Male Childhood Sexual Abuse: Suffering in Silence

Feb 3rd, 2012 | By | Category: All Posts, Guest Blog

by Gordon DeLand

I have been silenced, me and my trouble.

I first silenced myself in shame, not even knowing exactly why, but somehow… it was wrong, what had just happened. And I knew it. I looked for a friend but got something else. The trust I had put in him had been violated, shattered. I was pretty sure it was wrong, but there was no one to ask without shaming myself for “not knowing better” It was just a vague feeling then, but it needed a private answer and there was no one to ask. So I silenced The Question. Thus The Silence began.

Then my abuser said, “Don’t tell.” We both knew what had happened. But both of us—my abuser and I— had The Question. But it was a hard question, hard to figure out what the question really was, too hard to figure out the answer alone, and it was too shameful to ask anyone else about. So my abuser told me what he told himself: “Just shut up about this—tell no one.”

Finally, I felt so much shame and guilt that I finally did go ask. I asked someone in charge of me, asked The Question, or what I thought was the question: Was it okay doing that? But when I asked, they did not know the answer, and more than that, they were shocked at the very asking of The Question and the questions that The Question brought up. I was told to be silent. Or that I was wrong, it couldn’t have happened, could it? Or at very least, be very quiet about it now.

So, there! I knew I was right. What I had done was something bad! Now I knew. What a relief! Except that, now, I was bad. Asking the Question had proved that. And now it was my responsibility to maintain The Silence about the bad thing I had done. Telling would not help, I knew that now for sure. And telling more people now—any other people—would also be bad, just like my abuser said it would be. The abuser was right. I was wrong. And I was the bad one for trying to tell. Bad, stupid me. And The Silence got stronger.

But there was hope: I could be a good boy, a big boy, by keeping The Secret and The Silence.

And life went on. The abuse went on, too, although we didn’t call it that. We were friends. Nothing violent or hurtful. Just Special Friends. There were times in between abuse when I could forget and just be a good, big boy and do my duty to not tell. Then more abuse and again I was a good quiet, obedient boy for my abuser, even though I knew that, somehow, pretty sure, less sure, that this was bad. And The Silence grew again.

Then the day came that Someone Else found out about us and the abuse stopped. No more being good for my abuser even if it was wrong and even if I was bad for doing it. The Someone Else who found out made us stop. They told, but they didn’t keep telling because it was nasty, dirty and bad. And no one wanted to hear that. And soon everyone forgot about the whole thing. Everyone but me.

And two things happened. First, I didn’t get to be with my abuser anymore, and the sudden, complete separation from the only one I dared be close with made me think maybe this would happen to anybody I got close to. Second, there were some new rules. First New Rule: No getting close to anyone sexually. Maybe when I was older, or married, they said. But not now. So I figured, no friends allowed (what other way of being close was there?).

I was told boys don’t do that kind of stuff with boys. It was nasty, dirty and bad. So, Second New Rule, one I thought up all by myself: Since boys don’t do that, and since I did do that, I was not really a boy. Not a girl, for sure. But not a boy. BOYS don’t do what I did. So…I wasn’t sure what I was, but not a boy or girl. And whatever I was, I was nasty, dirty and bad. 

Also, I was told boys don’t do that kind of stuff with boys. It was nasty, dirty and bad. So, Second New Rule, one I thought up all by myself: Since boys don’t do that, and since I did do that, I was not really a boy. Not a girl, for sure. But not a boy. Boys don’t do what I did. So…I wasn’t sure what I was, but not a boy or girl. And whatever I was, I was nasty, dirty and bad. And The Silence and the shame and guilt and confusion grew.

Steadily, slowly, they expanded as I got older and my own world expanded. My guilt and shame were always there for me, familiar, comfortable. And they and the confusion always expanded to fill whatever new experiences I had, experiences that made me grow up and out of childhood. Grow up into…what? Good question. Into what? Manhood? I knew I was different because I had not been a boy. So, now, how could I be a man? Not a girl, not a woman, for sure. But what, then? Very confusing. And no one to ask. So I kept silent. And The Question still remained.

And besides, I should be able to answer all these questions for myself by now, for god sake! I’m an adult! And who cares anyway? It was a long time ago. The other guy is dead now, even. Forget it. Shut up. Keep silent. Please.

“Please, please, please! Just SHUTUPaboutit! For god sake just shut up!” That’s what I kept telling myself.

But as an adult, the day came that someone found out about me. What I thought I had hidden so well, for so long, all came out.

It happened a little at a time at first and then more and more, faster and faster. This person kept finding out things about me. They found out that it was me who had been abused, not the other guy. They found out that it wasn’t something I asked for—it was plain, simple Male Childhood Sexual Abuse. And they found out that it wasn’t my fault, that I was a victim. And then they did the one thing they promised never to do: They told The Secret. They told on me. They told the worst possible person they could tell, too. They told ME.

Yes, the person who told, was the same person being told on. I told on me, to me. I quit lying to myself and told myself The Truth. I quit lying about the abuse, that it didn’t happen, that it didn’t matter, that it couldn’t have been me that it happened to, that it was all my fault, that I asked for it. I quit lying that I was the nasty, dirty bad not-boy who was responsible for it all.

And in the end, I listened to myself. And I believed.

Now that you’ve heard my experience and thoughts about this, I’d love to hear yours. Please comment below and don’t forget to subscribe to the comments so you can continue to partake in the discussion.

Recommended Posts:
Dead Silence: Killing My Voice
Why Do I Need to Tell?
The Secret Abuse My Abuse I Was Too Ashamed to Tell
Forgetting About Abuse: Who Does That Really Serve?
Forget About It

It has been only the last six years that Gordon DeLand has actively addressed the fact that he is, indeed, a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. In that time, one of his main passions has become writing about his journey of healing and helping others who are on that same journey. Gordon is a semi-retired “jack-of-all-trades” ranging from pastor to plumber and resides outside of Dallas, Texas.

 

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61 comments
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  1. Gordon,
    I can relate to the silence and the shame surrounding the silence. It MUST be bad if nobody talks about it. I’m so glad more and more male and female abuse survivors are talking about sexual abuse now. It was something done TO us and we don’t have anything to be ashamed of. Thank you so much for sharing so openly.
    Christina

  2. Gordon,

    Thank you so much for posting it really helped. And made some of it make sense. I think I also need to tell.
    Thank you once again!

  3. Hi Gordon,
    Wow, I can really relate to this! I remember the day that I realized what happened to me was wrong. I was in my 40′s. I sat there stunned repeating over and over “that happened to me” “it was wrong” “that happened to ME and it was wrong”. I was not the one who was wrong and I finally knew it. My whole life changed for the better and forever with that simple truth. I love how you show how hard it was for you to admitt even to yourself what happened. It was like that for me too.
    I am so glad that you are writing about this very important part of the process of healing.
    Hugs, Darlene

  4. Gordon,

    Wow! This brings so much truth. I could actually see myself in this position. Bad girl! No one to tell and don’t tell. It’s so real to me as a survivor.

    Thank you so much for this. I appreciate you sharing your thoughts as a child of abuse and as a man of abuse. It’s so dang complicated to try and figure out as a child turning into an adult. A secret is a secret and being kept a secret is the worst secret of all. Wonderful. Thanks again, Patty

  5. Thanks, all.
    It was a hard piece to write, for me, as well. So many years packed into so few paragraphs. Originally, I actually had to write it as ‘we’, not “I” to get through it. The ‘edit’ to make it about only myself brought more tears, depression and loneliness than I would like to admit. But it was a ‘good thing’ in the end.
    I hope now it can help others do the same: Break the silence, beginning with yourself.
    Thanks for the opportunity.
    Gordon

  6. Thank you for this Gordon. It really helps to have another man speaking up about all this. It’s not something that only hurts women, it can feel that way though when men keep silent about it.

  7. SO true, Jack. when I first ‘understood’ what had happened to me –NOT what i DID– back in 1997, there was very little in the way of support or literature. And I literally had NO ONE to lean on. I got two booklets, one from Radio Bible Class “When Trust is Broken” and one from a local ‘drug/alcohol’ council. Hence the long wait from then til six years ago when I began in terror (literally) to search the internet for something, somewhere, some ONE to help me out. I did find that help, tho, and now I want to pass it on.

  8. I very, very, very much relate. You are brave. Grateful that you have found your voice and such support.

  9. Thank you lisa. It’s taken a while to get here, but ‘here I am’! Brave… or a little foolhardy! lol! Never, never don’t Tell, though. The shame and guilt bleed their strength when we are stronger than them and simply “tell on them”.

  10. Gordon, I am proud of your bravery to tell this to others and proud of your honesty so others can see and feel truth maybe for the first time themselves. Keep crusading! There is much healing and freedom to be had!

  11. Gordon, Thank you thank you thank you! Not just you but the other comments. I was 51 and got into a 12 step program, Celebrate Recovery. There I found the forgiveness and healing. I no longer had to live with the shame & guilt that I carried for all of my life. It was not my fault! I am not guilty because of something some one did to me! To set the captive free and realize I was the captive!

  12. Yes Gordon, very well done , You speak for many of us. Part of the shame we humans carry has much to do about uniqueness. We really feel we are the only ones that could have experienced abuse in such a way.How bad can we be if no one else has ever experienced it. We have often heard the phrase that we are as sick as out secrets and that hit home for me years ago in recovery. Anything we hide just makes it more heinous and keeps us emotionally , spiritually and psychologically ill.

    I too recall vividly as a boy of 5-6 years old the shame I felt and intrinsically new I could tell no one. Here we are, poor little victims in a fallen world and we feel absolutely alone. And so I carried my pain for some 45 years until it all came to a head as my painkillers no longer worked to subdue the ghosts.It was then and only then that I could re parent the child within and be his protector instead of another abuser, and shed the terrible shame that says, we not only did badly but we are bad. And so it is often the case that we must suffer much pain to get to where we can open up. But by the grace of God we do heal and we find that there is nothing new under the sun that hasnt been done to someone and our uniqueness in that sense goes away. when it comes to abuse we share with much of mankind and the abuse of the woman is similar to the mans in that we all suffer terribly.But by our courage to share our story, we help others to share as well and allow them to join humanity.and maybe start the healing journey long before we did. Blessings to all the innocent souls who have been harmed but can also heal and pay it forward.

  13. Well done gordon!!!Such courage and strength to face our demons.I didn’t start to talk about my abuse untill I was 27.A child pornography sex ring,with all these crazy mind games and drugs.I though I was going mad when it all first came out.20 yrs later I’m still in therapy.the impact abuse has apon us is devestating,confusing and spiritually heartbraking.There is hope.after all we survived!!!What doesn’t destroy us only makes us stronger.Good luck on your journey.and to all those other xsurvivors…Talk talk talk.

  14. Angela,
    Thanks for your kind comments. Brave and honest… hard won and partial tho they seem to me, I hope, along with you, that someone ‘yet to come’ will see this and be set free.
    Thanks again.

  15. Terie,
    You are very welcome, from all of us here. Amazing, isn’t it? That those three words, “It was me” can be so freeing, as we acknowledge what we actually, truly received! And equally amazing, “It wasn’t my fault”, the shedding of the self-imposed guilt and shame. And as you say, the setting free after all those years. It is indeed a “Jubilee”. Pass along this hope, point anyone you might know to this site and never stop ‘telling’!
    Gordon

  16. Earl,
    Friend and brother, good to hear from you! It means a lot to hear your words about the piece. Glad it meant something good to someone like you. Here’s hoping this will, in some small way, pay forward and shorten the time in pain for someone who is still in that prison of guilt and shame. Blessings, bro!

  17. I have been dealing with my abuser for the past 2 yrs. When he told me “Don’t tell no one!” I began to stutter! Now that I put that behind me my goal now is to get rid of the scar which is the Stuttering!

  18. Hi Gordon,

    Thank you sharing your story and not being silent any longer. I too was sexually abused as a child and have kept silent for thirty plus years but no more. I grew up on the suburbs of Washington, DC to an alcoholic and abusive (physical and emotional) father. Not able or wanting a relationship with my own father, I would leave my home on the weekends often riding around my neighborhood looking for friends or anyone who would pay attention to a money kid. On one particular Saturday, I woke up and walked out into the kitchen and noticed the bottle of “Jim Bean” out on the counter. I knew once I saw the liquor out, I too had to leave my own house.

    While riding my bike throughout my neighborhood, I met my abuser. He was not a “child molester”, he did not fit the image I always thought a child molester looked liked. No long trench coat, no hat, just a nice guy who talked to me about the things I was interested in, scouts, football, trail bikes. For months I was trained like one who trains a puppy. That “grooming period” laid the foundation of our trust and silence. For the next three years I gave back to him what I thought was love and friendship. Everytime I left his house, I was always reminded “its our secret”. He knew I would not tell anyone, if I did my father would have physically beaten me, my friends would have teased me and most important to me, I would have disappointed my mother.

    For years I never thought about my relationship with my prep as abuse. He provided me with love and attention. Today, like so many other survivors I suffer from depression, PTSD, anxiety, isolation and marriage problems. But yet there is a part of me that still owes my prep a “thank you” for taking an interest in me. But as an adult, I realize I was simply his “special boy” for his own sick encounters.

    I can not be silent no more and I can no longer keep my promise.

  19. Gordon I have been trying to make contact with you for a long time please e mail me, Phil

  20. Welcome Gordon! I praise you for your strength in sharing your story.

  21. Thank you so much for your courage in sharing your story with us. I wish you all the best in your healing. I wish you peace and contentment in your life. By sharing, you have opened the door for other males. They, too, need help to come and speak about themselves and what they’ve been through. They need to know they aren’t alone and it was never their fault. You are to be admired for doing so. I know it had to be difficult. I wish you many blessings in your life. And healing in your heart.

  22. chris,
    It is always amazing what ‘telling’ does. Just the freedom we finally feel is worth the pain of the revealing. The added benefits after that—and yes, some negative things that also come– make the pain that much more a ‘treasure’ rather than a liability. The scars don’t heal nearly as fast as we want, just like a physical one. Great analogy there. But Keep Telling man! Blessings on you.
    Gordo

  23. John Chapman,
    Good for you, to come to this point. I’m betting It has NOT been easy, even just to get to this point, and it is hard work from here out. I have said to myself, “All the good stuff is UPHILL from here” but the climb is worth it and there is no ‘bus’. DO tell! Let it be HIS secret alone, not yours. And when there’s no one to tell, write it out! The act of ‘getting it outside my head’ by writing it out was, for me, a major step in breaking the power of my shame, by objectifying it. Hand back to him the shame and guilt that were originally his and need to belong to him alone, for him to deal with.
    Your affection for your abuser.. that is not abnormal at all, as far as I have heard. Not at all. Complicated, yes, but not abnormal. I have felt it myself. Not sure I have what it takes to speak any farther on that, but I know you are not weird to feel that, even when it’s mixed with hatred for him and what he did. We human beings are complicated! :)
    Keep in touch man, and if you can, find a group of men local to you or even online, with your similar history: “We” understand us far, far better than anyone else.
    Blessings on you and your journey,
    Gordo

  24. Ruth,
    Thank you so much. If it gives someone else the strength or courage to break the stranglehold of shame and false guilt, will be worth it all.

  25. Nancy,
    Thanks again for your thoughts and prayers.

  26. PHILLIP KING,
    Great to hear from you! Will be in touch. Hope all is well with you.
    Gordo

  27. Gordo,

    Thank you for your advise and message. I too speak to anyone who will listen to me. I have even adventured into a book deal with Dr. Williams, a psychologist who has treated many survivors himself. In the book we discuss my abuse and as a police detective who worked on-line children cases, the most interesting cases I worked and the toll it took on me. Finally, we end the book by informing readers of how to protect their children from predators and the last chapter we even have a 14 year old boy discussing his abuse and how he found the courage to break his silence. We are hoping the book goes to publishing in the spring.

    Like I said, I will not be silent anymore!

    John

  28. brdge h,
    I have heard stories like yours… makes me feel (sometimes) like “nothing” happened to me, but we both know better. SO good to hear from you and that you are still working on your recovery. And I agree, ti does make us stronger, even though, like ‘hard work and exercise’ it doesn’t seem so pleasant in the moment. I have come to see myself as being stronger for this… broken, mended and now stronger.
    And thanks for your encouragement!

  29. John,
    Congrats on the book. And for ‘breaking the silence’ whenever you can. I find that talking about my own abuse makes me ‘tired’, in a way that makes me wonder how a full-on book project would proceed. I can easily ‘fictionalize’ mine and go with it, but even now, six yrs into this, it is real work to ‘let it be me’ who was the victim, in public. DO keep us posted on the progress. It sounds like a very worthy idea.
    Gordo

  30. Thanks Gordon for sharing your story. It just goes to show how much we really don’t know about a person and their background. How much can be hidden underneath. How much someone can be struggling or even suffering with our being so oblivious to it. I’m so sorry this has happened to you! I can also see why many young boys who were sexually abused turn to homosexuality because of it. I’m glad you are now able to share so openly with others who have been likewise wounded. May God bless you and give you strength to move forward. My heart goes out to you and those who have left comments as well. Praying for you, Annette

  31. Thank You

  32. Annette and Randy,
    Yes, especially the ‘church’ crowd… we are SO good at putting on the Church Face etc and playing the proper part even when its merely playing. America seems so ‘safe’ from such stuff and yet I think stats would prove otherwise. Makes me wonder how it is ‘by yous guys’: surely no more ‘acceptable’ to admit or talk about it and yet the chaos –I’m thinking–would make it just as probable there as here. I still wonder how to bring the subject up “in church” in a non-sensational way.
    My own thots on the link between sexual abuse and homosexuality have changed some. I think abuse could contribute to that (I will get hate mail for saying that!) but i think there is much more that goes into it. The ‘aftercare’ given the boys (and girls) can make a huge difference. A solid explanation (Biblical and social) of “The Question” I wrote about, given in a matter of fact way, would go a long, long way to de-fusing the desire. My Opinion on that, of course.

    The one book I would recommend for older men seeking to recover is by Mike Lew, “Victims No Longer.” It is very, very powerful.

    Hey, thanks for your concern. It’s been only six years ‘working’ on this, seems like six hundred some days. It has gotten a LOT better for me, although somewhat rough on me and those close to me. But as you well know, change is always painful and usually messy. AND worth it. Later. :)

  33. Emmy,
    You are very welcome. Hope you find it a help.

  34. Gordon,

    Thank you for posting this. As a survivor myself I can definitely relate to the feelings of shame, blaming yourself for what happened, and feeling like you have to remain silent. The silence is the worst part. It eats at you from the inside. I was sexually assaulted (attempted rape really) by a girlfriend I had when I was 8 (she was the same age) and I stayed silent about it for 3 years. During that time I was crying myself to sleep several nights a week, also was having intense recurring nightmares where masked gunmen would break into my bedroom, empty their guns into me, and I’d arise bullet-ridden to pummel them to unconsciousness before they could reload. After a lot of time looking back at those dreams I figured out that they were the “bad men” whom I had assumed had naturalized my then girlfriend to sex at such a young age, but I don’t know for sure and I’ve been very nervous to search for the reason she did it. And while I kept that secret inside me I was literally erasing memories from my childhood (there’s not much in that 3 year period that I remember unfortunately).

    But I went through high school and almost all the way through college without really delving into the flashbacks, the anxiety, the self-destructive coping mechanisms (that never worked but instead only made life more stressful), having recurring daydreams where I’d see myself die (to the point where I became numb to it) and eventually what I had diagnosed as PTSD. My relationships suffered in the meantime, as did my grades, and things were spiraling out of control until I was urged by several friends to speak at a survivor/sexual assault prevention event on campus. When I wrote down what had happened in 2008 for the first time, 14 years after the event, I just couldn’t stop giggling…it was the weirdest thing. It was literally a giggle that I had suppressed for more than a decade, and it was such a relief to have my account of what happened on paper. Oddly enough when I read the speech in front of 250 people, I was the calmest I had ever been, as if I’d memorized the speech or something, it was very eerie. Telling people what had happened to me was far more restorative than I could have ever imagined. Of course therapy (x3 thus far) has helped too, but I never would have even gotten there if I’d never been able to tell people about what happened.

    So thank you Gordon. Your bravery is truly inspiring, and I hope your post is able to get other survivors to tell their stories too, because that’s when the healing begins.

    In the healing movement for the long haul with you. :-)
    ~Nigel

  35. So Awesome Gordon to find such courage..
    Every time I tell my stories of my own personal abuse the weight of it’s impression leaves me… To keep it inside us does nothing but destroy us but sharing empowers us together.
    Sexual abuse can happen anywhere and anytime.
    I have told myself many times and continue to live by the truth that the abuse stands alone as an act of itself.
    “I am not the abuse that has been done to me”
    I am responsible to heal the abuse as I do with myself physically with medicine and TLC.
    The more we know the more we are responsible in setting it free to not live inside us rent free.
    You will inspire so many. I just have a good feeling :)
    Suzanne

  36. It is a help because recently I’ve written about some of my own past abuses and the courage to share is leaving me day by day I need to do it and your strength is encouraging, I am living with PTSD and secondary PTSD and currently learning from another survivor with PTSD about exposure therapy, and what it entails, it is interesting to me and I’m thankful someone can explain it to me first hand it seems like a great way to get past some of my triggers….eventually.

  37. Nigel.
    Thank you for sharing your own story. How very many would discount the incident for various reasons, and yet, we know it was not a ‘small thing’ at all. It is good to tell, isn’t it? The giggling, i fully understand. The pure joy of the freedom to no longer have to keep a ‘bad’ secret’ is indeed pure joy. I can also identify with your calm before a crowd. Honestly, answering the comments in person, face-to-face, has been far harder than typing them out on a screen. I think Its the distance I can put between my vulnerable physical self and the others when there is no ‘body’ there to deal with. After that, public speaking and writing are a whiz!

    Thanks again for your kind words, and cudos for your own courage to share your story here. Together, we can make a huge light in the darkness of this world.
    Blessings,
    Gordo

  38. Suzanne,
    That is a great way to say it–”I am not the abuse”.
    For so long We were boxed, labeled and put on a shelf by people who had no personal love or care for us beyond what we could do for them. And we took that as our total or main identity.

    Having told the secret, having answered the question, and now, beginning to trust others again–yes, with fear, often–I have found a HUGE world out there full of things I like to do, skills I want to gain and can gain because now there is someone to give me permission to be something more than what I was told I was–and for me, what I was told I was NOT.That someone is, of course, that same me who told on me. And therein is the personal responsibility for our own recovery.

    Thank you so much for your insight and encouragement.
    Gordon.

  39. Emmy,
    I know what you mean by triggers! The first time i realized what had happened to me was my first trigger. I was so petrified and almost overwhelmed (I was alone in my office, alone in the building!) I had to immediately just find a human. The second time was almost as bad and to this day I do not fully know why it triggered me. I have learned–as I am sure you are now learning–to recognize them for what they are when they happen and how to “slow it down” to your own speed etc. and so be able to maintain some kind of calm.

    It’s great to hear back from you. Keep writing about your abuse, even if it means ‘making a story out of it’ rather than just ‘recording the facts’. Getting it out on paper is such a positive, powerful thing for us all. To make it ‘objective’ instead of merely ‘subjective’– to make it stand on its own as someone else here said–that is a very powerful part of healing.

    Thanks for sharing, stay strong, and be brave even when it’s scary–those two always go together!
    Gordo

  40. I escaped bullying and emotional abuse after ten years’s torture and mental anguish. I feel free and happier now but somehow cannot find my voice speaking out because I am still in fear of stalking . Or because I’m ashamed of what happened? Maybe both. My soul is screaming for help but my no word is uttered. I’ve been frozen in despair and traumas. Deep inside I still have hope that my future will be much better than my past because I am the winner, the survivor. If I’ve to speak out to get out to get healed, who would believe me? Good people would not believe evil exists!

  41. Sylvia — Your “Voice” will come with use. Write out what happened, one incident at a time. Write to get it outside of you. If it helps, write it out and burn the paper up that you wrote it on. Whatever helps to remind you that ‘it’ is not ‘you’. It is merely part of the whole, beautiful person you are becoming.

    This writing and telling is hard work, painful work. But very very healing work!
    Keep the Good Work going, Sylvia! And the rewards will accumulate to you.
    Blessings,
    Gordo

  42. Gordon,
    I have intended to contact you for some time now , but just couldn’t bring myself to. It is so odd that tonight of all nights, I was looking up people i knew on Facebook, and there was the link to your story. How brave you are to publish it with your name. I, too, was abused as a child. It began when I was 5-ish. It first was a hired man of my dad’s. It happened in our barn – he was a dirty old man, but I can remember his yellow, nicotine stained fingers inside of me. It continued throughout various times in my life. When I was in 6th grade, it was my brother. My mom had gone away for school (6 – 8 wks). I was left in charge to take care of the house – cooking, cleaning,shopping and laundry for my dad, 2 brothers, and 1 or 2 hired men as well as go to school – a lot for any 12 yo. They always said that my brother was “a little slow”, so when it began, I thought that it was my fault. Although I was 4 years younger, I was smarter so I should know better, besides it felt good and I am ashamed to say, I asked for it sometimes! My GOD! I was and still am heavy… I have been eating for years trying to keep people away… I have endured laughs, taunts and snickers all my life because I feel I deserve the humiliation…I am no good…damaged…unlovable…stay away. I have been in therapy for years and at some level, I know I am not to blame, but in my heart – I can’t. I have a quote that goes “My head says “I don’t care”, but my heart whispers “stupid, yes you do”. I tried to do normal things, dated a guy in college and experienced what now days would be considered “date rape”, I went to the counselling center and was told that “he must of cared for me because he used a condom” I moved away and gave my heart and body foolishly away – he lied to me (isn’t that what they do?) I found that he had been to prison – he stole from me and even tried to “sell” me to a new immigrant so he could get his green card ( fortunately or unfortunately, I was to pregnant to coincide with his “dates” in this country. I have come back home, I have raised a daughter and two grandsons, but history repeats. My daughter has been abused by my same brother (of which she rightfully blames me – I knew!, but I can’t make her understand that I DIDN’T know – I hadn’t admitted it to myself yet. Now we are in the throes of CPS as the older boy has initiated and the younger reciprocated oral sex. I was also recently “felt up” in my own home by a man I thought I knew (married) that I had hired to do some work for me. But I have also been surprised of the old classmates that have reached out to me through Facebook and Classmates.com. How do you learn to begin to get self worth? My biggest regret in life is that I have never experienced a truly loving, sexual relationship. Diane

  43. Diane, I think you are extraordinarily brave.

  44. I am so sorry you had to go through all this. I read a book by an author I know called ‘organ lessons about a priest who continuously abused this boy. It is quite graphic but it shows how shared the perpetrators are to gain trust at first. It was an eye opener for me. Stay strong.
    Irene

  45. Diane,
    You are on the right track. Sharing this with us, is a way of validating yourself. Unfortunately, I share your experience about my own children being abused by my father, before I actually ‘remembered. I still feel guilty, but I did not do this ibtentionally and neither did you. It took me years before I knew ‘in my heart’ it was not my fault. I think when you reach this mark there will be such a freedom you’ll feel. Keep on going. You are worth it!,
    Irene

  46. Gordon,
    I am always thankful that another man has shared his stuff. It is vitally important to talk and share, especially we men, we have a few extra bells and whistles added with regards to opening ourselves up to our truth. Sharing our truth is scary because we have, as men, been conditioned to ‘be strong’ and ‘don’t cry’.
    The silence is deadly and so dibilitating for us in each person’s unique way. I kept quiet for many many wasted years.
    It is getting better but men’s stuff is now getting the attention we need. This is in no way putting men above women, we all get abused, it is in fact bringing men’s stuff upto the same level of knowing as women’s stuff. We men spend too much time worrying about what other men will think when a lot of the men will also be thinking similar thoughts.
    We need to allow ourselves to be open and vulnerable, surrender to it and then start the road to recovery. Not be the victim, be the survivor.
    Well done.
    Tim

  47. Hi Gordon et al. Thank you for posting all of this about your lives and your journeys, and for giving me a place to ask some important questions on behalf of my dear friend.

    I am an American living in Turkey and I don’t know how to help my friend M. Therapy is a luxury in Turkey and good therapy something only the very wealthy have access to, not poor farmers. Maybe you can point me in the right direction regarding how to help as a friend. I am very aware this can be very volatile and that I am not a therapist.

    My friend M is 24 – will be 25 next month – and he suffers from bouts of depression and hopelessness, and what I call fatalism, the deeply ingrained notion that he is powerless to change his circumstances and then giving in to them however undesirable they are.

    M started out as a private English student of mine. I am an older male and openly gay. After months of a developing friendship, he suggested we move in together. I thought it was a fine idea but felt I needed to be open with him about my sexual orientation so there would be no surprises later. If he needed to back out, I needed to know. He ccepted my gay orientation with relative ease, saying he never suspected. But he also said he respected people as individuals and wanted me to promise him one thing – that I respect him also and never hit on him for sex because, he said, he was straight and had no interest in having a sexual relationship or encounter with me. I reminded him that we had already known each other for half a year and I hadn’t hit on him, and he hadn’t even suspected I was gay. I assured him I would not hit on him.

    The first night in to our new apartment he displayed a total change of personality at bedtime. He climbed out of his bed, crossed the room to my bed, pulled back my covers and in a little boy’s sweet voice asked me if I wanted to fool around with him. He was so boyish and playful that I was taken aback. I asked him where this was coming from – “I thought you said you were straight?” – and he said it was ‘just for fun and not serious’. All the while in the little boyish voice with the twinkling eyes and smile. It was not until months later that I began to suspect that this sudden little boyishness was a throw back to an earlier behavior in his childhood – possibly. At the time I just though he was being playing and exhibiting a side of his personality that I’d never seen before.

    We proceeded to have sex regularly for the next five months, but always under circumstances that he control, when he wanted, and in ways that left me feeling out in the cold because he was never emotionally available in bed, whereas outside of bed he declared he truly loved me and that I was the most important friend in his life. All of that affection was absent in bed. The hugs and caresses and kisses on my cheeks and neck and forehead never once happened in bed. Just mechanical functioning. Getting off. For him. My heart was confused.

    He also quite often displayed a very disconcerting emotional distance, as if he wasn’t in the same room with me or if I didn’t exist in his world. That and bouts of anger when I expressed my emotional needs and asked about why he was so distant in the bedroom. I mean ANGER. At 24.

    Long before I met his grandfather I suspected that M might well be a victim of childhood sexual abuse. Last August I met his grandfather on the family’s farm, and have been in the grandfather’s company with M, many many times since then. Not a visit goes by when the grandfather does not reach over and grab my M’s penis and testicles and grope and squeeze or pat them. He does this in front of me – M’s friend – and in front of the rest of the family, including my M’s mother and father and his 14 year old nephew. I often see the grandfather eyeing M’s crotch with great interest, as if waiting for an opportune time to touch him again. M simply flicks his grandfather’s hand away as if it were a bothersome fly and no more, and he keeps on talking as if nothing has happened.

    It was in August that M moved out of our apartment and returned to his family’s farm, where his grandfather is the next door neighbor. This was also when our uneasy sexual relationship ended.

    One evening recently M was complaining to me about his life again – the unhappiness, the depression, the sense of hopelessness and never being able to get ahead. He has been telling about this for over a year now. That along with the reminder that his family has lots of problems, more problems than he can even talk about, and that his whole life is circumscribed by the problems in his family. So having listened to this over and again for so long, and having observed the grandfather’s open invasion of M’s space and integrity, I finally asked M:

    “Why does your grandfather grope you like he does? How long has he been doing this to you? Why do you allow it to continue – why don’t you tell him no? If you were married and a father, would you allow him to continue to grope you in front of your wife and children too?”

    I asked these questions because I see a clear connection between this free for all groping and M’s sense of powerlessness and his depression. I am a former public school teacher and I know that often kids who have been molested lose their self-esteem and with it their motivation and sense of hope. They don’t even know why. I also know I am not a therapist and am therefore reluctant to meddle with soemthing that is beyone my ability to address with any realistic sufficiency. But this is Turkey, deep in the countryside, and M has no other access to therapy where he lives with his large family on their farm.

    His reaction to my questions was an extremely angry one and he warned me never to talk to him about it again. He said that since I was not his wife or child I needn’t worry about how he’d handle his grandfather’s groping. He also said I had a “dirty mind” for bringing such a question up and called it “American nonsense”. I tried to explain my rationale for asking but he wouldn’t hear it. I told him it was not nonsense but something about which scores of books and studies had been written, and something for which millions of people sought therapy. He stuck to his version of things: that I had a dirty mind and was talking American nonsense.

    He has not spoken to me since. For a full year and more he has called me his best friend in life, and taking that seriously I felt it was my duty to shed some light on what may be at the root of his problems. He doesn’t talk to me now as a result. I believe that he feels he must protect his grandfather as the family patriarch (very important in Turkey where honor is everything, no matter what). Despite telling me countless times that his family life was troubled and also complicated by so many problems, he want to protect the status quo there.

    Was I way off to inquire? I did so as a friend. Not prying. Turkish culture not being my own, I’d already kept my mouth “respectfully” shut since last August. Finally last week I broached the subject. He flew into a serious fit of anger and then shut down – and shut me out.

    I have not even mentioned M’s behavior with his 14 year old nephew, also right before my eyes. Massages that lead to both having erections, ‘cuddling’ under cover in bed with hands caressing and lips kissing, and again both emerging from bed with erections that clearly indicate mutual arousal. This happens when I am present. It begs the question, What more goes on when I am not there? Between 14 and 24 there is a serious age difference. I get the feeling that for M this behavior is seen as normal, something he doesn’t question, and this is why he says that “I” have a dirty mind.

    Advice?

    Madhu

  48. please correct typos:

    my M / my M’s = M / M’s [I had original written "my friend" then later decided on M, but forgot to delete the 'my']

    At the time I just though he was being playing = thought / playful

    We proceeded to have sex regularly for the next five months, but always under circumstances that he control = controlled

    etc

    Also, I would like to add, while this is obviously blatantly inappropriate behavior for us in the West, I have been unclear about cultural differences and how to gauge what is and what isn’t ‘abuse’. It’s not at all that I ignored what I saw going on. Obviously not since I did address it. But the how and when to address it was unclear. I finally did address it and the result is that I may have lost my friend. I can live with that loss if he in turn can really utilize at my questions to wake himself up – in time – and examine why I asked and see the connection to his unhappiness and despair.

  49. Tim Holmes,
    I apologize for not checking more recently for comments here! I am glad to hear from you! “deadly and so debilitating” is exactly what my silence was. It was only 6 years ago that I dared began to really speak out about it and the change in my–according to others–has been huge. As in Robert Bly’s “Iron John”, I have become somewhat of a Hairy Man, no longer the boy prince. NOT everyone is happy about that, of course! But OH! the freedom! Yes, Speak Out. The website above, Psalm85Ministries.com, is an outgrowth of this freedom-sharing effort. Yeah, pretty much a shameless plug there! ;) But then, shamelessness is a good thing, in this process!

    Blessings on you bro! Keep in touch.
    Gordo

  50. Madhu
    Yours is indeed a difficult situation. To care about someone who seems to be both victim and victimizer, who seems to be suffering but unwilling to admit it has a cause–these are your pains.

    But the key to this is just that: YOUR pains. Until your friend sees them with open eyes as HIS pains, he can never begin–much less complete–any healing or improvement.

    I would agree with you that he is suffering from depression that is produced from past anger over his boundaries being disregarded. But as one proverb says, “Do not try to push the river; it must flow at its own speed,” so also, do not try to push this friend to ‘admit’ abuse. In any society, it is the individual who must make his own decision, no matter how much the larger group influences that decision.

    You are indeed in a difficult emotional place. Take care of yourself as well. Losing a friend, while in a foreign country, can be very stressful.

    Blessings on your goodness of heart for your friend.
    Gordo

  51. Good to see all commenting. just a couple of thoughts I have.

    Culture can really assist in the confusion in a persons understanding . Weatern culture is very different from others. I understand in some eastern culturs it is customary for men to have sex with boys when not wanting to procreate with their wifes. In light of this it would be very difficult for an abused child to even reconize abuse as we know it in other parts of the world. I am grateful that in the United States abuse is well defined as per law and the Christian faith . My only guidelines are based on that faith and helps me sort out all other issues in life. Prayer and faith have a very comforting affect for me and helped me so much in my journey of healing of abuse , depression and hopelessness as a child. My silence for years had much to do with the male ego and an ubbringing that seldom addressed any emotional issues. I have learned much in my journey about myself and though it was a hard ,often tearful journey I thank God for the healing. I learned that emotions that are buried alive always scratch there way to the surface and I believe it is our sunconscience prompting us to deal with it., like with some depressions it is a sign that something needs to change and change is painful ,even when it is a good change .Such toxic emotions that we carry from abuse actually harm us physically as each thought that we have releases certain chemicals, either good or bad ones depending on the thoughts. For instance , science has shown that fear , all on it’s own, triggers more than 1400 known physical and chemical responses and activates more than 30 different hormones. So our thinking and emotions can make us sick and we benefit when we deal with them and begin healing.Our body, mind and spirit all work together to make us healthy and whole . I was able to get some good counseling along the way as it is better if we have someone who knows the situation. This dialog here is a great source as we see we are no longer alone and we can see that healing is possible and we can all find joy and peace in this life. Sharing our stories with others in a safe place can to much for the soul. Blessings to all.

  52. Earl,
    “emotions that are buried alive always scratch there way to the surface ”
    What a great picture of what happens when we bury our abuse! So they did with me, too. I didn’t know all the medical stuff, just that I was ‘gonna die’ if I didn’t tell someone. Not physically die, but rather emotionally … explode. The counselor helped me a tremendous amount but there was a chat group that helped almost as much! It let me see that I was indeed NOT the only one, and that there were men out there that would accept me after all this, and not only accept me but help me and care about me! What a blessing!
    I hope you, Earl, and anyone else here can get that same help and peace of heart and mind that I got from telling and being accepted.
    (((Safe Hugs)))
    Gordon

  53. Thx for sharing Gordon. And others. I read some of the comments. Still processing, kinda at a loss for words but glad to see you giving voice to what we often don’t know how to talk about.

  54. Hello:I am certain that the experiences of childhood sexual abuse are so similar for both boys and girls…what ever the differences we all had the confusions,the silencing,the shaming,the self blaming, being misunderstood,etc.
    i know that I was sexually abused when I was younger and yet because it has taken me so long to recall and get out of denial from being sexually assaulted when I was a teen,I guess it will take more time to remember all that happened earlier.
    i know that my whole world-reality changed from being one of daily adventure and joy and a general happiness as a preschooler to becoming a overly serious and proper girl.One who could no longer smile a natural smile.Now it was pasted on. When I was 4 the Smile was genuine. I pray that we all get back to our Original Self that could smile naturally and find Joy everyday because life is safe and generally a wonderment to live every day.Childhood abuse and secrecy Steals joy and Innocence and living Free.I pray that we shall all be restored to our previous joy-filled self…however,far back it is…may we all be restored to our God-given innocence.Facing the Truth that we are Not to blame and facing the truth that we did not cause this kind of betrayal.Adults are NOT supposed to use children for their own sexual pleasure…thsi is an abuse of power.Se is to be between two consenting adults.Period. Even if a child “enjoys” the sexual attention it was not correct to use that child for sexual interactions.Love is Kind.Love is patient. Love does NOT demand it’s own way…even a manipulation/grooming is still telling a child that they have no right to say No. I remember saying No to my uncle about playing a joke on my sister and I said No ,I don’t want to.Uncle didn’t care about my right to say No and he refused to acknowledge my saying No.Saying No didn’t count with him. He was going to do what He wanted to do.Wrong.Right then I was treated as an Object instead of a human being with the Right and power to say yes or Not of my own free will.They steal our innate ability to Say No and our instinct to say No to what we know to be wrong.
    enough said.God bless us everyone.Elizabeth

  55. I’m glad I found this page. Thank you all who have shared here. I struggle every day, but I’m not even sure why. I really believe I need to find out for sure one way or the other if I was really abused when I was a little boy. I have a vague recollection of a dream or maybe it really did happen I don’t know. All of my life since then has been increasingly difficult and I have made a real mess of it. I am in my late forties now and everyday I struggle with feelings of depression, anxiety, shame, self loathing and undeservedness. About a year ago, and after many years of trying to get up the courage to do it, I went to see a counselor. I told him the reason I was seeing him was because I wanted to find out once and for all if I really was abused. I’m almost embarrassed to say I was actually hoping to be hypnotized so that any forgotten or hidden memories might be brought out. I told him that I was never myself…that I was going through life putting on masks to deal with different people and situations. I am never my genuine self. I’m not even sure I know what that person looks like. He said “So what? Everybody does that.” I don’t think he really understood what I was saying. Eventually, he had me believing that I really didn’t need to know if it had happened of not. That I should proceed with my life as if it had happened and do whatever I thought I needed to do to feel better and live a happier life and for a while I thought I could do it…but I need to know. I just don’t know how to find out. Maybe I’m looking for something to blame for all the stupid things I’ve done in my life. I don’t know.

  56. Its never an easy step to talk about abuse as a male adult. I wasn’t able to talk about my abuses to anyone. I started a motorcycle club to help kids that were abused, my step daughter was the main reason initially. She had suffered by the hands of her biological father. After a couple of years being surrounded by member’s who gave these kids strength I wish I had during my 20′s and 30′s, I finally came out about my past. In detail. It was the hardest step I ever took in my life. Other members started to come out about their pasts, slowly, one by one we began to heal our souls. When we add a new member, we ask them why they want to help kids, none of their application statements ever said it was because of their abuses. Even with something as little as that we were still living with that judgement stigma.

    BAAK has become therapy for many of us, the strength of knowing you’re not alone is empowering. All those years living with the self doubt, fear of judgement, no one fully understanding the reasons for your ills or quirks or aggression and anger. Now I live my life without fear of who knows and don’t walk around with uncontrolled anger. It still surfaces, but I’m able to channel it into a positive most times. Except when it comes to dealing with abusers, those are the ones who will receive the direct rath of my past. That is the one thing I can’t let go of, adults who absolutely know right from wrong and choose wrong, they are the ones who need to live in fear now, we aren’t going away and the more we shed light on this subject, we are able to take control and power back. Much respect to all of you who posted here. “Dedicated to defending those who can’t defend themselves, and MERCILESS to those who offend them.” Rocker, co-founder, Bikers Against Abusing Kids Worldwide.

  57. Gordon

    Very powerful reading. You are a victor. I hope in helping to heal other children you can fully heal yourself.

    Thank you for sharing your story.

  58. Rodrigo,
    I am so sorry to hear about your session with the counselor. I am sadly surprised at his ‘answer’.to your desire to find out why you are always wearing masks. i don’t have the answer but you can be sure that YOU DO have the answer, somewhere inside you.
    There is always a ’cause’ for everything that goes on in a man’s life, a reason for each thing that is happening. It might be that the memories are so painful or so embarrassing, that your mind has sealed them off, just to keep you from the pain. if that is so, be sure that they will eventually come to the surface. Maybe visiting the places you grew up will ‘trigger’ a memory, a place to begin remembering. Often a smell from back then will. But I will gently tell you that, once the memories begin, there is not always a way to stop them. They can be very painful. Be sure you have a friend you can talk to about them, someone you can trust, someone you can ‘complain’ to and it will be OK with them.
    I have a website, http://www.Psalm85Ministries.com, with more information if you want to look there. It will show you how to contact me or several other people for more talk or help.
    God Bless you, brother. I apologize for not answering sooner. Be well and be kind to yourself.

  59. Zakk,
    I agree, it is very very hard to tell, as an adult male. It seems like admitting weakness and failure, expecting only rejection and more abuse. But how often that is NOT what happens! I’m VERY glad you found support in the group. How often it seems to me that we victims congregate and don’t even know why, Just that “invisible mark on the forehead” i used to say. Lol! I still don’t know what it is, but yes we find each other and help each other.
    Stay strong brother! There are lots more of us out there.
    Sorry I have been so tardy responding, been a little busy, but it’s great to hear from you.
    Thanks for posting.
    Gordo

  60. Natasha,
    Thank you for reading my story. If it helps even one victim, it will have been worth sharing for me. Thanks for the encouragement.
    Gordo

  61. Gordon,

    Thank you for sharing your story. I’ve only recently come to knowledge of the abuse I experienced. I’m almost 30 now and it happened when I was very young. I’ve had recurring dreams about my abuser for the past few years and only recently have acknowledged / understood them to be memories.

    I think what hit me most about your story was that it mattered, that what happened to you mattered. I’ve had a hard time with this. At first, I tried to just acknowledge it and move on like nothing had happened. Obviously, that didn’t work. After a few pendulum swings of acceptance and denial, I’ve come to a place where I’m committed to slowly and steadily facing what happened.

    Sometimes, it feels foolish and I feel stupid. Cognitively, I know that it matters, but emotionally I feel like I’m making a big deal out of nothing. It’s such a strange, frustrating, and awkward experience. It really helps to see someone else’s story and to know so clearly that what happened to them matters. It’s slowly helping me see my own experience differently. Thank you for sharing.

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