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.

Moving On?

(This post comes from Roger Mann.)

Sometimes I think my entire life has revolved around sex. I understand it’s a big part of a guy’s life. Someone once said, “From the time we exit the exit, we spend the rest of our lives trying to get back in.” Much of art and literature—and now the media—is devoted to it in one way or another, especially these days. I get that.

Still, for me it’s been an ongoing theme. Being a sex object as a child was a large part of my confusion over my identity and worth. The teens, normally a tumultuous time for a boy, were even more confusing. When I should have been discovering girls, I was already being discovered by males.

I married thinking that would solve and solidify my ambivalence about the whole thing. It didn’t. I gave up for a while and listened to those telling me to accept who and what I was. But that’s not who I came to realize I was after all.

So, years of therapy later, and many books, counseling sessions, and so forth, I still find my mind haunted by what happened to me so long ago. Today I find myself asking this question. Do I want this issue to continue being the main theme my life seems to revolve around? Or is it time to put it on the back burner to simmer, and try and enjoy what life has led me to in the present?

I’m not giving up on trying to heal, but I’m not going to spend the rest of my life looking back. I have a good life. Yet I think that at times I miss some of the goodness while trying to deal with scars from my past. Although there’s no question I’m scarred, I’m still alive, and I suspect I’m still missing much because of trying to lick my wounds.

Moving on is not denial. It can also be a part of the healing process.

Hurting Back (Part 2 of 7)

As I continue to learn about forgiving, I’m able to say that people who hurt often hurt others. That may not be obvious to us who were molested. Perhaps not every perp was first victimized, but something caused deep pain or need in their lives, and finding temporary sexual satisfaction was their form of self-medication.

Even knowing that, for some of us it’s still hard to forgive. The anguish is too deep. The traumas of our childhood remain stuck in our memories.

Hurting back doesn’t satisfy. We may think it will, but it doesn’t. If I sock you after you struck me, it doesn’t lessen the sting I felt. Nor does it diminish my sadness that you hit me. At best, retaliation gives a momentary respite from pain. The only way to experience healing and peace is to release the pain—that is, to forgive.

Until we can forgive, we’re in a prison, padlocked in our heartache and locked out of the possibility of experiencing healing and freedom. In short, we’re unable to experience peace because we’re still bolted to the past.

Someone wisely said, “Without forgiveness, we remain tethered to the person who harmed us. We’re bound by chains of bitterness and vengeance. Until we can forgive the one who harmed us, we’re unable to grab hold the key that frees us from our prison. Our perpetrators are still inflicting agony and despair. That person is our jailer.”

When we forgive, we take control of our lives and feelings. We become our own liberators.

Above all, we don’t forgive to help our perpetrators. We forgive for ourselves. Forgiveness is the best form of self-interest.

The best way to win over our oppressor is to forgive him 
and not allow him to continue the torment.