I hurt for a long time because of childhood sexual abuse. Now I want to provide a safe place for hurting men to connect with other survivors of sexual abuse. Talk to us. You don't have to use your real name to share your experiences or ask questions.

Why Do I Have to Talk About It?

One reason for murky statistics about male survivors of sexual assault is that many of us aren't forthcoming. That is, we don’t want to talk about being molested. It still hurts and we feel less like real men if we admit our pain.

I never want to force anyone to talk about their abusive past. And yet, I know that until we do bring the dark secrets into the light by talking about them, the pain stays inside. We try to ignore it or pretend it doesn’t hurt. But we know differently.

Speaking about our pain-streaked childhood isn't easy. Shame often holds us back, even though we were innocent, pliable children.

But those of us who have the courage to speak out—even when fear and self-loathing keep trying to pull us back—have learned an invaluable lesson. When the truth comes out, it's no longer a secret. When another human being—a person with whom we feel safe—hears and understands our anguish, the healing process becomes operational.

We were abused in secret; we lived with our secrets.
Now we're ready to bring the truth into the open.

(This post was adapted from Not Quite Healed, written by Cecil Murphey and Gary Roe.)

I Need...

Needy is a good word I've used to describe myself since the early days of my healing. At first I saw needy as applying only to me and perhaps to those really, really messed up people who try to glob on to us and want our constant attention.

I still feel isolated and impoverished when I'm in a group of strangers and no one smiles at me or talks to me. Sometimes I tell my circle of acquaintances about my newest success (or failure) and no one seems to listen. In those instances, I feel like that sad, estranged boy again.

Whether it's belonging to a church or a gang, we've been created to be with others. We deserve acceptance, affirmation, and appreciation—the kind we can get only from others.

Some are better suited to relating only to one or two people; others need a crowd. Regardless, when we're rejected, shunned, or ignored, we reflect negatively on ourselves. What's wrong with me?

My alcohol-addicted brother once said to me, "I don't need anybody." Then he gulped down half a bottle of beer and lied to himself once again.

He never changed because he drowned his neediness. I changed because I faced mine.

I need. I deserve.
Those are good healing words.

(This post was adapted from Not Quite Healed, written by Cecil Murphey and Gary Roe.)

What's Wrong with Me?

I cringed when I heard other men speak of their painful childhoods, especially when they talked about how they hated what was done to them. I hated those things too. But it took me a long time to admit they were also telling my story.

Even at six years of age, something inside told me the abuse was wrong; another part of me admitted that it felt good. For a few minutes, it seemed that another person loved me. I was worthwhile and acceptable.

But afterward. After my perpetrator was finished with me—that's when reality struggled to the surface. I felt confused and condemned. That man did something terrible to me. As an adult, I told myself that I should have hated it, struck out at him, yelled, or pushed him away. Instead, I had gone back the next time he offered a snack to come into his room.

What's wrong with me? I didn't ask myself that question when I was six or even when I was ten. And yet the question was always there. If it had been such a terrible experience, why did I enjoy it?

Now I know. I needed the emotional connection—even though it was false and temporary, I needed to feel loved. I still needed those things after he pushed me aside.

What's wrong with me is that I was a normal human being. The wrong person deceived me and made me believe he was offering affection and compassion—that he cared about me. He cared about me as a means to satisfy his lustful needs.

Nothing was wrong with me;
Something wrong happened to me.

(This post was adapted from Not Quite Healed, written by Cecil Murphey and Gary Roe.)

My Emotions Confuse Me

As we venture more fully into healing, our emotions don't always comply with our desire for progress. At times, we feel different from other people—that's not new. Because of the molestation that warped our childhood, that's true with most of us.

Too often, I didn’t know what emotions I felt. I got angry and wasn't aware of my inner rage; excitement overwhelmed me and I didn’t realize how euphoric I truly felt. I was cut off from emotional awareness.

As we heal, most of us struggle in some emotional area. We're flooded with negative feelings and want to push them away. Perhaps we're unaware of the unkind words we've spoken.

The worst part for me has been to face my negative, harsh, and judgmental feelings and say to myself, "Yes, that's how I feel." My full healing depends on facing every part of myself.

That's no easy task. As a boy, I was afraid of my negative feelings. My father was violent, so was one of my brothers. I feared that if I accepted my anger, I'd become like them.

One day, however, I realized that I'd probably behave much as I had before. But this time, I would be aware of my moods and reactions. And by being cognizant, I could change. Since then, one of my goals has been to embrace, nurture, and love every part of myself.

My emotions still confuse me, 
and I'm learning to embrace even my emotional confusion.

(This post was adapted from Not Quite Healed, written by Cecil Murphey and Gary Roe.)

My Responsibility

Responsibility is a strange word. For some, it delineates who we are—the one on whom others can depend. We receive commendations and appreciation. People admire us. "He's as good as his word," they say. That sentence sounds like what people have said about me.

That's not bragging, but only to say that I've grabbed on to words like duty and obligation. If I'm responsible, it implies that I'm worthwhile. Likeable. Loveable.

I never heard anyone call my younger brother Mel responsible. When I visited my hometown, he'd promise to come and see me and not show up. He owed me money and often said, "I haven't forgotten and I'm going to pay you back." Even growing up, he'd say, "I'm going to" as the prelude for some action both of us knew he wouldn't take. I don't recall that he ever did anything he promised.

At times I've wished I could have been more like him. I envisioned him as carefree and indifferent. He was neither. Only during the last months of his life did I realize how guilt-ridden he was.

For me, when I realized something was wrong, especially in the family, I was responsible. I'm sure that's part of the reason I was a pastor for 14 years. By then, I liked others depending on me. When I did something right and members praised me, I felt wonderful. And yes, I felt terrible when I disappointed someone or a member disliked me.

As a man who is healing from abuse, I don't want to be irresponsible, but I want to be accountable for the right things and especially for the right people. As I act on being answerable to Cec, it also means that I don't have to accept the guilt for others' unhappiness.

I'm responsible for me. 
That's a good kind of self-love.

(This post was adapted from Not Quite Healed, written by Cecil Murphey and Gary Roe.)

Wearing Those Masks

We often speak of wearing masks—hiding our real selves so that others don't see deeply inside us. When I was a teen, a popular song about being rejected went something like this: "I'm laughing on the outside, crying on the inside."

That's as good an explanation of masks as I know. It means we intentionally withhold our real feelings and attitudes. That's not always bad. Masks can shield us from people who don't understand or who would exploit our weaknesses.

Hiding our identity from those who care about us is the problem. We're afraid to open up, don't want to take the risk of losing someone's affection, or don't have the courage to be our real selves.

Recently my wife and I watched a film on TV. Several adults were romantically involved but no one became vulnerable enough for the other person to know how they felt. "Don't they ever talk to each other?" my wife asked.

I smiled, and thought, in real life it's often that way, isn't it? For those who are important to me, I want to remove my mask as an expression of my love for and my acceptance of them. I want them to know the real, true, inner me.

If you love me, you'll love me more after I remove my mask. 
You'll love me more because you'll love the true, deeper me.

(This post was adapted from Not Quite Healed, written by Cecil Murphey and Gary Roe.)

Same-sex Attraction

As a child who never experienced love or affection from this father, I was easily marked for victimization. But more than that, I gravitated toward any male who showed me affection. Mr. Lee, the pedophile who molested me, intuitively grasped my neediness.

For a long time I struggled with an attraction for any man who reached out to me. As a young adult, I didn't yield but the feelings and the temptations were there. Of all the residual effects of sexual abuse, same-sex attraction has been for me the most shameful.

I blamed myself for being needy and vulnerable.

As an adult, I've learned to say that I had what someone has called "a father wound" and another refers to as his "father hole." It's that inborn need for a healthy, significant male figure in my childhood. I needed affection and the loving physical touch of a caring man.

If that hole isn't filled in a healthy way, acting on same-sex attraction is one way to get a temporary fix—a very temporary fix.

I think of a woman who came to my office years ago. She had gone through countless affairs and said, "I wanted love and I settled for sex."

That's the sad story of too many abused men.

The things that have an unhealthy attraction for me 
point to those unmet needs of my childhood.

(This post was adapted from Not Quite Healed, written by Cecil Murphey and Gary Roe.)