I Was Molested, Chapter 1

 

Am I a victim?

IMG_2681The thought of calling myself a victim of molestation is nauseating. I’ve been down this road before and each time I get to the finish line, the road extends another block. In my head, the word “victim” sounds weak. Everyone is a victim of something. Why can’t I just get over it? I can’t get over it because I am living proof that the truth doesn’t always set you free. Will telling my story cause more pain and heartache for me, or will it allow me to break free, butterfly-like, from a cocoon of secrets?

What happened?

 

8 years 2In order to protect those who decided to shift my world before I knew what sex meant, I am refraining from naming the people involved in the crime. I don’t remember my age at the time of the incident that occurred while my parents were on vacation, but my gut tells me that I was about eight-years-old. It was at a time before I had pubic hair and had not yet considered the act of sex. I was sitting on the couch in the den of my family’s home with a man (friend/family member). We had been watching cartoons when he subtly landed his hand near my crotch. He inched his thumb and forefinger towards my penis and attempted to squeeze it through my shorts. At first, I wasn’t sure what he was trying to accomplish. But he explained that we were playing “Can you find it?” That made more sense. I told him that his hand was in the wrong spot and I guided his thumb and forefinger to the actual location of my penis, which was barely large enough to crease the cottony pajama material. It was now my turn to try and find his penis. I remember putting my hand where I estimated his penis would be above his blue jeans. I looked up at him smiling down at me and shaking his head like I had made a wrong guess. He proudly redirected me, “up, up, up, left.”   I was in disbelief when I saw the surreal enormity of the outline of his penis.   “That’s not it!” I exclaimed in disbelief. I remember reaching for his penis like a child greedily reaches for a gift on Christmas morning. “I found it” I said with excitement. I had won. Unfortunately, “Can you find it” ended abruptly when we heard the footsteps of his wife approaching. I remember the excitement that I felt when we played that game. It was our secret game and it made me feel special.

Initial Consequences:

That’s it. That’s all that happened. If the story ended here, I might have been able to walk away with a minor emotional scratch or scar. But that’s not my story. This experience may (or may not) have taught me that I yearned for attention from a man or an adult. This became especially confusing around puberty when I began fantasizing about men, including the molester. Was I fantasizing about the attention I received from this guy because I was gay or because it made me feel important to have the undivided attention and sexual arousal from an adult? I think it was both.

Either way, I hated myself for potentially being gay. I was confused, depressed, lonely, and too weak to kill myself. This state of mind opened me up for a second chapter (Chapter 2 will be shared at another time) of child abuse and a promising future of yearning for and obtaining instant sexual gratification. By the time I was 17, I was dabbling in an assortment of drugs, and letting others treat my body as a blow-up sex doll. I was like a wild animal seeking the same gratification from others that I had received from my perpetrators. Yes, perpetrators – plural – because there would be more than one.

The Unexpected Twist to My Story Our Story

Addiction is a progressive illness. The progress of mine seemed to be gauged by the increasing layers of secrets and emotional trauma that I was harboring. When I was 21 years-old and a sophomore in college pursuing my degree in psychology, my past and my secrets were comfortably compartmentalized and hidden by a thin layer of substance abuse, fraternity life, and scholastics.

That normal routine was interrupted by a phone call from a distressed family member that changed everything. When I answered his call, I could tell by the somber tone of the greeting that this was not going to be a casual conversation. Frankly, it was a relief to have the opportunity to listen to someone seeking my help. I had been seeing a therapist at the Student Health Center at this time for depression and chemical dependency. He was lightly sobbing and was having a difficult time revealing what was troubling him. I knew that if he was anything like myself, that there was little chance he was ready to share the core issue. So I dared to use a method that no one had ever tried with me; the blunt, no BS, un-sugarcoated approach. I asked him three questions that unearthed a decade of repressed feelings and memories.

Question #1:

“Were you raped?”

Answer:

“No.”

Question #2:

“Were you molested?”

Answer:

“Yes.”

Question #3:

“Was it (Perpetrator’s name)?”

Answer:

Yes.

Victim – Question:

“How did you know?”

Me – Answer:

“Because he molested ME TOO.”

The conversation stunned us. We both realized that we were not alone or at fault for what had happened. I wish I could say that I was comforted to no longer be alone. Instead, it filled me with rage. I realized that my childhood encounter with this adult wasn’t a “special bonding.” It was a crime scene.

I Am A Survivor of Child Abuse

IMG_2122 2In retrospect, this conversation initiated a series of life events that forever altered my life’s path. As a young adult, it was finally confirmed by association with the other victim that I was the product of sexual child abuse (the word “misconduct” is insulting). I had so many questions, emotions, and feelings come up that it left me feeling off-balance and rudderless.

Most people don’t understand the complexity of recovering from child abuse. In this situation, the duration of the actual abuse was about five minutes.  I carried the secret with me for over 10 years before I was comfortable sharing it with one person. When a victim shares their story, the recipient of the information now has the responsibility to process it, inform another person (or people), or keep the secret. When I shared the secret with my parents, they became victims and blamed themselves for the abuser’s action. When extended family members found out about the abuse, they shamed my parents for “allowing” it to happen and how they “handled” the situation. I can’t help but think of how this is also going to affect the perpetrator’s children who were my friends when I was younger. The victim list keeps growing.

I kept the secret because of shame and fear of how people would react. And when I found the courage to tell people what happened to me when I was eight years-old, I had to live through the abuse again while I was simultaneously feeling responsible for possibly placing a strain on my parent’s relationships with extended family and others related to the incident. What’s worse? Harboring a secret of my child abuse? Or revealing my secret that will inevitably split up families and put me on trial for public scrutiny?

It has been over 20 years since I came to realize what happened was molestation. I sit here now, ready to tell all, but I can’t. I can’t express the details because the perpetrator is still involved in my family’s life. And the other victim is not comfortable sharing his story. All I can do is share bits and pieces of my struggles so maybe another person dealing with this type of abuse can find some relief.

To The Survivor:

If you are a product of abuse, you are not alone.  If you are withholding secrets to save someone else’s face, you are not alone.  If you are just realizing now that abuse is part of your story, I can relate.

To the Perpetrator:

Hopefully this story will find its way into your hands so you can better understand the devastating after-affects of your self-seeking actions.

15 thoughts on “I Was Molested, Chapter 1

  1. Thanks for sharing. Your story is so similar to mine. We are thrivers! I understand all the emotional stages, the confusion, the acceptance, the growth and then in an instant I can experience all the opposites. I’ve learned to grow more than I ever expected and have great empathy for others who are dealing with this.

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  2. Your story is similar to mine. I was 10. My molester was my cousin. He was kind and gentle. He was only 18 months older than me. I was medicated for ADHD and very compliant. He asked me if I wanted to play a game. I said sure. He then took my hand and stuck it in hi pants. He then said he would show me what to do and stuck his had in my pants, stroking my penis. This went on for quite some time before we heard the upstairs door open.

    This happened at least three more times until I was nearly 13. Then I started to go through puberty and I was scum under his feet. He call me a faggot for wanting our relationship to continue.

    Thank you for sharing. I have struggled for years to believe it was actual molestation, since it was only fondling. I am 54 years old and am finally dealing with this.

    Some days are harder than others. I have Christ and have had Christ for the last 27 years, But by going through Celebrate Recovery and sharing with others, I am starting to heal.

    Thank you again. I did not imagine it. I didn’t blow it out of proportion. I am not weak.

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    • I am sorry you straggling with this for so long, but this does not fall into the category of being victimized by a child molester, your cousin was a kid just like you. You were both more like exploring. If you were 10 and he was 11, this is more of a curiosity. I believe this article is about adult child molesters taking advantage of small and young children. Sound more like you could be upset for his bullying you. In any case, I am sorry if this is caused you pain, but it is not nearly is close to what is being written in this article. And if it will make it easier for you I think many children explore this during childhood. But I can’t find it the same when adult is going after a helpless and innocent child, so this is how it is different

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      • This, this is the reason that more survivors do not come forward.

        Technically, you are correct. By the laws we have now, he would not be charged. Yes, both of us were underaged. But he was physiologically older than me. He already had pubic hair. And his penis was huge compared to mine.

        I, unfortunately, remember every detail of what happened that first time.

        I was as a deer in the headlights. I froze. He took my hand and touched his penis with my hand, stroking it. I didn’t know what he wanted me to do. He sighed, smiled, and said, “Here, let me show you what to do. “
        He then reached over with his left hand, undid my pants and stuck his hand inside my underwear and started grasping and massaging my penis.

        He knew exactly what he was doing, like he had done it before or had it done to him. Looking back at those memories with adult eyes and insight it is perfectly clear to me that I was being abused, but my child self didn’t have a frame of reference. This was 1974! There was no “Stranger Danger” no Inappropriate Touch training!

        And when he finally rejected me, it was because I had finally started puberty. He knocked me down on the floor, picked up a pool cue and waved it at me telling me, “You little faggot, get away from me!” Just to give you an idea of how clueless I was, I had to look up what faggot meant.

        Just going into this much detail has me so twisted up right now.

        Eight months ago, my uncle, his father, passed away. My first thought “Oh R——— is going to be there!” I freaked out for nearly a day! I completely forgot who I was in Christ and was nearly raving I was so terrified. That level of reaction is not the result of youthful exploration!

        So, yes, technically not a legal molestation. There is no legal or civil action that I can take against this man that in his youth robbed me of my innocence. Robbed me of a normal response to women and men alike. Inflicted me with doubts, fears, heartaches and regrets.

        So, please forgive me if I don’t just sit here and take your comment that this wasn’t true molestation. YOU DIDN’T LIVE THOUGH IT!

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  3. This is a great article that expresses many things victims experience.

    The part to the perpetrator tho in most cases they KNOW AND INTENED the hurt shame and guilt victims carry. They do it out of need for control not for sexual gratification in most cases. Even or especially the ones who make it seem special rather than violent. They thrive off of causing all these things and making the victim live the shame.

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  4. First, I’m so sad this had to happen to you and I admire the strength it has taken to share your story. I do not understand you keeping your story quiet because the perpetrator is still involved in your family’s life. This amounts to protecting him. Others having at least the knowledge of what he is capable of might help prevent another child from being raped! If the other victims aren’t comfortable, leave their name/s out of it. I say victims because I’m quite certain there are more than the two of you! I use the term rape because no mater the level or duration, this type of trauma on a child needs the strongest word possible. It destroys a part of their spirit and innocence that can never be recovered. The level of torture it inflicts for years is nearly indescribable! I too am a survivor. I have also LOST two sons whose spirits were murdered at a very young age. Two beautiful souls who lived with the torture inflicted upon them until they could no longer endure and took their lives. Please EXPOSE THIS MONSTER. By doing so, you may save a life.

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    • Janet,
      I appreciate your comment more than you know. It’s been stirring in my head about what to do. The last time I contacted the Dallas Police Department, they brushed me off. If they had just shown a hint of interest, a returned phone call, a speck of empathy, I would have followed through. Approaching that door was scary enough the first time. I realize I could save a life. I think about other kids … and your sons. But I am scared.
      Jonathan

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      • Jonathan – thanks for sharing. It’s hard to tell a story like yours – and especially hard to tell it for the world to see and comment.

        I’m disappointed in some of the other comments to you and James. YOU, James, and other survivors of sexual abuse as children (including me) have a right to decide and speak about how WE feel. If we say it was unwanted and not just “experimenting” then it was. If you say that you don’t want to confront or out your abuser, then that is YOUR right.

        The story of my abuse at 5 years old at the hands of an older family member was told (without my knowledge or consent) to my family by my sister, who mistakenly thought she was “protecting” the children of this family member from him. I came home from a class at the local junior college one day to find my mother almost hysterical and the rest of my family angry at me – for disturbing their comfortable facade of who and what our family was. It is 35 years later and I still burn with the pain and shame of that day. To anyone who has not experienced it, I challenge you to find a way to cope with the feelings of guilt, shame, and confusion that come along with abuse (or what may not meet the classic definition of abuse) – and particularly from a close family member. How do you reconcile your feelings that you should still care what happens to them? How do you reconcile your feelings of not wanting to potentially hurt their family, who could be ripped apart by something that they did not do?

        There are no easy answers. But blame and shame are not appropriate for the “victims” (I too hate that term). We must learn to protect, prevent, and educate without causing more pain to those who have already been wronged.

        Peace to you and all of us who deal with these issues.
        Sue

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  5. As I was reading about your experience, especially related to yearning for the attention from a man or adult, i had to keep your article as it validates my exact feelings. Thirty years later, I still feel like a little boy in a man’s body, searching for that acceptance that I know is not right. Thank you for letting me know that I am not alone in my feelings. It is very hard to navigate these feelings while trying to be a husband and father to 3 little ones.

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    • Darrick, I get you, man. I am the father of 4 beautiful daughters and a very supportive wife. I also have a Rock, in Jesus Christ, on whom I stand. It was only recently that fully opened up about the abuse that had happened some 40ish years ago. It has opened old feelings and painful memories. But, like a wound with a dirty bandage, it was time to pull off the old bandage, clean out the wound and apply fresh clean bandage with the healing salve of confessing to others what was done to me. I feel I am finally walking the path of healing.

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      • Thank you James for your comment. It is a struggle for me everyday. I find myself running away from men ( can’t look them directly in the eye) and at the same time looking for affection from them. I am a mess of conflicting impulses. In any case, it also took 30 years to tell my wife after putting her through so much like no affection as I equate affection with hurt.

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