I am a male Childhood Sexual Abuse (CSA), incest, and rape survivor by a number of different people. I am real. I exist. There are more of us than is known. We are real, we exist. We are your husbands, your fathers, your sons, and boyfriends. And you may never know. We might drop a hint during a TV show, or about a news article, then see how you react. If you say or do the right thing we might open up more, the wrong thing and we will shut down and may never bring it up again.
When I decided that I could no longer ignore what had happened to me in the past, I knew I had to tell my wife. So one evening I told her a little of my childhood. She took it very seriously. She asked a few questions,which I answered, but once she realized I was getting uncomfortable she stopped asking about it. I think she handled it fairly well. Now if she had laughed or pushed to talk about the abuse I probably would have shut down. And that would have been the end of it.
Often, we don’t talk of such things. From my own life, I have experienced this. I was ordered to attend Alcohol Rehab. It was mainly group therapy. During one session one of the men talked about why he was there. He had been ordered there for Alcohol Abuse and Anger Management. He was a heavy drinker. One night he awoke from a drunken stupor to find his roommate molesting him. He jumped up and punched the guy. Of the eight or so people in the room, I was the only one who didn’t laugh. Even the therapist got a chuckle out of it. The consensus was, “Hey at least you were having sex.”
He was raped, branded with anger issues, then laughed at. When I entered the program, I had thought I might be able to talk about what little I could remember as a child of my own experience with sexual abuse. After that particular group therapy session, I decided not to talk about being a CSA survivor. I would just be treated for the alcoholism and not the reason I drank. It was just easier.
There are many reasons why men stay silent about CSA. One is a culture where men are not supposed to show any weakness. We are just supposed to grin and bear it. Another is the idea that males cannot be raped, no matter the age. A female teacher has sex with a boy and the reaction is that the child is a “lucky bastard.” Or people wonder, “Where were these teachers when I was a kid?" But a betrayal of trust by an adult of a child is a betrayal of trust no matter the sex or gender of the perpetrator or the child.
Also the trauma can be weaponized. I was the youngest of three children, but even though it was an adult who started the “games,” after it ended, I was the one who was held responsible. My birth family decided I had to make up for “what I did." I had to prove my worth to my family, because I was the bad seed. Of course there was no way I could make up for something that was not my fault, but they had a never ending list of demands. Even after I married and had a family of my own they still expected to come first. They even tried to destroy my marriage. I called one night to try to smooth things out and was met with anger. I was told that I wasn't grateful enough for all they had done for me. That I owed them for allowing me to be part of the family. In mid conversation, I hung the pay phone up and didn't speak to any of them for over 18 years.
I reconnected when I received a Facebook message my Mother was very ill and might be dying. She lived for another three years. And while we talked very little about my childhood she did appear to regret the past . And I am glad I was able to say goodbye.
I once told a very close friend about my childhood experiences with sexual abuse. She was also a CSA survivor, that is why I felt comfortable to share. Initially, she was very understanding and sympathetic. Then I did something that made her angry with me. She used every secret I had shared as a way to hurt me. She said that because I am male, the abuse wasn't real CSA. That I deserved what happened to me. She wanted me to know I wasn’t human and there was something wrong with me. When we were friends she was on my side, but once I made her angry the secrets I shared became weapons she used against me.
The urban legend is that all males who are molested as children grow up to be molesters. This is not true. More and better research needs to be done to dispel that myth. But that is still out there. Who wants to talk about a terrible thing that happened to him as a child only to have their friend ask if they can be trusted around children? Relationships have been destroyed over sharing this secret with a significant other. Fathers have lost their children. All over an urban legend that everybody “just knows,” but isn't true.
1 in 6 males are sexually abused in their lifetimes. Some when they are young and some when they are older. Some by strangers and some by family. In my case it started at 3 and it was by family.
I am a male survivor. We are real, we exist, and we share in the same pain as other
survivors. Hopefully a place can be found for us to heal.
- Gordon Green
Gordon is 40 + year building trades journeyman, as well as an Ordained Pagan Minster with The Sacred Well Congregation International. He is a CSA , rape, and incest survivor. As a male survivor, he hopes to brings men's voices into the discussion of surviving and healing from incest.