Monthly Archives: January 2012

Why I Speak Out

At times the need to speak out to warn or help others is louder than the need to be silent, to protect the self; but fear and shame remain. I stare at that blinking cursor for long agonizing moments. I start, panic, delete; several times. When it finally begins, when I allow myself to share, it often rushes out in an almost painful flood; as though the words fear to be stifled unless they stain the pure white field as fast as blood from a shocking wound. Then, when my finger hovers over the delete key, they stare at me, imploring me to use them, to speak out. This battle with myself will no doubt be familiar to any survivor of any kind of abuse. Even if the words are only for ourselves, it’s still so hard, so traumatic, to write them down. Why?

The process is cathartic; it’s like a strange ritual, a self-therapy where we still fear being judged. We must coax the courage to do so out of a wellspring of fear, condemnation, accusation, neglect, pain, disbelief, conditioning, and lies. If there are no outside witnesses, we can offer up these stumbling blocks, these reasons to be silent, to ourselves; and we often do. I do, every time I write these essays, letters, or my poetry. I hesitate, I question; because the belief that I am worthless and nobody cares, or they won’t believe me, has been instilled in me since birth. So to overcome it, to not only write my fears but to share them – takes an act of desperate lunatic courage at times.

For me, the main motivator is to help others. In the midst of my abuse years, a baby, a child, a teen – I was powerless, cowed, terrorized, and brainwashed. Too physically weak, too emotionally numb, too mentally conditioned, to help myself. Nobody noticed, or if they did, they were too afraid, or just “too busy” to help me. The realization of that, the hopelessness of it, nearly made me give up so many times. So now, as an adult who has found a new and loving family, a survivor who works to reassemble the pieces (in spite of all the missing ones) of the person I am left with; how can I do nothing to help those who languish in the same hell I have begun to crawl out of? Nobody helped me, but is that a reason to refuse to help others? No. All those prayers, wishes, and day dreams of help, of escape that went unanswered, I can answer them for somebody else now. I know if I can help somebody just like me, even just one, then it’s maybe like somebody helping me back then. It may not change anything for me, for my daily battle to survive, to stay alive – but it could mean life or death to the person who reads my words. I may want to see those who harmed me punished, but my silence only punishes those just like me.

Yet I do believe that speaking out to help others can and does help me in one way – it gives my suffering a purpose if not a reason. Child sexual abuse, physical, verbal, and mental abuse, and rape are such terrible senseless crimes, there is no way to “make sense“ of it, even if psychoanalysis attempts to sort out why abusers do it. Survivors can have a purpose though, to help others, and it can help us to feel that we have found a way to make it stop for somebody just like us.

Another critical way speaking out helps others is by bringing awareness to those who can prevent these horrors from happening to anybody else. All people who are horrified by any kind of abuse, if they are armed with the knowledge of what to watch for, how to prevent, to stop, to help and they use what they know – then the numbers of the abused can start to shrink, and victims can find the courage to seek help and become survivors. I also hope my words may show them that the abusers rarely turn out to be that “weird loner man with the limp and hunchback”. Pedophiles, rapists, and other abusers can be anybody, and the pedophiles especially are often people that everybody knows and trusts. They can be parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, babysitters, stepparents, siblings, teachers, neighbors, school friends, or anybody else. They can be lawyers, doctors, politicians, coaches, or respected business owners. There are myths to dispel and signs to learn to see.

When I write of my pain, the horror and confusing suffering I endured directly for nineteen years at the hands of my father and other men, I think about the little boy I used to be. As I write about the decade that followed my abuse years, some of it spent homeless or engaging in prostitution to eat and survive, and later spent sorting through the ashes as I tried to learn how to become a human being, I imagine the little boy I was, because it all began with him, with how he was treated. I see him, long black and often filthy hair, bright blue eyes wide with pain and wet with tears, pale slender body marked with bruises and scars, a voice nearly cut out of his maimed face by a cruel and angry man, his father…. I see him and I tell him, “I’m going to help you. I care, I want to save you, and I’m going to do something to make your pain stop. You are precious and special, and you deserve to be loved, to be safe. I’m going to do something, I promise. I’ll fight my fears, my shame, my guilt and regrets. I’ll battle my feelings of worthlessness, my paranoia that others may despise me or be disgusted by my past, or that they may not believe me. I’ll set them aside for you, so that my words can help you.”

If you are reading this, whether you’re a survivor or just a person who knows a child or anybody else who may be abused and needs help – what will you say to that little boy? He is a symbol of so many others. Will you promise to learn what you need to so that you can help children like him? Or will you say, “Not just now, I’ll do it tomorrow.” Don’t wait. We all have lives to live, food to acquire to provide for our loved ones, I know that; but do something, I implore you. Even if all you do is donate to organizations that help children, or anybody else who needs help to escape abuse. Intervene for somebody who is being bullied. Call a congressman to tell them you don’t want to see more kids lose hope and kill themselves. Help in any way you can.

Each bruise or cut that mars the innocent flesh of a child may as well spell out the words: “I’m busy now, I’ll do something to help you tomorrow.” For that child, tomorrow may be too late.

~ ~ ~

© W.R.R. 1/30/2012
You can find me on Twitter via my survivor journal at @AsAshesScatter or my personal account at @RagMan_RIP.
To help in any way, these organizations and people (via Twitter) are a good place to start:


Blood On Their Hands: Paterno, Penn State, and the Rape of Children

As a survivor of child rape, the following statements on Twitter this morning concerning the death of ex-coach Joe Paterno disgust me:

“Sad to hear about Joe Paterno. Penn State treated an icon like garbage. Shame on them. Rest in peace Joe pa.”

“Poor Joe Paterno. Shame on the media for always saying that he was involved in a sex scandal! JoePa was a good man. I’m a PSU alum.”

Here’s the only one I can agree with:

“Joe Paterno. Good coach. Bad guy. His legacy is forever tarnished by his inaction.”

The rape of children is not a “sex scandal”, it’s a horrific crime that can ruin a child for life even if they do find the courage to keep fighting and stay alive. A sex scandal is when two consenting adults have sex with somebody they shouldn’t and the discovery of it is condemned. A pedophile raping many little boys over a span of years under the nose of a coach who knew about it and did nothing to stop it is not a sex scandal. It’s a horrific crime.

Before his death, Paterno admitted he knew fellow coach Sandusky was assaulting children. He said he didn’t know what to do because he “had never heard of” male rape. Give me a break, Joe. Sure you never heard of it. You wanted to protect the reputation of your college.

Paterno also admitted he didn’t do enough to make Sandusky stop. So what did he do? He told somebody else and assumed his hands were clean. They were not. The others who were told didn’t do much to stop it or protect those victims either. Don’t get me started on McQueary (an adult with a career at stake) who saw and heard Sandusky committing anal rape on a ten year old boy while pinning him against the wall in the locker room showers. McQueary didn’t call 911, or attempt to save that child. He ran home to tell his daddy, and later told Paterno a watered down version of what he originally reported to his father.

Now Sandusky faces at least 52 counts against him from allegations of 10 victim accusers for raping and molesting them as children.

This is what Paterno and others tried to bury and hide for the sake of their careers and the reputation of a university. The world saw students riot in protest of Paterno being fired, and it looked, to most of us, like students defending a man who did nothing to stop the rape of children.

Now it may take years to wade through the trial of Sandusky and uncover the ugly truths the school officials tried so hard to bury; and for what? For money, for reputation, and for football.

Are these things worth more than a child? Look into the trusting eyes of your children, your nephews or nieces, grandchildren, or even your students. Look at the face of a ten year old boy and try to tell yourself football and the reputation of a college is worth allowing him to be brutally raped. If that were your son, raped by a man… what would you do? Would you be angry that a football coach got fired for not stopping the man who raped your son?

For the victims, there is such a long ugly road ahead as they try to heal. For children it’s worse. For boys, it’s brutal. Boys are supposed to be strong. So many people treat them like they did something wrong. Some are so young, they don’t even know what is happening to them during the rape and they go into shock. Some never come out of that shock, and their whole lives are overshadowed by it. Later at a trial, if their case even gets that far, they’re accused of lying. Or some idiot says “Why didn’t you fight back?” How is that seven or ten year old going to fight off a grown man? I bet McQueary was big enough to make Sandusky stop. Paterno should have been, too. They cared about football and their careers more. The university officials cared about the money football wins bring them, and the reputation of their school. None of them cared about those children, as their innocence, peace, and safety was torn away.

I know what those victims will face as they grow up; if they don’t crumble under the horror, fear, and pain and end up killing themselves to escape it. The first time my father raped me, I was four. I didn’t know what was happening, only that I was in agony, and I wanted to die if it didn’t stop. It did stop. It also happened again, and again. He taught me that I’d been born to provide sex for him, and nobody stopped him. Later at five, he began to rent my body out to his “friends”, other pedophiles he sought out. Nobody stopped it.

I can’t shed a tear for the passing of a football legend coach who did nothing to save those children. All of his record breaking wins are shards of glass for those boys to crawl over as they fight to live with their pain and horror for as long as they can endure it.

You want to be angry and regretful for the messy end to Paterno’s life? I can’t stop you. Though he had since way back in 2002 to do something to make a different outcome. He chose to do nothing. For that, he shares the blame and the shame of the rapist himself, along with McQueary and the others who all did nothing, or didn’t do enough.

No matter how much you care about a sport, nothing will change that. Blood on your hands like that? It doesn’t wash off. Go into those showers where the horror and agony, and the brutal betrayal of those innocent and trusting children tore their bodies and shattered their minds – go there and try to wash those hands clean. Then come back out, look those children in the face, and tell them football is more important. It never will be.

~ ~ ~

© W.R.R. 1/22/2012
For all the children survivors of rape. Be strong. You can heal. Speak out; don’t let silence and secrets destroy you. You are loved, you are precious.

Healing Voice

An Open Letter to Adam Lambert
By W.R.R.

Synth notes, a voice, a heartbeat beneath the drums. From the first notes, I took a deep breath, and it was the last breath I managed for awhile. Better Than I Know Myself came into my life, bloomed in my mind, at a bad moment. I wanted to share this with you, to let you know what your music, your voice, and this beautiful new song has meant to me. I wanted to let you know how it helped me.

When I went to therapy on December 16th, there was a new face in the waiting room: a woman. She winced and acted like she was nervous of me when she saw me come in, her behavior giving off the impression that she was afraid of and disgusted by me. The instant I saw her reaction, I knew she was a rape survivor, she had to be. The way she looked at me, she may as well have been wearing a sign.

I was there with my friend, whom I consider my adopted dad. He’s the one who talked me into going to therapy, and my main condition before I agreed was that he would remain with me when I go, even sitting with me in the sessions. He also had to find a female therapist who was willing to agree to my unusual requirements. So there we were, two guys, in a full waiting room populated mostly by women.

Fate hates me; the only open chairs were way too close to the woman who seemed quite upset to see me there. I decided to take the high road and respect her discomfort – I leaned against the wall near the door. Every nervous glance she shot at me began to make me feel sick and stressed out; it made me afraid, too, and almost dizzy. I wanted to bolt out the door, and nearly did. Irrationally, I also wanted to scream at her: “I didn’t hurt you!” This happens to male survivors of rape and child sexual abuse a lot, and each time is once too many. I’m so sad and sorry that she was hurt, but in her eyes, I was a monster just for being male.

The session wasn’t easy, if any of them ever are. We were dealing with my fears of people in general and my ongoing struggles from growing up as a child and teen who was sexually and physically abused by my parents, and my father’s “friends”. I was still terribly upset by that woman’s reaction to me, and could hardly think straight. After the session, I had to spend some time in the men’s room being sick. This is what stress does to me, if I manage to avoid a panic attack. As it turned out, I didn’t avoid it for long.

As we left the office, that woman was leaving too, but she hung back in the hallway to avoid me. I heard her whisper to her lady friend, “Do you think the court makes him get treatment?”

She had assumed I was an offender, a rapist, who had to go to court-appointed therapy. She made this assumption on the simple fact that I’m male and I have facial scars. The dread, hate, and accusation in her eyes terrified me and broke my heart. I was a victim like her, but she didn’t even think that was a possibility, because in her eyes I was an ugly disfigured man, and therefore a criminal.

Her words unraveled me. I am not a monster, I am a survivor. Do not assume I see a therapist to cure me of evil. I am wounded, too. These thoughts chased each other in my head like frightened birds, ramping up my stress.

In the car, stress hitting the red line because I’m terrified to be in cars, it happened; I had a stray suicidal thought. It was so clear, it was practically a vision: I could open the door, fall into traffic, and hope the cars behind would kill me. Right away, I rejected it, but it spiked into a panic attack. In my mind, to drive out the thought, I tried to force it out of my head. I didn’t know I was hitting my head on the door. The door lock cut my forehead and I scared my friend to death. He kept telling me the names of all the people who love me to bring me around. As I began to calm down, he said I should tweet (I’m often on Twitter in unavoidable car rides to ignore my surroundings). Expressing my awful experience and a few thoughts about it on Twitter helped, and I began to calm down more. The kind and supportive responses I received almost immediately also helped a great deal.

At home, I went straight to bed, got a band-aid on my forehead and tried to return to normal. I’ve been in the habit of listening to a collection of interviews of yours, especially the Donor’s Choose series, to calm me when I need to sleep and I’m afraid of nightmares. I promise you I’m not some crazed stalker person, if I ever was in the same room with you, I’d run and hide. It’s just that your voice is soothing. You sound relaxed and friendly in those interviews, and it’s comforting to hear. That day I was too upset though and wasn’t calming down. My family was afraid I’d have another panic attack. My sister had your new song, Better Than I Know Myself, and she sent it to my boyfriend to play it for me. I was expecting the interviews. The music started, and I knew it wasn’t anything I’d heard before. Then I realized what it was just before you began to sing.

The song is beautiful. I know you’ve been told that a lot already by more important people than me. What others don’t tell you enough is how healing your music and your voice is for those in pain. I speak to other fans often who agree with me, that you’ve helped us feel better, even on the worst of days. Your music has given some of us hope, too – just when we were running out of hope.

My boyfriend told me the lyrics meant a lot to him, like you understood how he feels, and he said it was like it was written for us, from him to me. I listened to it on repeat for hours until I could finally fall asleep. I listen to it often, on good days and bad days; and I often wonder if anybody has told you what you mean to them, told you that your voice heals wounds of the heart, the spirit, and the soul. You help us dance, but on bad days, on hard days, you help us breathe, even when you take our breath away. Thank you for sharing your gift. I’m going to listen and breathe, until I’m strong enough again… to dance.

~ ~ ~

© W.R.R. 1/6/2012
For Adam Lambert, my stepping stone; and for all those who have felt the healing spirit in his unrivaled voice. We are still here, and we are listening.