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.

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.

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).

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.