Why Was My Voice So Small?

An 8-year-old child of divorce, Thom wanted approval from his Scoutmaster. Instead, he was preyed on. Fifty years later, the effects of the abuse still loom large.

In the world of little boys, the true heroes are the rescuers. From fictional superheroes to local firemen, well-trained soldiers to clumsy dads, the men we admire are the ones who have the answers to the problems that threaten the world. We want men to be men and come to the rescue. And we believe they will.
But not all rescues are welcome.

In 1962, with the disintegration of our family and the departure of my dad, the world in which I lived desperately needed someone to come to its rescue. Our house on Texas Street was still familiar; the yard was the same; the trains just as loud and wall-rattling as they clipped the yard on their way to somewhere … somewhere else. But it was the unfamiliar quiet which cried out. There was no longer a creak from the living room chair; no sound of beer cans opening, no glow of my father’s cigarette from the backyard where he would have stood to scan the night sky. No hearty laughs.

He left, which is what I wanted to do—walk away from the bagworm-infested trees and the heat of the summer. I was ready to wander away from the pain and confusion, but had nowhere to go.

I loved that old house, though it held its fears. I loved it when our family would sit around the table in the dining room with bowls of pinto beans and cornbread and sour pickles and great glasses of sweet iced tea. I loved the time Daddy brought home a pet skunk. It had the run of the house, but usually just hid in the hall closet and dashed out only to taunt my mother and provoke an argument about the absurdity of a rodent rummaging among our Sunday clothes.

The fear? It was the attic opening above the hallway between the dining room and the kitchen, slightly askew as if it were frequently used by someone living up there that came out only in the dark, perhaps to itself rummage the closet in my bedroom or slide beneath my bed. When I would be sent to the kitchen to refill the tea pitcher or bring more bread, I would skirt along the wall and keep an eye on that opening.

When I look back now, I am comforted to know that as a 7-year-old, my fears were so benign and common: dark and empty attics, monsters under beds. That would end at the age of 8, to be replaced by fears that moved inside of me to produce a different darkness.

♦◊♦

“Rescue” came in 1962.

For the first few years after my parents’ divorce, the Continental Trailways bus between Denton and Fort Worth was the connection between my dad and his children. Sometimes Daddy would take the bus to Denton for a day in the park; sometimes all four of us children would board the bus for the trip to Fort Worth for a walk in the zoo and an evening of biscuits and pinto beans in Daddy’s little apartment.

The bus was loud and smelly and the people, despite the fact they were on a bus headed to some specific designation, looked lost and wandering and self-absorbed, which is how I felt. Though we would laugh and share the inner jokes of siblings, pestering the passengers, exhausting the good will of the driver, the bus became a symbol for never being home, but just somewhere in between.

Within a year of the divorce, the bus trips became less frequent. Daddy was often broke and unable to afford the ticket to come see us, or the four children’s fares for us to go see him. We began to find other ways to spend our Saturdays. Movie matinées and Milk Duds, swimming with cousins on my mother’s side, cashing in coke bottles for comic books to curl up in a world of conquering heroes.

Home still echoed an aching emptiness I was sure would never go away. Everything was a reminder. The space in the driveway where Daddy used to park his car. The disappearance of the ash trays in the living room. No vienna sausages in the pantry. No snoring at night; no red flickering of his cigarettes in the darkened living room where he would wander to try to figure things out. No weekend fishing trips to Bridgeport. No skunk. No one to chase away the monsters or straighten the tilting attic door. We soon moved and Texas Street moved into memory.

♦◊♦

Mother worked hard to fill the emptiness, loading us up to go to drive-in movies at night, putting together picnics on the weekend, bringing home a new puppy. Still, she knew my brother Mike and I needed the influence of men in the absence of our father. We were too cooped up with sisters, and my brother—five years older than I—was already beginning to find his own way out into a more adventuresome world.

When Mike came home with the news that a bunch of the boys in the neighborhood were being rounded up to start a new scout troop, Mother was all for it. A young, clean-cut outdoorsman and self-proclaimed scoutmaster, Mr. Hooten, had been showing off his collection of hatchets and knives, outdoor gadgets and camping gear. He had a way with words and weapons. Like all the boys, we were hooked. Mr. Hooten was going to build the sharpest Scout troop in Texas and every boy in the neighborhood was welcome to join and march in formation into manhood. I was, of course, way too young.

I took to Mr. Hooten right off. He reminded me of all the good things about Daddy. Mr. Hooten decided I could join the troop—unofficially—even though I was only 8, several years too young. He promised Mother he would watch out for me; he promised my brother he would not let me be too big a pest. And he promised me he’d “protect” me from the older boys, just in case any of them might be bullies. I was parading in the personal attention. I was finally someone’s favorite, and I was anxious to learn all the things Mr. Hooten could teach me.

Mr. Hooten was a pedophile. Sick and sly, he knew how to take a little boy’s grin of anticipation and turn it for his personal satisfaction. He “protected” me as anyone would valuable personal property. I was not a member of the troop; I was his.

The sexual abuse began innocently enough, creeping in like a welcome sunrise on a clear morning that gives no hint of the storms to come in the heating of the day. If sin announced itself, like the first incoming missile of an air war, we could duck and run for cover. It doesn’t happen that way. Sin slides in.

Mr. Hooten was a sick man with a twisted mind and a way of making evil look and feel like love.

Mr. Hooten’s favorite activity was movie night. He would order movies boys love—westerns and war movies and hokie horror flicks—and we’d all crowd into the community room he’d borrow from the city. Movie night was a reward for the hard work of memorizing oaths and carving pinewood derby cars. There, in the dark, perhaps 30 young teenage boys and a little brother or two would sprawl on the floor and become enthralled in the adventures on the screen. There, in the dark, Mr. Hooten became enthralled with me. I didn’t mind. I admired him; he cared about me. Sitting closely in front of him in the crowded room, I welcomed his arm around me as he would pull me back towards him and slide me down so I would be comfortable and he could see above my burr-cut head. I didn’t mind the backrub, the slow movements of his strong hands along my spine. It didn’t seem wrong when he reached around in front and rubbed my chest and stomach and pulled me closer. There, in the dark, with all my friends around, it didn’t even seem strange when he fondled me through my jeans, or even when he began to reach inside, never taking his eyes off the screen. He was, after all, Mr. Hooten. It couldn’t be wrong. He even called me Tom-Bo, the nickname my Dad had given me. I began to live for Friday nights.

♦◊♦

My daddy had taken our family on a few campouts when I was a little boy. He’d even driven us all the way out to Yellowstone National Park where we slept in a tent and listened for bears and took hikes and identified berries and skipped rocks on streams. I missed those days, so I was very excited when Mr. Hooten said our troop was going to camp—and I could go along. He assured my mother I’d be safe. In fact, he said, I could sleep in his tent to make sure the older boys played no late night pranks on me.

When I was with Mr. Hooten, I felt loved and accepted and singled out. He knew that. I was so easily taken in by him. I anticipated the camping trip with more excitement than any Christmas. I packed my things weeks ahead, complaining incessantly to my mother that I needed a sleeping bag we couldn’t afford. Mr. Hooten told me not to worry about it; he had one for me. He would take care of everything.

Continued on the next page …

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About Thom Hunter

Thom Hunter is a full-time author. His latest book is Surviving Sexual Brokenness: What Grace Can Do, from WestBow Press. Thom's blog, Signs of a Struggle, focuses on sexual brokenness and its impact on families, culture and the church.

Comments

  1. Mervyn Kaufman says:

    This is beautifully and chillingly written, but is it really fiction? It reads like well-thought-out memoir, a story that demands to be told. I was drawn into it immediately and hung on every word. But as I read it, I thought to myself, “This really happened.” Did it?

    • YES! it really happened! It happens every day and it happens, often times, just like this. To little boys and little girls. And yes, the “side effects” are exactly as he said. Talk to your children, make sure they can talk to you. That’s the best thing you can do, I guess.

  2. Mervyn,

    Thank you for reading my story and taking the time to think it through and comment. I believe, like you, that this story needs to be told on behalf of the many who have remained quiet. And yes, it “really happened.” No enhancement. No fiction. Still, God is good and I know now that His grace is greater than anything we will ever face.

  3. Melanee Lisa Davidson says:

    Thank you, Thom, for TRUSTING JESUS when He Rescued you!!!
    God bless you, brother!
    Peace,
    Melanee
    (P.S. I need to purchase your book, Surviving Sexual Brokenness: What Grace Can Do, & get to reading!)
    (P.P.S. It was great seeing you in January!)

  4. Thank, you Melanee. And thanks for the book plug. LOL. (Amazon has it at a great price right now.)

  5. I appreciate your perspective and your story, but the anti-gay sentiment that is worked in here really rubbed me the wrong way. It is fine that you have had these personal life experiences and made the choices that you have about same-sex attractions, but most people with same-sex attractions are not abuse victims, acting out, or sexually broken—that is you projecting your experiences onto others and perpetuating homophobia and hate.

    • Switchintoglide,

      Thank you for your comment. If you have been to my blog, then you know that I did not come to my beliefs about same-sex attraction lightly. I am sorry that you somehow sense homophobia or hate. Neither are true of me. I believe differently than you do apparently, but my desire is to be compassionate. I don’t think I have failed at that. I’m neither homophobic or hateful.

      I do believe that my early indoctination to sex through abuse, coupled with my father leaving did affect my sexual identity and development. I know that many others share that belief, but I have never claimed that all men and women who are attracted to the same sex were victims of abuse. I think you have placed your own biases into my story. That said, I understand the sensitivity you may be feeling.

      As I said in the story, I do not even know whether Mr. Hooten was gay or straight. I only know that he molested boys. Pedophiles can be heterosexual or homosexual. Regardless, we need to protect children. Being a victim will result in some brokenness, whether it be sexual or of the spirit.

      I am neither homophobic or hateful. My desire is share the truth, as I know it, with compassion.

      • I am just wondering what I am supposed to make of the following passages from your work then:

        “I know what statistics show—that a great majority of grownups with sexual identity problems were abused as children or abandoned by their fathers, or both. . .”

        Can I see a citation from somewhere other than the Family Research Council the corroborates this claim?

        And what of this, from the banner of your website:

        “Many men and women struggle with sexual identity, fighting an urge to “act out” in their sexual brokenness. This struggle can be all-consuming at times and extremely costly.

        From the video on your website:

        “Decades of divorce, sexual promiscuity, and moral ambiguityhave combined to produce a wave of sexual brokenness that rampages through the social structure.”

        And from the sidebar of your website:

        I hope you will read my personal story of sexual brokenness and my struggle with unwanted same-sex attraction in The Weight of Who I Am, my serialized biography.

        The first nine chapters of The Weight of Who I Am have been written. I’ve moved them to a separate blog, which can be accessed at this link: The Weight of Who I Am.

        The Weight of Who I Am describes my personal journey. How does a first-grader find his way out of the safety of the playground and onto the wayward path that leads to years of sexual confusion, pain and deception . . . and how does the broken man he becomes find his way back out of that darkness?

        I hope the transparency with which I share my story will be helpful to you in your understanding of the issue of sexual brokenness and the damage it does as it takes who we were meant to be and makes us someone else, someone only God’s love, shared by those who love God, can repair.

        I respect your personal choice not to act on your same-sex desires–I believe in the freedom to make those choices for everyone. I just don’t understand how I am not to interpret what you have written here as a conservative indictment of gays, lesbians, people with multiple partners, and divorced individuals.

        Again, I found your story to be devastating and affecting, but how can I not see the conclusions you have drawn as hateful?

        • And once again, to note, this is not to minimise what you have been through as a survivor of sexual assault. I just want that to be clear. However, we all have to take responsibility for how we use our stories and life experiences, and how they effect others on this earth. I remember the whole “Coming Out Straight” brou-ha-ha, and I can’t help but think of Richard Cohen’s work when I read yours. This interview is about his books, and I think it illustrates some of the flaws with that whole mode of thinking:

          http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26315908/#34337416

          • switchintoglide,

            You do me a great disservice by linking me in any way to the attitudes expressed in the video. If anything, it shows that you have little insight into me at all. Indeed, I have been involved with others in the effort to shed light on the horrors of the Ugandan bill. I am not, as I have stated, a person who spends his time trying to convince men and women not to be gay or making them feel bad about themselves. I do believe that if a person comes to know Christ, then Christ may very well lead them to question, re-evaluate and seek to change. If that be the case, it is not an easy thing to do. I offer encourage and support and grace, as Christ would.

            You misrepresent me entirely if you think my “mode of thinking” aligns with the video. I’m not sure if you are trying to hijack the thread here or if you really have misinterpreted me that badly.

            I’m not sure this is the place for the debate on homosexuality. That is not what this story is about.

        • I speak of “unwanted” same-sex attraction because there are plenty of men and women who struggle with homosexuality, but because of their faith or personal understanding, do not “want” it. I’m sure you know that. I know from personal interactions with others and through direct counseling with both secular and Christian psychiatrists and counselors that introduction to sex at an early age and under distressing situations does indeed contribute to sexual identity issues for many. I did not say all. I do believe it did for me. Regardless, my decisions as an adult are my responsibility.

          Also, when I speak of “sexual brokenness,” I use it as a term that encompasses various sexual problems, including heterosexual sex addiction, pornography addiction, idolatry and other sexual issues which may be less common, but are clearly a “brokenness.” For me, personally, and for many others, homosexuality is brokenness. I do not write in an effort t convince people to reject homosexuality for themselves if they believe it is right and good for them. I made a choice. You made a choice. They were not the same. As a Christian, I felt that my choice afforded me the best opportunity to feel whole and to lead a life that pleases God. It has been hard at times, but I believe it is right for me. Many others do as well.

          No, I do not see why you come to the conclusion that my views are hateful. Anyone who has been a victim of a pedophile knows that it, as you noted from my website “takes who we were meant to be and makes us someone else.”

          I do appreciate your positive comments about the story.

          • Again, I am not trying to malign you, and I apologise if I came across as rude–I appreciate your taking the time to respond. Part of my objections are based on a knee-jerk reaction based on what I have seen from people who promote “gay-to-straight” therapy or prayer, which has psychologically and emotionally broken quite a few people in my life. I will try to keep my own biases in check.

            I am not trying to hijack the thread, I am just trying to understand where you are coming from with the idea of “sexual brokenness.” Is it a term you apply to people who use pornography, have same-sex attraction, have been divorced, or who are promiscious, or is it a term you have used as one of self-idenitification to find healing?

            Also, since I know quite a few gay Christians who don’t see their sexuality conflicting with a relationship with Christ, I am wondering if those people still have a place in your idea of the church, or are they sinners in your eyes? I realise that you made a choice that was healthy and good for you, and I applaud you for that, but do you think that your message could be damaging?

            I am approaching this with curiosity and an open mind, as well as respect for your point of view. I am just looking for an open conversation about about the relationship between sexuality and the church, as I was raised religious. I am heterosexual, actually, but I am involved in a lot of work with LGBTQ teens who have been really scarred by church doctrines telling them they are evil or broken. What can be done for these youth who don’t want to change their same-sex attractions in order for them to be accepted in the church and their communities?

            • SaynaTheSpiffy says:

              Thank you for pointing out these things about the author. I feel betrayed that this site would post something from an anti-gay author.

            • Sayna . . . I am not “anti-gay.” As a Christian, I know from God’s Word that every one of us — heterosexual or homosexual — is broken in some sense. If not, why would it have been necessary for Christ to have come? Regarding homosexuality, I do believe — based on the clarity with which I think the Bible speaks — that homosexual activity is a sin . . . just as is heterosexual lust, adultery, pornography and host of other things. Even so, there is no hierarchy of sin. That’s a human thing, not a God thing, and it has been very painful for people. I don’t pursue gay people and push them to change. Only God can really change people and only if they are willing. Please don’t feel betrayed by the site. They chose a story that deals with the pain of sexual abuse, an issue that impacts people of either sexual persuasion. It’s a story that needs to be told. Just because someone comes with a differing position on an issue should not make you feel betrayed.

            • I don’t see my being homosexual as a sin. There are many other things that are regarded in the bible. Do you agree with all of them as well. Every touched a real football? That’s a sin. Do you wear clothing made from more than one type of material? That’s a sin. Stoned anyone lately. That’s pretty big in the bible.

              The bible is a book written by men. Each of these men had their own prejudices.

  6. What a very powerful testimony…thank you for sharing. A friend of mine posted this on Facebook, and I decided to read it. It is appalling what some people will do out of their own desires…especially hurting a child in that process, but, as you said, there is One who can heal those wounds. “My grace is sufficient for thee, for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” Thank you again for sharing, Bro. Hunter.

  7. Thank you for sharing this Thom. People out there need to know how easily it happens and how badly it can damage you.

  8. oakyafterbirth says:

    That was incredibly well written, touching, and thought provoking.

    Your thoughts of forgiveness to those who have hurt us, even in ways as damaging as sexual abuse, are encouraging and unplifting. I was abused myself and learning to forgive the people who had hurt me was the most liberating, healing thing- a true turning point in recovery. It did not come easily, nor is it easy for many people who haven’t experienced abuse to understand, but it made all the difference. Many things that we encounter in life are beyond our control, but we decide how we allow ourselves to be shaped.

    Thank you for sharing your story. You are a good person.

    • Oakyafterbirth,

      You have it right. No matter what is done to us, our response is still our own. I think it begins with forgiveness because that is the point at which we stop letting others have control.

      Gos bless.

  9. Hi Thom, just ordered your book via Amazon.
    I think the worst kind of abuse is – Spiritual Abuse,
    perpetrated under “godly” authority ie: “In the Father’s Name” or
    “The Bible tells me so”. Fathers, Pastors, Elders people highly regarded in society and the Church.
    Hypocrites and white-washed sepulchres perhaps?

  10. Switchintoglide,

    It might be better, since your questions are well-meant and well-deserving of a thorough response, to continue this in e-mail. As I said, I hate to take the conversations away from the issue of pedophilia, or to give people the mistake impression that I see pedophilia to be a homosexual issue.

    I do agree with you that the church has frequently mishandled sexuality and the various problems that Christians and church members experience. As we study sin, we tend to forget that our main commandment as followers of Christ is to love others. While I do consider acting out on homosexual temptation to be a sin, I also know that we all sin and that the person who considers himself to be homosexual is, like me, created in the image of God and very valuable to Him. We have a lot to learn about hoe we are to treat each other.

    If you view the YouTube trailer on my book, you will see that I boldly take issue with the way the church has handled sexuality. And yes, I do use the term “sexual brokenness” to describe any sexuality that is outside of a one man-one woman monogamous marriage, which is what I believe the Bible makes clear as God’s intent. Here’s the YouTube link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jt7LdZwegkU

  11. I may have missed something, but it seems to me the story is incomplete. Have you ever done anything to bring Hooten to justice? If he is still alive and you haven’t, I think you should.

    • Larry,

      Thank you for reading the story. How I have wished for many years that I could complete that part of the story. I do not know what became of Mr. Hooten. I tried for years to find him. Not long after I was molested, my mother married the first of three stepfathers. We moved frequently. I returned to Denton in late junior high. I was still, at that time, carrying the secret. Through the years I tried to find anyone who knew Mr. Hooten and failed. I have done Internet searches to no avail. It is my hope that he is dead. I publicly use his real name — if it was indeed his real name — in the hopes that someone will recognize him and come forth. Personally,I believe pedophilia to be a crime just below murder because it takes a life that would have been and makes it something else. For instance, it is of great concern to me that Sen. Scott Brown seems to think he need not pursue his perpetrator. I think that is inexcusable.

  12. WOW! That is the first thing that came to mind. The other thing was, “Will I ever be in a place that he is in.” the place I am referring to is one that you are writing and being transparent and helping people.

    I to was molested when I was 8, but by my step dad. I am 29 now married for 7 years and have a 5 month old daughter. However, I still feel pulled back into my childhood, like I can’t get over what happened. Like you said when you tell some people they are like “get over it.” That is what my brother tells me, I want to stab him and say get over it.

    I find myself addicted to sex and food, not at the sametme lol. I long to be sexual with men, yet that goes completely agaist my faith and my oath to my wife. I am gong to need to buy your book, just I am not much of a reader and it is difficult to find time with this new baby of ours.

    I talk to ever new preacher and tell them my story, maybe in hopes they will have a pill to cure this in me.

    Thank you for writing this.

    • DW,

      There are SO SO many things you could do to them with an end-statement of “get over it.” However, I strongly suggest you pick just one.

      My favorite is to fuck with their mind. Show them something on the web so disgusting and trippy-psycho-perverted internet shit that no one will ever forget. Then tell them “try not to think about this next time you are having sex with your wife. I dare ya…dont think about this.”

      Holy God…does that ever work. LOLs all around!!!!!

      When they call you to bitch about it…you know what to tell them.

  13. DW,

    Thanks for reading the story. I’m sorry that you, like me, were sexually-abused as a boy. And I’m very sorry that your brother has not been more supportive of you. That kind of reaction just deepens the pain and makes it even harder to move on. You have your faith and your family, which is a real blessing. You haven;t given up, even though you are facing a tough temptation towards same-sex relationships, something that happens often to abused boys who long for right relationships with men, but find it hard not to long for something physical. It’s a tough battle and one that is so hard for others to understand. It is particularly difficult when it conflicts with your personal beliefs as a Christian.

    I hope you will read Surviving Sexual Brokenness: What Grace Can Do. I have a feeling you’ll find a lot of encouragement there. I remember when we were raising our children. It can be hard to find time to read, but, if it helps any, the chapters are short. LOL.

    You might consider getting a copy for your preacher. The book targets — with grace — today’s church and its ineffectiveness in dealing with the sexual brokenness that impacts Christians as much as it does non-believers.

    And you never know, DW, you may find that someday you will be comfortable with transparency. I only took that route because I thought it might be helpful to others.

    God Bless,

    Thom

  14. Thank you for this courageous disclosure. There is so much important here. The traumatization of lack of rescue, lack of belief in the child and the child’s story can be as harmful as the original event, sometimes moreso. Abuse is so terrible, but it is often only one person. When society fails to believe the child and act on behalf of the child, the child loses all sense of safety and security in the world. I wonder what would have been different for the author if he had been believed and the scoutmaster had been imprisoned and the Boy Scouts could have done an internal investigation.

  15. Agonizing, devastating, but even more, beautifully written. Thank you for having the courage to share this experience, and its legacy, with us. I am sure many will relate all too well.

  16. Rose Gardener says:

    I was very moved by your story ,Thom. It seems strange to talk of forgiveness as a means of healing the pain, yet I know of no other ‘cure’. Maturity is required to understand that the person can be forgiven and the self must be forgiven, even though the acts perpetrated against us remain unforgivable. Perhaps that is why so many struggle through a tattered childhood, rebel and self-destruct in young adulthood and only find the courage to truly face the past and forgive in mid-life or later. To be a rescuer takes courage. You displayed it when you sought to rescue yourself by talking as a child, when you found forgiveness in your heart and again when you chose to use your writing skills to share your story so eloquently.

    I hope that reading your story will help others find the innate courage we all possess and allow them to become rescuers too. Whether it is the self or another soul who needs to be rescued, it is the shutting of eyes and closing of ears when children do speak out which we need to change.

  17. Thank you so much for your article and your mission to help! My brother was molested by our priest and then shot himself at 25. I wish he could have had support of other survivors dealing with the same feelings. My own childhood sexual abuse needed healing to stay alive, too. I found a “get over it” statement repeated on this page. I wrote about this same statement, too, in my own book. If I may quote from it–
    “…members of my family accused me of focusing on the bad, and suggested I think of the good times in my childhood because there were good times. I’m sure there were.
    But to find the good in my childhood meant sifting through the bad, like finding a needle in a haystack. And to get to that needle I would have to get my hands filthy in the hay. I would have to look at it, touch it, weed through it, breathe its dust, cough, and gag upon it. It wasn’t worth it to me. I wanted to just turn away and never look back.
    When I was asked a question or told a story that reminded me of something from my past, the voices sent a cold chill down my spine; the demands and pressure to remember began to torment me.
    “Turn around, look at the haystack, don’t you remember that needle?”
    Torment. Don’t they know it’s painful to remember.
    No. I won’t turn around, I won’t look at it. It hurts to even try and see that little girl.
    “What is wrong with her? Why do you do this to us every time? She’s crazy, always wanting sympathy or something. Get over it.”
    The inner tears began to fall.
    Get over it? Tell me now, how do you get over a massive, dirty, dusty pile of hay and not sink with the first two steps, only to stab a needle into your foot?” –from Tiffany Twisted (2004, 2011)

  18. I wonder if there is a difference between men molested as children on a handful of occasions and people like myself who were molested throughout their entire childhoods by their own, real not step, fathers?

    I feel like it is a double violation and when it goes on for so many years (mine went from my earliest memories until I was 12) I suspect it must do tremendous damage. It certainly feels like it does.

    I also find in interesting that someone in my position, someone raised in a hyper-sexual and (homosexually so) environment over time would still turn out to be completely straight (and, fortunately, without attraction to children). It makes me certain that our sexuality is something we are born with because if I turned out straight it must be nature as nurture certainly steered me towards gay.

    Anyway, don’t want to get into an argument over the nature/nurture thing. Just pointing out my personal experience as it relates.

    My life was severely impacted by what my father did. More so than he probably even suspects to this day. He molested myself and my sister and I suspect a number of other children. Today, 30 years later, he is “saved” and is a state level leader in his church. Beloved by many people and looked to as a stand-up leader and get things done kind of man. I still catch him staring longingly at children, though. I guess some things cannot be salvaged no matter what, eh?

    My email is fake. Sorry, I’m sure you understand.

  19. Why is humanity in such a state that anyone can even question this happening?

    I do know why we could never tell, and there’s no regret in not telling. Society was not geared for even hearing it.

    The lead perpetrator (an older boy of town stature) once asked me (at age 10), “how do let us keep doing this to you?” That moment in time sealed the destruction.

  20. @ Rob: Thanks for the chuckle about how to deal with the “get over it” people; I’ll have to try that.

    @ Thom: First, thank you for sharing your voice. There are so few male survivors speaking out. However, as helpful as hearing your story can be to a fellow survivor like myself,some of your replies here concerning “gay is sin” have hurt and troubled me. I’m a bi male survivor of incest from both parents, 19 years child sexual abuse, torture and domestic violence, and my father who first raped me at age four, began renting me to men regularly at age five. One of those abusers was a fire and brimstone preacher. My father raised me to believe the lie that he was god. Therefore I’m wary of religion and church has little value to me. My main caregiver (I have many disabilities due to my abuse as well as bipolar to battle) is my live-in boyfriend. If not for the love we share, I would have committed suicide under the weight of the horror of my abuse and the problems I have as a result. Those who say “gay is sin” and then insist they don’t hate gays? I assure you, when LGBT people hear this, we feel hated. Words can harm as much as stones and religion will not lure us to its flock while calling us sinners for how we’re born, how we express love. Love is love. Real love is not abuse, and it is not sin. I’m sorry you were abused. But if you call the way LGBT loves a sin, you are offering us hate, not love. I wish you peace.

  21. Thank you for being so brave to write this…so chilling…!

    It is so classic and so invisible how predators slip into the lives of children and seamlessly fill in the emotional gaps and engage in psychological warfare with young psyches until the prey does not know what is wrong and what is right….The way you describe the slithery moves the predator made in the dark movie room was really unnerving…and frightening….! To this day, if men get too close to me or sit too close on the train/subway, I have to get up and move away…sometimes I feel such a bad vibe from certain people…

    • Leia,

      Thanks for your comment. I think those of us who have experienced sexual abuse and betrayal as a child do develop a bit of an enhanced ability to discern potential harm and makes us a bit wary of some people, perhaps those who remind us of the perpetrator. On the other hand, I still find myself a bit too trusting at times, still wanting to believe that most people mean well for others. The passage of time does nothing to dull the sadness of knowing that decades removed from my own abuse, and with so much information out there, we do so little to protect the innocent.

  22. Regarding sexual identity:

    We survivors do not have to edit our survival theories and methods to be “politically correct,” or to make anyone else feel better. I did that for far too long! (I’m gonna say that one again)

    We survivors do not have to edit our survival theories and methods to be “politically correct,” or to make anyone else feel better.

    • Rob,

      I’ve often wondered how best to respond to people who read stories like mine and then focus in on the issue of sexual identity, perhaps because that’s the part that speaks to them most personally. I’ve never been quite sure how to respond. You did it well and I appreciate that.

      I’m sorry for the obvious pain in your past and I am very thankful to hear you use the term “survivor.”

      God Bless,

      Thom

  23. An horrific experience; so beautifully written. A complex issue put into words those who have been abused can identify with. Your gift of words; the ability to express what others are feeling is a true comfort to so many. Your voice is SO important to this issue.
    wwwsomesecrets.info

  24. A similar story but I was a few years older. And although I moved away from him because I grew out of the scouts I allowed many others to cross those boundaries, and as your words above clearly stated, I had “an inability to say no to others in relationships”. I allowed many others to do the same, over and over. The attention and pleasure was wonderful but showed up as shame for decades to come. I allowed it to happen, and at times I sought it out. So I was the bad one. Funny, I sought professional help a number of times between my early 20s thru my mid 40s and never once brought the issue up for discussion, until I started working with someone that found a way for me to share it. Or maybe I was just ready…

    On the day we buried my younger brother, a tragedy in itself – I shared my story to my siblings and parents. My mothers words, as my father was shaking his head… “We knew that man was strange, and there was something wrong with him”. And my response “Why did you leave me at his house”…..My long time thinking that my parents “Did the Best Job they could” (I was the 2nd of 7)…..shifted – to “They did the best job they could – but it wasn’t good enough”… And Ive come to understand that maybe their own guilt and shame has caused them the inability to say their sorry…which I heard once that day only.

    Juts a few weeks ago, the weekend my father died, my mother and I watching the news, about an abused child – and tragedy….My mother looks at me and states “I don’t know how someone that experiences that can go on” ….

  25. “If sin announced itself, like the first incoming missile of an air war, we could duck and run for cover. It doesn’t happen that way. Sin slides in.”

    I’ve not read a more perfect description of how my experience of abuse progressed. Although I have done plenty of work, after reading these two sentences I feel so much more absolved of responsibility for what was done to me. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Trackbacks

  1. […] A friend of mine, Stan, who is also a victim of abuse too, found this testimony of a man who was abused as a boy on a Scout camp.  It brought tears to my eyes as I read it and I wanted to grieve through […]

  2. […] speak of abusers preying on insecurity, isolation and fear. (One such account can be read at the Good Men Project.)  What could breed more isolation and insecurity than being told you look like a slut? More fear […]

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