ON THIS PAGE
- Words of Caution
- Finding a Way Out
- The Perfect English Gentleman
- Steve’s Story
- Dennis’ Story
- Fred’s Story
- I Can Laugh and Sing Again!
- Jim W.’s Story
- Bob L.’s Story
On this page you can read brief stories written by men who had unwanted or abusive sexual experiences in childhood.
The authors of these stories share with you how they came out of isolation and silence to find help and healing.
The stories describe their experiences of:
- Finding people, therapists, groups, and organizations that help them recover and heal.
- How these healing relationships help them recover and transform their lives.
- If applicable, how struggles with their masculinity have been related to the healing process.
For men considering seeking help or beginning to do such work, these stories can be sources of guidance and hope.
For men further along in recovery, this page provides an opportunity to offer guidance and hope to many men around the world.
Words of Caution
While these stories are not focused on abuse experiences, types of abuse may be mentioned briefly.
Please check how you feel now, before reading any stories.
Take care of yourself.
Remember, you can always come back later.
Finding a Way Out
I was mentally and physically abused all along–from birth until I escaped at age 16 – by so-called ‘loving’ parents who lacked self-control. And from ages 7 to 10 I was sexually abused by a teenage boy on an almost weekly basis, only it was not forced. I went along with it, which just makes it worse and harder for me to forgive. I cannot talk about that much, as that person was truly sick and had group sex with me, my brother, his brother (my age), and his sister (even younger) and others all at the same time. We all competed for his ‘affections.’ His method of shutting us up was shame.
By the age of 13, I guess the effects were in place: I had become quite different from my peers, had an established bisexual nature (I still wonder if the abuse caused this), had consciously sworn off friendships, hated everyone, trusted no one, and hated and scorned all love with a sincere passion. At this time I consciously vowed to myself that I would build a ‘wall’ between me and my feelings and me and the world. For a while I did very well at isolating myself from the world and my past.
At the age of 24 I hit a crisis point that was brought on by my social withdraw, extreme shyness, and strong inhibitions against any form of expressing affection (any form of physical touching still carries sexual connotations). While I realized I had been abused, I did not deal with it; I dealt with the loneliness. At this time I was ‘adopted’ into a family with 3 children. There I learned to love again. Then I got lucky, met a woman with 3 kids and married her. That was 11 years ago.
Now I find that I am back in crisis. This time it is my life. I had never fully comprehended the effects of the abuse as I do now. Heightening this crisis is my discovery that one of the children in my adopted family confessed that, while I lived there, his uncle was abusing him – and I, unable to recognize this, had done nothing. Top that off with knowing that my oldest stepdaughter was abused at the age of 15 by her 57 year old godfather and had a child by him, and that my stepson was having intercourse when he was 5 with his 12 year old female cousin–and it all just falls in around my ears, emotionally speaking.
In the fall of ‘96 I went online for the first time and was instinctively drawn to the AOL Psych Forum Abuse Survivors message board. There I learned that being suicidal on a daily basis, being depressed on a daily basis, and being numb inside all the time was NOT normal – for I had always thought such things were normal. In the chat rooms I learned that online is not a substitute for true therapy, and had it not been for a friend I met there who convinced me to seek therapy, I probably would be dead by now. So if it wasn’t for the Net, and resources like this, I might never have known, never have figured out WHY I feel this way – and most importantly – might never have sought professional help.
Since that time I have come a long way towards healing, though I am still at the beginning of the process. At least I realize much more about WHY I feel what I feel, and HOW those things came into being – than I ever did before. And while I am still in pretty bad shape (nearly multiple personality disorder, a cutter, still suicidal, mucho problems, sigh . . .), I have learned how to hang on better and I have friends now – albeit online – with whom I can at least discuss some of these things.
Cruzzer January, 1997 Deepsouth, Georgia, USA
The Perfect English Gentleman
I was only three when it started. I was 34 when I realised and it all came flooding back (uncontrollably, I might add). As a psychiatrist, I was speaking with my boss, who was explaining how pedophiles gain the trust of families and children. They are incredibly patient. Her vivid description of the things a pedophile might say to seduce a child brought memories up to the surface like molten lava.
The next day I contacted a counsellor and I have just begun therapy.
Having been very shy of girls I found myself a virgin at 19, just about to lose it. Guilt, shame, revulsion, and dirtiness were all around, and I felt evil and embarrassed afterwards. My life took a nosedive. My medical studies suffered, but the local pub got richer, as did the guys selling Ganga. I had a string of 1-year relationships with women, where sex was great for the first week, but then I lost all drive and interest. I used to jump or startle if I was touched, especially around the anus. I used to believe that my partners were persecuting me, and trying to hurt me. I believed they were evil and hateful, and I would vent spleen, by wagging my very cruel and sadistic tongue. Looking back I am surprised I never engaged in physical violence, but the effects were the same. Each woman felt humiliation, tortured, degraded and obliterated.
I could not understand where all this anger and violence came from. My parents are quite normal: they have their ups and downs as in any marriage. As I descended deeper into my chaos, I began to blame them for how I turned out, and damaged our relationships for at least a decade.
At no point in adulthood had I known that I was sexually abused. I became a psychiatrist, and worked with 2 patients who had been abused. I did some research into therapy for sexual abuse. Recently I have been investigating violence, dissociation and sexual abuse in violent offenders. Still, nothing jogged my memory.
And then it came back. I could see that I was quite effeminate in my speech and dress, could appear seductive to men, and shriveled at the sexual advances of women. I “realized” that my abuse was punishment for being “bad”. I “knew” that sex was evil, humiliating, and revolting.
But then I understood WHY I was doing the research I was doing, and I have just begun to see my anger. I still dislike sex, and shrink if approached. I dissociate if a woman makes a pass, and avoid the possibility of intercourse by saying outrageous statements that are the worst “turn-offs”.
By the way, the perpetrator was a 60 year old single man, who gained the confidence of my family. He used to take me out and about London with him between the ages of 3 to 7. I spent a lot of time at his house, opposite my own. He made me perform oral sex on him, masturbate him, and he sodomized me. He made our family believe he was the perfect English gentleman, as he liked to row boats, enjoyed chess, and used to be a civilian policeman during the Second World War. How could this man be a danger to me? But he was, and the effects of his hatred are an integral part of my adult life now.
With the help I am receiving, I will find my peace. I will enjoy a relationship, and will no longer be afraid of sex, or touching.
With an understanding of my own experiences, I can see that many patients do not feel that they are believed and understood, so I will strive to let them reach out and feel understood and safe.
I am still here: he could not obliterate me.
Steve March, 1996 The United Kingdom
I think that guys who have been sexually abused, either as kids or as adults, should not keep it bottled up inside. They should seek help. This help could possibly come in the form of counselling, like it did in my case. I was sexually abused by three members of my family, an uncle and two older cousins, for a period of nearly ten years, from the age of eight. I could not turn to my parents for help, as the uncle was my mother’s brother-in-law and my father was always present and gave his consent to the abuse, and he watched.
The abuse took the forms of anal entry and fellatio, and if I didn’t take part I was abused with beatings. When I was in my mid-twenties I married, and I now have two children. For all of my married life I have suffered from repeated nightmares, which used to occur on a nightly basis. After many years, my wife suggested that I contact a clinic for people who have been sexually abused.
Counselling went on for several months and the revelations were indeed shocking, as I had repressed many things in my past. But now it’s all out in the open, so to speak, and I feel more of a person. Each day is a healing day, and though I will never forget what happened all those years ago, now I can move on. Not only have I been able to admit things to myself, but I have shared these horrible experiences with my wife – not an easy task.
One of the hardest things to do is what I’m doing now, putting it down on paper. But given the courage and the wish to help others, anything can be done. Go get help, don’t feel guilty, it wasn’t your fault, you weren’t the cause of the abuse. When the abuse happened you were a victim, but now, like me you’re a survivor.
Steve March, 1996 Newcastle, Australia
I was sexually abused by my father from the age of 9 or 10 for about 4 years. He started out by giving me ‘therapeutic’ shampoos in the shower and masturbating me in the evenings while my mother was at work. After awhile he would come and get in my bed and masturbate me. Always while my mother was at work. Physically it was pleasurable but when I thought about it I knew it was wrong. I was told not to tell anybody about these sessions. I never knew when he would come to my room. Especially on Saturday mornings when he was at home and acted as though nothing had happened, I felt like I was going crazy. I knew if I ever said anything my parents would get divorced and our family would be torn apart. My dreams of going to college would become impossible.
In addition to the sexual abuse, my father was abusive verbally, emotionally and physically toward my mother, who was Japanese. He would ridicule her English and put her down. When she finally had enough and fought back he would tell her that she didn’t understand ‘American humor.’ This didn’t fool any of us children, though.
I buried all my feelings, became quiet in order to appear ‘normal’ (although inside I felt different and defective). I became a walking zombie without feelings. Starting in high school I got a job to stay away from home as much as possible – actually worked 35-40 hours a week and carried a full load at school. I started studying Japanese in college and used this as a legitimate way to escape from home–travel to Japan to take advantage of what I was learning in school. So, the abuse actually fueled my interest in international business, which is what I do now. I have become sort of a Japan expert and enjoy what I do. My career is somewhat symbolic of my family life – being the glue between the U.S. and Japan, holding both sides together. Perhaps my name should have been Elmer.
When my oldest child turned 8, I found it increasingly difficult to keep the memories and feelings of guilt and shame away – like trying to hold a ball under water. I decided to go to counselling to understand what had happened to me so that I would never do the same thing to my own children. After the first session (I waited until the last 5 minutes to bring it up, which was the FIRST time in my life to ever talk about it), I actually felt as if I was floating when I left the office.
My counselling continued in Toledo where I was referred to a really fabulous female therapist. I was a little nervous about how therapy would go, and I was afraid of breaking down and crying in front of a woman. Mary was very understanding and respectful of my feelings. I ended up releasing rage sitting in my parked car on the side of the road one night.
I understand now that I am not at fault for anything that happened; he was the adult, I was the child. I truly believe this, despite years of feeling all the fault and tremendous shame.
I also know now that what happened was not a sexual act (although it did involve sex) – it was a way for him to control and dominate me. I am in control now, and when I decide to cut off contact with him, well, I just do.
For the most part I really feel cheerful, optimistic and in charge of my life. I am starting to enjoy myself – not working so hard that I block out my feelings, and learning to enjoy playing for the first time.
I am still working to understand issues surrounding my masculinity and sexual orientation and I curse him for even putting doubts in my mind. Thankfully my wife has been very understanding and patient throughout my healing process. I have become more interested in sports and other ‘guy things’ and sometimes I actually feel like ‘one of the guys.’
Dennis May, 1996 Texas, USA
I was abused by my father. Not all my memories are clear, but I think it started about age 5 or 6. He would take me in the tub with him when he bathed, playing sexually suggestive games in the water with me. I don’t remember much, but I do remember becoming sexually excited by all this and having very warm sexual feelings and attraction to him. I don’t remember having sexual feelings before having them for my father. One time he realized that I was becoming ‘too curious’ about his body, and the baths abruptly ended without explanation.
And then the verbal abuse and emotional terrorism began. My father was so afraid his only son would turn out homosexual, and so ignorant of what to do about it (and ignorant of the fact that there was nothing he could do about it), that he began to treat me as if I disgusted him. I did disgust him. I knew I did. Eventually I changed from being a happy and shame-free little boy into a man who is disgusted with himself. And very guilty and ashamed for having once had sexual feelings for his daddy.
To this day I don’t know whether it ever occurred to the man that he was responsible for ‘flipping that switch’ in me. Probably it does not matter what he knows. Or that he knows that his emotional terrorism has prevented me from becoming a whole and healthy adult male. Or that he knows I tried being heterosexual, just to please him.
But there was nothing I could do that made me feel like I could or would or ever had earned his approval or his love. I have devoted so much of my life to being gay, and I have sincerely loved other men (in various relationships, all of which have failed) for enough of my life, that there isn’t any reason to question whether I was born homosexual or was made that way by abuse. My gut feeling has always been that I have always been gay – since long before my father’s abuse began.
I am happy with being gay. I am not happy being a ‘survivor’ of abuse. I am determined to recover. I am 49 years old. I am sick and tired of feeling so vulnerable and guilty and afraid of other men. I have been in therapy twice in my twenties – once in individual therapy with a psychiatrist, for a year or so, and once in group therapy for substance abuse. Both experiences were very helpful at the time. But in my twenties I was in denial about the significance (and even the reality) of the sexual and emotional abuse I went through as a boy.
If I had not found MaleSurvivor and the Survivors Page on the internet, I would probably still be groping around in the darkness of my despair. NOW I KNOW THAT THERE ARE OTHER MEN LIKE ME, and it helps. It helps because I don’t feel so helpless and ashamed any more. I have begun a dialog with the little boy inside me. I am assuring him that I will NOT let him be hurt any more. And you know what? He believes me! He doesn’t know that I’m still not sure I can always protect him. But that’s okay. I’m gonna get there.
I’ve now found a therapist who has experience with male abuse victims and am dealing with all of this head-on. At last. And I’m going to keep networking to find other men who know what I now know – that you aren’t any less of a man because some one hurt you when you were a little boy. It’s never too late. Never too late to stop hurting and start healing. Even while living with all the feelings of pain and failure, I have had a good life. And it’s going to get a whole lot better from now on.
Fred March, 2000 Phoenix, Arizona
I Can Laugh and Sing Again!
I was molested by my older brother, cousins and their friends from the time I was 10 until I turned 12. A group of them would tackle me on my way home from school and drag me off in the bushes. There, they would strip off my pants and masturbate me. The first time it happened, I went home and told my mother that I had been hurt by four older boys. Her response was that I had to be tougher and learn to stand up for myself. It didn’t seem to matter that my brother, the one I was always told would look after me, was one of those boys. (I couldn’t tell her about the sexual abuse.)
After the third time it happened, I started masturbating for the boys, because I didn’t like being hurt! I became what looked like a willing participant! I began acting out by being very effeminate. I took up crocheting and knitting with a passion. I adapted a ‘swishy’ walk. And then the verbal abuse started in earnest! I was always told to act more like a man. I was also told I needed to be more like my brother. . . he was a real MAN. Imagine my confusion when I learned I was supposed to become the one who abused me!
As I said, the abuse stopped when I was 12 (I don’t know why). But the damage was done. By that time, I had no self-esteem and friendships with other boys were entirely out of the question. I always had girl friends that I could talk with and count as good friends, but the other boys in school were a BIG threat to me.
I went to college to study vocal performance (another ‘unmanly’ choice). There I found other guys who, I thought, understood my passion for music and being creative. There were three guys that I became very close to. We did everything together and were inseparable. When it came time for our annual choir tour, the four of us shared a room. The last night of the tour, we got back to our room, and when I came out of the bathroom, the other three were naked, sitting on one of the beds. I was uncomfortable, but afraid of losing their friendship, so I stayed. To make a long story short, I was raped by my three best friends.
I couldn’t tell anyone (this was 1978). There was very little help and understanding for women who were raped, let alone men. I thought I would be able to handle this without any problems. My three “friends” continued to treat me like they always had. I avoided them. I even changed majors so I wouldn’t have to see them. . . It didn’t work. These three almost had me convinced I wanted them to rape me (echoes of ‘performing’ for my other abusers). I left college and was never able to go anywhere to complete my music degree. I even had three different offers for ‘full ride’ scholarships. . . I couldn’t do it because those three assholes were there waiting for me.
Last January I started having flashbacks of the rape. That sent me to our family therapist. During those early sessions, the memories of my childhood abuse, though never forgotten, started to coalesce. My therapist encouraged me to investigate my sexuality (I have always had homosexual fantasies for as long as I can remember). He gave me no boundaries or guidance as to how to do this. So I ‘worked’ on it for five weeks. On Easter Sunday night, I told my wife of 11 years (my second wife, a minister) that I was gay. I had played every response she may have, over and over in my head, except one. . . I had expected her to throw me out, but instead she said that she loves me and wanted me to meet with our therapist to talk about my abuse issues instead of my sexuality. . . I was shocked! I agreed, because we have been together for a long time and I do not feel it was ‘wasted’ time. We went to the therapist on Monday. He was ready to take me through ‘coming out,’ but he wouldn’t discuss any of my abuse issues. It was then that I decided that I was not spending any more money with this guy. . . He didn’t have any experience with abuse.
When we got home from the appointment, my wife started digging for resources. She found a man who is a survivor and had led Incest Survivors Anonymous groups for men. I met him the following Friday and my life changed immediately! I finally saw that I was ‘normal’ in my recovery and that there is an ‘other side.’ I actually left his office laughing! He encouraged me to find another therapist. I did. I found one with abuse experience. He’s had at least four men in recovery at different stages every year for the last 10 years. I start working with him tomorrow. I’m scared, nervous and excited all at the same time. I’m anxious to begin serious work on my recovery!
My wife and I are still together. It’s not easy. We’re committed, though, to seeing where this will all lead. . . We will go through it together.
Now it’s three months later. I’ve been working with my therapist and continue to make amazing improvements. . . I can actually laugh and sing again!
Bill B. Middle America
Jim W.’s Story
I am 24 years old, and as a child I was sexually abused. On April 20, 2000 I began cycling from Vancouver, Canada across the Northern States then back across Canada. The purpose of this journey is to spread awareness for the male victims of sexual abuse. I feel that by addressing many of the misconceptions about male sexual abuse we can create a new understanding.
As a child I was raised in a very fragile environment. I do not recall ever having a father. My stepfather was a severe alcoholic, and he would often go days without coming home. Through all of the tough times my parents had, we went through countless babysitters. None like the babysitter I had when I was six. He was only 13 years old at the time. He introduced my brother and I to new games. What he didn’t tell us is that he actually sexually abusing us. After the games he made it very clear that we were not tell anyone, not even our parents.
During my teenage years I became very confused. Often feeling depressed, isolated, and angry, I would constantly cry and often wondered, what is wrong with me? Why am I so screwed up? To help ignore these feelings I would drink and isolate myself socially. At age 17, when I was in grade 12, I tried to kill myself. I wound up in the hospital for few days and was released. Over the next few years I was on and off anti-depressants and in and out of psych wards. The relationships I entered were destructive and I lacked control emotionally. I felt like I was going insane.
I decided that I could no longer keep this a secret. I told people about the abuse, but found myself thinking that maybe I was making too much out of this. Then I went to visit my friend Leo in California. Although I had opened up to others about the abuse, nobody had ever responded. As I told him about what happened to me, I began crying and I could not stop. As screwed up as I felt, he assured me that it was not my fault and I was not crazy. Somebody actually heard me! But why didn’t the people I told before hear me? Could we have a society in which all victims were heard and understood? That is the goal of my cross-country journey.
Since my experience with Leo, I have become very motivated. Reading articles about other males who have been sexually abused has also helped me in the healing process. Now I am surrounded by people who believe in what I’m doing. More importantly, I believe in what I’m doing. Believe in yourself.
Jim W. British Columbia, Canada
Bob L.’s Story
I’ve only admitted to myself that it was abuse and not my fault two months ago and it has been quite a roller coaster… What happened is that I was connected through a friend to a female survivor to work on her computer and while talking with her for the first time on the phone she said she was a victim of sexual abuse and I said ‘me too.’ I have no idea where that response came from because I had never considered any of what I’m telling here as abuse before. I always thought I was in control through all of it.
I come from a single-parent home and was ‘shielded’ and not allowed to leave the house during the summer and I had only one friend who would come over. He was about five year older than I and I was 10 years old. Memories of how it started are a little fuzzy, but it started with him performing oral sex on me and I did say no, but he convinced me. From there throughout the summer the kind of sexual activity expanded to about anything adults would do and some things that they might not.
I was alienated from my father who lived just 10 blocks away, but never spent any time with me and that fueled a terrible disappointment that my mother was pleased with (‘Parental Alienation Syndrome’), so the only male figure was my first molester. These summers and others incidents at other times went on for four years and at the time I thought nothing of it. So after the end of the fourth year of it my friend kind of disappeared from sight and I was left alone with no friends and an emotionally abusive parent. I became very depressed, dropped out of school when I could and began drinking and drugging.
When I became old enough to drive something changed in our house and I did ANYTHING I chose to do, so I went out looking for the acceptance of other men to replace what I had never had from my father and in the same form as my first abuser, only now ‘I was in control.’ By this time I was convinced I was gay and sought out this acceptance in anyone I could; my targets were much older men. I did anything they wanted in exchange for their approval and acceptance. I never once came away from an encounter feeling like I got what I really wanted.
Doing this kind of trolling gave me dissociation and so I felt nothing; everything was mechanical and so I was never hurt (or so I thought) when I walked away just being used. This went on for years… I was 25 and very depressed and so unhappy and so I simply asked God ‘what’s wrong?’ Maybe my plea was symbolic maybe not, but the next morning I realized what I had been doing for a decade and that I wasn’t really gay. After all, I never climaxed during any of the encounters. This was pretty traumatic to realize after wasting so much time and doing all of those awful things. So from 25 years to 38 years I have used a dissociated personality that was good in ‘all weather conditions’ and made of Teflon. Everything that was me said to make other people happy and if I did that everything was okay.
Back to my fellow survivor… She already knew before I said anything and she gave me this book about innocence that completely described everything that I was. Which was a shell. I see a psychiatrist for a bi-polar condition and he is now working with me on the abuse. He doesn’t focus on what happened, but instead he is giving me exercises, telling me to practice lowering my ‘wall’ and actually check out how I really feel, just based on me and not whether or not others around me were all happy with me. It has been very painful and the memories are hard to revisit, but I am very hopeful that the emptiness that has been always just under the Teflon finish will be repaired and I can begin to feel like a man and start to have real relationships of all kinds. Today (11/15/2005) I made the final decision to live and get through this rather than kill myself.
I hope someone can relate and find hope,
Bob L., FloridaPlease note:
I will maintain this page as long as people can benefit from it. However, I am not able to accept all submissions.