Friday, October 28, 2011

"I Did It!"

"I did it!" He yelled into the phone. "I did it! I got help!"

I met him nearly twenty years ago when I lived in Louisville, Kentucky. I had talked to him about abuse—which I had just begun to deal with. He didn't say anything then, but something about the way he responded made me think he had probably been victimized.

After I moved back to Atlanta, he called me three or four times a year. He admitted he had been abused but insisted it was too hard to ask for help. "I feel weak and ashamed. Men aren't supposed to feel that way."

"Maybe not," I said, "but we do. And we'll stay weak and confused until we get help." He never wanted to talk much but he'd always say, "You're a friend. You give me hope."

He is in therapy and will soon join a group of other survivors of sexual assault.

"Why did I wait so long?" he asked.

The only answer I could give him—and I think it's true—was this: You weren't ready to be healed.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

An Eye-Opening Experience

An anonymous email reads:

Other men probably know this already, but it was a real eye-opening experience for me. I started talking to a small group of friends at church about my abuse. I wanted healing and wanted to forget all the pain. But something else happened: I learned more about myself.

For the first time in my life I had a handle on the powerful feelings that had been buried deeply inside me. I felt alive. And I now actually like who I am.

Friday, October 21, 2011


"We buried Howard last week and he was 59 years old," the email began. "He never talked about his abuse, but I knew because our oldest brother did it to both of us. He didn't talk to me about it and I didn't talk to him."

The writer went on to say that Howard had been a civilian who worked for Army Intelligence. "He knew how to keep military secrets. He also kept his own. They said he died of a heart attack and that's probably true, but it wasn't the kind of heart attack that medicine can treat."

The man spoke of his sadness, and that he had gotten help through AA and Celebrate Recovery. He said he wished he had talked to Howard. "It might not have done any good, but at least I could have tried."

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

"I Hate My Dad"

He signs it CGP.

"I think I could have handled it all right if it had been somebody else, but it was my father. I was twelve and he told me it was time for me to learn about sex and he wanted to help me. It began with touching, stroking, and kept going.

"That was my father! How can a man have sex with his own son? How could he do that to me?"

When CGP was sixteen he tried suicide twice. The first time he tried asphyxiation by lying on his father's bed with a plastic bag over his head, but his father came home early and found him. The second time he took a bottle of sleeping pills. As he was losing consciousness, he knew he didn't want to die. He called 911.

"I hate my dad," he wrote, "and I don't know if I'll ever be normal." He also said that he wrote to me because of the blog and he hadn't told anyone else.

We corresponded by email several times a week for about two months and I sensed he was doing better, but he stopped writing and didn't answer my emails.

I wonder how many others out there are like CGP.

Too many.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Stomach Pain

It was his secret and Larry said he carried a heavy ball of guilt inside. "The guilt ate at me, and I developed stomach ulcers." He gulped down the liquid medicine for relief, and snacked every two hours to keep food in his stomach.

Several times his doctor tried to find out what caused the problem but he kept saying he didn't know.

"But I did know."

Larry's secret was so deep he didn't want to admit it or talk about it. He was sure that if he did, his symptoms would get worse.

"About eight months ago I spilled my guts," he said. And once Larry began to talk about being sexually abused, the healing began. He still snacks and takes medication, but he hasn't had a serious bout with stomach pain for seven months.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

From Pastor Peter

"When I was fifteen, I drank my first beer and then my second. It was strange but I didn't worry about anything. I had fun and it seemed like everything I said was witty." That's how Peter, a Southern Baptist pastor, started his email to me.
He went on to write that drinking kept him detached from his emotions. "When I was twenty-one, I almost washed out of college. What I thought was witty my career counselor told me was silly and often incoherent."
Peter went to an AA meeting to please his counselor and so he could finish the semester and stay in college. An older man in the meeting said he had been an alcoholic for fifteen years. "It was the only way I could forget that I had been abused," the man told Peter.
"That clicked!" Peter wrote. He said he felt as if someone had punched him in the gut. "That's when I knew why I liked getting drunk. I could forget."
Peter never took another drink because he didn't need the booze. He  graduated from college. "I wasn't at the top of the class, but I was at least part of the class." 
He not only became sober, but he found a fine therapist who helped him cope with the trauma of childhood abuse. He's now a pastor in Texas and has gotten his church to start a Celebrate Recovery group.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Not Quite Healed

Gary Roe and I have a contract for a book with the working title Not Quite Healed. We're aiming the book at people like you who have faced sexual abuse and are moving toward spiritual and emotional health.

(If you reply to the information below, use only for this request.)

1. If you have any topics/concerns about healing that we haven't mentioned in the blog, please let us know. We want to offer everything we can to promote healing.

2. Right now I'd like to hear from some of you on the issue of same-sex attraction. I'll use your name ONLY if you give me permission. Tell about the attraction, but focus on what you've done/are doing for yourself.

3. In a few weeks, Gary and I will post a list of topics where we want input. Because we respond in different ways to male sexual abuse, we want to be as inclusive as we can.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

"He Said He'd Take Care of Me"

I had an email in which a young man, age 19, said he had "done things" with his Sunday school teacher for four years. "He bought me things and took me places."

The boy's parents were both "drunks and pill poppers" who "didn't know I existed unless one of them needed me to grab a cold one from the refrigerator."

He went on to say that the teacher promised, "I'll take care of you. You can't live with me because you're a minor but when you're older we can live together and I'll take care of you."

After a few more details the boy added, "Just before my 18th birthday I asked him about moving in. He said he couldn't do that. He wanted to but he couldn't."

He told me about his agony and feelings of rejection, especially when the teacher began to make excuses for not getting with him regularly.

"It was all a lie. I reminded him of his promise and he cussed me out and told me I was evil and that he had tried to help me but he had failed."

The young man had attempted suicide once and had undergone psychiatric treatment for depression.

He has emailed me three times, so that encourages me to believe that something positive is going on. He also reads my blog (which is why he contacted me). "You can use my story," he said in his last email, "but you can't give my name."

I wish his story had a happy ending.

Maybe one day it will.