Going through waves of rage

Hurting4myson

Registrant
My son disclosed his abuse at the hands of a youth pastor from age 9-16 last June. He is 38 and has struggled with substance abuse for years (has been in recovery for the last 11 years with some relapses) because he wanted to numb the emotional pain he was in. I have been through all manner of feelings about this. I feel guilt because I didn’t know. I feel sadness for the years he has lost. I feel a lot of anger, but that seems to come in waves and I want so badly to do damage to his perpetrator who is still alive and living in our town. I have had nightmares where I kill him. They are horrible dreams and then I am teary and sad for days afterward. I am NOT a violent person and am appalled by these dreams that I have. Mostly I want to out him as the monster he is, but he is cunning and extremely smart. I can see how he groomed our whole family while doing horrible things to not only my son, but many, many other boys. I will NEVER go back to church again. I guess my question is: Is it normal for this anger to come in waves like this? How can I direct it positively? And yes, I am in therapy, as is my son.
 

Dreaming2009

New Registrant
1st and the most important thing to say is I'm sorry, I know all to well how both you and your son feel. The feelings you feel as his father, I have experienced through my father. I 1st spoke about my abuse at the age of 24. My dad wanted to kill my abuser. However, with time and God his anger has subsided. From time to time though he tells me he does still get angry. Those feelings of anger come quickly and without vengeance when we speaks about the abuse, with time those intense emotions do dull out again.
@Hurting4myson do your "extreme" (from my eyes normal) emotions flair up when you remember/talk about something, feelings for example, about the past abuse? Or do these feelings subconsciously just occurs
 
It is horrible to be abused. But it must be a whole different type of horrible to be the parent of an abused child. As a father of three I can imagine ur anger but can’t truly comprehend it. I am so sorry that you too have been so hurt by that monster.
 

MO-Survivor

Staff member
My son disclosed his abuse at the hands of a youth pastor from age 9-16 last June. He is 38 and has struggled with substance abuse for years (has been in recovery for the last 11 years with some relapses) because he wanted to numb the emotional pain he was in. I have been through all manner of feelings about this. I feel guilt because I didn’t know. I feel sadness for the years he has lost. I feel a lot of anger, but that seems to come in waves and I want so badly to do damage to his perpetrator who is still alive and living in our town. I have had nightmares where I kill him. They are horrible dreams and then I am teary and sad for days afterward. I am NOT a violent person and am appalled by these dreams that I have. Mostly I want to out him as the monster he is, but he is cunning and extremely smart. I can see how he groomed our whole family while doing horrible things to not only my son, but many, many other boys. I will NEVER go back to church again. I guess my question is: Is it normal for this anger to come in waves like this? How can I direct it positively? And yes, I am in therapy, as is my son.
You are having a very normal response, I would say. And you are undoubtedly grieving… and anger / rage is a part of that process. I’m sure you want to fix things, and can’t. That will create a lot of anger too. That’s something that you will likely feel is lost, since you can’t go back and rescue and help your son. But @Hurting4myson - it was not your fault. The perp sounds like he is a highly skilled deceiver. The best thing you can do is listen to your son, be support, reinforce nothing was his fault either. Love him, and be there for him now as best you can. You can still be there for him now and can help him heal.

As far as the urges to go after his perp… if you want to, and your son wants to, you should turn the guy in to the authorities - but only if your son is ready and willing to do that.
 

Hurting4myson

Registrant
1st and the most important thing to say is I'm sorry, I know all to well how both you and your son feel. The feelings you feel as his father, I have experienced through my father. I 1st spoke about my abuse at the age of 24. My dad wanted to kill my abuser. However, with time and God his anger has subsided. From time to time though he tells me he does still get angry. Those feelings of anger come quickly and without vengeance when we speaks about the abuse, with time those intense emotions do dull out again.
@Hurting4myson do your "extreme" (from my eyes normal) emotions flair up when you remember/talk about something, feelings for example, about the past abuse? Or do these feelings subconsciously just occurs
Actually, I am a mother. But you describe the feelings well. My son doesn’t talk about the abuse with anyone but his therapist. I just know that it happened and it was years that his perpetrator abused him. Yes, I do have these emotional flares when something reminds me of him (the perpetrator) and it is usually coupled with something I have heard about abusive clergy. The really bad nightmare I had was after watching a movie about a murder. (I don’t usually watch something like that).
 

Hurting4myson

Registrant
You are having a very normal response, I would say. And you are undoubtedly grieving… and anger / rage is a part of that process. I’m sure you want to fix things, and can’t. That will create a lot of anger too. That’s something that you will likely feel is lost, since you can’t go back and rescue and help your son. But @Hurting4myson - it was not your fault. The perp sounds like he is a highly skilled deceiver. The best thing you can do is listen to your son, be support, reinforce nothing was his fault either. Love him, and be there for him now as best you can. You can still be there for him now and can help him heal.

As far as the urges to go after his perp… if you want to, and your son wants to, you should turn the guy in to the authorities - but only if your son is ready and willing to do that.
My son is not able to go after the perp because of the statute of limitations in our state—one of the worst states in the U.S.for keeping perps safe from having to suffer any consequences for their actions. Things MAY change because the state is Michigan and there are several bills that are coming before (or are in process) the Michigan legislature. We are hoping for some justice, and one of the first things my son did after disclosing his abuse was contract with a law firm. Here in the state of Michigan, I am hoping that things will change—we have the lawsuits from gymnasts who were abused by Larry Nassau at MSU for years and it was covered up. We have football players at U of M who were abused by the team doctor for years and we have Catholic priests who have abused children. We don’t have Protestant clergy (that was OUR case) who have any charges against them. We are just waiting for the right time, but the right time may never come and I have to learn to be okay with that. I think that is the problem I have—processing that my son’s perpetrator is now 77 and will, in all likelihood, go to his grave with everyone (except his victims) thinking that he was just a prince of a guy!
I thank God for the fact that I have been in AlAnon for the last 12 years and know that all I can do is love and support my son. I cannot do the healing for him. I know intellectually, that I could not have known what the clergy person was doing to my son, but emotionally, there will always be a part of me who feels responsible. I was his parent and parents protect their children. Accepting the things that I cannot change is sooooo hard! My son has lost so much and it is wonderful to observe his transformation, but I so easily slide back into the “this is not fair!” mentality. Who said life was fair?
 

MO-Survivor

Staff member
My son is not able to go after the perp because of the statute of limitations in our state—one of the worst states in the U.S.for keeping perps safe from having to suffer any consequences for their actions. Things MAY change because the state is Michigan and there are several bills that are coming before (or are in process) the Michigan legislature. We are hoping for some justice, and one of the first things my son did after disclosing his abuse was contract with a law firm. Here in the state of Michigan, I am hoping that things will change—we have the lawsuits from gymnasts who were abused by Larry Nassau at MSU for years and it was covered up. We have football players at U of M who were abused by the team doctor for years and we have Catholic priests who have abused children. We don’t have Protestant clergy (that was OUR case) who have any charges against them. We are just waiting for the right time, but the right time may never come and I have to learn to be okay with that. I think that is the problem I have—processing that my son’s perpetrator is now 77 and will, in all likelihood, go to his grave with everyone (except his victims) thinking that he was just a prince of a guy!
I thank God for the fact that I have been in AlAnon for the last 12 years and know that all I can do is love and support my son. I cannot do the healing for him. I know intellectually, that I could not have known what the clergy person was doing to my son, but emotionally, there will always be a part of me who feels responsible. I was his parent and parents protect their children. Accepting the things that I cannot change is sooooo hard! My son has lost so much and it is wonderful to observe his transformation, but I so easily slide back into the “this is not fair!” mentality. Who said life was fair?
So sorry about not being able to pursue this legally to an end you all would want. But it’s great he wanted to pursue it. Kudos to him and it probably helped him that he tried.

As a parent, I know you will probably never lose the guilt you carry completely. But hopefully it will fade away as you continue to love your son and he heals. As a survivor and a dad… I can’t even tell you how angry I would be. I got to see some of what you feel through my mom’s response when I told her my dad sexually abused me (actually, I pressed him and he told her). She told me she should have known. I think for her, as a survivor herself, it ate her up inside. Somehow she moved on… that’s what she’s done her while life.

Anyway, I will think of you and pray for peace. Because ultimately I believe that even though terrible things happen this life, God really does love us and care for us deeply. He has you both in his hands. I hope that was okay to say to you, and apologies if it wasn’t.
 

Hurting4myson

Registrant
So sorry about not being able to pursue this legally to an end you all would want. But it’s great he wanted to pursue it. Kudos to him and it probably helped him that he tried.

As a parent, I know you will probably never lose the guilt you carry completely. But hopefully it will fade away as you continue to love your son and he heals. As a survivor and a dad… I can’t even tell you how angry I would be. I got to see some of what you feel through my mom’s response when I told her my dad sexually abused me (actually, I pressed him and he told her). She told me she should have known. I think for her, as a survivor herself, it ate her up inside. Somehow she moved on… that’s what she’s done her while life.

Anyway, I will think of you and pray for peace. Because ultimately I believe that even though terrible things happen this life, God really does love us and care for us deeply. He has you both in his hands. I hope that was okay to say to you, and apologies if it wasn’t.
Thank you so much. It DOES help to know that it gets better. I have seen it while my son has been in recovery, but with this new revelation, I am so angry and so uncomfortable with the anger that I just need to sit with. The Buddhists say to sit with feelings if you don’t know what to do with them.

I’ve always been able to share these things with my husband (my son’s dad) but he is now dealing with cognitive impairment. The only reaction either I (or our son) got from him, was “Well that is a bummer.” He is just shut down emotionally and cannot think beyond himself—not unlike a child at times. I know it is not just our son’s particular crisis that my husband is not able to feel any real emotion about—our daughter was just diagnosed with breast cancer and is facing some huge surgery. His reaction? “Well, that sucks!”

The fact that I know longer have a partner to share some of the worst things with is pretty devastating. I am very happy to find this room to share my feelings about the sexual abuse my son endured and how powerless I feel. I DO know that a power greater than myself is taking care of me just as my son’s HP is taking care of him. I will NEVER darken the door of an institutional church again, but I certainly have not lost my faith in the God of my understanding.
 

MO-Survivor

Staff member
The Buddhists say to sit with feelings if you don’t know what to do with them.

The fact that I know longer have a partner to share some of the worst things with is pretty devastating. I am very happy to find this room to share my feelings about the sexual abuse my son endured and how powerless I feel. I DO know that a power greater than myself is taking care of me just as my son’s HP is taking care of him. I will NEVER darken the door of an institutional church again, but I certainly have not lost my faith in the God of my understanding.
I had to laugh at the Buddhist comment. My therapist says this: "My definition of mental health is being able to hold opposing emotions at the same time - and be okay with it." More in line with the Buddhist quote: being okay with feeling crappy feelings, and rolling with it vs. stuffing them away or denying them = healthy. Most of us survivors of sexual abuse have become masters at compartmentalizing things and stuffing feelings where the only thing we feel is numb. So, good for you!

And I'm especially grateful you have been able to make a distinction between the church and the fallible (sometimes even evil) people that can populate it, and God. There are plenty of guys here who can't separate the two - and I don't say that with any blame, criticism, or negativity. I totally get it and understand that struggle. But it makes my heart sad just the same....
 

Hurting4myson

Registrant
I find that The Body Keeps the Score by Van dear Kolk has been very helpful for me when trying to understand what happens to anyone who has suffered trauma. Hard for me to read because I keep thinking in terms of: “Did this happen to him (my son)? How is he going to heal from this? Is he permanently so damaged that he cannot turn things around?” And then, I have to remind myself that all I have to do is look at the situation and watch him and realize that he IS healing in all kinds of ways, but sometimes it seems soooo incremental and other times it is like he is healing in leaps and bounds. Nothing is in an even trajectory with this. It wasn’t linear when he was using and got into recovery—I don’t know why I expect this to be! It just all seems so hard some days…I DON’T like holding to opposing emotions at once and I don’t like feeling crappy. I just want to fix it and I can’t. I think that is where my frustration comes from that quickly turns to rage. I am glad to know that it is completely normal. That helps because I know that I am not really crazy—I just feel that way at times and feelings aren’t facts.
 
@Hurting4myson ,

My abuse from an uncle was well beyond the statute of limitations when I decided to make a formal report of it anyway. I about six months into dealing with my abuse issues when I heard that this uncle was baby sitting his granddaughter. I was worried that he was probably abusing the kid. I was also very angry that he was getting away with molesting me and other boys that I knew, so I figured why not let him squirm knowing that the law was gonna make contact with him, they would let him know that a claim of abuse was made and that they were gonna look into things. I also told the family so his filthy little secret was out around this time.
I was very nervous going down to the county prosecutors office, they wouldn't take a statement over the phone and said to come in and talk to a detective. On my way in to the sex crimes unit the desk sergeant mistook me for someone coming in there to register, at first I didn't even realize his mistake and his quick apology, then it hit me, I was like great.... Anyway, I met with the detective and told him my story and he told me about how they will go and introduce themselves to him, let him now that they know.
I wanted to be sure that if he did get caught for a current abuse that there was a recorded history of him doing it before, and that he couldn't use "I never did it before". Well, that never happened but I was happy that he got to live out his remaining years in exile knowing that everyone knew he was a child molester and that even the law knew what he was.
Yeah I was nervous walking in there but I felt very good leaving there, I felt like I stood up for myself, I was proud of myself for doing it. This was a big chapter in my healing. I was ready for it at that time. Your son would have to be ready to do it, it might even benefit him to do it too like it did me.
 

Unexpected

Registrant
I have the experience with the police a long time ago when someone had broken into my apartment and stole some items, then they were "returned" by a relative - my dad who as a criminal defense lawyer and I went to the police and they took a statement and paid a visit to the thief making it clear that this better not happen to me again. I had no more trouble. But this was Chicago where the police had a heavy hand in running the city and keeping it crime free on the South Side. Perhaps you can get some sort of justice through your police by making a report, as George above was able to do. And I feel much better today that I was proactive about something that happened that was horribly wrong (details left out) than if I had done nothing.
 

Hurting4myson

Registrant
@Hurting4myson ,

My abuse from an uncle was well beyond the statute of limitations when I decided to make a formal report of it anyway. I about six months into dealing with my abuse issues when I heard that this uncle was baby sitting his granddaughter. I was worried that he was probably abusing the kid. I was also very angry that he was getting away with molesting me and other boys that I knew, so I figured why not let him squirm knowing that the law was gonna make contact with him, they would let him know that a claim of abuse was made and that they were gonna look into things. I also told the family so his filthy little secret was out around this time.
I was very nervous going down to the county prosecutors office, they wouldn't take a statement over the phone and said to come in and talk to a detective. On my way in to the sex crimes unit the desk sergeant mistook me for someone coming in there to register, at first I didn't even realize his mistake and his quick apology, then it hit me, I was like great.... Anyway, I met with the detective and told him my story and he told me about how they will go and introduce themselves to him, let him now that they know.
I wanted to be sure that if he did get caught for a current abuse that there was a recorded history of him doing it before, and that he couldn't use "I never did it before". Well, that never happened but I was happy that he got to live out his remaining years in exile knowing that everyone knew he was a child molester and that even the law knew what he was.
Yeah I was nervous walking in there but I felt very good leaving there, I felt like I stood up for myself, I was proud of myself for doing it. This was a big chapter in my healing. I was ready for it at that time. Your son would have to be ready to do it, it might even benefit him to do it too like it did me.
Thanks for sharing your experience. I think it would be very healing for my son to at least embarrass by “outing” his abuser, but he really wants to wait until there is no chance of prosecuting him and the church that covered it up. There are many, many men who he abused as boys and he was a youth pastor who “everybody loved” at that church for 30+ years! My son is so new to disclosing his abuse and getting therapy, I think he will have to move slowly, but I have no doubt that some day, he will get some justice in some form. I am just not sure that it won’t be until his abuser has died. He has many physical ills now and not sure that he is still actively abusing, as though he is still living in the community, he is no longer around in public much and has moved to another church.
I think what you did was very brave as well as ethical considering you were worried about other children suffering at your abuser’s hands. My son very badly wants his abuser to squirm, but he wants to have his own ducks in a row before he does something like you did.
 

Hurting4myson

Registrant
I have the experience with the police a long time ago when someone had broken into my apartment and stole some items, then they were "returned" by a relative - my dad who as a criminal defense lawyer and I went to the police and they took a statement and paid a visit to the thief making it clear that this better not happen to me again. I had no more trouble. But this was Chicago where the police had a heavy hand in running the city and keeping it crime free on the South Side. Perhaps you can get some sort of justice through your police by making a report, as George above was able to do. And I feel much better today that I was proactive about something that happened that was horribly wrong (details left out) than if I had done nothing.
Thanks, Unexpected. I think the problem here is like with many Catholic priests who abuse boys, my son’s abuser was very charismatic and knew how to pick his victims. They were either fatherless boys without much support at home, or boys who were introverted, anxious and people pleasers (as my son was). My therapist tells me that the reason my son got away from the church when he was 16 and just defied us when we tried to make him go to church or to the youth group saying he didn’t believe in God any more, was the fact that he had a supportive environment in his home. Fortunately, we did not push him much to attend church—we thought it was just an adolescent rebellion!

Anyway, this youth pastor knew also to surround himself with boys from powerful and wealthy families in the community. He did not abuse those boys because he needed people who would vouch for him if necessary. He chose both victims and supporters well. He even has boys from his youth group who are now top attorneys in town and boys who are now on the police force. It is incredible the way he has set himself up.

Both his therapist and I have told my son to expect blow back from the church if he chooses to prosecute. He said that he really did not care—he wants to make sure the church and the pastor are “outed” in the community. Unfortunately, my husband who has cognitive impairment is NOT helpful as he said that he hoped we didn’t have to be involved in any of it. I told him that our son was more important to me that anything and he (our son) would get all of the support that I had. If this had been disclosed even five years ago, I’m sure my husband would have had a much more supportive attitude about helping our son. Fortunately, my son understands what is happening with his father and can, for the most part ignore him.
 

WG

Registrant
I'm glad to know you are attending Al-Anon. Stay with it. As you know it's the place for you to go vent. Vent on! I would also say here that not all churches are the same. I get it that you are angry with the whole church thing. It makes sense. However, to place all churches in the same heap isn't fair to either them or you. Seek a balance. If you're not willing to darken the door of a church, look for an online meeting you feel safe with. That way, you can shut it off when you're feeling like you want to leave it instead of getting up and walking out. Not all churches are the same. Just like not every single Roman Catholic priest, brother, monk or nun is abusive and seeking sex from every young person they see. Just like not every youth pastor is a pedophile. And not everyone who drinks is an alcoholic.
 
I haven't read all the comments but will make an observation nonetheless. Although it may not be possible to bring this person to justice in a court of law because of a statute of limitations, this man is a minister, doubtless associated with an established church. There is nothing to stop your son from approaching elders in the synod of which the local church is part, to alert them to the fact they have a perpetrator working for them. At the very least, that could lead to a formal review. There may even have been other incidents of concern and your son's report could tip the balance. No church wants it to be said in this day and age that they ignored the presence of a pedophile in their midst. Taking away this man's easy access to vulnerable boys seems worth doing even if he can't be charged with a crime. Rather than simply walking away from the church you may wish to take action.

One of our members approached the synod which employed his abuser and they went through such a process and eventually made a financial settlement with this man to support his therapy. I wouldn't ignore the church's responsibility here.
 

Hurting4myson

Registrant
I haven't read all the comments but will make an observation nonetheless. Although it may not be possible to bring this person to justice in a court of law because of a statute of limitations, this man is a minister, doubtless associated with an established church. There is nothing to stop your son from approaching elders in the synod of which the local church is part, to alert them to the fact they have a perpetrator working for them. At the very least, that could lead to a formal review. There may even have been other incidents of concern and your son's report could tip the balance. No church wants it to be said in this day and age that they ignored the presence of a pedophile in their midst. Taking away this man's easy access to vulnerable boys seems worth doing even if he can't be charged with a crime. Rather than simply walking away from the church you may wish to take action.

One of our members approached the synod which employed his abuser and they went through such a process and eventually made a financial settlement with this man to support his therapy. I wouldn't ignore the church's responsibility here.
 

Hurting4myson

Registrant
Yes. I think that is a good possibility, though our church is run by a body a bit different from a synod. It is very dysfunctional and has no executive power and is more concerned with the money the church has lost than protecting vulnerable boys. The pastor in question is retired but many of “his boys” continue to visit him and bring their own sons to his house. I boggles my mind. He made a name for himself in our community and did a lot of positive things so he could hide in plain sight. I would LOVE to call him out. I think my son is hoping it will suddenly blow up on him through the legal system. I have my doubts, but I want to follow my son’s lead until he is comfortable doing whatever needs to be done. This healing process is soooooo slow and difficult.
 
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