Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Feeling Loved

A woman posted this comment on an older blog entry. It’s significant enough that I wanted to share it with you.


My husband never heard "I love you" or "I am proud of you" from his father.

He is a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. I want him to know healing and freedom. He has addiction issues that I am sure are directly related to the abuse he suffered.

Children need to hear that they are loved by their parents, especially their
fathers! By the grace of God my husband tells our kids he loves them, spends time with them, tells them he is proud of them, and tries to connect with them.

I am also a survivor. We have struggled together for 25 years, endured a 1 1/2 yr. separation, emotional breakdown, loss of home and job, multiple hospitalizations, 2 very near death experiences due to surgery related infections, waiting over 2 years to resolve a disability claim, and trying to raise 5 kids in the midst of it all. The abuse wreaks havoc in every area of life.


This is another sad instance of what happens when kids don’t feel loved. The account of this man reads like the story of most of us who were molested as children. We didn’t hear those wonderful affection statements such as, “I love you” and “I’m proud of you.”

It’s not only the missing words, however, but the warmth and affection from parents that every child needs. Some parents may say the right things, but unless the children believe those words, they mean nothing.

Not to feel loved by parents means kids will reach out for it—unconsciously—and that makes them obvious targets.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

My Name Is Max

(By Max from Nashville)

My name is Max. I am 65 and consider myself one of the lucky ones.

I was in my mid-40s when I first officially had the words sexual abuse applied to my therapy journey. My body had instructed me since I was young, but I could not understand all my thrashing about meant having been sexually abused. I went to many therapists for 30 plus years before anyone asked me if I had ever been sexually abused.

I said no, of course not.

But things began to come together and eventually I recognized what my body had been trying to tell me for decades. Yes, I indeed had been sexually abused at age 4. I did not have what Alice Miller calls an Enlightened Witness—a term she uses to refer to people who have understood and recognized the consequences of child abuse.

Slowly and with tenacity my life moved toward healing. I am one of the lucky ones, in that I have experienced much healing and indeed much thriving. As a survivor of sexual abuse, I have leaned into the healing journey sufficiently to discover serenity and thriving.

I remember the first moment I felt understood and simultaneously felt safe for the first time. I was in my first Survivors of Incest Anonymous (SIA) meeting in the 1980s.

There were so few of us openly trying to heal in those days. But we continued and it was wonderful to have understanding Enlightened Witnesses for each other. I no longer felt alone, and no longer felt weird. I had brothers in healing. We helped each other tell the stories and to share the respect of truth telling.

I began to heal. I encourage people to look up SIA on the internet. On their home page, SIA states: We Define Incest Very Broadly. The SIA literature is gentle, honorable, and accurate.

I honor Cecil Murphey for his leadership in opening doors for truth telling. I honor him for his energy to encourage us to break the silence. My hope is that as we learn to break the silence, we do so in honorable and safe environments such as SIA 12 step meetings. We are brothers of healing and we can learn to thrive beyond just healing.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Defined by Abuse

"Sexual abuse doesn’t define me, but it does define what happened to me."

I hope you'll ponder that statement. Too many have suffered and built their lives around abuse. Some run from the thought of it or try to deny that it happened. Others put themselves in situations where they're victimized repeatedly (or they might say taken advantage of). Or they go out of their way to protect other boys from sexual assault. They often don't say it in words, but their message is, "I want to be there for other boys because no one was there for me."

And some victims of abuse become perpetrators themselves. This is a complicated topic and I don't feel qualified to talk about it except to say it happens.

Regardless of who you are, say these words to yourself: "Sexual abuse doesn’t define me, but it does define what happened to me."

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

What Does It Mean to Be a Man?

That's a frequent question from men who were sexually molested in childhood. "What does it mean to be a man—a real man?"

We have cultural attitudes and expectations within our own social communities about masculinity. But no matter how it's said, most of us survivors face uncertainty about our manhood. Many of us feel challenged and unsure about our masculinity. We say to ourselves, "If I were a real man, I would (or I wouldn't). . ."

For example, he was a victim of sexual abuse, so he can't be a real man, because true men are never victims. If he thinks of the word victim when he thinks of himself, he may struggle or be aware of something he says that will make others think he's not a real male.

If he cries, his friends may laugh at him, imply that's he's a sissy or behaves like a girl. Maybe he's not athletic or doesn't enjoy watching football. Or perhaps he's too thin or too fat—almost anything can cause him to struggle with deeper issues.

It's sad but too often it's a silent, inner battle he can't share with others. He feels that to talk freely opens him to further criticism.

Years ago my friend Charlie said he played with paper dolls. He was an only child and the dolls entertained him. One day he was with a friend and they saw two girls playing with paper dolls. "Only girls play with real dolls or paper dolls."

"After that," Charlie said, "I played only in my room and made sure no one else would find them." He later said that he started dating girls at age sixteen, and even though he liked girls, later married, and was never involved in any homosexual relationships, he still wonders if he's really a man.

"How do I know if I'm a real man?" he asked.

What would you say to Charlie or to any man like him? Please email me at cec_haraka (at) msn.com if you'd like to respond, and I'll post all the comments at one time.

Friday, December 10, 2010

A Response from Another Listener of the Janet Parshall Show

A note from Cec: I received permission to use this testimony provided I alter it enough so that no one would recognize the woman's son. This is one of the many, many sad stories without a happy ending—so far.

Thank you for talking about this problem that nobody seems to want to touch on. I wish there was more awareness and more help for the victims and their parents.

My son was abused by a pedophile in Europe when I sent him to visit with my family and his father. He didn't tell anybody what happened to him until he came back home.

This happened when he was nine years old. I must have cried ever since for him. I was a single mom without insurance and there was absolutely no help for him that I could afford.

When he was 18 he was raped again. He is now 24 years old and has a hard time holding a job and is often homeless. He has tried to escape his pain with drugs and alcohol and just today he told me that none of that helped him to get rid of that feeling of filth.

He was a very intelligent child, great in math and he spoke three languages fluent by the age of six, but he is not using any of it to his advantage.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

"My Inner Dialogue"

A therapist on the third segment of the Oprah Winfrey show on male sexual abuse brought out something I've done, but I haven't written about. He spoke about the wounded inner child. My friend David refers to it as "my little kid."

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 a toddler and sitting in a high chair. 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 must have been a teen, although he was still shorter than Cec. 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, probably 20 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 you were brave and kept fighting. You didn't let Dad or others defeat you. You were alone and had no one but you kept on. I'm strong today because you were strong then."

Years ago I read something by Marsha Sinetar in which she wrote about the "invulnerables," whom she referred to as those who survived an oppressive childhood and by every law of human behavior should have failed.

I'm an invulnerable.

And I'm grateful to little Cecil, who showed his courage and refused to quit.

Friday, December 3, 2010

"Killing the Inner Child?"

I watched the third show about male sexual abuse in childhood on Oprah Winfrey. I can't speak more highly of the program and hope it will come out on DVD for others.

One thing did bother me. Near the end, a dark-complexioned man stood and said that the abuser had killed the boy inside him. One guest said that the child hadn't died, but had been so hurt he couldn't be what he might have been.

I don't agree. Perhaps it's because of my strong Christian theology, but here's how I see this. I was abused by a female relative and later by an old man who lived with us. My father beat me often and brutally.

I'm a survivor—but I'm more than a survivor. I hate what happened to me. Not only did I live in pain for years, but I caused pain to others by my confusion and silence. But today, I'm a stronger, healthier person for having gone through the abuse. St. Paul said it far better than I could: "God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us" (2 Corinthians 1:3–4, New Living Translation).

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

"Walking in the Rain"

I taped the second Oprah Winfrey show where she dealt with male sexual abuse and watched the program that same night. She had two hundred sexually assaulted men in her audience. I was touched by their openness (and their tears).

Afterward, I thought about what I had seen, and I went emotionally numb. I haven't had that kind of emotional freeze for years. The last time it had happened was when I watched a PBS program on sexual abuse—a documentary by a Canadian woman who had been a victim of incest by her father. After watching her documentary, I wasn't able to talk afterward and went for a long walk late at night.

A similar thing happened after the Oprah segment and I went for a walk in the dark. Even before I was out of my yard, I had a flashback.

I was somewhere between 12 and 14 years of age. I lived on Second Street but at night I often walked down Third because it was darker and I wanted to be alone. During those walks I felt the pain of childhood—not the molestation because I had "forgotten" that. I felt useless and unloved.

As I walked, I felt totally alone. "No one cares about me," I said aloud as I walked along. If I died, I didn't think anyone would miss me. I assumed my mother would cry, but she cried about many things, and she would soon forget me.

A few times I walked in the rain and that caused me to feel even more alone. The rain pelted my face and my clothes and I didn't care.

The brief flashback after the Oprah show reminded me of the pain of my teen years. I had forgotten about those walks, but somewhere, deep inside, the memory had lay hidden.

After my walk I tried to talk to Shirley and called my best friend. With both of them I stammered, trying to find words to explain, and finally quit trying to put my emotions into words.

I went into our guest room and lay on the bed. I kept thinking of that kid walking in the dark, and his pain washed over me again. "I'm with you," I whispered to that confused, miserable teen inside me. "I'm here now and we're both safe."

Eventually I relaxed and fell asleep. Perhaps an hour later I awakened. The pain was gone but the memory remained vivid.

I share this because it reminds me that there seems always to be just a little more hidden pain. But these days I'm older and I feel compassion for that lonely boy who walked in the dark.

Friday, November 26, 2010

From a Registered Sex Offender

It is November 13 and I'm listening to you on the Janet Parshall show on Bott radio and want to say thank you for being who you are and what you are doing.

I was sexually abused at a young age and it affected me through my life and I became an abuser to the point I went to prison. I don't look on the prison as bad because it was God's way of saving me. Each day I grow more in the Lord, but there have been two times in the last seven years when I tried to end my life.

I'm glad you are able to reach people before they go through what I'm going through now. As a registered sex abuser it does make my walk rough.

My wife and sons stand by me, but there are times I wish my life would end to free them so they can have a normal life.

Please keep me in your prayers.

--Name withheld

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Sad Note from the Wife of an Abused Man

I'm encouraged to see people discussing this subject. Maybe there is hope for me. I love my husband, but the dysfunction in our marriage is consuming me. I have been battling for a marriage that I don't believe my husband wants to be in. He stayed in a recovery home for men for five months, but went back to his same behavior. That was roughly five years ago.

Our marriage started on a foundation of drugs and alcohol. God has set me free, but my husband remains in chains. He's an alcoholic and I'm not a professional, but after reading all the blog entries, I think I know the root cause.

He has told me his uncle (also an alcoholic) put his tongue in his mouth when his family housed him there for a while. I don't know what else happened, but I know it ruined my husband.

He's always been uninterested in sex with me, yet I believe he's had numerous affairs. I met a woman in a line at Drug Mart who told me my husband was her boyfriend.

Five years ago, he had a record for indecent exposure for having sex in a van with a woman. Lately, he makes statements under his breath like, "I'm not gay" and "I don't like sex."

We recently did not make love for over two months. His uncle that abused him showed up on Facebook and sent him two friend requests lately and my husband wants to murder him.

He is an expert avoider when I try to talk to him and he says he wants to be married to me, but I feel he's being unfaithful. He lies all the time and hasn't confessed to the affairs. I have prayed and fasted many times and believe God told me to stay with him. I've left him twice since 1997 because of verbal, emotional, and financial abuse and he's recently admitted to the abuse against me.

His mother physically abused him as a child and he is full of rage and anger that he numbs it all with alcohol (and maybe drugs still).

I obviously have codependency issues that stem from all the addicts in my family. I suffer from depression because I don't trust my husband, but I'm torn about divorcing him. He never spends time with me or our two daughters outside of our house. We never have company and he would be happy living in the wilderness away from the whole world. I am lonely and confused. Please pray for us.

--At her request, we have withheld her name.

Friday, November 19, 2010

"Who Am I?"

"I didn't know who I was," Mac said to me after I spoke to a Celebrate Recovery group. "Being molested messed with my brain," he said.

Mac didn't have a lot formal education but he said it well. Abuse affects all parts of our lives. I'm constantly amazed in my own life when I have a jarring realization of something I say or do that connects to my abuse.

Here's an example. I recently spoke with "Matt" about his abuse. He made me uncomfortable because he invaded my space—standing about six inches away from me—far too close.

In our conversation I put my hands on his shoulders as I took a step back, and said, "I'm uneasy when you stand so close." Before he could say anything, I added, "but I think it speaks about your need for intimacy."

Those words rushed out of my mouth without my consciously thinking of them. Tears filled Matt's eyes and he nodded slowly. "I know, but I can't help myself. I feel I have to move close to people and yet they move away from me."

I thought of buzz words like lack of boundaries and a number of things to help him, but instead, I heard myself say, "I'll bet you wished someone would hug you—a lot."

He nodded. "And when they do, I don't want to let go and that makes them not want to hug me again."

In that moment, I realized how many times I've wanted to be held, hugged, or even touched. It became clear to me that I had felt a similar need as Matt, but I reacted to it differently. When I hugged, I did it with great intensity (perhaps I still do). But the difference is that back then I tried to signal that I wanted the same intense embrace I gave them. Instead, I think I made them feel uncomfortable.

Like Mac, I continue to realize how much my being molested messed with my brain.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Didn't Feel Loved

(By Anonymous)

I heard you say that you didn't feel loved and I started to cry. My Dad screamed at me all the time, "I hate you! I wish you'd never been born!" Most days I feel no good and useless.

My wife knows about the man who molested me and she tries to help me. Maybe I'm just slow, but it's taking a long time, but I think I'm going to make it.

My wife tells me every day that she loves me. No one said to me before.

Please don't use my name.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Dan Breaks His Silence

(By Dan, Des Plaines, IL)

I never told my story to anybody. I heard you on radio and had to write something. You made me get it that I have to talk about what happened to me. It hurt and I still hurt and I'm 37. My Sunday school teacher started doing things to me when I was only 10. I was big for 10 and maybe that had something to do with it. He kept at it until he got sick with cancer. He told me that no one would ever love me as much as he did.

I know he was wrong and what he did was bad, but I can't forget what he did to me for 13 years.

I go to a different church and they have a group called Celebrate Recovery. I am better because of them but I still hurt.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

"What We Didn't Get"

I wrote an email to a hurting friend, who suffers from the effects of terrible things he's done to others. I'm sorry for his pain, but delighted he's facing himself. It takes courage to look at ourselves and admit that we committed acts we condemn in others. (In fact, condemning others for those very acts is often the way many try to cope with their issues.)

When I faced my childhood physical and sexual abuse, I learned an invaluable lesson. I don't know if I read it, someone told me, or if God whispered it to me, but here's the lesson: What we don't receive in childhood, we spend our lives seeking—usually on an unconscious level.

Like most people I focused on the symptoms—not doing things I knew were wrong. Years ago while visiting an AA meeting, I heard the term "dry alcoholic" and that sums it up for me. Dry alcoholics no longer drink but their behavior doesn't change.

I figured out that "unacceptable behavior" (a nice term to cover compulsive problems) is a painkiller. My dad and brothers killed their pain with beer. The most notorious gossip I've ever known died recently. Many times I've thought that carrying the latest news (true or not) gave her a sense of feeling significant, perhaps even important. The "medicine" each of them took for temporary relief usually worked temporarily.

Because of a loving God who worked in my life through my wife and my best friend, I was able to accept, struggle, and to have those needs fulfilled.

I was a lonely kid who felt different from those around him. When I was 18 months old, a dog attacked me and left terrible scars on my face. Plastic surgery took care of most of the visible scars, but the invisible ones remained for years.

The worst part of my childhood is that I never felt loved. As I ponder some of the things I did which made me feel guilty and ashamed, I now say to myself, "It was my way of searching for what I didn't receive as a child."

I'm probably no different from some of you, so I repeat the sentence that pushed me to face reality: What we don't receive in childhood, we spend our lives seeking—usually on an unconscious level.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Sorting It Out For Yourself

(This post, submitted by Jim Hopper, is from a page at www.1in6.org.)

How people define their own experiences, and the labels they give to them (or don't), are very important.

We're not interested in imposing labels, or even providing definitions. For our purposes, that's not necessary or helpful.

Instead, we're offering tools for thinking about childhood or teenage sexual experiences that may have caused or contributed to current problems.

For some of you, that's why you're here right now. You're trying to sort out, on your own terms:

· "What was that childhood (or adolescent) sexual experience really about?"

· "What effects has that experience had on me?"

· "Is that a reason why I'm struggling with _________?"

The question, "What was that sexual experience really about?" may be the most basic, and could take a while to sort out. It implies other questions, like:

· Was the other person in a position of power or authority over me?

· Was I manipulated into doing sexual things, or into believing I wanted to, even when I really didn't?

· Did sexual activity change what had been a positive relationship into one that involved secrecy and shame?

· Was the other person using me and not really considering my experience or my needs?

· Did the other person take advantage of vulnerabilities I had at the time – feeling isolated and lonely, feeling excited and curious but ignorant about sex?

These questions speak to possible exploitation, betrayal, and disregard for your well-being – experiences that can cause a variety of problems, right away and into adulthood.

No matter how old the other person was, if dominance, manipulation, exploitation, betrayal or disregard for your well-being were involved, the experiences(s) may have contributed to problems in your life now.

We are not pushing anyone to condemn or even to label the other person or people involved… Also, such experiences may have involved attention, affection and physical sensations that, at the time, you found pleasurable and in some way wanted (e.g., in a confused way mixed up with shame).

The point of trying to "sort things out," if you choose to do so, is to understand whether – and if so, why and how – the sexual experience(s) may have helped to cause some problems you have now (like problems with shame, anger, addiction, or depression).

We're providing resources for sorting out what makes sense to you, and for sorting out the options for dealing with your unique experiences and moving closer to the life you want.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Max's Story

(By Max Haskett)

My name is Max R. Haskett. I'm a successful and strongly healed survivor of childhood sexual abuse. I'm 65 years old, having done my surviving through the decades when sexual abuse healing wasn't an open topic. I was—and am— passionate about healing, which led me into the counseling profession as a marriage and family therapist.

I was tenacious about finding solutions and answers to my confusions. I attended every seminar, lecture, and workshop I could find. I read any book that might have a solution. I talked with thousands of people, most of whom were also struggling to heal. I found the 12-step world to be an enormous help, especially the groups called SIA (Survivors of Incest Anonymous) and ACA (Adult Children of Alcoholics). I found Cecil Murphey's book When A Man You Love Was Abused to be especially accurate in describing a male's feelings of being abused. It's excellent.

I offer three specific words to boys and men seeking guidance into their personal healing: hope, safety, and shame-free. Specially trained therapists are quite strongly clear about how to help men and women heal from the pain of sexual abuse. We now have sufficient and adequate answers, solutions, and guidance for healing.

From my perspective, I believe the experience of safety is fundamental to the possibility of telling the pain. To me, offering someone safety is the same thing as offering them God's Grace. To whatever level of felt safety, the person can risk the sharing of their painful truth. The third word I offer is shame-free. When listening to someone share their pain, the spirit of shame-free is the environment needed for healing. Hope exists when someone feels safe and is treated shame-free in response.

Decades of searching have indeed taught us a path to healing. I have great respect for Cec for his leadership in opening the channels of healing to our people that have to heal from their pain. Thank you, Cec.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Lies Destroy

(By Thomas Edward)

Much of the sexual abuse boys encounter is not a single incident, but rather a prolonged period of multiple incidents. Whether a single incident or prolonged, the child's belief structure is shattered.

He is stamped with the idea that people are not trustworthy. They abuse, exploit, and hurt. They lie and deceive. Therefore, the boy's self-concept of being a man has been traumatically altered. His mindset and behavior in every relationship he encounters going forward is skewed.

Even in adulthood, his relationships are tainted with this violation of trust. His inner circle may consist of an army of one, himself. His life may feel unfulfilled, incomplete with the intimacy he desires.

He has experienced distorted values. He learned that violence in relationships is normal, sex is the way to achieving love, and being distant provides safety and protection. He has discovered that rape and homosexuality is normal.

The effect of these lies created pain that continued into manhood. Never trust men or women, he believes. For me, fearing and distrusting any type of intimacy placed me in isolation. Because of my feelings of rejection, I was unable to connect with people.

Other ramifications of abuse may incline the abused toward frequent, short-lived, or volatile relationships. This stage is a little better than isolation, but due to our suspicious nature, and the possibility of rejection, we invest no quality time in our relationships.

We mistrust words and the actions of others. Candid, open communication does not exist. When confronted with problems in relationships, we use silence, or hostility, and withdraw into ourselves. We blame others for our failed relationships. We often think, "I knew he couldn't be trusted!" Or, "She would hurt me."

Similar to domestic abuse survivors, we sometimes enter a relationship that recreates the abusive victim mentality for us. It feels comfortable. We are familiar with the scripted behavior pattern. We trap ourselves in a cycle.

The ramifications and results of the sexual abuse can be overwhelming, but with God's help, the desire to change, and the fortitude to work, we can find new life.

--Excerpted from Healing a Man's Heart (Holy Fire Publishing, 2009), by Thomas Edward, Pages 63-64

Thomas Edward is a speaker and the author of HEALING A MAN'S HEART. His desire is to help men of faith experience freedom from the pain of childhood sexual abuse. For more information about Thomas, his book, or his Healing Broken Men workshops, visit www.healingbrokenmen.com.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Tyler Perry Admitted It! Oprah Winfrey Announced It! And 200 Male Survivors Will Face It on November 5.

Writer/actor/producer Tyler Perry spoke about his childhood physical and sexual abuse in front of millions of Oprah viewers on October 21. He shared his story in an effort to liberate himself emotionally. On November 5, 200 male survivors will give voice to the issue of their abuse.

Physical and sexual abuse survivor and veteran author Cecil Murphey agrees that healing comes in the telling. But for every man who opens up about his abuse, millions of others wrestle with shame and the emotional bondage that keeps them quiet. What does it take for abused men to shatter the silence of the torment that has held them captive to their past? How can a friend or loved one help a survivor through the recovery process?

Tyler Perry told Oprah that as a child his unrelenting abuse made it nearly impossible for him to trust adults. Cecil Murphey says, “That’s normal and most of us carry distrust of people into adulthood.” Murphey said it wasn’t until he was shown unconditional love by his wife and a good friend that he was able to open up about his childhood trauma. Once he opened up, he was on his way to recovery.

Cecil Murphey offers the following suggestions to help a man you care about move through his recovery.

1. Be honest about your feelings. Don’t lie or hide how you feel.

2. Be a reflective listener. That is, pay attention and accept his thoughts and feelings.

3. Seek eye contact. Look at him as he talks.

4. Suggest regular times to talk. He might not know what he wants to say, or be unwilling to divulge more. As he speaks and you accept his words, it enables him to probe deeper into his past. As he probes, he heals.

5. Accept him as he is. He won’t be perfect at the end of his healing journey.

6. Recognize that healing won’t be in a straight line. After months of progress and increasing intimacy, he may suddenly reject you or create distance. If that happens, be patient. Think of it as time-out for him.

7. When appropriate, remind him that you love him, that you pray for him, and that God created him loveable.

8. Accept the pace of his progress. This is his painful past, not yours.

9. Avoid blaming him for problems in your relationship. His behavior was probably the best way he knew to cope.

10. Encourage him to empty himself of the trauma of his childhood and let go of resentments and anger of the past.

Friday, October 22, 2010

David Arakelian's Story (Part 2 of 2)

(By David Arakelian)

Liz and I met at a church service in Boston. A short time later, we were married. I told her about my past and she accepted me.

I didn't foresee that a friend would set me up for online porn and cybersex. Almost immediately, I became addicted. The effects of my addiction tore at my soul and at the fabric of our marriage.

As a child I believed in Jesus Christ. My family was both Eastern Orthodox and the United Church of Christ. Before the abuse, I felt that I could go to God for help.
After the abuse, I hated God and believed he was against me and I blamed him for taking my mother when I needed her. I also blamed God for allowing the sexual abuse.

Liz and I went to Hope '99 (a local Christian outreach center), not sure what we were looking for. Ultimately, people prayed with us and led us to the Lord. We were baptized a month later. Jesus knew everything that I'd done and took away my guilt and shame. Despite that, I continued to struggle.

Liz and I joined Real Life Ministries Church. I told our pastor, Jim Putman, about my background and he wasn't put off because of my past. I felt like a leper, and yet Jim hugged me with a pure, brotherly love.

One afternoon, I was scheduled to meet with Jim, but instead met with another staff member. I'd messed up again and felt so guilty I didn't want to meet with either of them.

I was afraid of their responses, so I hurried out of the building. I locked myself in our van. Liz rushed out of the church toward the van with the other staff member behind her. Jim came to the van, talked to me, and convinced me to open the door.

He and I went into the church. We sat in the back pew and he put his arm around me. While I sobbed, he prayed. Jim told me that he expected me to turn my back on engaging in cybersex and looking at online porn—but he loved me and he was proud of me for trying so hard.

I could hardly believe his words: I'd never had another guy tell me that he was there for me, or that he loved me.

Our church started Celebrate Recovery (CR) and I received my 7-year chip in 2009. Jesus used CR to dig the junk out of my life. I have gained lasting friendships with other brothers by having gone through the 12 steps together. I’m co-leading a group, and I'm in seminary to get my MA in pastoral counseling.

Liz and I recently celebrated our 17th wedding anniversary. Other changes have occurred in my life as well. Even though my human father and my abuser gave me warped pictures of God's true nature, I stopped seeing God as waiting to zap me. Instead, he healed me and now uses my woundedness to encourage others.

The Bible says, "[God] comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us" (2 Corinthians 1:4, New Living Translation).

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

David Arakelian's Story (Part 1 of 2)

(By David Arakelian)

I'm a believer who struggles with sexual brokenness and the effects of sexual abuse.
During most of my childhood, my mother was extremely ill, and my father vacillated between being emotionally absent and raging at me. I had no close friends and spent most of my time playing alone in my sandpile.

I had extremely low self-esteem, and believed that I was less than other guys. I have struggled with body-image issues as well.

When I was 13 or 14, my next-door neighbor, the youth pastor of a church, started sexually abusing me. He said he wanted to lead me to the Lord. After he sexually abused me, he'd tell me, "Now we have to repent, or else we'll go to hell."

I was alone in my grief about my mother's passing. The continuing sexual abuse left me feeling hopeless and powerless to stop it. I regularly felt suicidal and developed intestinal symptoms that mimicked my mother's disease. I was convinced that I was going to die at a young age. I was equally certain that I was bound for hell because of my involvement with homosexuality. The idea of death terrified me.

The abuse lasted until I was 17, when I went to college to study for the ministry. Other people seemed to be impressed by my knowledge of Scripture and of doctrine. I had answers for other people, but none for myself.

At the beginning of my freshman year of college, I met my wife. We both came from horribly dysfunctional homes. My wife's father was an alcoholic, who made it known that he was going to divorce his wife as soon as all of the kids were out of the house.

I had my own set of hurts, hang-ups, and habits. People from our church told my wife that it was morally wrong to bring children into this world, because of the overpopulation issues. That drove a wedge between my wife and me.

Her parents didn't like me and kept telling her to leave me. After three years of marriage, my wife left. She refused to talk to our pastor about the issues in our marriage. I didn't want the divorce, and didn't believe the issues were so bad they couldn't have been solved.

After we separated, I discovered adult bookstores, and various other places where sex addicts hung out.

I was hooked.

I became sexually active with other guys—almost daily. I was filled with guilt and shame. I was sure that people would be repulsed if they really knew the extent of my behavior. From other guys, I desperately sought acceptance, affirmation, affection, and a sense of belonging.

Later, I lived in a Christian community in Boston. I'd been horrible to my housemates. As my addiction worsened, I lashed out at them. My room was right off of the kitchen, and I was one of the few housemates that had their own phone. I talked on my phone with my bedroom door wide open. They could hear me telling others I hated my housemates and how much they were trying to restrict my leaving the community to go to my acting-out places.

Finally, members of the community told me that either I had to stop acting out, or I'd have to find a new place to live. I started going to SLAA (Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous) and gained sexual sobriety from involvement with other guys.

I thought that I was over my biggest problem, and that I could get on with my life.

Friday, October 15, 2010

When Forgiveness Will Occur

Some men don't resolve the forgiveness issue. Until they perceive God's grace and forgiveness toward them, they can't truly forgive. Until they recognize they are made whole only by divine help, they can't push away the anger and grudges they hold.

He's ready to forgive when he no longer blames himself for the abuse or punishes himself for what he did or didn't do. Getting to that point is a gradual process and doesn't occur at one moment. As he learns to accept himself as he is and begins to treat himself with respect and affection, he may come to realize that forgiveness is an act of compassion toward himself.

It took time for me to grasp that. Whenever the topic of molestation came up, I thought of Mr. Lee and what his actions had done to me. At one point I said, "He ruined my life." He didn't ruin my life but he made it extremely painful for me. After I finally tired of exerting energy toward hating him, I chose a different path to follow.

Many of us want revenge in some way, especially if the perpetrator is alive. But even if we find a way to see the other punished, our pain won't be gone. We might be satisfied that justice has reigned, but it changes nothing for us.

So keep this clearly in mind: abuse is always wrong; abuse is always sinful; abuse always hurts.

Forgiveness allows our hurts to go into the Past file. Pain doesn't have to live in the Present file or Future file. We transfer the emotional energy we used for resentment and spend it on healthy relationships.

--excerpted from When A Man You Love Was Abused by Cecil Murphey, Kregel Publications, 2010, page 229.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Why Forgive?

"Why should I forgive him?" During the year I spent in the state-sponsored group for survivors, I heard that question several times. At first, several of us tried to answer the question.

One day, one of the group said, "That's a good question. When you know the answer yourself, you're ready to forgive."

I agreed with him.

As I've pondered the issue of forgiving perpetrators, here are reasons I've come up with to forgive:

* I now have freedom from the painful controls of my past. They no longer torment me.

* I have decreased the likelihood that my anger will be misdirected toward others who aren't responsible for the abuse, including myself.

* I have reduced the fear that I might have violent impulses.

* I grow in the process. I grow in relationship with other people. As long as I withhold forgiveness, I'm isolated from many things in my own emotional life. The stronger the anger and pain, the less open I am to positive emotions.

--excerpted from When A Man You Love Was Abused by Cecil Murphey, Kregel Publications, 2010, pages 228-229.

Monday, October 11, 2010

A Couple of Resources

Here are a couple of resources that might interest you:

On Wednesday, October 6, Kyria’s editor, Ginger Kolbaba, talked with bestselling author and physical and sexual abuse survivor Cecil Murphey on the subject of abuse. Cecil is also the author of When a Man You Love Was Abused (Kregel Publications). If you missed this powerful and important webinar, sponsored by Kregel Publications, check it out here in its entirety: http://blog.kyria.com/2010/10/overcoming_physical_and_sexual.html

Tuesday, October 5, was the debut of the Cec and Me radio show. The topic was sexual abuse, and the podcast can be heard at http://toginet.com/shows/cecandme

Friday, October 8, 2010

What Forgive Doesn't Mean

Many nonbelievers, as well as believers, don't fully grasp biblical forgiveness. To forgive doesn't mean that the victim needs to seek a relationship with the perpetrator. The offender needs the grace of God, but that doesn't mean the victim has to be the dispenser. The victim forgives because God's grace is at work in him.

To forgive doesn't mean that the offender's behavior was acceptable. It wasn't and it will never be acceptable. Forgiveness doesn't mean that the victim concedes that the perpetrator didn't mean to hurt him. Of course the victim was hurt.

To forgive doesn't mean that the crime--and it is a crime--has been wiped away or that the guilty won't ever be held accountable. To forgive doesn't condone or overlook the abuser's action.

--excerpted from When A Man You Love Was Abused by Cecil Murphey, Kregel Publications, 2010, page 228.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Don't Push Him to Forgive

"My Sunday school teacher told me I had to forgive," Tom said. "He said that if I didn't, God would hold my sin against me. And he quoted: 'If I regard [hold] iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me'" (Ps. 66:18 KJV). At the insistence of the teacher and a church deacon, Tom went to the front of the church, fell on his knees, and confessed that he had not been forgiving. A number of people knelt around him and prayed for him.

When Tom finished his story he looked directly at me. "Maybe I went through the right steps, but I didn't feel as if I'd forgiven my abuser." He paused and said, "In fact, I didn't want to forgive him--at least not then."

I know that script. Too many well-intentioned people want us to rush into forgiveness before we're ready. Yes, forgiving is a part of healing, but a lot of people make forgiveness and reconciliation the goal of healing. Don't urge him toward premature forgiving. To him, when someone makes him feel that he must forgive or he's not a good Christian, that's one more form of manipulation. When he's ready, he will forgive.

Just as you accept the pace at which he releases his pain, accept the pace at which he's ready to forgive his perpetrator. I believe in both, but to push, urge, or insist on it can become dangerous to his healing. When he's healed enough, he'll want to forgive. He's carried the pain a long time and it doesn't dissolve immediately. For some men, it's years before they can release the pain, and years before they can forgive.

--excerpted from When A Man You Love Was Abused by Cecil Murphey, Kregel Publications, 2010, page 227.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Loss of Nurture

A third serious loss--and there are many others--is the loss of a healthy, nurturing environment. Children deserve to be loved. We can't protect them from falling when they start to walk or from fumbling the first time they try to catch a ball. But shouldn't they have--and don't they deserve to have--an atmosphere of acceptance and love?

Children need to know that they are wanted and that they are loved. They also need to know that no matter how bad the world is, they have families to protect them. This isn't to blame parents for the abuse of their children by someone else. It is to point out again the loss that abused kids feel. When kids can't feel protected and safe, they've lost something that they can never regain. Because of not being loved and valued as children, it's difficult for them as adults to create a sense of healthy self-esteem and worth.

--excerpted from When A Man You Love Was Abused by Cecil Murphey, Kregel Publications, 2010, pages 44-45.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Pope Sued; Bishop Eddie Long Accused

Another sad bit of news in the Roman Catholic Church sexual abuse scandal involves a lawsuit from men who were once students at a school for the deaf in Wisconsin. The reported abuse began as early as the 1960s and claims that Father Lawrence Murphy sexually assaulted about 200 of them. Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) who was head of the church's Doctrinal Enforcement Institute knew of the abuse and failed to discipline Murphy. The Cardinal is now pope and one lawsuit is aimed at him.

Last week, four young men accused Bishop Eddie Long of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, Lithonia, GA, of sexually abusing them when they were in their teens.

CNN anchor Don Lemon held an hour-long newscast, September 25, and talked about the abuse issue. Lemon himself admitted that he had been abused but didn't speak about it until he was more than 30 years old.

The good news is that we're now reading and hearing about sexual abuse of boys; the bad news is that it happens.

I don't know details about the latest Catholic scandal and I don't know Don Lemon. I write about this because I know Eddie Long. I've known him for 20 years, and I've admired the humanitarian work he and the members of his church have done.

Eddie Long and I did a book together called 60 Seconds to Greatness that came out in January. We were scheduled to meet October 7 to begin a second book. I don't have any knowledge of any abuse perpetrated by Long and it's not my intention to accuse or defend.

Whether the allegations are true or not, they point out that adults in positions of trust and authority sometimes molest boys. The accusations aren't against drug addicts or men who sneak into public parks. Relatives, neighbors, church leaders, politicians, therapists, teachers—those we expect to trust to guard our children—are often the perpetrators.

For those of you who are survivors, this isn't to suggest lawsuits against the perpetrators--that's an individual decision. I do urge you to face your abuse and move toward healing.

As a survivor myself, I have this advice for parents. It's not enough to love your children, but they must know they're loved. Unless they feel loved, appreciated, and wanted, they become vulnerable to abusers who seek the loners, the wounded, and the isolated. As I look back on my abuse, I didn't feel loved and I needed attention. Because I was needy, I became an easy victim.

Loss of Control

In childhood, children learn to differentiate between what belongs to them and what doesn't. The most intimate possession is our bodies. Sexual molestation violates our ultimate sense of self. Someone else takes control of our bodies--against our wills.

Because we are children, we don't feel we have the right to protect ourselves from attack, or we don't know how. An adult, an authority figure, violates us. And as children, we "learned" that adults didn't hurt kids.

Many molested children also learned that the world isn't a safe place and they had to protect themselves. For many, though, the loss of control over our bodies robbed us of the normal ability to protect ourselves. To compensate, some men stay in the victim mind-set all their lives, rebelling and fighting anyone who tries to get close. On the other end of the spectrum are men who become revictimized, remaining naive or unaware of the evil intentions of others, and who end up being taken advantage of.

Even after we grew up and became physically larger, many of us felt small and helpless. That's the pattern we learned as children. When we looked into mirrors we often saw ourselves as ugly and unattractive--regardless of the reality.

Despite any evidence, we accepted the lies that sexual abuse taught us. We were lied to--and not only in words but in actions. We were lied to about love. We were lied to about caring. We became objects of someone else's lust. For many, to be loved meant to have a sexual experience. Is it any wonder that some adult survivors can't distinguish between making love and having sex?

--excerpted from When A Man You Love Was Abused by Cecil Murphey, Kregel Publications, 2010, pages 43-44.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Losses We Suffer--Memory

One way some of us survive the pain is to forget it or push it out of our consciousness. If we have to deny or forget what was done to us so we can survive childhood, we may grow up, look back, and ask, "Where was my childhood?" To be deprived of the memories--even the good ones--is abuse. And when we begin to recover our memories, we also understand why we "forgot."

In one group meeting, we talked about our amnesia, and one man spoke up. "Now it makes sense!" He said that the only thing he had remembered about childhood was that he seemed always to be alone. "Now I understand that being alone was when I felt safe. There was no one around to hurt me."

--excerpted from When A Man You Love Was Abused by Cecil Murphey, Kregel Publications, 2010, page 43.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Going Public

For adults who were abused as children, telling our stories can be powerful for us. It can be powerful for others, too, especially for those who haven't begun to talk about their traumatic past. They often have to cope with much shame and denial. To open up and shatter the silence of our past isn't easy, and some men never speak of it. They die with the secret buried deep inside.

Until I was able to talk openly about my abuse, I'd been haunted by the question: Will I ever be normal? I wondered if I would ever be acceptable to myself and to God. For many years I felt I wasn't worthy of God's love. Once I was able to stop thinking of myself as abnormal and unworthy (and it took a long time), I slowly accepted myself as worthwhile. I had moved from victim to survivor to victor.

When we tell the wrong people, we risk setting ourselves up to be mistreated again. As adults, however, we have choices. We don't have to tell anyone. We don't have to tell, but if we find the right people at the appropriate time, it can be extremely liberating.

Some men have been more prudent about choosing whom and when to tell. The second therapist at our state-sponsored group said at our final meeting, "Tell it on a need-to-know basis. If you think it will make the relationship better or clear up problems, tell. Refuse to give information to people for whom it would have little meaning."

--excerpted from When A Man You Love Was Abused by Cecil Murphey, Kregel Publications, 2010, pages 152 and 153.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Feeling Empathy

Two people abused me, both of whom were dead before I began to deal with my abuse. I wanted to forgive them, but it took me a couple of weeks of daily, intense prayer (it may take you only days or possibly years, because we're all different).

I don't know how God accounts for sins. The woman who abused me was a prominent Christian. I doubt that the old man ever went to church. But I prayed—fervently—that God would enable me to forgive them.

As my next step I thought of the prayer of Stephen, the first martyr of the church, who prayed, "Do not lay this sin to their charge." It took a lot of guts, commitment, and love for that man to pray that way for the people as they stoned him to death.

Eventually I was able to pray in the same way as Stephen did. I sincerely felt some of their pain and misery. That's not to overlook their awful acts, but it is to say, "God, their addiction imprisoned them. Surely they were tortured by their behavior. Forgive them for the terrible things they did."

Does such praying do anything for the perpetrators?

I don't know, but it did something good for me: I was free.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Pray for Your Perpetrator

You may not want to do this, but it's worth considering. You may need to start by praying for God to help you want to forgive. You might be able (in time) to pray for the person who is a victim himself. Likely, it's a compulsion and something he can't stop. Ask God to give you a compassionate, forgiving heart—when you're ready.

Friday, September 10, 2010


(By Gary Roe)

One of the most prevalent internal demons that I struggle with is fear. My fear equals a lack of safety. Most of the time, I simply do not feel safe. There are many nights when I wake up shaking, sweating, and terrified. I have to breathe deeply and pray, asking God to reassure me that it is not happening again.

I am tired of living in fear. I am tired of worrying about everything. If I really track all the things I worry about, I begin to get a sobering picture about where my mind can run off to. Sometimes I just talk to myself out loud, expressing what I am worried or fearful of. Thankfully, I often smile afterward, because it sounds so ridiculous. And sometimes there comes the nagging thought, Yeah, but it happened before, lots of times. And it could happen again.

It is ugly, and I am tired of it. The feelings are real, and I cannot stop them from coming. I must acknowledge them, because they are already there. I do not have to let them rule. At any point, I have a choice: I can cry out to God and trust Him (and ask for the ability to trust Him) or I can choose to continue down the endless road of fear.

I am learning that when I live in fear, I am not fully present to the ones I love. I am living inside my head. Things have become about me and about my survival. And it does feel like survival. I want to break out of that and really love those around me at any given moment.

I'm reminded that on the night before His crucifixion, Jesus told His disciples “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled. Do not be afraid" (John 14:27). The goal is not to not be afraid. The goal is, when I find myself in fear, to look to Him and trust Him that, over time, I will experience His peace, His safety.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Comments on Forgiveness

Please read Curtis Cutler’s comments on forgiving (August 31). He gave his wife, Amy, permission to tell his story and it appears in the final chapter of When a Man You Love Was Abused (pages 245-246).

It takes courage for men like Curtis to share their pain.

I’m grateful to Curtis and to all of you who have the courage to speak up and shatter the silence.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Write a Letter

Some experts suggest writing a letter to your abuser, whether the person is living or dead. They don't suggest you send it, only write it.

My advice: If it helps, do it. Try it and if you find yourself unable to complete it, be kind to yourself and say, "This doesn't work for me."

Others have suggested speaking into a tape recorder. Write in your journal. A friend named Greg used to hike in the mountains and when he was fairly sure no one was around, he screamed and shouted at his perpetrator. It worked for Greg because he said, "I got it out of my system."

What works for you?

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Forgiving Your Abuser

"Who says I have to forgive him for what he did to me?" an angry email read. "He ruined my life."

After several email exchanges, he told me that three of his friends told him repeatedly that he could never be fully healed unless he forgave his perpetrator.

I replied with a "Yes, but…" response. I asked, "Are you ready to forgive?" I suggested that he not allow anyone to push him.

"I'm not ready to forgive," he said.

When you feel you must forgive, that's the right time. Eventually you'll realize that's an important (but not immediate) step in your recovery.

Friday, August 27, 2010

"Will It Ever End?"

I asked that question a few months into what we now call my recovery period. The pain was intense. In some ways I felt victimized a second time. "I had to go through that as a kid," I said to my wife. "Now that I understand what was going on, it hurts even worse."

Maybe it wasn't worse; maybe it only felt worse.

And the pain went on a long time. I didn't keep any record, but the most intense period was probably about two years. I had opened the door and I couldn't shut it. I knew I had to keep going.

I've long moved past the pain. The memories have begun to dull the way most memories do. That's one powerful reward for pushing forward. But there's more.

I have healthier relationships with my wife and my family. I understand friendship on a deeper level than ever. But most of all, I have a good life. I like being alive and I like who I am.

The journey has been worth it, even with the pain.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Thank You

(By BB)

I'm not ready to go public and have only told two people about being molested by my uncle. The stories from other men really, really encourage me. Thank you, Cec, for doing this. You may not hear from me again but I read the posts. Sometimes more than one time. So many hurting men, just like me.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Facing the Truth

I surfed the 'Net for sites about male sexual abuse. On one of them I read a sentence that seemed to implant itself inside my brain. But I didn't stop to ponder it. I went on to several other sites. After an hour, that sentence was still there.

I couldn't find the site again but the statement went something like this: The first step to recovery is to admit to yourself that you have been sexually molested.

Simple. Direct. But three words stuck out: admit to yourself. Since that day, I've thought of those words often. Many men struggle over those three words for a long time. They may not realize all the implications (who does?) of admitting the abuse, but they probably sense they've started trying to swim in the ocean and they're not sure they'll ever find the shore again. So they're scared—maybe as scared as when the abuse began.

Admit to yourself. That's where it starts. Once a man can admit to himself that it did happen, he puts his foot on the path marked Healing Journey Lane.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

"I Zoned Out"

I heard a man say, "I zoned out," and it's not a new term; I understood what he was trying to say. I would say that I went numb. He had emotionally detached himself is a simple explanation. He felt detached from his body or his conscious awareness.

Zoning out occurs during a traumatic event, such as molestation, and it's not that uncommon. He said, "It was like being a spectator and watching the abuse."

And it worked for him. "I survived childhood without being filled with anger."

But like many short-term methods that work, it has a drawback. As an adult, it ruins relationships. The man who talked to me had been in therapy for more than a year and could finally say, "I'm beginning to feel sadness and anger—two emotions I didn't understand when I was seven." He's now 41. It took him a long time to learn to feel.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Wayne's Story (Part 2)

This is a second post from Wayne and even more graphic. This isn't to offend anyone, but this is the reality of the world in which we live.

—Cec Murphey

I don't remember everything. I know I don't want to. But what do I do now? Cec, you had support groups and people to talk with. I don't and I'm not sure I want to. At times I just want to forget again.

But what I want most is to be normal. I want to be whole.

Most of my abuse came as singular events--hit-and-run predators. One was a relative, and it happened only once. Most were nameless, and only one threatened violence. It started when I was in elementary school when I was in 3rd or 4th grade, maybe younger. The last three took place after I was an adult--on my 18th birthday and during the following year. All three were strangers.

Most of the abuse I committed was short-term. Only the adultery that ended my marriage to my first wife and destroyed my family was long-term. And much of the sex, even though with initial consent, became abuse. I raped a girl; today they'd call it date-rape. I molested a teenager. My sister set me up with an older woman who used and abused me. I also committed incest with another sister.

I've done almost everything you can think of and fantasized about the rest. And I just want to forget about it all.


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Wayne's Story (Part 1)

The following email came to me from a man I know, and it's obvious why he calls himself simply Wayne. He hurts—and he's been hurting a long, long time. I've been praying for him every day for a couple of years. I hope you'll feel compassion for him, especially as you read the last three paragraphs. If you would like to join me in daily prayer for him, please reply personally to me at Cec_haraka (at) msn.com.

—Cec Murphey

I found myself in almost every chapter of When a Man You Love Was Abused. Maybe the beginning of healing is to know where it hurts. I'm learning why I am who I am. That's not to say that just because I exhibit a particular trait or behavior it's a result of sexual abuse. And it doesn't mean that anyone else who demonstrates certain patterns was molested. But it does indicate that those of us who were abused are likely to show certain kinds of behavior.

Much of the things I do may well be because of what I suffered. For example, I've been angry for years—longer than I realize—and I didn't know why. Or whom I was angry with.

I hold many authority figures in contempt and it doesn't matter if that person is my employer, boss, or pastor. Anyone who is ignorant and unteachable becomes a prime target. I detest ignorance, and I abhor stupidity. People who won't listen score extremely high on my list. And I suspect that's because even though I can't remember whom to blame for my abuse—other than the perpetrators—someone must be held responsible. And that's the problem.

Most incidents happened only once; a few repeat offenders. I know where only one of them lives, and he's a relative. Someone should have stopped him—should have stopped all of them. Someone should have protected me.

And no one did.

I can't remember if I told anyone, ever.

So I blame myself because the abuse made me feel good, physically and emotionally. But even if I had told and they didn't listen, I hold myself responsible. In that sense, I become guilty of not protecting myself—as if any child could do that. My mind knows better, but my heart won't cooperate.

I can't exact justice against those who molested me, and I can't blame others for not protecting me or at least coming to my rescue, so I hold myself responsible. I'm still angry with myself, even though I know I should forgive myself. I still struggle, engage in risky behavior, and worst of all, I easily lose hope.

At times II wonder if it's possible to be free from my past. And it's why I know that if I am ever whole, this healing process will take longer than I want it to.


Friday, August 6, 2010

Adam's Testimony

(By Adam Piatt)

I wish I had kept a diary. As time passes, the memories fade and I forget important things and lose details. But this much is clear: For a long time I knew I was different.

Because of my attraction to men, I acted on those feelings in my early twenties. I began to live as a gay man. I thought I had found freedom, but my lifestyle became a prison. I searched for love and companionship. I didn't find it. Instead my life spiraled out of control. I drank too much; I tried different drugs. Nothing satisfied me. I finally "came out" to family and friends and received mixed reactions. My family reacted with shock, anger, and disgust. Their attitude drove me further into the gay lifestyle. My parents asked me to speak to a minister they knew. With apprehension I agreed. I went to him and said, "I don't want to change. This is the path I feel I should be on."

He talked and quoted a few Bible verses. Finally he said, "There is no hope for you." He said I was to tell my parents that I was a lost cause.

In the parking lot I cried because I believed him. How could God love a lost cause like me?

Time passed and my wounds of rejection healed. I wanted a life-long partner and I settled for a string of relationships. As I learned, not many gay relationships last. They are riddled with deception, lies, and infidelity.

I finally met someone and we stayed together for six years. I had made a promise that I wouldn't leave him. "No matter what, this relationship will last. This is the one."

At my parents' request I started to attend a different church with them. I went a few times and listened to the conservative minister. To my amazement, I kept going back.

I assumed that because I was an ethical person, I would go to heaven. The pastor's sermons forced me to question whether that was true. His messages made me uncertain about myself and about heaven. I faced much inner fighting, many tears, and difficult questions. I wasn't happy and I didn't know what to do. "Why, God, why won't you let me be happy?"

My six-year relationship started to go wrong. My boyfriend and I argued—constantly it seemed. "And I'm going to hell," I told myself.

I kept returning to that church and I listened to the messages—even when I didn't want to hear.

Finally, unable to fight the inner turmoil, I knelt beside my bed and prayed. "God, I am sorry. I have sinned." The tears came. I didn't know I could cry so much and so long. That night I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior. And I didn't know I could feel such wonderful, freeing relief.

I called my cousin, who had never stopped praying for me. She asked others to pray—people I didn't know. I told my parents next because they also had never given up on God changing me.

Finally, and with great hesitancy, I told my pastor. As I talked, I shed more tears—a lot of tears. I had hesitated because I was afraid he wouldn't want me to return to the church.

He listened and accepted me. He is still my pastor.

Since then, I have made many mistakes. I fall, but through the power of Jesus Christ I get back up.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

"I'm Afraid"

Those were Evan's first words to me when he talked about his abuse. He had been in a support group through Celebrate Recovery and had come a long way in less than a year.

He was afraid, he said, that he might become an abuser and perpetrate what had been done to him. Because I didn't know what to say, I let him talk.

He had talked to his former pastor and the man said, "You be careful now. Most molesters were once abused as children."

"You mean you're afraid because of what the pastor said and not because of any urges or desires?"

"I wouldn't want to hurt kids. Why would I bring such pain on them after what I've gone through?"

Probably I could have said, "Your fears are unfounded," or "Your former pastor is a jerk." Instead I said, "As long as that troubles you, it may be a good sign that you don't want to molest others."

Evan stared at me for what seemed like a long time. Then he smiled. "You know, that feels right. If I wanted to hurt kids I wouldn't be afraid, would I?"

I think Evan understood a powerful lesson about life.

Friday, July 30, 2010

"Something Is Wrong with Me"

One of the saddest, most painful meetings I had with a group of men who had been sexually abused was when I heard Ron say, "Something is wrong with me."

In the past, I had said those words to myself many times. I had learned that such a statement wasn't true, and I didn't want another man to repeat such a self-indictment.

"No, you aren't wrong or bad!" I probably shouted those words. "Something wrong and bad was done to you!"

The others nodded but Ron shook his head. The tears began to fall as he said, "I liked what he did. I hated it but I liked it."

George, the therapist in the group, leaned toward him. "You mean it was pleasurable? That you responded with an erection or that it felt good when you were abused?"

Ron nodded and more tears came.

Slowly and softly George explained, "It's a physiological response and it's automatic. You stimulate the penis and you get an erection."

I marveled at the compassion in his voice as he tried to make Ron realize that his reaction had been normal.

And he spoke healing words for several of us.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Wearing Masks (Part 2 of 2)

"I feel like I'm so many different people," Albert said. It was the second meeting of a state-sponsored group of men who had survived sexual abuse in childhood. He went on to explain that he behaved a certain way with close friends, differently with casual acquaintances. "At work I don't act like I do when I'm with friends."

"Maybe you have a handful of masks to choose from," one man said.

We discussed Albert's situation and we finally realized that all of us wear masks. Like Albert, we relate to people in a social setting differently than we do to people who don't know us well.

"So who is the real me?" Albert asked. "I don't know."

"Probably all of them," I said. Not everyone agreed with me, but I believe we show only parts of ourselves at any one time. Another way to say it is that we wear safe masks when we need to do so. That is, we may be friendly, even outgoing, but we choose how much we want to self-reveal.

I also admitted that sometimes our masks show who we'd like to be—that may be a form of hypocrisy, but it's also a mask to hide behind.

The less we trust, the more we feel the need to wear masks and convince people we're who we purport to be. It's safe. And it's actually not difficult.

But it's not freedom. We have to size up the situation and the safe side of us breaks out. For me, it's not whether to wear masks—because we all do at certain times—but we need to be aware that they are masks. Or better still, why don't we get rid of the masks and decide to show select parts of ourselves?

Friday, July 23, 2010

Wearing Masks (Part 1 of 2)

Some experts talk about the masks we wear around others. We don’t consciously wear masks, but we submerge our true feelings behind a smile that makes life safer. We can hide behind a grin and say to the world, “I’m happy. I’m happy.”

Or we hide behind the glare that silently says, “Don’t get too close.” The man who always has a joke and never gets serious may be afraid that you'll make him vulnerable and he's not ready for that.

Our masks reveal a glimpse of who we are. Another way to say it is that the masks often show who we'd like to be. Before I dealt with my abuse, others referred to me as a happy person. That was true—sometimes. I wanted to be happy and to enjoy my life. Our masks aren't intentional deception and we may not be aware that we wear them.

The masks aren't about relating to or impressing others. Think of them as protection. We weren't aware of not being our true selves as much as it was our way to retreat from our pain.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

In the Woods

(By J.B. Mahugh)

Those woods were as much mine as anybody's. A few hundred yards from the house where I grew up was a small, forested vacant lot. It led to a large clearing, encircled by a few fallen timbers that started to decay years before my family and I arrived in the area.

With the advantage of time and distance, I've started to see those woods more clearly for what they are, a simple stand of trees. But that spring day in 1968, I wasn't quite five years old. They were still a place of enchantment.

Was it boredom or curiosity that lured me on? I can't say. Whatever it was, I followed four older boys I'd never met. When they looked back, they laughed at my trying to tag along. But they didn't stop me.

I was soon with them in the seclusion of the clearing. One boy ordered me to take down my pants and to lie on my back in the dirt. It didn't feel right but I did what I was told. As I lay there for what felt like a long time, pine needles pressed against my bare bottom and the back of my legs as they thrust pointed sticks into my private parts. Laughter intensified and increased as the voices jeered and belittled my small shivering body.

An intruder entered the woods. "What are you doing to him? You leave him alone!" It was my mother.

They scattered. She told me to pull my pants up. I did and we walked home.
That was the last anybody spoke of what happened that day in those woods for another twenty-eight years.

It took me nearly three decades to recall what occurred in those woods when I was small and those woods were still mine as much as anybody's. After that day they became something else too.

They became my woods of shame. And it would be years more before I'd clear out the debris left behind, rotting away inside my head.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Three Thoughts

(By Tom Edward)

Unresolved childhood sexual abuse, or any type of issue, doesn't disappear just because you grow up or ignore it.

Past troubles are manifested in your adult life in different ways whether you realize it or not.

Coping mechanisms may have helped us as children, but they can be destructive and damaging in adulthood.

--Tom Edward is the founder of Healing Broken Men. For more information, visit www.healingbrokenmen.com.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Telling His Story in a Safe Place

One thing I think is absolutely true: When the abused are in a place of safety--most of us use the term "safe place"--we can face our pain and forgive ourselves. A safe place is where an individual or a group listens to what we need to say about ourselves. They believe us--because they understand our pain.

I'm convinced that telling his story is one of the major steps in an adult survivor's recovery. But the listener has to be someone who is supportive, who encourages him to press on past the pain, who loves him, and who has already established a trusting relationship with him. Simply telling his story may sound easy, but for many men that's difficult. When he learns he can trust another person, he's ready to reveal his experiences and to begin his healing journey.

He needs someone to listen without directing him. He needs to speak without being interrupted, questioned skeptically, or battling arguments. As he feels stronger, he needs to widen his circle of trust and intimacy. It's a good idea for him to pray about talking to others he can trust. There are self-help groups in most cities, usually built on the Alcoholics Anonymous principle. I'm always quick to recommend Christians in Recovery and Celebrate Recovery groups. There are also a number of on-line groups to which he can safely and anonymously respond.

Whenever he speaks to anyone about his abuse and the information is held in confidence, it's easier for him to open up even more. Each time he feels safe with another person, he is steps farther down the healing path.

--excerpted from When a Man You Love Was Abused by Cecil Murphey, Kregel Publications, 2010, pages 144-145

Friday, July 9, 2010

Gary Roe's Story

As a result of early childhood abuse, I have struggled deeply with feelings of being alone. The abuse was revealed to me through a series of flashbacks over several years. It was a time of deep pain, confusion, grief, and anger.

In the midst of these flashbacks, I attended the annual Northwest Christian Writer's Association Conference in Seattle. I was walking through the conference bookstore, waiting for the first main session, when I noticed a postcard on the floor at my feet. I picked it up and read about an online ministry for male survivors of sexual abuse begun by Cecil Murphey. And Cec was the keynote speaker for the conference.

I stood there and stared at the postcard. I felt myself tearing up. I turned and walked outside, whipped out my cell phone, and called my wife, Sharon. I could hardly talk. Even though I was in counseling, and had shared with close friends and my congregation about my background, I still felt alone. One of the reasons I felt so alone was that I had yet to meet another man who had been through similar horrors (or at least, no man who admitted it). Now, this evening, I was going to meet a fellow male survivor.

That evening, after Cec spoke, I got in line to meet him. I had no idea what I was going to say. I tried rehearsing it repeatedly in my mind. When I got to him, all I could do was hold up the postcard. A sudden look of recognition passed across his face, and he hugged me. I felt myself tearing up again. He looked directly into my eyes and said something like, "I thank God for you. You're an answer to my prayers." (He had prayed to connect with other abuse victims.)

Over the next two days, Cec and I spent several hours together. Each moment was crucial for me. Here was someone who understood, who could relate, and who knew. As we shared our stories, I was blown away by the similarities of our experiences. I was so amazed that he could tell what I was thinking and feeling. I had found not only a brother, but a fellow soldier in this fight for freedom and healing. He knew.

Since then, every conversation I have had with Cec has been important to me. Yet I am still slow to reach out and initiate with him sometimes, even though I love him dearly. The shame and fear attached to the abuse is great. The power of abuse lies in its secrecy. Every time I tell my story, every time I call Cec, it is like coming out of hiding, and I feel freer afterward.

My interactions with Cec actually led us to begin a ministry in our church for survivors of sexual abuse and those who love us. It is called Oasis. We must come out of hiding. We need each other to heal and to grow. By coming together, we begin to stand against this great evil. I am far from alone.

--excerpted from When a Man You Love Was Abused by Cecil Murphey, Kregel Publications, 2010, pages 155-156

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

When Is Healing Complete?

Is any man totally healed from childhood molestation? I don't know. I can speak for myself and say, "Not quite." I no longer feel the pain. Occasionally--and less frequently as time goes by--I have a flashback of an episode from my childhood. Even when I have one, it comes more like a memory of something that happened in the past with no heavy emotion tangled up with it. Despite that, I can sincerely say I've been healed....

First, I can usually talk about my sexual abuse without tearing up. I don't feel strange or odd when talking about the experience. To the contrary, speaking about male sexual assault, and especially when I tell about my own, strengthens me.

Second--and some men never make this stage--I look back and thank God. I'm not thankful for the abuse, but I am thankful for the good things that have come out of my dealing with it.

--excerpted from When A Man You Love Was Abused by Cecil Murphey, Kregel Publications, 2010, page 162.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Michael's Story

NOTE: Michael was neglected by both parents and terrorized by an alcoholic father. He was physically and emotionally abused by his mother. Michael started to drink at age 11 and became an alcoholic until he was 28 years old. In early 2010, he almost died of acute liver failure because of the abuse of prescription drugs. Here's the rest of his story:

My elderly grandparents lived with us when I was young. My parents seemed too busy or detached to nurture me and show me affection, so I often went downstairs to sit in my Granny’s lap. She was my comfort, sang songs for me, and made me laugh. Granny told scary stories and took me for walks.

Granny is also the one who sexually molested me when she gave me my baths. How could I face that? The only one who thought I was worth spending time with, who took time to enjoy me for who I was—her loveable grandchild— wasn't who I thought she was. She robbed me of my innocence.

Through those days in the hospital, when I suffered from acute liver failure, my wife stuck with me. That's when I finally realized that nothing I could do would make her emotionally abandon me or leave me. I was able to tell my wife what Granny did. Then I told a counselor. I broke down and wept and he told me it was okay to cry. He was compassionate and he understood, just as my wife had understood.

I am beginning to realize how much abuse has affected my life. I'm grateful to be alive and have opportunity to heal. I'm grateful to courageous survivors who have dared to tell their stories so that I could gain the courage to tell mine.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Shame, My Old Friend

(By Jason Rovenstine)

I never realized I kept a secret until a pretty girl in the university cafeteria helped me see it.

She sat across the table from me, her lunchtime friends nearby. A subtle smile and twinkle in her eye told me it wasn’t an accident she chose to sit by me. I was flattered and hopeful.

It was lovely. Before long her foot slid under the table to touch mine and her smile let me know it was intentional. Sounds dreamy, doesn’t it?

But I kicked her. Hard.

She fled in tears leaving an untouched plate of food and friends looking at me in disgust.

That's when I realized I had a secret.

My secret started in the second grade. A high-school babysitter discovered I loved the attention she lavished on me. At bedtime she asked me to do things with her that didn’t feel right—but I loved the attention and since I was a compliant and sensitive child, I only mildly objected.

My mother was perplexed to find me hiding in the garage the next morning and asked what I was doing. I couldn’t answer because the babysitter told me I would be spanked if I admitted what I had done.

The shame of that secret gnawed at me through the years. I carried it diligently, like a pennant pilgrim through grade school. It was there with me as I struggled through math. It tripped me the day I gave my book report. Shame was a faithful friend at junior high church retreat when the speaker told the story of Potiphar's wife and praised Joseph’s ability to run.

Shame was the silent, constant partner that saw my late bloomer changes in high school. Shame was the salty nauseous taste in my mouth the day the basketball coach gave me a chance off the bench—and I messed up. I wasn't able to connect such experiences back to the second grade, I just knew that shame was a familiar part of who I was.

After eighteen years of bearing the burden of that secret, I shared my secret with my parents through tears and bitter self-loathing. And as any loving parents would do, they wept with me, embraced me, and released me from the guilt.

Fast forward to today. I’m happily married to a woman who knows the value of complete acceptance and openness in our relationship. I have four children who bring me great delight. I have a healthy self-awareness and gratitude to the Creator for the blessings of life.

Maybe you're like I was and you still carry a secret. The funny thing about secrets is that they only hold power over your life if they remain hidden and unspoken. Once you share a secret, the healing process can begin.

Friday, June 18, 2010

I Was Abused Twice

(By Joe Rossman)

It happened to me twice. The first time, I was five years old. My family and I went to visit with my grandparents. Dad was the fourth of nine children–five girls and four boys. The only one who still lived with my grandparents was my father's youngest brother. He was 23 years old and a slow learner.

My grandfather was a hardworking dairy farmer in a rural southern Georgia town. I was fascinated by the dairy farm and often went to the milking barn and the bottling plant to watch the machinery.

On one visit, on a Sunday afternoon after church, I went down to the bottling plant to watch the machinery and to get a bottle of chocolate milk. My uncle, the only one there, was working in the plant.

He called me into a little hallway that led to the back side of the bottling plant and, to my surprise, unzipped his trousers and exposed his penis. I didn't know what to say. Then he asked me to touch it. My family had always taught me to respect my elders and to do what they say. But I knew something was wrong. I was afraid.

My uncle said for me not to be afraid and began to stroke his penis. Again, he asked me to touch it and so I did, but I felt really bad about it. That was all that happened. He told me not to tell anyone what we had done and then he zipped up his pants and went back to work.

Going home that evening, we were all talking about what we had done that day. When I told my dad about what my uncle had done, I could tell he was upset. He told me that I should never do that again and that if my uncle ever tried to do anything like that again, I should tell him. I am pretty sure my dad talked to my uncle because he never tried that again. I didn't feel too bad about that encounter because nothing really bad happened.

It was the second experience that has given me the most problems. This took place when I was about 15. My family was active in the church and Dad was a deacon. A friend of the family, who was single, was one of the other deacons. He was also a radio personality and interested in electronics.

He told Dad that he would be glad to give me a tour of the radio station if I would come by. I was really excited and went by the next day. We spent several hours together. Nothing out of the ordinary happened. I liked the man and I went back the next day. The radio station was located on the second floor of a local hotel and could be reached by an outside fire escape. As we were walking up the stairs with him leading the way, we came to a landing on the stairs and suddenly he reached back and gently squeezed my genitals through my trousers.

I was shocked, but not frightened. Later, the same thing happened again, and from that, he took advantage of my naïveté to begin a homosexual relationship that lasted for several years. It wasn't that I was homosexual, but rather that I admired the man for his role as a radio personality and because he was teaching me electronic theory. I don't think I actually realized what had taken place for a number of years. And I couldn't understand what could be so wrong because my parents seemed to approve of my relationship with the man.

He was an active member of our church and everyone seemed to respect him. It is hard for me to believe that people didn't know what was happening, but apparently they either didn't know or were afraid to say anything.

When I was 23 years old, after much soul searching and internal struggle, I broke off the relationship. I don't know how many other young men became involved with him, but I am sure there were several. Yet throughout it all, he kept the respect of the community and finally was ordained by the Southwest Georgia Presbytery as a Presbyterian minister. Today he is 84 years of age. I haven't seen him for more than 40 years now, but the memory of the struggles and uncertainty I endured because of his predatory action still lived with me.

Thankfully, by God's grace, I married a fine Baptist woman, and though I didn't tell her about this relationship, I have to credit her with helping me get through some of the tough times.

My only regret at this time is that I didn't expose him for the pervert that he is. But one good thing did come out of it. I am convinced that homosexuality is a matter of choice and not genetics or some predisposition. I know, because I have been there. I think the man wanted to get me to be homosexual and I could have chosen that route. But I chose not to go in that direction.

I know that most homosexuals try to claim that they had no choice. But that is a lie. The man chose to be homosexual and he became a predator victimizing young innocent men like myself. Thank God I finally realized how I was being misused and abused and thank God He led me in the right direction.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Defending Our Abusers

The first time I ever heard an abuser defended was in a small group of men. All of us were survivors. One of them, who was quite handsome, said, "If I hadn't been so good looking, he wouldn't have done that to me."

The rest of us were quick to protest. His looks may have attracted the abuser, but the man wronged him. The abuser knew what he was doing.

"That's what he always told me," the survivor said.

I've heard survivors excuse the abuser because he was lonely or misunderstood. They'll say. "He just tried to prove he loved me." Another excuse is, "He was sexually abused when he was a child."

Regardless of the excuses made for them, they are only excuses. They wounded us. They destroyed the innocence of our childhood.

There is no excuse for anyone who sexually abused us. We were children, usually much younger than our perpetrators. The abuser hurt us. It's good to forgive them, but not because of such an excuse. We forgive because we've been healed and are able to move on with our lives.

Friday, June 11, 2010

I'm Angry

I met him at a writers' conference and he showed me a book he had written. The writing wasn't good but as I read it, I said, "Why are you so enraged? You seem to be against everything."

He said nothing at first, but the tightness of his jaw had already told me. "I'm angry a lot," he finally said.

"It shows in your writing."

We talked and finally the tears flowed. He told me about his childhood abuse. He wouldn't give me permission to use his name, but I've met other men like him. They tend to focus their anger in three different ways. The most obvious one is toward the person who abused them. They're angry at themselves—because they let it happen. A third target is the adults who didn't protect him from the predator.

I've met a few men who are just generally angry at the world. They don't focus on any of those three. Sometimes they live a long time in denial of the abuse or they sublimate it. It's as if the anger goes underground and comes to the surface in an area where it's safe to be mad.

Many of us male survivors know about anger. We haven't always known why we were angry, but we know the feeling. As healing takes place, the anger usually subsides—at least it did with me.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


My wife was seriously ill and I loved her very much. We had been involved in a serious car crash (my fault), and the doctor didn't expect her to survive. (Shirley lived, but that's another story.)

As I sat by her bedside in the hospital, I felt nothing. I was totally numb. What's wrong with me? I asked myself. This is the person I love most and I can't feel anything.

That wasn't the first time I had numbed out; it wasn't the last time. Over the years, I encountered extremely difficult situations and yet felt nothing. I was sure that something was defective in me.

To make it worse, I sometimes cried. But it was always about someone with whom I had no strong emotional ties. I didn't understand how I could be sad over small things and yet feel nothing about the hurt of those I loved most.

Here's how I finally understood what happened. While I was doing my usual pre-dawn run, a car made a U-turn in front of me and knocked me down. I had no pain, but three days later I sensed what I called "a little discomfort" in my left hip. It didn't hurt, but it was a nuisance.

At my wife's urging, I went to a chiropractor and he did a number of tests. He kept asking, "Does this hurt?" Nothing he did caused me to say yes.

"You have a very high tolerance for pain," he finally said.

On the phone a few days later, I related that incident to my younger brother Chuck. He laughed and said, "Don't you remember how Dad beat us and we didn't cry? We didn't feel it."

Just then the numbness made sense. Whenever powerful emotions overwhelmed me, I numbed out. Because I couldn't cope with the crushing impact, I had no feelings.

I've since learned to reclaim my emotions. To some it may sound strange, but I praise God because I feel sad when my wife hurts or one of my children has a serious problem. It's safe to feel and I'm not afraid of my emotions.

Friday, June 4, 2010

There Is Nothing Wrong with Us

"There is nothing wrong with us; something wrong was done to us."

I don't remember where I read those words, but they have stayed with me.

Like a lot of other men, I felt I was defective or flawed. I didn't think much about God because I thought God only liked good people, and I certainly didn't qualify. I felt ashamed; I felt worthless.

"There is nothing wrong with me; something wrong was done to me." That's how I say it now.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

We Are Survivors

About three years into my recovery, I became part of a year-long, state-sponsored group called Adult Male Survivors of Childhood Sexual Assault.

I learned invaluable lessons by participating in those every-Monday-evening sessions: I was with others who had the same issues of low self-esteem as I did. I felt camaraderie with other broken men. Connecting with them helped me to stand strong.

On the last day, the state-appointed therapist said to me, "You're a survivor. You didn't fail; an adult failed you."

I am a survivor.

Friday, May 28, 2010

An Overview of Absurdity

(By Jackson Douglas)

I’m often hesitant to share my story because it often feels less important than the stories of others. In comparison I was, and am, lucky. But the honest truth is that a small wound unattended can be as dangerous as a major wound that is properly addressed. Many times we are tempted to try to push through the pain and hurt without asking for help.

My own story begins with a young girl leading me away from the other children into another room where she had stayed. A place for us. I remember that I wanted to watch cartoons but she started taking off my clothes and then my mother walked in and stopped us. I was four. Four years old and already I was awake and looking for more. I will not lie to you. My parents were great and my childhood was wonderful. There was no abuse at home, but I still didn’t know how to talk to them about what was already stirring in me.

Then came David. David was the youth pastor at our church and he took a particular personal interest in me and my friends. The four of us were all between twelve and fourteen and he took us out of the Wednesday night service and into a “Bible study” where we talked about sex. It was exciting and we were all curious. I distinctly remember the time when he called me into his office to speak with me privately. Once the door was closed, he asked to look at my genitals to see ‘how I was developing.’ I told him “no” and he accepted it, but later betrayed me and told my mother some of the things that I had been talking about in our group.

David introduced us all to pornography and masturbation during these “Bible studies.” We were less than thirty feet away from our parents in the back of the church, but we were still worlds away. I wasn’t raped or physically fondled so the temptation is to deny that the experience affected me on a deeper level or to convince myself that it is less important or less meaningful. But I struggle to this day to abstain from pornography. Some days I win. Some days I don’t. I see the hurt and shame that it causes my wife and I wonder what type of monster I am that I still keep doing it.

I remember the times that I’ve made her cry and promised that this would be the last time only to disappoint her again days later. I fear for my children and keep an overly vigilant watch lest they fall prey to the same fate that I did. So it has not only affected me deeply but also affected my family as well. David is now dead. He died of AIDS two years ago, but he still haunts me. Don’t cheapen your story because it is not as dramatic or as horrific as another man’s story. Your story has weight because it is your story and it happened to you.