Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Part of what bothered me so much in the early stages of my acceptance as a victim was the loneliness. Unable to talk to anyone about the huge secrets I carried was a huge burden. A burden I never realized I was carrying until I finally told someone. I couldn't believe what a relief it was. I cried a lot just to know I was heard and believed and it was okay.

This is one of the major reasons I've agreed to do this blog. I haven't forgotten both the feeling of carrying the load and of finally having someone to share it with. Later on, I found a website that specifically was designed for men who were victims to come and talk with others, share their stories and feelings and get support. That again was huge, almost intoxicating. I was not alone. It was not my fault. I was believed.

The first time I tried to share with someone on a different site, I was not believed. I was very upset that I have finally opened my soul to another and was put down like someone just seeking attention. I never told anyone else until that day in counselling as mentioned above.

Why don't we tell? Because it hurts too much not to be believed and thought evil of. This is dark stuff but it dies in the light and telling can remove the teeth from the memories.

Just my thoughts

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Betrayal has a way of causing a hardening of the heart. In medicine, if we give too much calcium we can end up with a condition we call stone heart. Due to electrical imbalance, the heart just freezes up and won't beat.

The heart of a child needs the right stuff too. Love, discipline, attention and affection. I only mention this because I've realized that my emotional heart is a bit erratic. Sometimes it's overly excited. Sometimes it's unresponsive when it really needs to respond.

The other day my wife was feeling really down. I wanted to comfort her, needed to comfort her, but all I could do was listen silently. My thoughts were all about how her angst was making me feel. So I said nothing and she finally stopped talking and fell asleep.

I don't know how to handle people who are upset, especially when they are upset with me. I either go silent or defensive. I either freeze, run, or fight back. It's all about me. But it's always been all about me. I had no one to turn to, no safe place to go. I withdrew into myself and stayed there. I hardened my heart. I will not be hurt anymore. I will not feel the pain.

The problem I've discovered is this. When you turn your heart to stone so the pain can reach you, the love can't reach you either. I need to learn to soften up, let the walls down. I'll feel the pain, but I can feel the love also. It's scary, it's not easy, and I'm sometimes very afraid of what might happen.

I'm a grown man now though. I'm not a frightened lonely needy little boy anymore. I can learn and maybe I can really connect emotionally even in uncomfortable situations. I'm not alone anymore and that's a big difference. I need to remember that.

Just my thoughts.

Friday, October 11, 2019


Boundaries,

I heard someone speak about boundaries in a context I hadn’t thought about.  In the area of sexual abuse, many times before anything really sexual happens there are boundaries that are crossed. They may seem harmless inadvertent actions or comments. An innuendo, off-color joke or comment of a sexual nature. Sometimes even a suggestive leer. A kind of testing of the waters to see if one might take things further. Some have insisted that this constitutes a mild form of sexual abuse. These days we'd categorize it as sexual harassment if it happened in the workplace.

I know as a young boy I was occasionally taunted by older boys about not having a knowledge of sex that they had or not being interested or even embarrassed when the subjects would come up. I felt shame that I wasn't privy to certain knowledge that my peers thought I should be.  I saw it as an attempt to destroy my innocence. If they only knew, but I played dumb and let them make fun of me because I had secrets that I didn't want anyone to know about. They might want to know how I learned what I know.

I’ve had older boys try to cross those boundaries with me with the idea of seeing if I'd be curious enough to allow them to guide the conversation with a point of grooming me for something more.

My boundaries were crossed during the wee hours of the morning on I don’t know how many countless times before I was old enough to become aware. I was slowly conditioned to respond in a compliant manner so that the more serious abuse could escalate.

Boundaries are important but much more so for the young who cannot understand why they are important.  Once crossed successfully, the course of one’s life can be derailed onto very harmful tracks.

Those who should've protected me the best failed the worst. Thank God I’m being put back on good solid tracks.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Change takes courage.

Which sometimes I don't have a lot of. But I remember when I finally got desperate enough to reach out for help in spite of my fears, change began to happen. Fear is the killer. Fear kept me in denial and confusion for much of my life.

But sometimes life gets you to a place where it's either stay in pain, anger and confusion and spiral down, or start looking for help. Sometimes help is hard to find. I think that's what kept me blocked for so long. I knew what I was doing was not working. For me, it was making things worse as far as relationships with family and friends, some of whom understood, some didn't and I lost them.

I didn't realize how valuable an objective look at my struggle and my woundedness would be. There were things I would never have noticed before without help. And it was seeing those things that helped me to effect the changes and move on.

I've come to agree with the books I've read that insist you can't do this alone. And not just for those insights but it really helped so much to talk to someone who "got it" and could reassure me I was not crazy.

There are some great books out there on this subject of recovery from abuse. Journaling did help me focus and articulate the hurt. But nothing beats a listening ear. To be believed was a huge thing with me. I think that's true with a lot of us too.

We were not meant to struggle alone. It was not our fault. I'm not the only one. Those truths were my Seeds of Hope and I'm here to pass those seeds on.

Saturday, September 28, 2019


Part 3 of Joe's story,

Shortly after 9/11, I was diagnosed with P.O.T.S. because I’d black out frequently after standing up. I was put on meds but I’m always on guard of a blackout since my heart rate would go to zero during those episodes. I was hospitalized twice. Slowly, I became a recluse in my own home and spoke to no one unless I had to.

Over time, the flashbacks weren't as often, maybe once a day and eventually I was able to have intimate moments once again with my wife after nearly a 10yr hiatus. I don't know why she stayed with me but I’m grateful.

About a year ago, I was in the doctor office with my wife going over my blood work since I have severe hypertension. The doctor said he wanted to do a full physical and I literally freaked out like a raving lunatic. I told him if he comes near me that I’d hurt him and I meant it. I couldn't relive that again. I jump off the table ready to take him out. When we got home, I had to say something. This was not me, I always had everything under control, (cool and calm). I could only tell my wife the bare minimum of what the doctor did to me during grade school, no details

Over a period of months, I felt the need to tell her more but couldn’t tell her, so I wrote emails explaining everything as best as I could. I
was beyond terrified because I was sure she'd leave me. Who would want tainted goods or want to be with someone who held this secret for over 40yrs? How could I ever be trusted? I’d never cried so much in my life. I’d get mad at myself since I believed real men don’t cry; they just suck it up and move forward. That was how I was raised. I expected anger and resentment but she opened her arms and gave me a huge hug and said it was okay and said it explained a lot of my personality.

For the first time, I felt like a heavy weight was taken off my shoulders. I can’t even remember how many times since then that I apologized and asked if she still wants to be with me but the answer was always the same; she loved me regardless of what happened. Eventually, I felt overwhelmed and wanted to apologize at what kind of dad I’d been while my kids grew up. I was always there physically but not mentally.

So, what is blocking me from moving forward? I know I won't see a counsellor or even attempt to join a group with other men living through this. I'm just not ready and I can't trust anyone. My hope is one day to accept, acknowledge, and forgive myself since it was not my fault but I’m light years away from doing so right now.

Joe



Friday, September 27, 2019

Joe's story, Part 2, used by permission.

By 19/20, I was working full time and met my wife. I was terrified because I feared that this relationship would fall apart and once again, and I’d be left with nothing.

That relationship grew and we were married a few years later and I said nothing to her about the abuses. I was afraid she would be upset and want to leave me. Why wouldn’t she? I held in a lie for 40yrs, so how could I be trusted.

Shortly after getting married, I struggled with the sexual component of marriage since all I knew was that it was dirty and wrong, and which would be a trigger for flashbacks.

By the time I was 23 until my early 30s, I turned to alcohol to stifle the memories. I was not a drunk, I only drank enough to numb the pain but that grew into drinking up to two gallons of wine a week and, when my wife was not around, I would hit the liquor cabinet and drink vodka right from the bottle. No one suspected a thing; I was a master of covering this up.

One day, my wife said I should stop drinking since we had two toddlers and it would be bad for them to see that. I quit cold turkey that day knowing she was 100% correct, but I needed an out. With alcohol out of the picture, I took all of that anger, embarrassment shame and focused it into my work. I excelled at work and made more than enough to support my family with what they needed and wanted, but then 9/11 happened (that is another long story), being a few blocks away from a falling building with no place to go. Outside when the smoke and debris-covered us, part of me hoped that this was the end and the nightmare was finally over, but that did not happen.


To be continued.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Here is one of our Brother’s story. I’ll call him Joe.

This is part 1


Well, here is my story and I can’t believe I’m writing this. I share this to help others who experienced the same and thing. I’m not looking for pity or sympathy.

40yrs ago I was sexually abused by four different males for five or so years. Things were done to me, which were wrong and I was forced/blackmailed to do things I didn’t want to do but had no way out.

During this time, I was also physically and mentally abuse with bouts of neglect by my mother. The bouts of neglect from her were terrible as if I didn’t exist in the family

These people are still alive and nearly all of them are relatives, except one school doctor who was supposed to do a full physical twice a year, which was more like fondling and other things.

All I wanted since I was a young child was to be married with kids of my own but I felt that slowly was being taken away from me.

When the abuse ended, in my early teens, I’d lock myself in my room, go to school, come home, close my bedroom door until dinner. I’d eat dinner and speak only if asked a question, which was rare. Afterwards, I'd go back to my room and eventually fall asleep. I felt dirty, filthy, used, and contaminated so I distanced myself from everyone, especially if they were male. I couldn’t and still can’t trust another male.

By the age of around 12 or so, I was in a very dark place mentally... all memory of which is suppressed. I do remember finding myself in the kitchen several times with a knife in my hands thinking that was my only way out. What else could I do to make it stop, I felt powerless. I knew it was the coward’s way out so I never went through with it. I knew it was wrong.

used by permission.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Why?

And why does this question keep coming up? Why me? Why this particular issue? Why did it affect my life so intently? Why? Why? UGH!

Why can't I just get over it and get on with my life? Why after 60 years can it still bring me to tears?

I was reading the story of Job in the Bible the other day. He asked why a lot, 60 times if my count is correct. God never once addressed the question; not with him and not with me. And perhaps the why is not really that important in the whole scheme of things. I still have to go to work, be a good man, take care of my wife and family, and do the right thing whatever that calls for.

And maybe that in itself is part of my healing. I will never get my childhood innocence back. But worrying and fussing over that loss has cost me a lot of the joy I could have experienced in the present many times over. I can't erase the pain I feel at times. But as an adult, I can feel it, accept it, and realize it's a part of me, the whole me. I compartmentalized so much of my life and it nearly drove me crazy. But acknowledging and accepting the wounds of my past instead of fighting them I'm finding more peace than I thought possible.

When the inevitable question pops up, I suspect I need to just acknowledge the pain, let it wash over me for the moment and then get on with the present task whatever that may be. Life is too short to be held hostage by my past. Painful, yes, indeed but not the end of all things, not yet.

Yes, it happened, it hurt, it was wrong, I didn't deserve that. I survived and now maybe I can thrive.

Just my thoughts

Wednesday, September 11, 2019


The evil of abuse

As I look back at my life, there is much that has become clearer regarding the effects of what happened to me as a child. There was compartmentalization that occurred that I was not aware of at the time. It wasn’t until my father died in such a shocking way that the fantasy of a happy childhood was shattered.

I wasn’t tortured or severely beaten as a boy. I’d received some seriously painful spankings true, but it was not a regular occurrence. Most of the time I was left to myself to do whatever I pleased which was mostly normal kid stuff. The abuse was usually at night, secret, and never spoken of. It didn’t fit with what was happening during the day and was in contrast to what I was being taught as a good Christian boy.

It didn’t compute, so to speak, and therefore had to be relegated to a tight little box in my mind that could only be opened at special times and special places with special people.

As I grew up the contradiction of the two became too much for me and I really began to wonder if I was entirely sane. It was the reason I believe for much of my anger that I couldn’t explain and difficulty in relating to normal people. I felt different because I was different. I was two people struggling for dominance and the struggle was driving me up the wall.

Part of my journey into healthy relating to others was to accept both parts of my history as a continuous narrative. I had to accept what happened to me, what I experienced both by night and by day as my real past. They had to fuse in order to be a whole person and bring peace to that inner conflict. There is great peace in the acceptance of reality.

Just my thoughts

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Ok, it's been a while. I've been working on getting some help transferring the blog to my Admin control and it's a little more complicated than I had anticipated. It's things like this that stretch me and take me out of my comfort zone. My insecurities start to rear their ugly heads and I feel like a ten-year-old again. I know it's stupid but feelings are feelings and sometimes it hard to push through them.

Sometimes I just have to grit my teeth and tell myself I'm not ten and it's no big deal if I fail a few times at something new. Anyway, I think we're on our way here finally. I'll check out the page and see if I need more help organizing it. Thanks for the patience.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Forests and trees



When I’m feeling anxious or restless, sometimes I’ll do Sudoku. Over time I’ve improved in my technique and now I’m pretty much at the “Evil” level. Most times I win but sometimes I get stumped and have to either start over or go to the computer and locate exactly where I went wrong. I’ve tried doing them while watching or listening to the TV but that’s usually when I mess up.

Sometimes though I just get stuck even though pretty sure I’ve filled the boxes so correctly so far. I’ve found when that happens and I’m sitting and going over and over everything and can’t find the next step it helps to just lay it aside and come back to it later. If I’ve been correct in the puzzle so far, then just getting a break can help me see what I couldn’t see before. It’s like my mind is so fixed on what I’ve done so far, it can’t see other possibilities. I need a break so that when I come back, I’ll look at it with fresh eyes and boom, it becomes obvious.

This struggle to deal with the present without the cloud of the past fogging the picture is like that. Relationships can seem difficult for me because I’m used to seeing them through victim goggles. I’ve got to step back, take a breather, and approach with fresh attitude. I’ve got to keep reminding myself I’m not a little frightened boy anymore. I’m a man and there’s no need to feel intimidated or defensive.

It’s a difficult thing to keep in my head, especially when I suspect someone is trying to take advantage of me. And in sudden situations, sometimes I REACT instead of stepping back a second and then RESPONDING. My social skills seem woefully atrophied and I know that. Probably too much hiding and secrets.

But I’m learning.

Saturday, June 29, 2019


To all who visit this blog, welcome.

My name is Roger Mann and I’m a survivor and thriver from childhood sexual abuse. Cecil has asked me to continue this blog due to the request of some of us who feel it’s important to have a place to discuss, encourage and find support with other victims. I’ve agreed to do this and while it takes a bit of time to get into the administration area and I’m still feeling my way around, I wanted to say hello and let you know it’s in progress. This is my first time doing a blog so bear with me as I learn. I’ve received help from his assistant and she has been very helpful. Thank you, Twila.

I look forward to posting my comments and struggles with you and hearing of yours. May we grow and thrive together.

Thank you

Roger

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Final Words

For a long time I felt different, as if something inside me hadn't been wired correctly. "What's wrong with me?" I must have asked myself that question thousands of times over the years.

Some days I felt as if I wanted to die; other days I didn't know if the struggle was worth it. I can now say, “Yes, it was worth the fight.”

That was the beginning for writing this blog, MenShatteringTheSilence. I started it nine years ago to reach out to men who, like me, were willing to face the hurt and especially the undeserved shame of childhood sexual abuse.

The blog has provided a safe place for us to discuss hard-to-talk-about issues, and we’ve been able to focus on healing and growth.

I appreciate those who have been willing to transparently share your painful experiences. I’m also grateful for the encouragement you’ve given one another and me. Together, we’ve learned and grown. And although we might not be completely healed, we’re getting close.

Now it’s time to say good-bye. As one of my last steps toward retirement, I’m discontinuing this blog. The decision didn’t come easily because I care deeply about each of you.

As always, you are welcome to reach out to me through email.

* * * * *

I am working on shutting down my office, and I have extra copies of the three books I've written on the topic of abuse: When a Man You Love Was Abused, Not Quite Healed, and More Than Surviving. If you are part of a group or organization that could benefit from the use of any of these books, please contact me. I will send them to you at no charge. 

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Walls and Perceptions

(This post comes from Roger Mann.)
Sometimes I have trouble being around other men because we tend to get close after a while. That makes me uncomfortable, and I have a tendency to sabotage the relationship at some point. The walls stay up no matter what.

On the surface, I’m very approachable. I’m friendly, chatty, and easy going to all appearances. In public, I laugh and smile a lot. Joke around a bit too. But if I feel someone is getting too friendly, I tend to become unavailable. “I’m married, have kids, and am a busy man, you know.” They usually get the message and back off into the acquaintance mode.

After all these years and being pretty lonely, I hoped the walls that protected me so well when I was young would rot away and fall down. I’d love to have a best bud, a pal, a confidant with whom I could share my thoughts and fears and hopes. But that will probably never happen. The walls are too strong now even for me to share normal husband/wife things at home. I know this hurts my wife, and she feels shut out, but it’s hard. At the least resistance or misunderstanding, I close down. Why am I so fragile?

I know this is not normal. It’s not right. I see other guys with best friends who are very close and protective of each other.

Part of my mistrust comes from feeling that because I’m attractive, I fear being set up like I was in my younger and even more attractive days. I could never tell if a guy liked me because I was a good person or just a good-looking piece of meat. And it’s not just the guys either. I’ve been seduced by both sexes. I hate the way I, too, look at others. It’s warped. We’re attracted to attractive people. That’s normal and a part of reality. But I suspect most people leave it at that and see the person as just a person. For me, it takes a while to move past the initial assessment.

The kind of childhood I had has affected so much of my life. I’ve learned to pray for people I see. I ask my Maker to let me see them as He sees them. That’s helped a lot, even though I need to work at making it a habit.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Is Sexual Harassment Different for Men? (Part 9 of 9)

“Some victimized children later initiate sexual abuse,” an article said, “so they can predict when it’s coming.” Those words from a well-known psychologist shocked me.

Some of us may have initiated abuse—after we became victimized. I question the reason was because we’d know what was coming. For me, I see it as habitual, learned behavior. We weren’t mature enough to know the difference between our need for love and the perp’s lust.

We help ourselves by remembering and focusing on our youth and innocence. Someone older groomed us and exploited us. Even if we sensed there was something wrong with what was happening, we had been carefully chosen and were easily convinced of the other’s love for us.

The analogy that comes to mind was my aversion to many vegetables when I was first married. My wife got me to eat a few Brussels sprouts. I didn’t like them. Over a period of weeks, she put one or two on my plate. Over time, I learned to enjoy them as well as cauliflower and other members of the cabbage family. Now they’re among my favorites.

Because we felt wanted and loved in our loneliness, why wouldn’t we sometimes initiate the abuse?

§ 

I started this series by asking if sexual harassment was different for men. My answer: The emotional results are much the same—lack of trust, doubting our self-work, afraid to speak, and the list goes on.

Perhaps we can form our own #MeToo movement to encourage more victimized males to speak up.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Is Sexual Harassment Different for Men? (Part 8 of 9)

“It was my fault.”

That’s one of the most insidious lies of all. Too many of us believed we did something to arouse our perpetrators. Many women live with guilt over that same issue.

Years ago, I was part of a weekly group of adult males who had been sexually assaulted. In one of our early meetings, Al said, “If I hadn’t been so good looking, he wouldn’t have molested me.”

“No! That’s not true,” George yelled out. “He wasn’t looking at your face when he came on to you. You could have been the ugliest kid in town, and he would have done the same thing.”

Hank turned to Al. “I’ll bet your perp said that you were so handsome or cute he couldn’t resist you. Didn’t he?”

“Yes.”

“It’s like the bungling bank robber declaring, ‘The money was there, or I wouldn’t have tried to take it.’ That’s an example of the guilty blaming the innocent.”

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Is Sexual Harassment Different for Men (Part 7 of 9)

Another argument used to silence women who claim to have been sexually harassed is, “She didn’t fight back.”

Yet when people are robbed or mugged, no one asks them, “Why didn’t you resist?” That argument assumes that any person who didn’t want to be fondled would struggle and try to overcome the advances. I smile (ruefully) when I read such arguments. Occasionally, I’ve heard male survivors blame themselves.

“If I were a real man, I wouldn’t have let it happen.” Or they say, “I must have wanted it,” and then blame themselves for the sexual assault. As with women, we were physically overpowered by someone bigger and stronger when we were boys. Most of those women who kept silent did it out of fear—fear of losing their jobs, fear of being laughed at, fear of not being believed.

With us, it means that, as adult males, we look back and assume our younger selves to have been strong enough to fight. What could we have done? Cried out? Screamed? Kicked? Perhaps, but there’s something else with us. Our perps targeted us. They knew we were vulnerable. They waited until they had won our trust.

We were the ignored, unloved, unwanted boys. All anyone had to do was show us love and affection. We were too immature to reason out that they were only satisfying themselves and not truly caring for us.

Research used to refer to the fight-or-flight response to danger. A better way to put it today is to refer to fight, flight, or freeze. Victims become paralyzed as their body's protective response. Too often we punish ourselves, believing we know how we should have reacted.

Instead, we need to be kind and loving to ourselves. We did the best we knew how.

And we survived.

Did you blame yourself for not fighting back?

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Is Sexual Harassment Different for Men? (Part 6 of 9)

Another cruel argument against the women who claim to have been sexually harassed are these five words: her story doesn’t add up.

Because of a few inconsistencies in reporting, does that make the molestation invalid? It’s normal, especially when we finally speak up. Time has lapsed and the memories have abated, even though the pain lies dormant inside.

For many of us, the agony is too severe to recall every step in the sexual rape we endured. When I reflect on the abuse by a female, I can’t give details. Two things stand out in my memory. First, the smell of the powder she wore, and second, her breath as she put her face next to mine.

What people often don’t understand is that when we tell an experience, we don’t tell it the same way twice. With each telling, we add details or omit something. That’s human nature. One therapist said that when he hears a traumatic story and the person tells it exactly the same way each time, that causes him to doubt them. “If they’ve memorized the details, that often points to false accusation.”

Some truly harassed adults or molested kids don’t get heard properly because of those inconsistencies. It’s easier to disbelieve than to be open to the victimization of the speaker. It takes courage to speak up.

I hope authorities will recognize that, listen, and truly hear our painful tales.

Do you struggle/have you struggled with trying to remember every detail?

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Is Sexual Harassment Different for Men? (Part 5 of 9)

Here is one of the irrational arguments used about women who are now speaking up after years of silence: “She didn’t come forward immediately.”

Isn’t this also typical of us male survivors of sexual assault? We were kids. Perhaps it didn’t occur to us to tell anyone. I wouldn’t have known whom to tell. I didn’t think anyone cared enough. In fact, if I had been shown the love and attention I needed, I probably wouldn’t have been victimized. My perps chose me because I was lonely, felt unloved, and craved attention.

This argument about not speaking up immediately after the incident is just another backhanded way at blaming the victim rather than the perpetrator. Instead of authority figures accepting the information and investigating, they slam the door in the face of the already hurting survivor.

One of my male survivor friends said, “It’s like being abused twice—first by the perp and then by those who should be able to help but don’t.”

Have you felt blamed for the abuse?

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Is Sexual Harassment Different for Men? (Part 4 of 9)

One of the charges leveled against the women who claimed to be groped or raped is that they stayed friendly with their abuser. Their critics can’t seem to realize that those victims were afraid of losing their jobs or not being believed. They wanted to put the trauma behind them, so they played the role of being friendly.

And they silently suffered.

Many of us know that feeling well, but our reasons for silence may be different. Although I knew it was wrong when an older man groomed me and assaulted me, I felt a deep love for him. As strange as that may seem to my adult self, I truly thought he loved me. No one else listened to me or seemed to care about my feelings. Even though it was deception on his part, it was real to me.

Recently, I spoke with a man in his sixties who was assaulted in his early teens and stayed in a relationship with an older man until he was 20 years old. “I thought he loved me,” the survivor said, “until he said I was too old for him.”

Did any of you stay friendly or loving toward your perpetrator?

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Is Sexual Harassment Different for Men? (Part 3 of 9)

Too often, law enforcers and others assume they need a response of crying to believe the victims. Again, it’s the stereotypical acceptance as one standard of behavior. Reports of the celebrity abuses say that some of those women reacted by self-medicating—drugs, alcohol, engaging in high-risk sexual behavior, or withdrawing from friends.

I can’t say this often enough: there is no such thing as one response to being molested. We survivors behave in a wide variety of ways. When we talk about it, some of us appear calm, even detached. Others become angry or shout. Some go mute. Some of us cry.

One of the things I’ve read too often that’s taken to be true for all of us childhood survivors bothers me. They say their kids were doing well in school, never troubled, and then their grades began to fall. After that, they had trouble getting along with others and became belligerent. That’s one response—and it may be common—but it certainly doesn’t fit all of us.

For me, it was the opposite. In school, I did extremely well. Once I was inside the building, my mood shifted. I focused on learning and mixed well with other students. Until ninth grade, I wasn’t absent for a single day. Even though I didn’t realize it at the time, school became my emotional sanctuary.

How did you respond to the molestation when you were a child?

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Is Sexual Harassment Different for Men? (Part 2 of 9)

For their 2017 “Person of the Year,” Time magazine chose “The Silence Breakers”—women who triggered a #MeToo national outcry over sexual harassment. They showed photographs of four famous women and the intentionally obscured face of a fifth. She represented those who hadn’t yet gone public.

I applaud that—and wish there were more males speaking up, such as actor Anthony Rapp, who rang the bell on Kevin Spacey.

The public still seems stuck on the idea that sexual attacks are committed by strangers in dark alleys. Despite being told repeatedly through the media, most of us males (and the recent influx of females claiming sexual harassment) knew our perpetrators.

Our abuse came from people we trusted (or should have been able to trust). People can lie and make up things, and some individuals get caught in the false-memory syndrome of believing abuse when there was none. But, again, those are rare.

Think of what the victim must endure to go public. And many have horror stories to relate. Why would any of us want to subject ourselves to such painful scrutiny and unbelief? Why would we expect to be believed?

When you first spoke out, were you believed?

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Is Sexual Harassment Different for Men? (Part 1 of 9)

Most of us have been inundated with information about sexual misconduct in Hollywood, New York, and the political realm. As I’ve listened to TV news and read reports about the allegations and especially the responses, I’ve thought, That sounds like what many of us male survivors of childhood sexual abuse have gone through.

The July 26, 2017, issue of The New York Times included an article written by Shaila Dewan about the misguided reasons people doubt the report of victims. As I read the piece, so much of it hit home.

One psychologist who conducts law-enforcement training on sexual assault said, “There’s something . . . unique about sexual assault in the way we think about it, which is . . . upside down from the way it actually operates.”

She went on say that we tend to doubt the victims because of widespread misconceptions. “The public and the police vastly overestimate the evidence of false reports. The most solid, case-by-case examinations say that only 5 to 7 percent of sexual assault reports are false.”

The article stated that the reports are often viewed as unreliable because of the victims’ emotional paralysis or inability to recall timelines. To her credit, the author points out that such inability is common.

Yes, I thought, we males have the same issues.

I can’t pinpoint exactly when the sexual and physical abuse took place in my life, but I know it did. When I’ve been pressed for details, I blank out. I’ve tried to force myself to remember, but nothing productive jumps out. I’ve accepted that I’ll always have gaps in my memory.

Instead of being able to relate every detail, severe trauma works the other way. The more powerfully and painfully we’re affected, the less we remember. Others might not believe us—we can’t help that.

But we know.

Yes, we know.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Loss of a Secret

(This post comes from Roger Mann.)

In January 1995, I received a 2:30 a.m. phone call from my hysterical sister. “Dad shot Mother while she was sleeping. Then he shot himself in the front yard.”

Because she thought Mother to be alive, my wife and I got to the hospital as fast as we could. I was such a mess, all I could say was, “No, no, no.”

The rest of the month was a blur, and the next two or three years a roller coaster. Eventually, I settled into a working funk that slowly faded. Yet, at this time every year, I have an ache that won’t go away. I miss Mom and probably always will. I left so many things unsaid.

More than that, I grieve the loss of my secret. I kept it as a good boy should, but I cherished the fantasy I had made of it. In my mind I romanticized it as something other than abuse. It was a secret that was just for Dad and me and no one else. If I couldn’t have the healthy relationship I needed and wanted from a father, at least I could console myself that I had the secret of our “special times.”

After that January night, I had nothing but the truth. I wasn’t special—I was just more convenient. It wasn’t love—it was selfish, abusive, and damaging.

Along with my mother, Dad’s bullet took away everything I thought I had. I suspect I’ve been afraid to mourn Mom because I’d have to mourn all the rest. So, every January I just ache until I can push it back and move on to what the new year brings.

Some losses stick with us a long time.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Be Kind

At the end of emails to good friends, I sometimes add these words: "Be kind to [their name] today." Occasionally I'll add, "[Their name] is someone I like very much and deserves your kindness."

Not everyone responds, and I don't write it to hear from them. I write the words because I mean them. I also write them because I've had to say them to myself many, many times to remind me. When I've messed up, said or done the wrong thing, feel low or lonely, that's when I decide to be kind to myself.

How do I show myself compassion?

My words go like this: "I like Cec; he needs me to support him and he deserves all the love and respect I can give him."

Be kind to yourself.

Say only positive, loving thoughts to yourself. If I occasionally hear myself bordering on negative and self-condemning words, here's what I say: "Cec, I'm sorry I felt that way. You don't deserve the harsh things I've said about you. I promise you that I'll be nicer."

Loving God, today help me be kind to myself.
And tomorrow. And the days after that.

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

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Abuse and Compartmentalization

(This post comes from Roger Mann.)

I talked to a friend who was in and out of same-sex relationships because of his abuse. We discussed that other victims speak of the emptiness of same-sex relationships, which leave them depressed and feeling miserable. But neither of us felt that way, and it caused us to wonder.

One thing we have in common is that riding off into the sunset with another male has never been a possibility. It’s not that we haven’t met anyone who’d be willing, but it’s because of the way we responded to our abusers.

Because of who they were, we never considered that what we had between us was anything more than a physical action. (For him, it was an older brother; for me, it was my dad.) It was a “thing” that involved connection and fondness, but also an understanding that it would eventually end. While I might have loved my dad, and my friend his older brother—and the closeness we each felt was great—life continued, and we grew up and moved on.

Part of our experience became a fixed pattern that repeated itself in similar types of sexual relationships. Because of preconditioned attitudes cemented in our impressionable years, our ability to commit intimately to anyone else was almost impossible.

We both knew men who wanted a more permanent situation with us, and while we felt genuine affection for them, a commitment was out of the question. Our idea of fidelity still included our wives.

The abuse rerouted our wiring and compartmentalized that area of our brains. I honestly believe my dad ruined any possibility of my having true fidelity with anyone. I can either love someone or have sex with them. For my wife, love and sex are a package deal—no compartmentalization. I struggle with that, and it’s hurt her.

Now that I’m older, it’s easier to be more faithful, but I fear it’s because of age rather than morality. With God’s help, and as revelation and understanding increase, I’m doing better.