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.

Defining Abuse (Part 1 of 2)

It’s hard to give a specific definition to abuse because it shows itself in a myriad of ways. Even if it’s “only” sexual abuse, it’s also emotional abuse.

It took me a long time to grasp that obvious statement. When Mr. Lee, the old man, sexually seduced me, in my childish way I thought he loved me. He said he did. He told me often enough how sweet and special I was.

Mr. Lee also assaulted my older, slightly retarded sister, and she told. When I came home later that day, I learned that Dad had beaten the man up and tossed his belongings out of the house.

I didn’t understand it, but I didn’t know whom to tell. About two weeks later I was walking along Sixth Street (we lived on Second). I saw Mr. Lee sitting on a large porch with several older men. I waved and yelled at him.

He didn’t respond. I started up the walk to the house and he got up and hurried inside. I stood on the sidewalk confused and deeply hurt, feeling he had rejected me. And I thought he loved me.

That’s an example of the emotional toll of sexual abuse: I felt rejected, unloved, and unwanted. And it hurt more than the lack of affection from my own family. Mr. Lee had given me hope, and made me feel good. Special. That day, as he hurried out of my sight, I felt the emotional effect of his lies, deception, and pretense.

The physical act from our perpetrators is only the beginning. The scars are there for the rest of our lives.


Anonymous said...

I am a 48-year-old childhood victim of molestation, and am just beginning to come to terms with what happened and how it has affected me. I had several different incidents where slightly older peers touched me in inappropriate ways. I also had one adult male relative who had me touch him and oralize him. I've struggled a great deal because I hear other stories of guys who experienced 'true abuse'- an adult who forced them and threatened them repeatedly. And I think, "I don't even think I was abused. No one forced me or threatened me." I feel like they just unlocked something that was already there. a defect that pre-existed before I interacted with them. I was a shy kid, and wonder what it was about me that caused several different older boys in different environments to pursue this action with me. I often assume that I must have 'signalled' somehow, that I must have asked for it. It's hard for me to wrap my brain around and understand with any degree of clarity. Most of the time, I just feel dirty and ashamed, and at the same time exhilarated by being wanted.

Cecil Murphey said...

As children, and often later, most of us survivors assumed something was wrong with us or that we gave off signals to attract those who molested us. In one sense we did--we showed our vulnerability. We tended to be loners, shy, or not fitting in. They exploited our need o be loved, to feel a sense of self-worth, or to receive attention. We were vicitimized.

As you pointed out, you were a child and someone older took advantage of you. Please remind yourself of that reality.
You were needy, but that doesn't make you bad and certainly not someone asking to be abused.

Anonymous said...

I too can understand the need to feel wanted and accepted, especially by anyone older and in my young eyes smarter, better, wiser. It was a great feeling after being rejected as too small, too uncoordinated, too unskilled or too dumb as some put it. That someone older wanted to give me some attention was huge. I would do anything not to spoil that or cause them to reject me. And I did, sadly.

It felt good, seemed harmless and they seemed pretty happy about it all so what was the harm? Really was it abuse or just boys/girls experimenting, exploring, or just fooling around having fun? If so, why does it still bother me? Why has it messed up my relationships with other men and women now that I am grown and mature? Why do I still think about it and feel shame and guilt if it was just innocent?

Jay said...

A lot to process. Sometimes it's easy to run back to the good feelings that fantasy and self-pleasure provide rather than the pain of continuing to process. I don't always make the right choices, but I'm trying to learn to think and respond better more and more, and to buy into the destructive lies less and less. It's a tiring, exhausting journey. I've found some good trustworthy Christian brothers to walk it with, but often I'm convinced that if I'm too real, too needy or fall too often, they'll tire of me and distance themselves. It's hard to find good balance. I'm a good liar -to myself and to others-, and the feelings abandonment and rejection come strong and relentless sometimes, even when there's no valid evidence. Trust is hard, and often I feel like I 'self-sabotage', pulling away from others before they pull away from me. -Jay

Cecil Murphey said...

Anonymous wrote, "It felt good, seemed harmless and they seemed pretty happy about it all so what was the harm?"
He then asks, why he feel shame and guilt. My answer is that deep inside, he knew it was wrong--maybe he wasn't able to explain to himself why. .What they did was done in secrecy., which is something to ponder. If it was all right why not do it publicy?

Guilt and shame are real emotions that stem from our behavior (or lack of it).They are some of the effects and points out that, on some level, he knows was exploited by others.
I hope he can accept that fact and also realize that, as a child, he didn't have maturity to cope or to fend off the aggressors.

Cecil Murphey said...

Jay sounds like most of us in our struggle for normalcy. We know those feelings. And we know so well haw difficult it is trust others--afraid they'll reject us. I wish I had a simple answer, but I don't because for most of us it's an ongoing battle to trust and to open ourselves to others.

Jay, don't give up!