Hiding The Cause But Not The Effects

CraigLA

Registrant
Hello everyone.

It is quite amazing to be able to connect with men who have all experienced sexual abuse, most as children, and be part of this community of survivors or, I hope, victims who are on their way to becoming survivors. My desire these days is to help the victims on their healing journey in any way I can so that they can become survivors and enjoy their lives to the fullest possible. I can say that I am a survivor now. I am still on the healing journey, but I think CSA survivors are forever on this journey. That doesn't mean our lives can't be rich and full. It's just the hand that we were dealt through no fault of our own, just as others in this world have their issues they will forever have to contend with. But for all of us, I have realized that actually dealing with it is the most important thing we can do to help ourselves and those who love us.

I waited 40 years to deal with my CSA, enduring countless bouts with depression, guilt, angst, fear, doubt and yes, some periods of re-vicitimization. I thought I had mastered burying what had happened to me so deep that no one, not even myself, could let it affect me. I was wrong. My wife suffered. My kids suffered. My work suffered. And I suffered. And I suffered alone, because I was too afraid of divulging my "secret" to let anyone help.

I was just 8 years old when my grooming began and by 9 years old, my grooming turned into a day to day terror that lasted for 5 years. My abuser was only a couple of years older than me (but much bigger than I) and who's family was so trusted that they were provided keys to our home and with whom we planned vacations together. One day, at 9, my abuser suddenly began choking me. I remember falling to the ground and then nothing else. When I awoke in his father's work room (apparently dragged there), my pants were down and he was doing things to me that I did not understand. What he did was not causing physical pain but rather an interesting pleasure I had not felt before. Nevertheless, I was very scared so I did not let on that I was conscious, and this became my survival method for most of the next five years until I had the courage to force an end to it. But during those five years, I never knew when or where he would come for me. Jumping out from behind bushes, in the school restroom, from my bedroom closet, while I was taking a shower...I lived in constant fear.

When I did become free of his control and took my life back, I became the ultimate over-achiever. I joined every sport and club in high school as I could. I was blessed with good looks, so I hooked up with as many women as I could (100s) not caring about any protection or disease. God was truly watching over me because I was truly reckless. I experimented with every drug and alcohol was my best friend. However, during the day I managed to pretend to function. I went to college, moved as far away as possible, and started building a successful career. But I was headed for disaster, whether I knew it or not. Then I met my wife and she became my rock. Although she knew nothing of my "secret", she saved me with her strength, common sense and most importantly, her love. We married and started a family, eventually having four children together.

Things were going well until I was at a nation-wide company event when I was 32. A very high level executive began talking to me at the closing party. I was flattered and thought this would be a great career boost. Of course I had no idea he was intending to molest me, even though he brought me drink after drink as we chatted. Needless to say, when I was too drunk to even walk he helped me to a secluded place and I was a victim again. I have found this type of reoccurrence has happened to may of us, which has given me some comfort.

I felt I had cheated on my wife and that it was all my fault and that's when the years of torment began again. I was afraid I could have gotten AIDS or something, being very naive about how things are contracted, so I withdrew sexually from my wife. She believed she was no longer attractive to me. I buried myself in my work and my kids. I could barely look at my wife out of shame and guilt. She had become a victim of my CSA as well.

This neglect went on for the next two decades. There were periods where I would bury my guilt long enough to become a good husband and convince my wife how much I loved her, but the neglectfull periods were longer and my withdrawal periods caused her to seek relief in alcohol as well, something with which she is still battling today.

Three years ago, I thought things were going well when I had another incident. A very good friend, who I had known for years and became friends with while on business in his town, went out with me, as we often had done, and on this occasion drank too much to make it home. I had a suite and said he could stay the night in the extra room. I was awaken by him pressing up against me in my bed and reaching his hand into my underwear. At first I froze and pretended to be asleep, as I had done as a child. But when he started to put his finger in me I jumped up and asked him what the hell he was doing? He was very apologetic (he has a wife and kids as well) and went home. A couple of months later, he sent me a text that was about football, which was a topic we often discussed. I chatted a bit and then went to pick up my youngest daughter. He then wrote a text that said "I would like to sleep with you again" which was, unknown to me, seen by my daughter. My daughter told my wife and my wife confronted me - which sent me into a complete breakdown. My "secret" was out and my life was over.

I ran away barefoot, not knowing where I was going and do not remember the. rest. I woke up behind a park bench, feet bleeding and covered in mud. I realized I had to come clean and tell my wife about what had happened - everything from childhood to present. I was sure she would kick me out to the streets and I began planing a way to kill myself (I had attempted this at 12 years old, and realized I wasn't very good at it). To my amazement, instead of kicking me out, my wife hugged me and told me I needed to get help.

Getting help was no easy task. I had no idea how to find someone to help me. I had no idea there were others out there like me. I firmly believed I was alone in what I was going through all my life. I began calling therapists with a pleading message for help. Most did not return my calls. My wife found one who, when I met him, told me I should be over it by now. I found another who had me sit in a room with young boys, all taking some kind of test. I was still shaking from the trauma but mustered enough courage to run out of that room. I got a call from a therapist who sounded very young, but I decided to give him a try. When I met him, I was very doubtful he could help (he was 32) but he became my second life-saver. At first, I saw him 3 times a week and still see him regularly today. Not surprisingly, he admitted after a year that he is also a survivor of CSA.

About a month into my recovery, I watched "Leaving Neverland" about the Michael Jackson abuse of two boys. It was very tough to watch, but I found comfort that two other men had been able to talk about their abuse. After the documentary, Oprah interviewed the men and there was an audience full of formerly abused men, including celebrities like Tyler Perry and a writer of a book called "Joining Forces", which I purchased immediately and which became my third life-saver. I am sure many of you out there had similar discoveries, but I can't tell you how amazing it is to be able to talk to other men who have experienced CSA and know that we are not alone. One out of every six of us has a similar story and are working on our healing journey.

In the past year, I have been speaking on various panels and attended (post-COVID) a few gatherings of survivors. I plan to continue to try to help others with their healing journey as I continue to be on my own journey. We all have different paths and none of them are wrong, they are our own. I am so thankful to find this group as a result of being on a panel this past week. We are all each other's comfort and strength and for that I am truly grateful. Thank you for welcoming me into this community and please don't hesitate to reach out.

Craig
 
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Welcome Craig. You share a harrowing story to a group of men who also have harrowing stories to tell. Sexual trauma is horrifying and the price we pay for these experience is great. For some the residue of trauma is so debilitating that healing seems a distant dream. Hearing from others that healing is possible can be a relief. Thank you for sharing your journey with all of us.

In my experience, the healing work is happening on the myriad threads within Male Survivor, in conversations in which we share our struggles and hear from companions who've contended with the same challenges. We get to know one another through the process of exchanging these comments. I encourage you to wander around the forums and check threads that speak to you. When you feel moved, you can join the conversations. You will definitely encounter kindred spirits from whom you can learn and with whom you can offer support. As you observe, survivors of childhood sexual trauma find benefits throughout life by engaging in this healing process. We never graduate, even when we find peace and joy... if only because we understand the suffering continues for other boys and other men. I appreciate that you chose to become a contributing member. Supporting this website is insuring it will be available to the never-ending stream of men we meet in the Introductions forum. Glad you joined us.
 
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