When I read anything about rape these days, it all seems to say, “Rape is an act of power. Dominion over another.” Maybe that’s right, but I don’t agree that we boys were chosen so that a bigger person could have control over us.
For me, the perpetrators were blinded by their own needs. I call it an addiction, even though many would disagree. I see our exploitation as a result of a compulsive, overpowering urge.
A few perpetrators have said, “I couldn’t help it. I knew it was wrong, but I did it anyway.” That sounds like an addiction to me.
For me, such admissions don’t fit with domination or control. It says to me that the victimizers were their own victims. Out of their own overwhelming lustful need, they seduced us boys.
I’m not excusing them; I’m trying to understand why they do such evil things. For me, that’s the only satisfactory solution. When they’re engaged in the sexual act, it has one purpose: to provide them with sexual gratification. And it works. They are satisfied—for the moment. And then the urges and the compulsion returned—following the pattern of an addiction.
I understand compulsion because I was a smoker for six years. Once I got hooked, I couldn’t stop. At times I was tormented and had to force myself not to think about cigarettes. Once I had that white stick in my mouth I was satisfied, although I detested the fact that I was addicted and realized that tobacco controlled my life patterns until I broke free.
During the past two decades, I’ve spoken with perhaps a dozen former perpetrators. None of them have ever spoken about power unless it was to say they felt powerless to stop.
The practical side of this is that it enables me to feel compassion for those who victimize. I remind myself that they didn’t seduce us to rack up trophies of conquest.
“I hated myself,” one former teacher told me. “I couldn’t stop even though I knew it was wrong—and I didn’t quit until a parent reported me.” He spent two years in prison and is today registered as a sexual offender.