how many men I’ve talked with who equated abuse with excitement. It felt good, and consequently, they questioned their own sexuality, whether they actually did something to make it happen.

To add to that, it may push them to wonder if they’re really gay. It’s as if they say, “If I was normal, it wouldn’t have felt good.” We need to admit that when we were sexually assaulted it felt good. Of course it did.

I still recall the old man running his hands around my body telling me how soft it felt, and I enjoyed this touch. All of us have skin hunger, and no one in my family ever touched me—or if so, I don’t remember.

Everything the old man did to me felt good. In retrospect, I felt shame for responding to a natural, normal act—the human touch.

An online article stated that three of four Americans suffer from skin hunger. I don’t know how they arrived at that statistic, but I accept it. Our perpetrators used that unfulfilled human need and we suffered because of it.

I was an innocent boy who needed loving touches;
my perpetrator exploited a basic human need.

Sexuality and Shame

Shame is one of the common elements of us who are survivors of childhood abuse. My definition of shame is that it’s a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong behavior or imagined bad behavior.

My definition means that regardless of who assaulted us, on some level we sensed it was wrong. Individuals older and larger took advantage of us, and we didn’t know any better. We were immature children and didn’t know what else to do, but we had some awareness—possibly while it was going on or later—even though our perpetrator certainly didn’t inform us.

Because of that, as adults we struggle with shame. We have no logical reason for those feelings. We were innocent and powerless. We forget that shame is an emotion and doesn’t obey rules of logic.

As an adult, I understand shame is part of our socialization process. Someone said, “No action is required; merely existing is enough.” We can’t change the feeling, but we can change our attitude toward the effect.

One day I realized, “I wasn’t a bad kid. Those who abused me were bad.” The shame didn’t disappear, but it troubles me less and less. After that, one of the things I said to myself daily for months was, “I wasn’t bad; something bad was done to me.”

How do you deal with your sense of shame?

The Exercise Factor (Part 4 of 4)

Along with moving the body, something else I’ve learned is to incorporate positive self-talk while I’m on the move. We chatter to ourselves all the time, and it’s impossible not to talk to ourselves. When I caught on to that years ago I realized I could improve my life by choosing to say positive things to myself and about myself.

My rules (which I learned from others) are simple.

1. State facts that are true.

2. Commit yourself to goals you can easily achieve.

For example, I started making two statements to myself:
  • I need to exercise.
  • I will exercise three times a week.
Both were positive and easily accomplished. At times I had to push myself to do three mornings a week. But once it became habitual, I increased it to five times. Over a period of weeks, I realized how much better I felt about Cec, and I was more energetic and creative in my work. And in those days I was running one mile. Before long I got up to six miles each day.

I kept telling myself the positive effects of those two things. I kept my goal simple and obtainable.

Perhaps I sound like a fanatic on this topic. I know only that I’ve reaped immense benefits, and exercise has played a major role on my healing journey.

Energy, Energy (Part 3 of 4)

I am and have always been a high-energy person, but even people like me have bad days—really bad days. Some mornings it takes immense effort for me to get out of bed and go for a run. Days with rain and freezing weather add another reason to turn over and sleep.

Then I remind myself that I’ll feel much better after running. And I always do. A few times I drag myself out there on the streets early in the morning and I start out wondering why I’m doing it. Even on those days, by the time I’m home and ready for a shower, I know why.

I feel better about myself. It’s that simple. I don’t have to fight negative self-talk or beat myself up emotionally. I realize how blessed I am and enjoy my life. That’s the reason for being able to develop the self-discipline of getting up every morning—and it’s worth the effort.

I kiddingly say to my friends, “I’ve saved $300,000 in therapists’ fees through exercise.”

I’m a self-starter and I realize that some people need others to keep pushing them forward. If that’s you, recruit a friend. Get one or two buddies to run or walk with you or whatever exercise you choose.

I’m a professional writer and work at home. Almost every morning I see others in my neighborhood exercising while I’m at work. One man and his wife jog (which I use to refer to a slower, more relaxed pace). A little later, two wives in their early 30s make the loop in front of my house, which is at the end of a cul-de-sac.

I live 1.3 miles from a high school and sometimes I run there and do a few laps on the track. For the past several weeks, a group of five women have been coming out. They yell at each other, laugh, and I can hear them halfway around the track. They’re having fun.

In an earlier blog I wrote, “Start small.” If there is any secret to an ongoing exercise, that’s it. Don’t set lofty goals of learning to run a 10k race in a week

In my next blog, I’ll give you one more tip on developing an exercise program to push away negativity and depression.