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.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

God Can Heal My Son

(By Anonymous)

My daughter informed us that my son told her he was gay. He admitted to having been abused by at least two people when he was a young boy. In his late teens he attended a party where he was brutally raped. Do I need to tell you how my heart shattered? My dad was an abuser. I suspect strongly he was one of my son’s molesters.

Every part of me wanted to protect my children and I found out I had failed to do that. After my own devastation at growing up in an abusive home, I had done everything I could think of to provide a safe place for my own children. Believe me, I talked to God about this. How could this happen to yet another generation?

I pray for my son's healing. He's a wonderful person--a broken person. I'm not discouraged, because I have faith. Faith is the hope of things to come. And in my case, it's based on God's track record in my own life. My son lives, as I do, in a sinful world and the consequences of others' choices pours over onto us sometimes. But God raises us up when we call on him. I know He can heal my son because he healed me.

Friday, May 21, 2010

A Brutal Experience Reading Cec's Book

(By Andy Hines)

I recently ordered Cec Murphey’s new book, When A Man You Love Was Abused, written to spouses of men who were sexually abused as young men. I didn’t order it for my wife, I ordered it for me. It is clear to me that I have to deal with this issue and I understand so little of it. Cec is a man of wisdom and has plowed this field before. I want to hear what he has to say on the subject.

When I arrived at the bookstore, I picked up the book and began reading it immediately. It was a brutal experience. Page after page was like one stomach blow after another. Several times I had to quit reading, lay the book down, look away and stop to catch my breath. Cec had read my mail. I suppose 70% of the incidents he described in the book I had experienced. As I read, I prayed under my breath for the Lord to help me stay steady. I paused a couple of times and thought about the events that brought me to this point in my life. On one page, Cec described an event where a man was talking to his counselor and when describing the abuse he described it rather matter of factually. There was no emotion tied to the experience at all. It seems the counselor responded rather forcefully that the entire episode was terrible and ugly. The man had not buried the memories, but was completely devoid of any emotion associated with them. I have had the same experience. I am blessed beyond measure with a Godly counselor. She told me virtually the same thing. I have minimized the entire experience and done everything possible to bury it and hope it will go away. It hasn’t gone away and I can’t beat it.

Cec talked of having flashbacks and the impact they have on your life. I’ve had them for many many years. They are horrible. They are frightening and they pierce my heart like an arrow. He mentioned how certain things can trigger these flashbacks. A random smell, a piece of gum, the smell of toothpaste or a song on the radio can trigger a flood of events that threaten to overwhelm you. I’ve had the same experience. I wanted to attend a "Walk to Emmaus" weekend many years ago. Unknown to me or anyone involved in the event, the entire process including the campgrounds were an almost carbon copy of the camp where much of the abuse I suffered happened. I crashed and burned big time. Few people could understand my reactions. I didn’t at the time. I do now.

Many times today I closed my eyes and began to see things that happened to me when I was 14. It was like a news reel from an old movie. I saw the fights with my dad. I saw the sexual assaults in the military school. I saw the mental hospital and the jail. Then I saw her. I saw the French teacher. I swallowed hard and put Cec’s book down.

You can read the rest of Andy’s comments on his blog:

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Keep Going

At a time I was going through a particularly painful period in my own inner healing, I read John Bunyon's classic allegory Pilgrim's Progress. Near the end of book one, the pilgrim, Christian, must cross the river (death) to enter into the celestial city. He's terrified, cries out, and wants to turn back. One of his companions says, "You must go through, or you cannot come into the gate."[1]

Christian's other companion, Hopeful, stays with him and urges him on, telling him that even though it seems as if he might drown, he won't. "Be of good cheer, my brother; I feel the bottom, and it is good,"[2] he says. Because of Hopeful, Christian makes it to the other side safely. When he gets there, he realizes he was not in any real danger, but that fear had made him want to turn back.

I understood. I had been at the place of despair. I hurt. As I daily opened myself to those painful memories of childhood I wanted to give up. I prayed, "God, is it worth the pain?" Some days I didn't feel I could keep going.

That section of Bunyon's book gave me courage to keep going. I felt as if God whispered, "Don't give up. Keep going forward." I stayed with the pain and I discovered, as Bunyon's character did, that it was solid on the bottom and I wouldn't drown.
[1]London: Thomas Nelson, undated, p.165.
[2] ibid

Friday, May 14, 2010

"It Isn't Really True!"

(By Dann Youle)

When I first discovered (uncovered or whatever you want to call it) that I had been sexually abused as a boy, in my head I heard myself saying, "But it isn't really true!"

Denial was such a defense in those early days. I had been able to deny I'd been abused for 28 years, so because I thought I recalled something now, did that suddenly make it true?

This was the beginning of what I thought was my going crazy. I felt split off from myself: I didn't know who I was and the denial was the only way I could survive. I sometimes wondered if I would or could take my next breath. It was the wildest, weirdest feeling.

One day these thoughts raced through my head:

It really isn't true.

It really isn't true.

IT really isn't true.

It really isn't true.

It really isn't true.

It really isn't true!

"God, You can't expect me to believe this and you can't expect me to live if it is true!"

It was at that moment I felt God say to me, "You don't believe it can be true, I wish it weren't—but do you believe you can breathe? I give you breath, Dann; I will breathe for you."

In that moment, even though it was so hard, I realized I was more alive than ever. I felt such intense pain, but all the same it was glorious. Jesus was letting me know that I didn't have to be afraid. I might be scared to death in that moment that I was going to die, but I didn't have to fear anything, even if I did.

I have found that this phenomenon is generally true of men who have been abused. Until we can come out of that denial and get to the pain, the healing never begins.

When I was trying to convince myself that it wasn't true, there was something I needed to be in touch with even if it was painful. It is like a gentle but persistent wake-up call that God uses to point me to Him.

The it-really-isn't-true response is rare for me these days. If I have to feel the pain, there is a good reason for it. It's not that I enjoy the pain, but I find that I can find Jesus in the middle of it. He feels my pain and understands pain Himself. When I think of where my sin put Him I know that He has felt my pain in ways that I can't even begin to imagine. To know the depths of pain He has felt has allowed me to trust Him more and more in depths of my pain.

So, yes, it really is true! I was abused—horribly, terribly, but not unredemptively. The pain my past abuse causes at times seems unbearable, but the healing is sweet and real.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

My Story of Abuse

(By Thomas Edward)

I was the martial arts tiger--rough and tough. When the convenience store was held up that night, I disarmed the robber and smashed him into the wall. I was steel on the outside, but no martial arts training prepared me for the battle of facing the aftermath of childhood sexual abuse.

Childhood sexual abuse doesn't happen in Christian homes, right? Especially not in the home of a gospel preacher. Wrong.

Today as an adult I realize people are imperfect, but try explaining that concept to a six-year-old child whose trust was betrayed by an illicit familial relationship of sexual abuse. I still remember six of the perpetrators, and I hope you'll trust me these aren't false memories. I still have a burn mark as a constant reminder of sexual abuse and torture for rebelling.

My earliest encounters occurred at six years of age and stopped around age fourteen. Numerous abusers, some family, and other close friends who groomed me, knew I was the tender young lamb to be preyed on. There are many stories I could share with you, but I’ll share one.

Steve came to live with us during his divorce. He was a cool guy. He was masculine and had time for me, not like my father, who spent time with me only to discipline me. Steve often teased me about girls, so I felt comfortable and trusted him. When I tried to talk with Dad about girls and the birds and bees, he told me to look it up in the dictionary.

Steve was an avid fisherman and we often headed up to the lake. He bought me anything I needed for the trip: bait, snacks, or lures. As we walked and talked, he always put his hand on my shoulder, like he was my good friend. I trusted Steve. During such a tumultuous time in life, pre-adolescence, I had already been sexually abused for five years and it felt great having a friend.

We had gone to one fishing spot many times, but on one particular adventure something was different. As we sat and fished on the bank, Steve reached across me for a soda, and he "accidently" spilled it on my pants. As he tried to wipe and rub the soda out of my lap, physiological events started happening to my body. He said it was okay and natural and nothing to be embarrassed about. He unzipped me as he tried to dry off my pants.

That was how it began. Before I knew it, he was doing things to me. It felt strange but sometimes exciting at the same time. It was different from the other sexual abuse instances.

Fast forward twenty years later when my college roommate and I cruised to the theater to watch a movie. From the title and review of the movie, it seemed like a good murder mystery. That is, until they showed that the person was sexually abused, tortured, and murdered.

To this day I can't fully express the powerful emotions and thoughts triggered by the film. My mind flashed with images that had been buried for decades. I couldn’t stop them. I saw faces and people. I saw violations and betrayals, sexual abuse, and torture. Rejection flooded my mind. "I have to leave," I told my roommate.

The floodgates were opened. I cried, trembled, agonized, sobbed, and experienced uncontrollable outbursts, rage, anger, fear, doubt, and hopelessness in the next 36 hours. I experienced record depression and began a suicide death march.

Something stopped me. God brought a caring friend into my life. Where other Christians had rejected and ignored me, he comforted me. The healing began.

Thirteen years down the road, I began a ministry in Seattle called Healing Broken Men. I want to help men like me who have lived with the terrible secret. Some battle addictions with food, sex, money, power; others become workaholics and have serious relationship issues. Such dysfunctions are the manifested fruits on their tree of life, but at the root and origin is the secret of childhood or adult sexual abuse.

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

Friday, May 7, 2010

Lasting Effects

The impact of sexual abuse can be devastating and it is long lasting. Because you were a child, and you were victimized by someone—and most of the time it was someone you trusted.

The first thing you need to know is this: The sexual abuse was not your fault. You may even be told that you did something wrong, but that person lied. You were a victim; you were an innocent child.

Most of the adult survivors with whom I've talked told me that they grew up feeling something was wrong with them. They believed they caused the abuse and blamed themselves.

You may have tried to talk about the molestation and no one listened. Until recent years, too many adults refused to acknowledge that such things occurred. If that happened to you, you have probably felt inadequate, embarrassed, isolated, guilty, shameful, and powerless. Then you probably reacted by suppressing this as a shameful secret.

For example, I was once involved with a men's group. One member, Greg, said that when he was seven, he wanted to tell his mother that his own father was sexually abusing him. One night at dinner, he said, "Daddy has been pulling down my pants and doing bad things to me."

"Eat your dinner," his mother said.

His two siblings said nothing; Dad continued to eat. That was the last time Greg opened his mouth about his abuse until he was thirty-one years old. That's when he joined a group of survivors of male sexual assault.

Research now affirms the link between the abuse and the effects. Each of us needs to be able to admit that the long-term effects are powerful and include poor self-esteem, difficulty trusting others, anxiety, feelings of isolation, self-injury and self-mutilation, eating disorders, sleep problems, depression, self-destructive tendencies, sexual maladjustment, and substance abuse.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Moving Beyond the Abuse

"It's the past. Forget it and move on," my youngest brother, Chuck, said to me. We had both been sexually assaulted by the same person. He didn't admit being sexually molested, but he didn't deny it either. On the few occasions when I tried to talk to him about it, his answer was, (1) "You can't undo the past," (2) "We don't have to think about those things," or (3) "That stuff happened back then." His words implied that we need only to forget the past, leave it behind, and it's gone.

If only it were that simple.

Chuck died after years of trying to cure his pain through alcohol. I don't know if the pain he tried to medicate was the abuse, but I suspect it was. On rare occasions when he was drunk, he made oblique references to "that mess in childhood."

Outwardly, Chuck wanted to get past the sexual molestation and get on with his life. So why didn't he "move on" with his life?

I had a second brother named Mel, also an alcoholic. He was married five times and died of cirrhosis at age 48. Unlike Chuck, Mel wouldn't talk about our childhood. "There's nothing back there to talk about," was the most he ever said.

I write about my two brothers because both of them seemed determined to get past the abuse of childhood by forgetting, denying, or ignoring. That approach doesn't work.

We don't forget—not really. We don't forget because childhood abuse affects our lives and shapes our attitudes about people and relationships. Some guys want to hurry and get over it, but it's not something to get over and to move on.

Abuse happened to us. Until we accept it and face what it has done to our lives, we don't really move forward. We only live unhealed lives.