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.

Grieving

From Cec: Roger sent me a personal email and, with his permission, I'm posting this. It's probably the saddest story I've read. It's hard for me to realize how much some males suffered.

I am reading your book, Not Quite Healed. So much of it reads like my life. That said, the chapter on grieving really tore me up. As I read it, I realized that I'd never grieved what happened to me and the subsequent effects and their impact on my life.

It wasn't just the molestation. That in itself was bad and went on for decades. It wasn't just the lies I was told, or came to believe, or even those I told myself. It was also the person of my father.

He was a Bible-thumping, legalistic, fire-and-brimstone preacher, teacher, evangelist and pastor—the essence of God incarnate to me. I believed every word he preached. When his words didn't add up in his actions, it caused great confusion in my immature young mind. I felt betrayed not only by him, but by God Himself.

For decades I lived full of contradictions and conflict and in dreaded fear that I would turn out like him. I was a man of two minds and very unstable. Then he had the nerve to die and leave me that way.

And not just die, he had to get himself caught with another child relative. In his fear and despair, he killed my mother in her sleep then took his own life, leaving me a note and the mess to deal with.

In having to deal with everything, I had to keep it together and get things done because everyone else, except my wife, was a basket case. I had no time to grieve. For the next two years, I blamed myself for not saying something sooner, not warning people sooner, not confronting him, and for not saving my mother's life.

Even now I sit here writing this with no emotion. My irritability, anger, rage—all inappropriate to the circumstances I see now as evidence that I have not dealt with this. For years, I didn't understand why I couldn't control my anger. Now I see that I can't go on like this. I need to process all the pain that I have suppressed.

Day One of a New Season

(This post comes from Mark.)

This is day one of a new season. Yesterday I accepted that the word “raped” is “my” word for what was done to me. An email communication with Cec confirmed that for me.

Last night I had a long face-to-face talk with the man who has been my closest and best friend during my recovery journey.

As he and I talked, (I cried of course), and prayed, I took what once would have been a devastating leap. Last night it was a very small and simple (although not easy) step:
My name is Mark I don’t know when, where, or how But I know that I was raped. And I know my rapist’s name.His name was Dad.
For over three years I’ve had various flashbacks, dreams, vague memories, and body impressions that implicated him. But I wasn’t ready to accept that truth until the pain of denial finally outweighed the fear of accepting it.

When I was young and didn’t want to be around my dad, my mom “corrected” me and told me how I should feel about my dad. She did not explore why I was so set against him. I grew up experiencing tremendous guilt for not liking him, for not wanting to be around him, even as I tried to make myself feel love toward him.

As an adult, I developed a relationship of sorts with him. I ended up being his full-time caregiver. While he lived, I loved and honored him the best that I knew how. After his death, I wrestled with feeling that I was betraying his memory by considering him as an abuser.

But the preponderance of evidence speaks that he raped me.

There’s a scripture that says “the truth shall set you free." The truth that my dad raped me is ugly. But even an ugly truth brings freedom, whereas a pleasant lie keeps me in denial and bondage. I no longer feel the responsibility to defend him. I’m allowed to be truthful. In speaking truth, I am honoring God, myself, and in a strange way, I am honoring Dad.

This is day one of my new season.

Rape? Abuse?

A friend who also reads this blog wrote me recently because he was having trouble using the word rape. I responded by saying that I had struggled using the word assault. I chose assault because it's closer to the reality of what happened to me.

Both my friend and I were children, and we were raped or assaulted by someone bigger and older. We were too naïve to realize the implications or the meaning of what happened to us. We were lonely, love-starved kids, who yearned for attention. When they assaulted us, we believed we were being cared about and the affection was genuine. And it felt good.

Now that we're older, some of us have trouble using the right word to describe the secretive attack (and it was a deliberate, planned attack).

The trouble is facing words like rape because our understanding of that term carries many violent implications. TV has filled our minds with brutal and vicious actions. My rapists were gentle, spoke softly, and made me feel special. How could that be rape or assault? And yet it was.

When we can use such strong words, we face the reality of what was done to us. My use of assault has pushed me a little farther down the healing path.

Rebuilding My Core

(This post comes from a reader named Mark.)

Standing in my kitchen, I feel the tiredness of this old house. Almost a decade ago I moved back into my childhood home to take care of my ailing parents. They are gone now; I’m still here.

This house is where my sexual, emotional, and religious abuse and physical neglect took place. During those years, the house wasn't ever clean or orderly. The walls were dirty with faded paint and torn, greasy wall paper. The kitchen ceiling had a gaping hole surrounded by sagging plaster. Old linoleum floors were cracked and peeling.

There’s been a lot of changes made to the house since then. I keep it (mostly) clean and neat. Dirty walls have been updated with fresh paint. The ceiling’s been replaced. The floor covering is new. On the surface, there is little similarity to the house I grew up in. But no amount of remodeling will change the reality of what occurred within these 1,100 square feet.

Many abuse victims try to cover up the damage done to their souls and bodies by pursuing job promotions or more degrees, by investing blood, sweat, and tears into building a killer physique, or by changing relationships, or burying themselves in addictions. I’ve been there. (Not the killer physique part.)

No matter how much effort we pour into making ourselves look good or successful, or how much we try to make our pain stop, we still know that underneath the many layers is a scared child wanting to be loved and accepted. Our hearts are broken.

My heart is healing as I open up my pain and memories to trusted friends and my Celebrate Recovery group. I’m changing for the better as I share what was done to me, and admit the wrong choices I made trying to fix myself. I’ve formed friendships with other men who understand abuse. My relationship with God is growing.

Although the facts of my past won't change, my heart is healing. Repainting the walls of my house doesn't change its core structure; the healing of my heart is rebuilding my core. I accept that I am a man whom God has created with value and worth. A man who forgives, receives and gives love. A man standing for my own freedom, and for the freedom of others.

I may still live in the house of my abuse, but I am no longer defined by its walls.











Just Beginning to Figure This Out

(Occasionally unsolicited responses come to me personally. This one, from James, touched me and I wanted to share. His entire message covered several pages, but I wanted to pass on to you the first paragraphs. --Cec)

I'm trying to figure this out, and I am just beginning . . .

Twelve months ago, I recognized/admitted that I was sexually abused as a child, but I still struggled to understand what that means, to be abused. Seven months ago, I started more focused therapy for that abuse, and joined a male survivor group. I’ve come a long way since beginning that group, but I recognize that I’ve barely began to peel away the outer layers of the artichoke/onion, to understand and deal with the consequences of that abuse. About two weeks ago, I began reading Not Quite Healed by Cecil Murphey and Gary Roe. It feels like I’ve made more progress in these past two weeks than the 12 months prior.

I need to be healed, I need to stay in the fight, there is too much at stake. I am tempted to turn back, to forget, to ignore the problems, to pretend it will all be okay if I turn my back on the process of healing. Because healing requires dealing with the struggle and the pain, dealing with my own shame and failures. It is so foolish to turn back, the struggle doesn’t go away, my childhood has affected all of my relationships, the shame eats at me from the inside; it just remains private. I realize this is going to be a lifelong journey.

“At our core, we are sexual creatures, male and female. This is part of being created in the image of God. When others abuse us sexually, they touch us at the center of our being. Everything becomes skewed and produces a ripple effect that spreads through our entire personhood. The abuse alters the way we see ourselves, others, God, and life itself.”

Some effects of the abuse and unmet needs of childhood: lack of intimacy with my wife, attempt to be in control, lack of self-worth, maintaining silence about my needs and wants, not having a voice / speaking up for myself, sexual deviance. Somewhat related is a desire for a mother love and father love that I didn’t get. I will review these first few chapters again as they have hit so many nerves. I want to go more in depth and explore and identify them more fully.

Fears of Intimacy

(This post comes from a reader named Roger.)

Surviving sexual abuse left me confused about intimacy. I want it and need it, but it brings up so many negative things about physical touching and being pressured to surrender my body in ways I didn't understand and seems so closely related to what should normally happen when two people love each other.

What happens if I meet someone else with the same issues? What happens if I meet someone with normal feelings about this who becomes hurt and confused by my reactions?

This has been a painful struggle for my wife and me. She tends to interpret my reactions as negative toward her. That colors the rest of our interactions, making honest communication difficult at best, grossly misunderstood at worst. We both end up feeling rejected by the other.

It takes patience, understanding, and a desire to fight through the fears of rejection to learn how to approach each other lovingly. Those aren't traits my parents gave me. They are traits that I'm desperately trying to develop and, with God’s help, I may master someday.

My wife finds it difficult to understand that I love her and yet at times can appear inept at showing it. Lies and fears are chains forged long ago that take time and effort to replace with honesty, truth, and trust.

Why can’t I just get over it? Maybe because it's not a broken bone that needs healing; it's a broken soul. That healing may take some time. A wounded soul or a broken spirit can't be placed in a cast for six weeks and be good as new. It's complicated by the deep infection of a fallen nature, which only God can deal with.

As the serenity prayer goes, "God, Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and wisdom to know the difference."

My Sorrow Seems to Hang Around

(This poem comes from a reader named Joseph.)

I grow old outside;
but deep inside I’m still that five-year-old
who needs to crawl into Daddy’s arms
and know I’m safe and loved.

It’s not his fault.
He died before I was born.

After church, I see the boy run to his daddy
who stoops down to catch him in his arms
both laughing at the joy of being held.
Arms around Daddy’s neck,
the boy nuzzles his head on love’s shoulder.

Sorrow disintegrates me.

Unhugged
unwanted
ignored
I lived abandoned in our house.

One day in the men’s room at the park,
a fatherly man reached for me
touched me
made me feel wanted.
I did not know I was abused, that he was perverse;
we briefly met each other’s twisted needs.

I searched for other father-substitutes,
found public men’s rooms where they waited,
accepted their minutes of pseudo-love,
then watched them hurry out when they were done with me

A starving child will eat from any garbage can.