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.

Contemplating My Father (Part 1 of 2)

(This post comes from Roger Mann.)

Although my father’s been dead for years, I’m still contemplating his life. This year has been more insightful as I look backward. Maybe because I’m now older than he was when he killed himself.

My father could have been great; he never was. He always pastored small churches and never made a lot of money, even though he was in sales and was good at it. He reached a successful level, then stalled and moved on to something else. He had many casual friends, but his closest and most intimate were always of an odd or sexual nature.

He knew a lot about the Bible but had trouble applying it to his own life.

He was a control freak, but it was tempered by his faith. He never became violent, didn’t drink alcohol, and kept up the appearance of happy husband, father, and minister. Still he never really connected with anyone like I have on the level we have on this blog.

He was secretive and led a double life fairly successfully most of the time until the end. He never really connected with me emotionally.

As I pondered his life, I couldn't help but notice the similarities between us—especially in the area of achieving a certain level of success and then coming to an abrupt halt and moving on. I was always trying not to gain too much attention. My life couldn’t have stood a lot of scrutiny.

Whether it's shame, guilt, or pride, I too have trouble applying truth to myself successfully and consistently. The posts that I read on this site have helped in gaining insight to what is wrong and what needs to be done to correct it.

And thanks guys, BTW. You're all amazing.

Rape

I recently read a powerful novel called Beartown, by Fredrick Backman, translated from the Swedish. Maya, age 15, is raped by Kevin, age 17. At the end of the chapter, the author writes this powerful statement: “For the perpetrator, rape lasts just a matter of minutes. For the victim, it never stops.”[1]

What does that mean for us—the survivors of sexual assault? First, as I’ve pointed out previously, we were raped. That’s a strong word, but we were molested before we were able to make our own choices. Chosen. Groomed. That’s also the reason I often used the term sexual assault.

Second, those words state the situation well. For perpetrators, it’s another conquest. I assume they feel satisfaction afterward; I hope they also feel guilt and shame. Regardless, they have the ability to push away such emotions and move on to the next victimization. To them, each of us was just another means to a temporary satisfaction.

But what about us—the victims? As Backman says, “it never stops.” Call it PTSD flashbacks or recurring memory. For us it never stops. At least not for a long, long time.

For Backman, the end seems hopeless. For some, that’s exactly what it is. But to those of us who are able to face our rape, pain, and humiliation, our stories can end in triumph.

For us, it’s not too late to have a happy ending. 

[1] Beartown by Fredrick Backman (Atria books, 2016), page 177.

Still Feeling Powerless

(This post comes from Roger Mann.)
I’m about to enter my seventh decade as a man, so one would think that I’d be pretty settled in my own skin by now. And yet, in certain situations, there are men (and even some women) who can make me suddenly feel like a ten-year-old boy caught trying to steal candy from the drug store.

Why is that? What is it that can make me feel so powerless in those situations?

Recently I was at work, which I love by the way, and was called to the manager’s office. I’d done nothing wrong as far as I knew. I was told that I’d made mistakes—small things of no consequence. And yet I felt my stomach begin to squirm on my way across the store. As I entered his office, he greeted me and then asked me to close the door. The butterflies in the tummy got worse as I sat down and he looked at me across his desk.

As it turns out, I’d done nothing wrong, but someone else had in regard to my paperwork. I’d covered my butt with notifications to all parties involved, and they had verified it too. The matter had to be explained to me because I would probably receive some disciplinary letters in the mail from headquarters’ human resources. That would’ve been upsetting had I not been made aware of the corrective action taken already on my behalf.

I was relieved and let out a big sigh as I left his office. In spite of the pleasant outcome of the visit, my hands were still shaking. A life of keeping secrets and walking on eggshells has left me constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop, even though there isn’t one any more.

Some call it PTSD. I took a test over the internet and that’s what it said I had, but I never suspected I could have anything that serious. Most of the time I feel okay, but I have to admit that some things can still trigger a panic in me that is way beyond what situations or persons are able to induce in others.

Peace and contentment can be elusive, but I’m learning to recognize the triggers and change my response.

My Inner Dialogue

A few months after I began my healing journey, I had several dreams one night. In the first, I saw myself as an adult and I held an infant in my arms. I knew it was myself and I said to him, "I'm Cec and you're little Cecil. I'm sorry I wasn't able to take care of you in childhood, but I'm here now."

In the second, little Cecil was maybe six years old. I stroked his cheek and said, "I couldn't help you then, but I'm here now."

In each dream the little child was older. In the final dream, Cecil was a teen. I took his hand and we walked down the street together. "You were so brave," I told him. "You survived and you're healthy. Your brothers didn't make it, but you did. I'm proud of you."

I stopped, turned to him, and hugged him. Then I awakened.

The meaning was obvious, but it started an inner dialogue with me. Even today, years after that dream, I still talk to the boy. I remind him of his survival and thank him for not committing suicide (which he tried to do once).

I like who I am now. I like who I am because that younger self was brave and kept fighting. He didn't let Dad or others defeat him. Growing up, he felt alone and like no one cared.

I'm strong today because he was strong then—even though he didn't realize he was.

All-powerful God, thank you for your strength.
Thank you for enabling my younger self to survive his painful childhood.

* * * * *

This post is excerpted from Cec's new book, More Than Surviving: Courageous Meditations for Men Hurting from Childhood Abuse (Kregel Publications, 2018).

Life Is Messy

(This post is from Roger Mann.)

Life is messy. Messier than I ever imagined. I grew up in a house that celebrated truth and honesty. At the same time, I was told/taught to keep secrets and lie. I was just a kid, but there was something about it that didn’t sit well with me. But being 9 or 10 years old, what did I know? “Father knows best” is what I was told.

Even as a kid I got an uncomfortable feeling in my stomach about what was going on, but I was conditioned to override that and obey my parents.

But stuff like that won’t stay silent for long. As a teenager I began to see that Dad was not so all-knowing and perfect as I had been led to believe, and that made me mad. I had been lied to, betrayed, and eventually set aside. He hadn’t given me much attention throughout my childhood, but what he did give changed to less and less as I got older. I think he began to worry about what I might say or do.

I let it go. There was nothing I could do that would not cause even more problems, so I left home as soon as I could. I think he was relieved. I thought I’d managed to get away and put all that behind me. I was wrong. All the secret abuse and lies didn’t stay buried. The older I got, the more problems I seemed to have until finally I had to deal with it all.

The anger didn’t go away. The flashbacks and the bad dreams that scared my wife led to my trying to deal with it on my own. That only made it worse. I was a lost soul, and the foundation I had so carefully laid began to crumble beneath me at around 45 years old. I needed help and I searched to find it.

When we reach a certain age, we often look back on things. That’s when the fa├žade shows its cracks. For me it was 45, and I have talked to many others around that age with similar stories.

Whatever your age, get help. 
You can’t do it alone. 
The results are worth it.