Friday, April 30, 2010

Dann Youle's Story

(By Dann Youle)

My story begins in 1965. I was born into a Christian family, the second child of four. I have an older sister and two younger brothers. I was born and raised in rural Illinois, about 2 hours northwest of Chicago. We were pretty typical for a "Christian" Midwestern family. We went to church Sunday morning, Sunday evening, Wednesday evening, and, if we were able, to every special service/meeting the church had. My mother had been raised Southern Baptist in North Carolina, and my dad Methodist in Wisconsin.

Most people would say we were a normal American family and I was a normal American kid. But I had a secret. I struggled with same sex attraction. These were desires that I didn't understand and didn't ask for, and no matter how much I prayed, they wouldn't go away. I was too afraid to tell anyone. I knew what my peers said about people who were gay. So I struggled silently. The shame at times was unbearable.

When I was 22 years old, I took the risk of telling my best friend. I then went to the counselor on staff at the Christian college I was attending and was offered helpful and encouraging advice, prayer, and materials through Exodus International. It was at this time that I began to make progress in my healing. Jesus was so good to me to be faithful and let me know that I wasn't alone! It didn't mean I was instantly healed, but I began to believe that for the first time that I had a true friend in Jesus. Several Christian brothers who knew everything stood by me.

Along the way, I came into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ at 19, I graduated from Bible college at 22, and I received a clear call to ministry around the time I was finishing college to minister to others who have sexual brokenness in their lives, specifically those who struggle with issues of same-sex attraction and homosexuality.

I met my wife when I was 19, and our relationship was founded and built on friendship first. We married 5 years after we met.

The interesting thing is that even with all this "Christian/religious" grounding, my family had secrets that no one dares talk about. I know now that everyone's journey is different, and that there are many things that may contribute to same-sex attraction, and that those combinations of factors are not the same for everyone. But I realized several years ago when I reentered counseling that the sexual abuse that I had endured between the ages of five and seven was at the root of my homosexual desires. It was at the hands of a male relative who was seen as healthy, who was anything but!

Here, I was someone who had helped others: comforting, being with and praying for those so abused as I do ministry that I never even imagined it was an issue I was dealing with. Here I was in my thirties, a husband, father, one who had been/was being healed of sexual brokenness, and I desperately found myself not knowing if this pain could be healed.

I asked my counselor, "Can God really heal this?" I felt so broken and damaged that there was no hope for me. I felt like the sun would never shine again, and that God didn't have a place for me in His Kingdom. I simply felt overwhelmed and like I was going to die. I kept thinking, how could I live when I can't even breathe?

One day as I was driving, it was so clear to me. God said, "I am your breath! You can't breathe, Dann. Let me do it for you. I am here; I haven't gone away."

In 2000, the year of healing ended with my visiting the relative's grave that had abused me. There I genuinely released forgiveness, I felt pity for my abuser, and I realized he never knew the joy of Christ's forgiveness in his own life.

Now, to unfold the past several years since then, I would say that over and over again God has revealed to me in amazing ways that He is still God, and He still cares. None of this, while not necessarily God's perfect will, (as far as being abused, sinning out of my own brokenness, etc.), has been wasted. God has been and continues to use all of it!

By God's grace I never acted on my homosexual desires. By God's grace I have also experienced much change and much healing. By God's grace, I have been blessed with my wife, Chris, and three wonderful children.

Chris, who was broken by abuse as well, is an amazing companion and partner! Our relationship was founded upon friendship first, and even when we temporarily lose focus of that, it's what God always allows us to come back to and to keep building upon. We just celebrated twenty years of marriage on December 9, 2009.

I am thankful to God that he doesn't waste any of our pain. Little did I know when I struggled with my secret during my adolescent years that God would use the pain and brokenness of my past to head up a ministry for those who struggle with homosexuality and for those who struggle with sexual addiction.

Chris heads up a group for those who struggle with lesbianism. Together we head up Land Office Ministries, a ministry of Mars Hill Bible Church. This ministry is what God has built through the brokenness of my own life and experiences, and as I am a servant leader, God blesses and increases His Kingdom through me.

Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 6 that "such were some of you (homosexually broken)- but you are washed, you are purified, you are made whole." I am living testimony today that God does wash, He does purify. He does bring wholeness.

That growth is a process. I have seen growth and change in my life and in the lives of the people to whom I minister. Thanks be to God, He never gave up on me.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Cecil Murphey's Story (Part 2 of 2)

I want to point out why I think my healing began when it did. Shirley had been the first person in my life that I ever felt loved me without reservation. I didn't have to be good, act nice, or behave in a way to win acceptance. I had that simply because she loved me. Although it took me a number of years to trust that love, I know I couldn't have faced my childhood if she hadn't been there to encourage me and to hold my hand.

David was the second person. We had been friends for eight years before my memories began to return. When I tentatively opened up, he didn't push or try to fix me. Although I can't explain how, he enabled me to trust him and to open up.

From Shirley and then from David, I slowly began to trust others. I could never have done it without that supportive love behind me.

Over the next three years, I shared my abusive childhood with a few others. One of them, Steven, led the small, weekend group at Oglethorpe University in Atlanta, Georgia. He lives in the northeast, but we regularly phoned, wrote, and later e-mailed. Five times, he and I met for a weekend just to talk about our childhoods and to open ourselves to further healing. During those early years, some events were so overpowering I cried more than I talked. More than once I wished I were dead.

At the time, I was so filled with my own pain I had no realization of what Shirley was going through. She was hurting and she had been hurting for years. Whenever one of my odd acts of behavior occurred, she blamed herself for doing something wrong, even if she couldn't figure out what it was. Yes, both of us had become victims of my childhood abuse.

Once I crept out of the morass, I realized three important facts. First, I was safe and no longer feared the terrors of childhood. Second, Shirley understood as much as anyone who hasn't had the same experience could understand. Third—and the most important—Shirley loved me without demands or conditions. Because of her, I had finally found a safe place grounded in reality. When I wanted to deny that the abuse had really happened, she infused me with courage. When I wanted to quit striving for wholeness, Shirley affirmed me by little things, such as holding my hand or letting me see the tears in her own eyes.

Shirley's unconditional love helped me go through the stages from anger to acceptance and eventually to forgiveness of my perpetrators (both now dead).

I'm thankful for David's loving friendship, but Shirley was the person I lived with, and the one individual with the most power to have hurt me. Not once did she reproach me or lash out, and I'm thankful to her for that. The quality of that love enabled me to accept God's unconditional love. Because of my wife's support, I slowly moved forward until I could say, "I know that God loves me, that I'm worthwhile, loved and accepted by my Heavenly Father."

Through the years, Shirley suffered because of the effects of my abuse. Even now I sometimes feel sad because of the pain she's had to go through, especially during those dark years when she had no idea what was happening. She silently accepted blame and wrestled with her own issues of self-esteem and failure. It was so unfair, and I owe her so much for being there, for being God's instrument, and most of all for being the human link that joined my hand with that of a loving Father.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Cecil Murphey's Story (Part 1 of 2)

In some ways I'm one of the lucky male survivors: I forgot what happened to me. As I would realize later, it became my method of survival. For years the pain of abuse lay buried deeply. Despite the repression (which is what forgetting is), I grew up living with the effects of the abuse, even though I no longer remembered my abuse until a series of emotional disruptions in 1985 brought them to the surface.

My memories didn't begin to surface through the intervention of a therapist. An area of controversy today, called the False Memory Syndrome, suggests that many who claim childhood abuse have "false" memories inadvertently planted by therapists. Even though my best friend, David Morgan, was with me from the beginning of my healing, he carefully avoided any intervention. One of my brothers and two of my sisters later corroborated many of my childhood memories.

Those abusive experiences had left their mark on my life. Like thousands of other abuse victims, I struggled because of my

• lack of trust
• fear of abandonment
• sense of loneliness and aloneness

I became a serious Christian in my early twenties. Months after my conversion, I met Shirley and we later married. We had five or six problem-free years, but a single event changed our marriage. I had been gone for nearly two weeks and when I came home, Shirley was in bed. I climbed in beside her. In the dark, she turned over and touched me. I froze.

Feelings of anger and revulsion spread through me—such a thing had never happened before in our marriage. I couldn't talk about it, and I couldn't respond to her. I pushed her arm away and mumbled something about being exhausted.

I lay awake a long time trying to figure it out. What's wrong with me? I asked myself repeatedly. No matter how much I prayed, I couldn't understand my reaction.

Over the next several years, occasionally I had similar reactions. Looking back, I realize it happened only when she initiated any affection that I hadn't anticipated. Each time I froze, I felt guilty, questioned my masculinity, and silently begged God to show me what was wrong with me. Slowly my seemingly irrational feelings decreased, and life seemed to take on a loving normalcy again.

One day I went out for a 12-mile run. I came home crying. The painful past finally broke through. I had a memory—vague, unclear, but a memory nonetheless—of the old man undressing and fondling me. I also remembered the female relative who assaulted me. Over the next few months, other childhood memories crowded into my consciousness. Those remembrances hurt, and I had never before felt such inner pain. Even though engulfed by shame, embarrassment, guilt, and a sense of utter worthlessness, I had to talk to someone. Haltingly, nervously, I told Shirley.

Once she got over the initial shock, she said exactly what I needed to hear. "I don't understand this, but I'm with you."

Of course she didn't understand. How could she? I didn't even understand myself.

I also told David and he hugged me. I don't recall anything he said, but I knew he was there with me and would be at my side as I slayed the dragons of my past.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Introduction to Shattering the Silence

If you've been sexually abused or you love someone who was abused, this blog is for you.

I started this blog to reach out to men who face the hurt and sometimes the shame of childhood sexual abuse. Several other male survivors have agreed to join me in sharing their journeys and the lessons learned.

We invite you to tell your story or to ask questions to help you in your recovery. You may use your name or post anonymously.

I begin with my story.

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

Some days I felt as if I wanted to die; other days I didn't know if the struggle was worth it. I can now say it was worth the fight. I also believe the only way we can find healing from our stolen childhoods is to face our suffering and abuse.

I didn't face up to the reality of my sexual abuse until I hit 50. The hurt and damage of the past finally broke through—slowly and with fragmented memories. Later I spoke with one of my sisters, who confirmed many of those painful memories.

I had been fondled regularly by a female relative until I was about four years old. When I was six, an elderly man rented a room in our house. He abused me and my sister, who was four years older. She told on him and Dad beat up the man, threw him out of the house, and threatened to kill him if he saw him again.

My father was also an alcoholic—a brutal one when he drank. Out of seven children, three of us became his primary targets for regular beatings.

With that kind of background, I sometimes wonder how I lived within the range of normalcy. My only response is that God was with me and took me through that horrendous time.

When I was ready to face my past, two people accepted my brokenness. My wife, Shirley, and my best friend, David, lovingly supported me, allowed me to cry, and reminded me that they loved me.

Later I met other men who had been abused and as I disclosed my pain, they trusted me with their stories. Many of us found healing through talking with other survivors.

We invite you to share with us on this blog. We're open to discuss any topic that pertains to male sexual abuse.


I have listed books below that you may find helpful.

When a Man You Love Was Abused: A Woman's Guide to Helping Him Overcome Childhood Sexual Molestation by Cecil Murphey (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2010).

Healing a Man's Heart by Thomas Edward (Summerville, SC: Holy Fire Publishing, 2009).

Broken Boys/Mending Men: Recovery from Childhood Sexual Abuse by Stephen D. Grubman-Black (The Blackburn Press, 2002).

Abused Boys: The Neglected Victims of Sexual Abuse by Mic Hunter (New York: Fawcett Books, 1990).

Beyond Betrayal: Taking Charge of Your Life After Boyhood Sexual Abuse by Richard B. Gartner, Ph.D. (Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2005).

Victims No Longer: The Classic Guide for Men Recovering from Sexual Child Abuse, updated and revised by Mike Lew (New York: HarperCollins, 2004).

A Wounded Heart: Hope for Adult Victims of Childhood Sexual Abuse, revised and updated, by Dr. Dan b. Allender (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 1995).

Wounded Boys Heroic Men: A Man’s Guide to Recovering from Child Abuse by Daniel Jay Sonkin, Ph.D. (Avon, MA: Adams Media, 1998).