Friday, December 30, 2011

Learning to Trust (Part 2 of 2)

This post comes from Gary Roe. 

“God, help me to trust you. I truly want to trust you.”

This has become my daily prayer.

My mother and grandfather were the main perpetrators. They sexually abused me during early childhood. If they (the ones who should have nurtured and protected me) could do that, what might the rest of the world do?

Because of them, I felt unsafe growing up.

I still do.

I’m convinced my father knew nothing about the abuse. Now I find myself asking, “How could he not know? How could he miss the signs?”

My dad lived in denial. I can look back and see it permeating his life. The bottom line: My father could have stepped in and protected me, but he didn’t.

I’ve discovered that I automatically assume that my heavenly Father is like my earthly father. That means that deep down in me I believe that even though God could step in and protect me, he doesn't. Or he won’t. I might even believe that he is clueless sometimes, he doesn’t really care, or that I don’t really matter.

I’ve made God in the image of my earthly father. I’ve let what happened to me shape my view of him. I need to repent. I want to see and know him for who he really is.

“God, help me to trust you. I truly want to trust you.”

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Trust Comes Hard for Me (Part 1 of 2)

This post comes from Gary Roe.

Trust comes hard for me. That’s natural and makes sense. I was sexually abused and raped by family members in early childhood. Those events and relationships have defined much of my life.

After decades of saying that I trust God, I've discovered that I really don’t. I believe that he exists, that he’s with me, but when life gets really difficult, I don’t believe that he will come through for me or protect me.

That means I must protect myself. I have to figure things out and direct my life. Not only that, I have to manage and control other people and situations. My lack of trust puts me in an impossible position, and creates a life of fear, anxiety, and fatigue.

Not trusting God allows the abuse to still define and control me. The abuse that I hate so much becomes an idol. In order to let go of it, I must begin trusting God.

I don’t know how to do this. I just pray, “God, help me to trust you. I really, really want to trust you.”

I sense he is working. I must hold on to that. 

Friday, December 23, 2011

"He Acted Out"

I recently read a romance novel written in 1932. Quaint, of course, but one thing stood out. At the end of chapter 9, the hero picks up the heroine (his wife who had resisted his affections) and carries her into the bedroom. The chapter ends with these words: "He kicked the door closed."

"The next morning," are the first words in chapter 10.

In those days writers were careful not to write about sexual issues but readers figured out what they meant. Maybe that's why we speak of pre-World War II as the time of innocence.

I mentioned that concept because of a phrase I hear quite often today about men who have been sexually assaulted in childhood. They talk about their change of heart, conversion, counseling, and move on to the changes in their lives.

But once in awhile a man admits, "But I acted out," and that's all he says. I certainly am not a voyeur and I'm not interested in reading graphic descriptions, but I would like a little more direct honesty.

• "I fell into sin."

• "I went back into my old ways."

• “I was promiscuous.”

• “I got into porn.”

• "I had sex with another man."

• "I committed a homosexual act."

As repulsive as those statements may sound to some, they're honest. I realize that saying a simple sentence like engaging in sexual acts with someone of the same gender is too difficult for some men to admit. Or they may not feel safe in saying those words.

But if a man seeks healing, that's part of the reality if he has "acted out." He needs to learn to speak the truth as candidly as he can. Not to say it straight is a form of denial or at least an attempt to mitigate the seriousness of the activity. Or it may be a statement still wrapped in shame.

I'm certainly not trying to urge survivors to speak openly and publicly until they're ready. But to speak in euphemisms or cover words isn't being candid.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

My Problem

(This post comes from Neal of North Chicago, Illinois.)

He was my role model. He was handsome and kind and everyone looked up to him. He was about the smartest teacher I ever had and he liked me. He invited me to his house one day to help me with my math problems.

He kept telling me how special I was and how much he liked to look at me. I kept wondering why he'd like to look at me so much. He put his hand on my knee while he talked and stared right into my eyes.

I won't give the details but that's how it started and I made weekly trips to his house for almost a full semester. One day I saw him in the hall at school and he said, "Don't come by this week."

He said the same thing the next week and didn't seem to want to talk to me. That confused me because of all the things he had said to me. I finally asked him what was wrong.

"I helped you as much as I could," he said. And he walked away. After that he ignored me and I also found out that he invited other boys to his house. That hurt even more.

My buddy Joe must have figured out something, but I don't know or at least I don't remember if he ever said anything. Joe gave me the book Victims No Longer. I didn't want to read it at first but I started and that's when I understood that he was a pedophile. I knew the word before then, but I didn't know that's how it was. I thought they only went for kids who were four or five years old. I was sixteen.

I'm now thirty-one but I still think about him. I don't want to see him again. But even now, after all these years, I still miss him, even though that sounds weird.

I'm getting help in a group and the other guys understand and they assure me that I'll get past this problem. I hope they're right.

Friday, December 16, 2011

"I wish I could trust."

My name is Brian Johnston and I'm like the others who read and respond to this blog. I've come a long way, but I still don't know how to trust anyone. I'm constantly suspicious. I doubt what people tell me and think everyone lies to me.

Maybe that sounds like I need therapy, and I started it a few months ago. I feel better about most things in my life, but so far therapy hasn't helped me trust people.

I don't trust God either. I want to, but I can't believe God truly loves me. I know what the Bible says and people preach to me all the time. So that's not something I say very often.

Dear Cec, if any of your readers know how to help me, will you post their responses? I want to trust people and most of all, I want to be able to trust God.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Living with Fear

This post comes from Gary.

For a long time I worried that I would turn around and abuse boys the way I had been abused. I don't know if that was a rational fear or not, but I know the thought tormented me. What if I ended up hurting a boy or many boys the way I had been hurt.

After we married, we had two girls and that didn't seem to be any problem, but our third was a boy. That almost freaked me out. I told my wife about my fear and I had never done that before.

She said, "As long as you're afraid of doing it, I think you'll be fine. That fear holds you back."

Maybe that sounds too simple, but it did so much for me. Our son is now ten and I've never hurt him. Maybe sometimes fear is good.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Afterward (Part 2 of 2)

This is a second post from Brad.

The worst part of the abuse wasn't what happened, but it was the effect of the abuse. Marvin did it to me only three times. Then I told my parents that I didn't like Marvin. I don’t remember what I said but they didn't hire him again.

The abuse was over but the effects weren't. Something is wrong with me. I'm not normal. I won't say I thought like that every day, but often enough.

I've read about the results of abuse from a lot of guys. Mine was that I couldn't—really couldn't—express affection. When I touched someone it felt as if something inside my head yelled, "That's wrong!"

My pastor let me come into his office every week for more than a year. I cried and I told him some of the same things again and again. And he listened. I guess that's what helped most of all.

One day he hugged me and I can only say that it didn't confuse me because I knew he cared about me. I hugged him back—very, very gently.

I still struggle. I've been married for two years and I've told my wife my problem and she's understanding.

I can't believe I still struggle with the abuse, but I do. I'm getting better. It's slow, but I'm getting better.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

My Mind and My Body (Part 1 of 2)

This comes from Brad.

After Marvin, my babysitter, finished with me, I was confused. I was eight years old but I couldn't figure it out. I felt dirty and that it was wrong—that part is clear to me. But it also felt good. And if it felt good how could it be bad? Or if it was bad, how could it feel good?

I'm nearly forty and now I finally—finally—understand. My body responded to Marvin, but my spirit resisted. And at that age and being faced by someone twice my age, my spirit couldn't win.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Hand-in-glove Dysfunction

This post comes from an anonymous reader.

Thank you for your shattering the silence blog and your openness. It's been nearly 20 years now since my first 20-year marriage ended. I knew I had been sexually abused as a girl, but had no idea until many years later that my children’s dad also had been a victim.

It explained why we fit “hand in glove” in our dysfunction. He watched me go through recovery with a Christian counselor's help, but he said nothing. When men started speaking out, though, he discovered he wasn't unique and alone. He got good help and it changed him completely.

He’s a good friend today and a great dad/grandpa to my children and grandchildren. You are doing such a service to families everywhere by speaking out. Thank you.