Category Archives: Essay by W.R.R.

The Seeds of Power

The Good Men Project and Guest Editor David Kaiser, PhD, ACC were kind enough to post this essay on the Good Men Project site: The Seeds of Power

My thanks for helping me reach other survivors with my story, in the hope of inspiring them to speak out and get help.

WARNING, this essay contains abuse triggers for some survivors.

It wasn’t the lash of the belt or his hand on my throat that hurt the most, it was the look on his face: pure power, mixed with a dismissive arrogant boredom. I didn’t matter unless I managed to entertain him, either with my body, my humiliation, or my pain. That day, all three hadn’t been enough to earn me anything; not food, reprieve, or mercy.

Today I call myself a survivor, that way station between victim and victor; the struggle for healing between the acts of abuse and the goal of conquering my fears, as well as my mental, emotional, and physical damage. Yet the hard truth of abuse is this: some of these things can never be made right.

The seeds of power start small. The abused sometimes learns to abuse, in some vain and barren attempt to taste what power feels like. We see this in bullies today, so often victims of abuse and ignorance themselves. I never wanted that taste, not that way. Power to me was cruel and cold, terrifying – not a thing to desire, but a thing to flee from, or to obey. Disobedience was a seed too – a seed of powerlessness.

My father blinded my left eye when I was sixteen, to punish me for not coming home from school by the time he’d ordered me to be there. I tried to sneak in, but he was waiting. He hit me, beat me. I hoped that would satisfy his anger, but it didn’t. When I was weakened, he handcuffed my wrists over my head to the newel post of our staircase, sat on my legs, and used his knife to cut the upper eyelid off. He told me that was the intent, and if I didn’t stay still, he’d cut my eye by mistake. He said it would teach me to watch the clock better. That was a lie. He did it to force me to watch as he brought his lit cigar down and slowly pushed it into my eye.

Have you ever felt powerless? Feel the cold of a hard floor, the burn of metal cutting your wrists, of a weight crushing your breath from your body; feel the searing fire as it grinds out your sight. His mercy was to leave the right eye intact, though he often threatened it in the years after.

My father was never diagnosed, but he was a narcissistic sadist and a pedophile, who believed he was a god. His power in the home was absolute, as was the powerlessness of my mother and myself. She, a child of abuse herself, was more of a child than I was in many ways.

Being powerless was my life until I escaped at age nineteen, living on the streets to get away from the abuse, only to find more abuse of many different kinds waiting there.

Today I have a home, a family… and children of my own; my angels, my reason for fighting to survive every day from the damage, the memories. I could rail, cry, and scream about the injustice, but it wouldn’t change a thing. It wouldn’t give me the experience of seeing my children with the sight of two healthy eyes.

With all I still have to struggle with to heal, the only form of power I’ve ever found that helped me was the power to help others by telling my story. So few people who have been abused and raped can tell anybody what happened to them. Most who can talk about it are women; yet there are so few men speaking out. Men and boys have such an awful stigma to fight against, the myth that males cannot be raped, cannot be abused. If they hear other men speak out, it can encourage them to tell somebody they trust, encourage them to seek help.

Now, when men and women tell me that reading my essays and poetry has helped them in some way, hearing that helps me. It starts with a strange swelling in the heart, a timid, fledgling gratitude. These moments are the seeds of power for me; the power to help, to heal.

~ ~ ~

 W.R.R. 3/15/2012
For all survivors of any form of rape or abuse. You are not alone. Speak out. Find your path to healing.

Castration Is Not The Answer

The disgusting miscarriage of justice this morning in the Canadian sentencing of the pedophile monster Graham James has sparked a lot of outrage and hurt. He got two years in prison for over a hundred rapes of teen boys, four of whom I know about; not sure how many victims James hurt. I wasn’t strong enough to let this essay see the light of day when it was written. With the comments of cutting James’s balls off being uttered by people who feel as angry and betrayed by Judge Carlson’s hand-slap sentence as I do, I had to post this in response. Personally, I hope James is harmed in prison; but castration doesn’t stop pedophiles from harming children.

WARNING, this essay contains abuse triggers for some survivors.

In the realm of advocacy fighting for an end to child rape and abuse, and most prevalent in the realm of Twitter, I come across statements of intense emotion from people who are horrified by pedophiles. A report of Jerry Sandusky, under house arrest for 50 counts of pedophilia accusations, spoke of Sandusky wanting to be able to visit his grandchildren. Why anyone would allow this man to see ANY children, ever again, boggles the mind. Yet in this same report, legal folks are arguing about allowing Sandusky to sit on his back porch – when his property happens to face the property of an elementary school. I think that monster needs to have his porch ruled off-limits, but I’m not at all surprised he chose a home next to that school. One response to that report that I saw is a common one, that Sandusky should have had his balls removed years ago. While I can understand and agree with the outrage expressed and the vengeance desired, there is an issue of terrible importance that this whole exchange brings to mind:

Pedophiles, rapists, abusers; these people don’t need testicles or a penis to rape and abuse other people. They can manage just fine with everyday household tools and appliances, or medical equipment.

First off, not all offenders are male. Female offenders can use tools or objects, or their bodies, to rape and abuse. If anybody reading this thinks a woman can’t rape a man or a boy (or another female) you’d be wrong. If you believe a boy can be “initiated into sex” by his “hot” female teacher, and that he should feel proud or lucky, or that he won’t feel any bad affects from the act, you’d be wrong, too. Check out websites and books/articles on rape and child sex abuse for what adult female rape of a teen boy can do to that boy. It’s not pretty, or “lucky”.

Secondly, not all offenders have their genitals anymore. Chemical castration used to be an option for the courts (I’m not sure if this is still the case) and some offenders who claimed they wanted to stop harming others actually asked for this procedure. Studies showed that it wasn’t a perfect solution, either; some offenders had their criminal and horrid urges return over time. Other offenders had vasectomies, volunteered for or not, but not all of those men stopped their crimes. Some offenders have had their genitals removed (by accident or via vigilante revenge) yet those men still commit rape and abuse. How is this possible? Because the urge to harm others is not inside the sex organs – it is inside the mind.

Those who read my journal know that I am a survivor of incest, rape, abuse, and torture. My father trained, conditioned, and taught me from my first memories that I had been born in order to provide him with sex. The first time he raped me I was four years old, but that was not the first time he touched or penetrated my body. What is typically known as “grooming a child” to be a pedophile’s victim was not really necessary in my case. I was in a house with this man, raised to obey him, raised to believe I was his property and had no rights at all. Most of his fascination with torture came along when I was a teen, but as a child, if I didn’t obey or follow instructions/rules to the letter, I was “punished”. Some of these punishments resulted in my worst injuries, a few of which continue to handicap me to this day.

When times got tough, he used his genius wit and social skills to find and gather “clients”, and rented me to other pedophiles. He had a downstairs bedroom off of our living room set aside for this, and scheduled these men for convenient time slots. If they allowed him to watch, they got a discount.

Some of these “clients” I only saw once or a few times, but others became regulars, and my father started referring to them as his “club”. They were prominent and powerful men at the time and he was proud of the fact that he was their leader, because he owned what they all wanted, what he offered to them, without the risk of legal interference. I was trained and owned, so there was no need to abduct boys, no risk of being caught “grooming” their target victims, or acting out on their sick urges. In the privacy of our home, they could pay for exactly which deviant acts they wanted and commit them without fear.

None of these men were anything but horrible rapists and abusers to me, but the worst one was a man who never touched me with anything but his hands and teeth, and the tools and objects he brought with him. It was many “visits” later before I found out why he never raped me the way the others did. He said he needed to piss (they never used child-appropriate language, why would they?) and I almost felt relief because as humiliating as being sat in a tub and used as a lavatory was, it didn’t physically hurt. I was confused when he didn’t order me into the bathroom as a few of the others had done. Then he took down his pants and I was horrified. His genitals were missing. There was a small tube there in folds of skin, like a narrow straw. Now I know the word for “catheter” but I didn’t know anything about that then. He made me use the tube like a straw before bringing out his tools to hurt me. He told me a boy had done that to him, a teen boy. He said if I ever disobeyed, my father would let him do that to me.

This is why I cringe when I see comments like “cut off his balls”. I know the person saying it is simply expressing an outraged reaction to a horrible crime, and I empathize with their horror; but mine goes a lot deeper. I know that cutting off a pedophile’s genitals doesn’t stop them from raping and abusing children. It just makes them use a curling iron or beer bottle instead. Sometimes, it makes them a worse monster than they ever were when they could use their genitals to rape. This urge to harm, to rape, to destroy children – it is inside the pedophile’s diseased mind, not in their pants. Whatever method the judicial system decides to use now, or discovers in the future, to control or stop these monsters – removing or altering their genitals is not the way. It can make them want to destroy a child even more.

~ ~ ~

 W.R.R. 2/8/2012
For all survivors of any form of rape or abuse. You are not alone. Speak out. Find your path to healing.

Children Were Abused By Teachers, Mr. Fletcher

Citing this story via L.A. Now: “Miramonte teachers to file grievances after removal from school” at , I have to make a point about the authorities who claim to have the best interests of our children at heart. As I see it, both the school district and the teachers’ union are in the wrong in more than one area in this news article; but the following statement from Warren Fletcher, president of United Teachers Los Angeles, is the one I found most disturbing:

“We resent it when the district does so, and we resent it when this community and these parents have their children’s education deeply disrupted for no other purpose than to deflect criticism from an administration that failed to do its job.” – Warren Fletcher

What is being argued about is the Los Angeles Unified School District’s removal of the entire teaching staff (besides the two teachers who were arrested for child sex abuse) and replacing them with all new teachers. I can sympathize with innocent teachers, but I don’t think it is too draconian to expect them all to be investigated to assure parents and the community that there aren’t any more pedophiles hiding amongst them. One would think they’d all want to be sure about that.

Yet Mr. Fletcher’s words above disturb me intensely. “Deeply disrupt education for no other purpose than to deflect criticism”…? Mr. Fletcher, parents removed their children from Miramonte in droves because they don’t want their children to be raped or otherwise abused by teachers and staff at the school. Whatever political fisticuffs you wish to engage in with the school district for its decision regarding your teachers, don’t try to imply that their removal was solely to play a blame game while “disrupting education” in the process. What has disrupted education, and probably grievously damaged the lives of the abused students, was the abuse they endured at the hands of two of your teachers, sir, as well as the threat of possible abuse to the thus far unharmed (we hope) majority of the students at that school.

One assumes you are an intelligent man, Mr. Fletcher; I bet the plaques on your wall say so. It would be encouraging to parents and community (and the world watching) if you cared more about the safety of children than the reputation of your union, while hiding behind a fabricated outrage at the “disruption of education”.

~ ~ ~

© W.R.R. 2/13/2012
For all survivors of any form of rape or abuse. You are not alone. Speak out. Find your path to healing.

Dark and Light, a Dichotomy of Fear

A survivor of child sex abuse viewpoint on the video “Better Than I Know Myself” by Adam Lambert

WARNING, this essay contains abuse triggers for some survivors.

I know I won’t become my father. Getting away from him at nineteen, learning to live another way, allowed me to jump the tracks of the training and conditioning he tried to use to turn me into him. Yet the fears and horrors from my past often rise up to color my present surroundings, and at times I cannot control what the resulting stress does to my emotional state, or my sense of personal safety. This is compounded by what I refer to as my grab bag of phobias, rapid cycle bipolar, risk of panic attacks due to stress, and PTSD.

This is not in any way an attempt to “explain” the otherwise beautiful and genius work of art that is this music video by Adam Lambert. Others (many of whom I admire) are doing a far better analysis of it than I could. However, they reassured me that my views are also valid and could perhaps be helpful to other survivors of abuse. Adam is one of my stepping stones. One of the people I look up to, admire, or see as an example of what is possible. Having come to know him better as a fan, as well as any of us can, I can say I now adore him as well. I am proud of him for reaching inside himself to seek out the light and the dark places within him, and for having the courage to show us even a small portion of what he finds there. As a survivor trying to share what I can to help others, I understand that courage, and the kind of fear it must surmount. I didn’t always “know him”, though. Before I did, I was afraid of him, and equally afraid to express my fear.

When I first encountered Adam, it was the music video “For Your Entertainment”, from his first CD of the same name. While I have come to appreciate now the sexy freedom of sexuality he was trying to convey, at first it frightened me – HE frightened me. My loved ones assured me he was acting, it was a stage persona for a video, he’s a sweetheart of a man, etc. All I saw was a beautiful and powerful predator, stalking the people he wished to press his sexuality on; in other words, I saw only my father.

In the new video for the ballad “Better Than I Know Myself”, first single of his sophomore CD Trespassing, Adam revisits this fierce incarnation of himself more directly, without the trappings of blatant and glorious sexuality to ease the sharper edges. The video itself is split into the dichotomy of what fans have dubbed “Dark” Adam and “Light” Adam. Each part of this duality lives in his own “room” inside the heart, soul, mind, and body of the singer. Light Adam is warm and sweet, adorable, beautiful, and safe. He is kind, tolerant, and focused on fun, peace, and serenity. This is the way my loved ones have always insisted he is in real life, especially those who have met him. So if Adam himself perceives both halves to be within him, how am I to interpret Dark Adam? Again, I’ll leave the speculation and analysis of what Adam may be trying to convey to us to others. All I can say is how it affects me, as a survivor of abuse. I don’t blame Adam for scaring me, and I still adore, admire, and look up to him. Yet with everybody asking each other, “What did you think of the video?” I wanted to say not what I think, but how it made me feel. I believe this exploration at least was one of the intentions Adam had for the video.

To put it simply, Dark Adam scares me and makes me feel like I’m not safe if that person can get at me. If the “For Your Entertainment” video Adam was perceived as my father in his predatory lust incarnation, this Dark Adam became, for me, my father when he was about to beat or injure me. My father was a beautiful man; he was tall, dark haired, pale skinned, and blue-eyed like me. He was spooky smart, and could charm the birds out of the trees, or convince a more malleable soul of any lie he chose to spout. His voice alone could hypnotize. My father was also an alcoholic and drug addict, probably afflicted with co-morbid mental disorders, but he never was tested or treated. Whether or not he was also abused as a child, I might never know. What I do know is that he spent his life destroying mine and my mother’s.

He used to pace like Dark Adam, throw and break things, scream at nothing. He was a narcissist and sadist, and taught me that I was born for his use, and for sex. He was convinced over time that he was a god, and I was raised to believe it, even made to worship him, call him “God” or “my Lord”. Any slight deviation from difficult, complex, and changeable rules was punished. This punishment ranged from a punch or a whipping with a rope, a beating, or he would cut me with blades. Once, he took my hair, kept long to use as a handle to control me, and set it on fire. My mother put the fire out as my father laughed. Later I was punished for having put burns in the carpet. Rape was rarely punishment. That was just my duty.

When I see Dark Adam pace and break things, laugh or grimace like a mad man, threaten violence, or start fires, or crush something special that belongs to somebody else, I feel frightened and sick. I don’t want to see my Adam, the real Adam, the kind and fun person in interviews and on TV, behave like that. However, I have watched the video more than once, and I won’t avoid it, just as I don’t avoid the predatory sexual “FYE” video.

Adam is my stepping stone, and even when his creative artistry frightens me, I know that is not his intent; it is merely my past intruding on the present and trying to make me weak. I trust Adam, as much as my damaged psyche can endeavor to trust, the same way I trust my new and chosen family. If I am to trust, I have to remind myself that Adam is not my father, he is nothing like him; just as I myself am not my father, or anything like him. So how to turn the fear I can’t seem to help feeling while watching these two videos into a positive and helpful, even therapeutic experience?

I choose to see them as a lesson. I use these videos as a safe way to work on my growing understanding that the past can’t hurt me anymore, unless I allow it to. Dark Adam is a portrayal in a video by a singer who used to act in plays, he is not a real person. Whatever facet of Dark Adam the singer sees in himself, however he interprets it for himself, it will be different than how I have perceived it through the lens of my abuse. Either way, a character in a video cannot come through the computer screen and hurt me. The fire he sets, the things he throws, cannot injure me. The PAST… cannot injure me.

Dark Adam stirs up fears and dark feelings, just as Light Adam reminds me of my loving new family, stirring up good and safe feelings. Although, for a survivor of abuse, even Light Adam poses some fears; that my loved ones may not “really” love me, because the past whispers to me that I am dirty, broken, ugly, maimed, used, disgusting…. I fear sometimes that they will stop loving me if I make a mistake, or if my mental illness makes me do, feel, or think things that they don’t understand. I fear that my physical, mental, and emotional problems are “too much work”, and I will be abandoned, beaten, denied love.

This dichotomy of Adams becomes my dichotomy of fears, but the lessons are still there. Good and safe people love, they don’t delight to injure others, they don’t deny love to punish; and the bad people from the past? They can’t hurt us anymore. The ghosts that are born out of our abuse are not poltergeists, nor are they Mr. Hyde to the Dr. Jekyll of our loved ones who care for us now. They have no teeth. They have no fire. They are nothing but smoke. It is our choice to choke and smother, or to allow the smoke of past abuse to dissipate, and the air to become clean.

Thank you Adam Lambert, for helping me to face my dichotomy of fears, and for giving me this lesson to work on making them stop someday. You remain my stepping stone, and I am starting to heal myself, a little bit more every day.

For all survivors of any kind of rape or abuse; we can face, and beat, our fears. We can heal, we can live. Find a way, a path, and stepping stones along that path. Make the decision to walk that path, to climb with the aid of your stepping stones; even if you just take one step at first, a tiny step. You can heal. You can live. Someday, when you’re stronger and ready, you can speak out; tell your story, so that you can help other survivors. This helps us heal too. You are loved. You are not alone.

~ ~ ~

© W.R.R. 2/8/2012

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.

The Alchemy of Hate

I propose that hate is the alchemy of turning life and love into death and despair.

For your consideration:

The pleasure of hating, like a poisonous mineral, eats into the heart of religion, and turns it to rankling spleen and bigotry; it makes patriotism an excuse for carrying fire, pestilence, and famine into other lands: it leaves to virtue nothing but the spirit of censoriousness, and a narrow, jealous, inquisitorial watchfulness over the actions and motives of others.

— “On the Pleasure of Hating”
William Hazlitt, ca. 1826

This quote could be interpreted in many ways and used by all sorts of “factions” on either side of many arguments.

However, one thing that continues to mystify me is the fact that those who believe their hate is righteous or sanctioned somehow tend become disproportionately upset when the group, race, creed etc of people whom they hate become angry at the accusatory and/or vilifying rhetoric that is being heaped upon them. If the people they hate chose to respond in like kind and with equal violence, the cycle of hate-fueled carnage is hard to stop.

Take anti-gay hatred, for example. A homophobe may spout rhetoric about how LGBT people are less than human, hated by (their) God, and their lifestyles are disgusting abombinations, etc. This person may feel gratified when other homophobes agree with them. Yet the moment a member of the LGBT community gets angry, takes offense, and responds, this homophobe often acts surprised, as if they are saying, “Why are you angry? What I say is true.” This attitude seems to believe that the accused don’t matter so they shouldn’t be allowed to protest, let alone defend themselves. If the accused is angry and responds with anger, the homophobe often twists the exchange to suit their rhetoric (i.e.: See how the gay person shouts foul language? It’s proof that he’s subhuman).

Another mystery to me is why even a reasonable approach falls on deaf ears. The homophobe seems incapable of “seeing the other side”. If they could do this, we could perhaps get a lot further in the effort to end hate. If the tables were turned and hetero rights were taken away, wouldn’t that same homophobe be outraged at the loss of his rights? Wouldn’t he become an activist to get them back, and become angry at the people who called him sub-human and said “God hates you”?

For some things there can be no compromise without at least one side changing their views, but why is the “live and let live” concept so unacceptable? If you can’t tolerate a type of music, is the only solution to ban and destroy it, and all those who create it, from the face of our earth? Can some people sit at their desks under a sign that reads “God is Love” and sign an order to murder all rap artists? Why is it so difficult to just change the channel?

If your “enemy” insists on a fight to the death, you have two choices: fight back, or wait to be slaughtered. Shouldn’t people who claim to be civilized and intelligent beings be capable of a third option? “Live and let live” is not as hard or repugnant as it may seem.

Now just as there are no compromises for some things, there are other areas where we do have to have laws to protect people that may curb the “freedom” of others. For instance, a non-offender parent can’t legally allow a pedophile parent to rape their child (even though some do, and get away with it). We have laws to protect children from rape. The harm rape does to any person has been a proven and studied fact. However, I have seen no concrete studies that LGBT people or their lifestyles, between consenting adults, that prove that “gay” is a threat. It’s all just fear-mongering from a position of ignorance, dogma, and hereditary hatred; a hatred that loves to twist things, including facts, laws, and interpretations of the Bible, to support its views.

If you look at the facts, which side has blood on its hands? Are there gays going out to catch and murder hetero people? Do gays beat a straight man, tie him to a pole and set him on fire? Do lesbians rape straight women to “teach them how women are supposed to act”? To my knowledge, these are all hetero crimes against LGBT people. I wonder if the murderers and rapists among my enemies have gone home and wiped the blood and soot from their hands onto the crisp white banner overhead that proclaims “Thou Shalt Not Kill”?

I am not anti-God, or anti-Christian. I am not anti-hetero; I know and love many people who are hetero and Christian, and they love and accept me. Yet as long as others choose to hate me and attack me just for being in the LGBT community, I have a bitter struggle ahead in the effort to remain anti-hate. Being attacked and having my rights either removed or never granted in the first place makes me angry. Being assaulted by those who are trying to kill me makes me rise up to survive, to defend my life. Do I not have the same right to defend myself as those who have made themselves my enemy? I didn’t create them to be my enemy. They chose to hate, to abolish, to outlaw, and in some cases to attack and kill, people like me. History has shown a long story of LGBT people being assaulted and murdered by those who hate them. Are there cases of LGBT people killing hetero people just because they hate them? If there are any at all, it’s bound to be a grossly disproportionate number. Most people in the LGBT community simply want to be left in peace – with the same rights as everybody else. For those in the hetero community who support their gay friends’ rights, that’s all they want to.

I see nothing but mass horror if the LGBT people were to respond in kind as their attackers do. However, I will not wait for the slaughter just because I do not want to fight. I prefer to seek that elusive third option of “live and let live”.

Something for all of us to consider is another example of hatred’s alchemy: school shootings. This tragic horror may simply be the rare extreme example of a person pushed beyond sense into a “hate for hate” response to endless attacks, humiliation, and the eventual atrophy of hope. In its place, hatred creeps into the heart, insidious and mindless. Even so, these people, so often children, don’t merely “snap” one day for no reason. There is always a reason.

In all areas and ways you may fall into hate, ask yourself why. What does it gain you, and what do you stand to lose because of it? Can you truly only achieve peace and happiness by wading through blood, or the pain of others you may not even know? You don’t have to embrace what you cannot agree with, but perhaps it wouldn’t end your way of life to simply leave others at peace in theirs?

As long as people hate and turn to violence to express it, be prepared to watch as they one day alchemize your love and life into death and despair. Knowing what’s at stake, isn’t a third option worth striving for? Live and let live is just that. It’s not so hard to do if we just try.


© W.R.R. 12/9/2011
For the fallen, murdered by hate; and for those who still strive to live in spite of it.

I Am I: the Struggle for Identity

As a child, trying to exist and stay alive in the midst of my parents’ sexual abuse, I had no sense of self to speak of. I wasn’t cared for, loved, treated, or even spoken to like a normal little boy. My mother and I developed our relationship in an unhealthy trench bonding setting. We would say “I love you” to each other like two lost tourists who were fishing catch-phrases out of a book, but she rarely acted like a mother. Her main job was picking up the pieces when my father was done with his toy son.

My father liked to invent new ways to hurt and humiliate me; it amused him. With all of his “amusements”, it was a fight to frame the idea in my own mind that I was a human at all. As it was, I had no rights. I was whatever he told me to be. I wasn’t called by my name, either. “Boy” was a favorite. When speaking to my mother, he would say “that thing” a lot. Early on, he’d call me a faggot, a word I didn’t even understand until I was a teen and my peers started yelling it in the hallways.

Poetry came into my life in the form of rare presents from my paternal grandmother, a woman my father seemed to actually fear. She only visited a few times, but she always brought me books and jigsaw puzzles. Once she brought me a huge Shakespeare collection in one book, and then others like Frost, Tennyson, Cooleridge, Thoreau, Auden, etc. The poems fascinated me, and like another child might start to draw because of coloring books, I began to try to write my own poetry. I learned to hide it, after it got taken away and torn up a few times. After that, it became one of my few proofs that I was a person, no matter how I was treated. It was also the only place I allowed myself to admit my feelings, even to myself; or to admit that my life wasn’t right, even if I wasn’t sure what it should have been instead.

A poem that shows how it felt to be me in the midst of my abusive childhood, written when I was twelve:

“I Am I”

I am nothing
I am no one
I am broken
I am I
blank page
torn and stained
I am what I am told
I am beast
I am torn
I am I
filth stained red
there is only
the mask
given, taken
taken away
take it away
and I am gone
I am nothing
I am thing
I am I
© W.R.R. 11/15/1992

Since I escaped at age nineteen and became homeless for a few years rather than allow the abuse to continue, I ended up getting money to survive any way I could. Between that and my abuse, whatever path my orientation might have taken, I ended up identifying as bisexual. Many boys raped by men end up questioning their orientation. It’s horribly confusing and it’s easy to fall into self-blame and even self-hatred, gathering vices and making bad choices as you slowly and painfully grow up. I used to cut myself as a kid, and I ended up smoking at nine (up to three packs a day before I quit some years back). I acquired and quit a handful of drug habits as well. I still have issues with alcohol and pills.

Another area many people never want to discuss with a survivor of abuse is sex. The fact is, I and others like me still grow into adults with a variety of reactions to the subject of sex. A terrible viewpoint some cruel people have pointed out to me in my life is similar to what many women survivors are told: “If you like sex, why should we believe you were raped?” Well, I’ve never seen a study that proved that rape or abuse utterly destroys the human sex drive in a person, and plenty of survivors, men and women, are able to find a partner they love and trust enough to share intimacy.

My abuse altered me from experiencing a “typical response” to intimacy, several repeated events having taught me to confuse pain with pleasure. As a result, I grew up to be a masochist and I have to relearn, through talking with my therapist, that intimacy can be enjoyed without pain or harm being involved.

I also have many conflicting and very confusing viewpoints on subjects such as monogamy, orientation, and my own rights and worth as a human being. This is more common than people who have never been abused may think. Oprah even did a groundbreaking show about her childhood abuse and how abused children sometimes grow up to be promiscuous in unhealthy ways, rather than shunning sex as some believe they would.

One of the biggest lessons I have to unlearn is that I am not required to give sex in order to receive love. All of this has led me to be (by choice) a polygamist in the sense that I have a male and a female partner; and monogamy is a challenge even then. Add the mental illness of rapid cycle bipolar to that soup and I have a lot to process and learn to cope with.

In addition, and working at odds with that, I am also largely afraid of people, and men in particular. Yet I have only a fledgling sense of my own rights to engage in intimacy with others or to choose not to. In the past, taught by abuse that I was required to submit, I have been victimized by others who held little regard for my choice in the matter. In a few cases like this, though my therapist insists I am describing rape, the perpetrator would say it was consensual because I allowed it to happen. These offenders have no idea of the pathology I have been subjected to, but does that make their actions acceptable? Everybody who cares about me agrees the answer is no. Mostly, I live like a recluse and if I do have the courage to go out (usually during my manic cycle) I try to bring a friend or my boyfriend with me so that I have somebody along to stop this ugly situation from being repeated.

My pervading objection is, I should not have to feel like I should be expected to apologize for having any sexual identity at all. That “if you were raped, you now have to hate and shun all sex” mentality; it is ridiculous for anybody to presume they have a say in my sexuality at all. As I heal, cope, and just try to live from day to day, I think being able to trust, and to have a healthy and mutually beneficial relationship with my partners is a good thing, my choice, and nobody else’s business. I refuse to live, speak, or act like some sort of celibate monk just because some people think that’s how a boy abused by his parents ought to be in order to “deserve” their sympathy. The abuse was my parents’ fault, not mine; so why should I be punished for it? Why should any survivor?

Sometimes I joke with my friends, online and offline; the people I trust and feel safe with. We have fun conversations about writing fiction stories, or about the actors and singers we have crushes on. It’s normal friendship stuff, and survivors have a right to it. I want to spend time with my friends without feeling worried about what people who know about my abuse might think of me on Twitter when I’m kidding around with friends. To me, this is a normal, healthy, and hard-won aspect of my healing journey.

One of the most horrible aspects of all of this happens when an abused child speaks out and eventually goes to testify in court, entering the “court of public opinion” before that. If anybody sees that child smile, or enjoy a game with friends, some ignorant people say “Look, see? That’s proof he’s lying about the abuse.” As if, having been abused, the child should only appear as a broken victim incapable of hope or healing in order to be believed. That child is often bullied by peers, too, because he was abused. This phenomenon is being observed by the silent victims of rape and abuse too – and what’s at stake is them learning that maybe it’s better not to speak up and tell somebody. This is a result that can end innocent lives.

If you are a survivor of any orientation, or still trying to work through the confusion of what that orientation might be, don’t let anybody make you feel like you have to be one or another. You also don’t have to lock yourself in an ivory tower or cloister, denied the chance to find love. Please don’t suffer in silence. Speak out, tell somebody you need help. Later, when you grow up, learning to want healthy intimacy of any sort with somebody who loves you is your right as a human being. It can help you to heal if you feel it’s right for you, and it does not alter the tragic truth, in court or out, that you were abused or raped. On the contrary, it is proof that your abuse does not define who you are.

We as survivors have the right to heal and become who we want to be. Nobody else has the right to tell you that what you choose is wrong. This goes for children and teens who are being bullied to the point of suicidal thoughts, too. We all have a right to be safe and happy. You have a right to be you.

Carving out an identity that gives you the best chance at learning to be happy is key. It is a struggle; yet not only discovering who you are, but deciding for yourself who you will be, is the most empowering form of healing. Take the phrase “I am I” and make it mean something special to you. Once you do, nobody can take it away from you.

~ ~ ~

© W.R.R. 12/5/2011
For my fellow survivors and those they choose to be strong enough to love; and for all who don’t feel safe in a world that shuns them. Don’t give up. Speak out.

Concerning Suicide: Don’t Suffer In Silence

The first time I wanted to die was at the age of five when the parental sexual abuse that began a year prior took an even uglier turn. My father had chosen to rent my body to other pedophiles to make a lot of money. This happened in our home. At that time, having been kept from social interaction and most TV all my short life, I had no idea how to die. Later, I tried to kill myself several times. Mostly, my mother found me in time, or one of my two friends stopped me. If my father stopped me, it was with a beating. How dare I attempt to rob him of his property? Throughout my life I’ve considered suicide to be an option, a way to escape a horrid life of abuse by a man whose hobby was trying out ways to torture his son.

The most recent time I almost committed suicide was just a week or so after New Year’s Eve, this year. I’m a rapid cycle bipolar, suffering from agoraphobia along with a grab bag of other phobias. I suffer from PTSD, panic attacks, and anxiety. I have tremor in my hands and other physical handicaps that are hard to live with at times, plus the weight of my childhood horrors compounding the rest. Traumatic events can bring all that down over my head. After New Year’s Eve, I was out in town by myself, something I do sometimes as a way to prove to myself I can manage alone. I live in Texas and I always carry a concealed weapon. That night I got jumped by three men who accused me of raping their sister. I’d never seen them before and certainly never raped anybody, but they kept saying it was a guy who looked like me and that was good enough for them. They said they wanted to go home and tell her they’d gotten “the guy”, so she could stop being afraid. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time, a guy with tattoos and piercings, dark hair – taking another man’s punishment. I couldn’t get to my gun in the ambush and they beat me very badly. When I finally reached my gun, I shot into the air to make them run and I escaped. I had a mental and emotional breakdown before I finally made it home. Sitting in my kitchen, I screamed at my boyfriend to leave me alone. He left the room. When he turned on some music, Adam Lambert’s “Broken Open”, I had my gun in my mouth. My mental illness had voices screaming in my head about how my family, my children, friends, would all be better off without me. My memories of abuse whispered that I wouldn’t have to think about how I’d been hurt anymore. Then I listened to the words I was hearing with my ears. That song said it was okay to feel broken, but it didn’t have to end me. I could feel that way and learn out of it how to be stronger. I could be safe when I was weak, until I had the chance to grow strong again. I put the gun away, went to sleep, and didn’t tell my boyfriend or anybody else about the incident, or the men who attacked me, for some time.

In spite of all the horror in my life, something in me wanted to live. At fifteen I made a promise to myself. I would try to survive, because children grow up and I hoped when I was an adult, I could escape home and life would get better. The promise I clung to was this: if I reached the age of thirty, if life hadn’t gotten better by then, I would end it. Sometimes when trauma brings it all back like a train wreck, like after New Year’s, I get weak. Yet my life is better now. I have a loving family & children who are my joy, my salvation. I’m in therapy, have been for years, and it helps. In October last year, I turned thirty. It was strange to realize that. This October, I turned thirty-one. My mental, emotional, and physical handicaps still plague my life, my abuse still haunts my nightmares and my waking mind, but I’m still here, I’m still alive.

So now I learn to cope with trauma so it won’t put me in that headspace that makes me consider suicide. Statistics and studies show that men who have been sexually abused as children are often ten times more likely to have suicidal thoughts. Sometimes, more often than I care to admit, I do have those thoughts; but I’m learning how to stop them. I find a loved one to talk to, I get help from my therapist, I work to avoid trauma, and sometimes I just breathe and wait for the thoughts to pass.

I intend to beat the odds; because the life I want is right in front of me now, and I want to watch my children grow up. Whatever the circumstances kids being bullied today may face, these things can and do change. School ends. Bullies move away. You survive, grow up, and your life changes for the better. Tell somebody, let them help you. If the first person you tell won’t help or doesn’t believe you, find another person to tell. Don’t suffer in silence. Silence kills.

~ ~ ~

© W.R.R. 12/4/2011

Inspired by my friend Steve Gray’s blog, here: Do You Ever Feel Suicidal?

Broken Silence, Shattered Illusions

Those who have read my poetry and essays in my journal blog know that I lived a childhood of physical and sexual abuse from both parents. My mother was a victim too, but it was years later before I knew that the comfort she wanted from me was equally wrong as what my father was doing. It didn’t seem equal to me then; he hurt me, she didn’t.

One of the hardest things for me to process, let alone admit to a living soul outside of therapy, is the fact that not everything my father did hurt. Now I’m told that is part of a pedophile’s plan, to make the victim feel as though they are also at fault somehow. He didn’t buy me gifts or take me to special events to lure me though, because he didn’t have to. As his son, he could raise me as he chose and he chose to raise me to believe that I was his property and that I had no say or any rights to my own body, mind, or feelings. I believed it, too, and survival became a matter of learning how to avoid making him angry. Of course that was next to impossible, because whatever was mentally wrong with him allowed him to be angry at nothing, at any time.

One of the most traumatic nights of my life began as a boy who wanted his mother. She was in the hospital after a beating, but she had “fallen down the stairs”, officially. I kept asking my father where she was, afraid she wouldn’t come back. He told me to be quiet, but I didn’t listen. He was peeling an apple with a long kitchen knife, and he could make the peel come off in one long curling piece. It fascinated me, so I got closer than I normally would have on my own. When I asked about my mother again, he slashed my face with the knife. The blade cut my cheeks and nearly severed my tongue. He waited too long to take me to the hospital, and the tongue healed badly. I was left with scars in the form of a Glascow Smile, and a speech impediment that seems to get worse if I’m emotionally stressed. I collected many more scars over the years, in skin and in the mind. At sixteen, for defiance, my father blinded my left eye with his cigar. Yet I was raised to accept these things as normal punishments for bad behavior and disobedience. The world outside was given excuses and nobody asked. If they did ask, I lied – as I was taught to do.

As a child (the sexual abuse began when I was four), I was desperate to believe that he loved me. Anytime he didn’t hit me, I would take it as proof of love. When he came to my room at night, I tried to obey and be “good” so he would be kind instead of hateful. I never had any other example to tell me that it was all wrong, sick, and horribly damaging. I was raised to think that this was the relationship between all fathers and sons. Through it all, I believed that he loved me. When his illness gave him the belief that he was a god, he taught me to worship him. I was four, and I wanted to be loved – so I never questioned it.

When I turned five, everything changed. I had defied my father by hiding a puppy he had told me to get rid of. He got rid of it in front of me, and I was punished. Soon after, he brought a strange man home and told me to go with him into the downstairs guestroom. I was terrified and confused when I realized this stranger wanted the same things my father had always said were just for him. I tried to fight, thinking the man had tricked my father and I’d be in trouble, but it was useless. When the man left the room, they spoke like friends, and that confused me even more. My mother came to take care of me and when my father came in, I got in trouble for crying, and for fighting the man. I was told I’d better obey next time. The next time was only a few weeks later, but it was a different man. We also had a new television, but I didn’t understand what was going on then.

There were others, and sometimes they wanted to do things I’d never done before and a few of them terrified me. My mother would protest after seeing the bruises and marks, but she just got hit for defiance. The only time my father got angry at one of these men was when a pair of them came over at the same time, and one of them tried to touch my mother. Years later, I realized that she was the one he wouldn’t share with anybody, but the rules were different for me. I tried to lie to myself, any lie that came along, that it didn’t mean he didn’t care.

Indoctrinated from a child to never tell and that other people would only harm me, I never told, and I never ran away. My home life was just how the world was, and all little children owed sex to their parents. If I ran away, my father said he would punish my mother, and some other man would just do the same things to me. Once or twice, away from home, and once when I was in a hospital for a time, that happened just like he said, so I believed it all. I began to believe my father was actually some sort of protector, and I never knew that some people would have helped me, and would never have hurt me. That was fantasy to me, and it didn’t exist in my world.

I overheard a handful of conversations downstairs when I was twelve that finally made me realize my father was being paid money, a lot of it, so that these men could do what they wanted. He had sought them out, discovered their secrets, and provided a safe way for them to experience what they wanted, without fear of being caught. I knew the word for what he had turned me into, and it made me feel devastated and used, made me feel dirty. I wanted to die, but I didn’t know how.

I began to disobey and the beatings got worse. Sometimes I tried to provoke my father into killing me, but he always stopped. He was also angry because I was growing up, and I slowly understood that the men didn’t want a man, they wanted a little boy. My father found ways to work around that problem by adding a few new faces to his now organized group of “clients”, and my life did not improve. Most of that time, writing poetry was my only escape. It became the only place I could admit to myself that my life was wrong. Poetry was also the only thing that could convince me that I was human at all.

I escaped my abusive home at the age of nineteen and lived homeless for a time. I ended up doing the only thing I knew in order to eat, or to buy the drugs I’d gotten hooked on to cope with the abuse – I took money for sex. I had no sense of self, let alone any self-worth, and deep down, I was just hoping somebody would kill me. I almost committed suicide many times as a boy, teen, and young man; but something inside me didn’t want to die. I didn’t know how to live, but I knew I wanted something better, a way out. Eventually, I stopped hustling and became a dancer. When I met the beginnings of my current loving and supportive family, they talked me into stopping all of these nightlife pursuits and letting them take care of me. I had always been a rapid cycle bipolar since childhood, but living on the streets and my life of abuse had given me PTSD and a growing list of debilitating phobias. Recurring panic attacks in public introduced me to a few nights in jail here and there, and I slowly started to see that if I wanted to save my own life, I would have to let the people who loved me take me in and try to help. My new family got me more stable than I’ve ever been, got me into therapy and on medication for bipolar and anxiety, all of which help. Yet the best thing in my life is my new family, these people who love and care for me. Every day, they show me that I’m worthy of love, and work to convince me that I’m stronger than I think I am. They also put up with my reclusive nature and the rules I’ve created for myself so that I can feel safe, limiting how much I interact with the world and others.

My home situation is not a typical one. The abuse left me very mixed up regarding orientation, and I identify now as a bisexual, though I never had the simple ability to discover for myself what I am. I have adopted a gay couple as my new parents, because they saved my life. I have a boyfriend I’ve loved since high school and a girlfriend who was a single mother when we met years ago. She and I have four children. My children have never known abuse of any kind, except that they are aware on a level they can handle that their father was abused. Because of my medical and mental issues, they have to be aware of some things, but we don’t tell them details. The Penn State child sexual abuse case broke, and my oldest, at nine, asked me if that was like what happened to me. I told her it was similar, and that those boys would need a lot of help to heal. We also assure our children that they can tell us anything, and if anybody ever makes them uncomfortable, they are to tell us right away and we’ll stop it.

Many people don’t want to look at these things, but Penn State’s situation and the Catholic Church cases, among others, have made them look, more and more. Some pedophiles are solitary, barricaded by lies and excuses; but others run in packs. When I learned about a national group called NAMBLA, the North American Man-Boy Love Association, a group that believes child rape is a “consensual relationship”, I had to be sick. It brought up too many terrible, ugly memories of my father’s friends and their “private club”.

As an adult in my thirties now, I’ve tried to understand my abuse by understanding the sort of people my father gathered to him. They came from all walks of life and most of them were influential in their communities. They were rich businessmen, professionals in different areas, and two of them were doctors. One of those men put me on Zoloft when I was nine, and now I’ve found studies that show that may be a cause of turning bipolar into rapid cycling, one of the biggest handicaps of my life. I never knew their names; as a child I invented names for them. When I became an older teen, they began to drift away. I can only assume they found other children to target, since these people don’t want to stop.

Some people have asked me how I can talk about my abuse, or why I do. Silence kills. Illusions enslave. I have the support of a loving family now and they have helped me to be strong enough to try to help others. There are those who need to pull their heads out of the sand and help children around them who are being abused. There are children who need to know they can tell and ask for help. There are also survivors who never told a soul, and their secrets have almost destroyed their adult lives.

We must break the silence, and shatter the illusions. We must help child victims and adult survivors. We must prevent and break the ugly cycle of abuse. If I don’t speak out, having fought for the strength to be able to do so, then my story can’t help anybody else in pain, and it can’t help educate those who need to understand in order to choose to help.

My voice was shattered, but I can still reach others, and I have made the choice to help in the way that I am able. If my words can help even one other person or child, the pain and anxiety of reliving my past will be worth it.

~ ~ ~

© W.R.R. 11/28/2011
For those who have been abused, and those who want to help.

Don’t Walk Away

An Open Letter from a Survivor of Child Sexual Abuse

Sometimes you have to have experienced something to know on a visceral and unquestioning level that it is wrong. Others who haven’t experienced it may never see or understand why it’s not okay to make jokes about it, make light of it, or to dismiss someone in pain because of it.

The shock of that statement is that some of the things that can be listed under it are crimes like bullying, assault and battery, abuse, suicide, and even horrifying  crimes like rape and murder. Those who object to the jokes and slights are often told “It’s just a joke”, or “Lighten up, crybaby.” These things are not a joke; and if they ever happen to you, or somebody you love, they won’t be a joke to you anymore, either.

For a few things, the wrong is not only obvious, it requires no thought to know what you would do if you encountered it. Some of us could even imagine ourselves going  a bit crazy, taking  the law into our own hands in a moment of red-haze blindness that the lawyers call a “crime of passion”. One of those things for most of us (but not all of us, shamefully) is the crime of child rape.

What would you do if you entered the athletics department showers of a prominent university and saw a ten-year-old boy being  anally raped by a grown man? Would you give a damn that the pedophile criminal was a talented assistant coach? As a grown adult, would you quietly slip away, do nothing, leave that boy to be raped and later go tell your father what you saw and wait for him to tell you that you have to call the police? Then, let’s suppose, the higher and higher levels of authority at the university engaged in a cover-up to save, not the child victims, but the reputation of the school.

This is what happened at Penn State University. What did they do? They ousted the pedophile, but didn’t stop him from continuing  to bring young boys to the locker room showers. When it finally blew up in their faces, the school fired their beloved championship winning  coach because he may have known about it and didn’t do enough to stop it. Others were fired too, and when the pedophile finally goes to trial, more may not only lose their jobs, but they may go to prison with him. If a judge and jury find that any of these people are guilty of knowing  about it and not stopping  it, I hope they all go to prison; and if they learn there what it’s like to be anally raped, I probably won’t shed many tears for them.

In Mexico, where the minimum age of consent is TWELVE years old, a ten-year-old girl was repeatedly raped by her step-father until she got pregnant. At age eleven, she has now given birth, because the abortion laws in Mexico are just as screwed up as some of them in a few of our United States are. Will the step-father be arrested and brought to trial for raping  a child? Don’t hold your breath.

If I were that adult male who witnessed a child being  raped by a man in the Penn State showers, I’d have run in there, stopped it, and tried to restrain myself from killing  the sick monster outright. I’d have probably called 911 with my boot on the back of his neck while trying  to tell the child he was safe now. How many of you would do the same?

Don’t get me started on the idiocy that followed when the coach who knew about it was fired. Students starting  a riot to defend a man who didn’t do everything  in his power to prevent more child rapes disgusts me so badly that it has made me physically sick. I’ve been told that the riot wasn’t about defending  a child rapist, but the students were too busy with their riot to explain that to the world, and now Penn State is being  trashed and ridiculed globally as “the university where they are pro-child rape in the name of football championships”. If they want to try to reverse this ugly stigma on their university and student body, many more students, staff, players, etc. need to come forth and make statements that they are horrified at the crimes committed on their campus. As far as their beloved coach is concerned, I’ll wait for a court to decide his fate, as the idiot rioters should have done.

Here’s another example for you:

What would you do if you were an adult and you were checking  the meter at the side of a house when you heard what sounded like a child scream and cry? You can’t resist a peek in a window and you’re shocked to see a man standing  in a bedroom doorway who is watching  another man on a bed anally rape a boy of about eight years old. What would you do? In this case, you have no idea if the people in the house might shoot you dead, but you could at least call 911, right? I hope you would. You might duck out of sight, maybe stand there, frozen, and listen to that boy cry. Hear him beg and scream. What would you do?

I can’t tell you what I would do in this example, because I was that boy. I can tell you that the man didn’t stop, and the man watching  had let him rape his own son. I don’t know what the power company worker did, but I do know two things: he left, and he never called 911. How do I know he was there? I saw him there. I saw him and I thought he would help me. He didn’t.  He just walked away.

I had a mother who also abused me sexually. I had teachers and neighbors who saw bruises, saw my scars, never wondered how I lost sight in my left eye at age sixteen. I was taught since the age of three to never tell. I was told all families were like this, all children owed sex to their parents. By the age of ten, I didn’t even question it anymore. I’d see a boy at school with a broken arm (from falling  out of a tree) and I assumed he had disobeyed his father. There was nobody to tell because they were all too busy bullying  the weird boy, the freak with the ugly scars on his face; the freak who could barely speak because his tongue had been cut with a kitchen knife. Only a few teachers asked how I got my facial scars, my speech impediment; but I was taught to lie. I told them it was a car accident, and having  been given an excuse, a reason to hang their suspicions and fears on, they believed it and never asked again.

No other reality was introduced to me until I had become a wild creature, a child as likely to bite you as look at you. They called me a “discipline case” and now and then they’d suspend me, giving  me more time at home to be abused in. My first friend in junior high who didn’t care how crazy I was and refused to go away, he slowly gained my trust. I wouldn’t tell him my dark secret, but he told me about his life, his loving  family, and it shocked me. It took time to realize I’d been lied to, my whole life. Bullies continued to attack, and I learned to attack them, too. That is something  we all must think about – sometimes those who bully are secretly being  abused and their violent aggression is a form of acting out their pain, waving  a red flag that few see because they only see the attacks on weaker peers. I wonder how many bullies have been asked “How are things at home, is anybody hurting  you?” Just like parents should ask their kids the same thing: “Is anybody hurting  you?” Such a simple thing, yet it seems so hard for some people to do.

I believe I survived because I thought the abuse in my home was how the world was. That sounds strange, but it’s true. Some victims of child sexual abuse have good childhoods until that one monster enters their lives. The shock of that abuse can numb a child, shatter them, until they either can’t see the point of living  anymore, or they manage to survive only to still feel broken, dirty, unclean, destroyed, as adults. A few get the help they need right away, and they are able to grow up and live more normal lives as adult survivors. For me, a boy who didn’t get help until he was grown up, the belief that the abuse was just how the world was probably saved my life; it was “normal”. I never ran away, because my mother would be beaten for it. She never ran away with me because she was abused as a little girl and knew no different life either.

Yet in spite of that, I’ve attempted suicide many times as a child and a teen, and sometimes, also burdened with the mental illness of bipolar, I’ve had suicidal thoughts as an adult. I’m alive today because I got help. I found people to make a loving  and safe (if unconventional) family with. I got professional help from a brilliant therapist, and I’ve been seeing  her almost every Friday for the last eight or so years now. I’ve gathered friends who love and accept me as I am and who help me when I’m overwhelmed by my illness and my past of abuse. These are the things all survivors of abuse of any kind need to stay alive.

As an adult in my present circumstances, I try to have the courage to share my poetry and essays about my abuse in the hope that it might help another survivor, inspire somebody being  abused to speak out, or to make others aware of this terrible crime. So many survivors find it so hard to talk about their abuse and others never do and feel that they can’t. The first step to healing  yourself is to tell somebody, anybody, that you are being  abused, or that you were abused as a child. Until you hear yourself speak it out loud, silence is allowed to defeat you, to cage you and maybe destroy you.

Most days I try to be kind, friendly, maybe even attempt to be funny. I like to do this, because I know what suffering  is and I like to help others to cheer up, feel better, if they are having  an awful day. I’m a quirky oddball weirdo, a scarred man who will never see the world quite like others do because of what I’ve survived. My abuse has altered me in many ways, but I’ve never repeated the terrible cycle of abuse. I’m a father of four beautiful children, and none of them will ever be treated as I was. They are my best reason for living  now, my main reason for fighting  to heal myself, for striving  to take that next breath on the worst days. Yet I never forget the abuse I survived, I cannot forget it. I want to live, I struggle to heal, but I cannot forget. I cannot stand idly when I see another being  abused. I cannot walk away. I cannot keep silent.

Child sexual abuse is all around you, whether you choose to see it or not. It could even be in your own home, your school, or in your town. If you know or know of somebody of any age that you suspect might be abused, by a parent, a bully, a spouse, an authority figure… don’t just turn away. If they give a reason for that black eye and it seems suspicious, keep trying  to reach out. Tell somebody. If you are being  abused by any person in any way, tell somebody. Silence is the enemy. The choice to do nothing  is a conscious choice, and it can be a contagious disease; one that destroys and sometimes ends lives.

Don’t be the one that just walks away. Please don’t.

~ ~ ~

© W.R.R. 11/11/2011
For all those who suffer or have survived abuse, and for the people who suffer because they love them.

Innocence Vs Acceptance

Innocence: defined as a lack of being  worldly or carnal, but it’s a concept that is more than just physical purity. A majority of people in our society scoff at innocence, either in private or publicly. When they do so publicly, they are often repeated, retweeted, even hi-fived, ad nauseum. From there, scoffing often devolves into outright hostile mockery. This seems so odd to me; why all this hostility, this strange sense of superiority to innocence?

For those of us who are devoted parents, shouldn’t we want (and hope for) a certain level of innocence to be present in our children? For the most part, we do. Yet many of these same parents view a celebrity who gives the impression of innocence with utter disdain. Nobody can be “cool” unless they are worldly, experienced… even perhaps cynical. Those people are trusted, admired, and eagerly followed.

On the other hand, the scales of innocence and experience are a dicey prospect, sociologically speaking. If a celebrity goes too far over the unfixed and debatable “line” between entertaining experience and utter reprehensible debauchery, they are also shunned, mocked, and scoffed at. Of course, this situation isn’t limited to celebrity – it’s common in every town, every high school, and every conference room.

I suppose a person vilifying  the human train wrecks of society isn’t too hard to grasp, though it’d be more humane to pity them. They were chasing  fame and fortune, got lucky or had real talent, and then the pressure to stay on top of their game became too much for them. Strange that with the innocent celebrities, some people seem insidiously eager to see them fall, even while they ridicule the fallen.

It could be argued that it’s human nature to shun them, the innocent and the train wreck people alike. Both the “herd” and “pack” mentalities dictate that the unfit must be driven from our midst. Is it that simple, though? After all, one man’s unfit is another man’s brother, lover, daughter, son, mother, or friend. How many people who mock a celebrity who has fallen from grace have also gotten outraged that a homophobic bully targeted their gay friend? To the bully, taught to hate as they do, the gay person is as unfit as the celebrity who was being mocked.

It can’t be that simple. As motives go, when the train wreck person is rich and famous, the most common motive is jealousy. “They had all that, but look at them now, serves them right.” Serves them? For what? Why seek “punishment” for the rich and successful, when all most of us dream of is being  rich and successful? The line for buying lottery tickets is chock-full of hypocrites grousing about the fallen angels on the magazine covers they pass on the way to their chance at fortune.

At the root of this, for me, is the curious rejection of innocence. The innocent is mocked and then forgotten, but the celebrity train wreck stays in the news, because their plight is “entertainment”. Yet both the “cool” people and the train wreck people are ranked higher than the innocent in society’s brutal Darwinian scale of acceptance. Why?

There is even conflict among the innocent people. Some are happy with their situation and proud in the face of mockery, but others can’t wait to rid themselves of their innocence. Is innocence a disease? No, it’s not; but society tells us we must desire to be cool, and innocence isn’t cool. Remember those children? At least half of them if not more are probably sitting  around wishing  they were cool, and they know how to get there. Sex is a big route; then there are drugs, alcohol, smoking, and misconduct. Academic achievement is how to get branded a bigger nerd, not how to become “cool”. Blame society, folks.

Yet why does society reject innocence? I believe it is because society as a whole has already lost their innocence and they know they can’t get it back. There is a price to being  “cool”, being worldly; yet those who seek it don’t realize until it’s too late that maybe they’d rather not pay that price. Like the wealth they don’t possess, they end up rejecting  and finally mocking what they can’t have – what they can’t be.

Obviously, I’m discussing  the extremes of society for the most part, though I’m not even getting  into a chat about the real ugly deviants who enjoy hurting others for the “fun” of it. In the midst of the extremes, many people start innocent, grow up, get worldly for better or worse, trade innocence for experience and end up more or less happy. Some of these people even trade innocence for wisdom, compassion, and an ability to understand another person’s pain, and they lend a hand where and when they can.

For the record, I am not innocent in any context of the concept of innocence. However, I didn’t throw my virginity on a trash heap in an effort to be “cool”, or in a blind rush to usher in adulthood. My physical virginity was torn from me as a child, by my parents. To cope, I collected vices like other boys collect stamps. So that may give insight as to why I’m against the mockery of and active efforts to cheapen the value of innocence.

Now, though, I’m a parent. My children are innocent, free of the horrors I was forced to adapt to in order to survive. I want them to be free to choose for themselves in all aspects of life. What I don’t want is to have society tell them that unless they are this or that, they can’t be “cool”. Locking  them up in a convent isn’t the answer, though, so what do I do? Simple – I teach them about true choice, true value, and the real worth of innocence; and then I protect them from outside forces that would try to harm them.

My final question was: Why are people willing  to ruin their lives in the insane quest to be “cool”? I already know the answer, though. “Cool” is just a word. What it is at its root is acceptance. Acceptance doesn’t just mean one has friends. It means one won’t be shunned out of society. This drive to be accepted by our peers, our herd, or our pack; it’s instinctive, even primal.

In animals, the unfit is driven away or killed in order to preserve the health of the group. In people, it’s different, and far more brutal. We have “evolved” into a species that drives out the unfit, people who may not be unfit at all. They are merely branded “unfit” by the present group doing  the driving  out, because that group only wants members to be just like them. Anybody not just like the group could “taint” the group. This does nothing to improve the health of the group, or of society.

To me, this is nothing  more than our base instincts being  twisted into something sick and likely dangerous to many. For those who don’t agree, ask Stuart Walker of Scotland. Wait, we can’t do that; Stuart was beaten and burned alive, left out on the street as a warning – to other gay people. Yet most folks I talk to would agree that Stuart wasn’t “unfit” for any reason, and certainly not because he was gay. So why was he murdered? Because some people don’t agree with us that a gay man isn’t “unfit”, or a threat to their group.

One could argue I’ve wandered a bit from the topic of innocence and why it’s rejected and mocked. I haven’t – I’ve just carried it down a few different and variably disturbing pathways. What did neighbors, friends, and family say in the papers about Stuart Walker? He was a kind, decent, caring person, who hadn’t committed a crime or harmed or aggravated anybody. He was innocent.

~ ~ ~

© W.R.R. 11/2/2011

Break The Silence

So many things are crowded into my past, they blur one into another, until it’s hard to see where one ends and the next begins. Some of it I’ve always known, other “incidents”, as people referred to as professionals label them, are recalled later in life. Most of the time, I’d rather they stay forgotten; but they don’t. They have a way of bubbling up and crowding out my sanity. Instinct says “keep it hidden”, but you shouldn’t. Speak out. Break the silence. You’re not alone. I understand your pain, because I know mine. I know speaking out is hard, too. Allow me to lead the way….

My father was an all-powerful terror in my life, but having  raised me to think (or not think at all) the way he wanted me to, I also spent most of my childhood essentially worshipping the man. It was all mixed up with the hate and fear, and I believe that only those who experienced that awful blend of emotions could ever truly understand it. My mother was powerless and subservient, a child of abuse herself. Though we went through a very ugly form of domestic trench bonding, she did do things, and teach me things, that I never knew were considered wrong or unconscionable until I escaped as a young man and found out that the rest of the world doesn’t behave that way.

Most people I have shared things with have at one time or another told me how much they hate my parents. I understand this; as I struggle to ingest the idea that people can care about me, and I try to learn to believe it, I can see how they would feel that hatred. What is hard for them to swallow is the fact that it’s difficult for me to hear that. I’m mixed up in my head, a lot of mental “wires” crossed or tangled up so badly that my therapist and I might never unravel them all. I know it’s hard to imagine for others, how I could feel anything other than hatred for my parents. Yet even though they both abused me sexually, and my father would often beat us both, I’m too messed up and mixed up to feel only hate for them. I’m told that a child has such a need to love and be loved, that it can be appalling  how easy it is to twist that need to suit the abuser’s ideal goal: an obedient victim who won’t tell on them.

What torments me the most is the question “Why”. I understand my mother; she was used by her father the same way we were both used by mine, and she knew no different kind of life. For my father, all I have is rumor and guesswork. I met his mother, she was nothing  like my mother. My paternal grandmother was a powerful woman and my father actually seemed to fear her. I never met or even saw my paternal grandfather, and I got the impression he was either dead or in prison before I was born. I lie awake at night often and wonder if he was the key – did he abuse my father, and the behavior is just being passed down? That doesn’t track as irrefutable, though; studies show that the majority of abused people do not grow up to abuse anybody else. It happens, but it’s the exception, not the rule. I know this is true, because I’ve never passed on my abuse, never harmed a child. That leaves the “why” hanging  over my head though, an ugly Gordian Knot that I’ve spent my adult years plucking away at in vain.

Another thing people always ask me is why nobody ever tried to help me. When I was little, most people in our neighborhood didn’t even know a child lived at our house. When records and school officials got wind of me, I was packed off to a school where my peers were more inclined to bully me than help. I was a wild creature too, as likely to bite as to run away and hide. I don’t know why a teacher didn’t report me as a possible abuse case. When I got older, I learned to tell lies. I’d fallen down the stairs. My mother had been in a car accident with me in the backseat. I’d fallen out of a tree, or walked into a door. Give most people an explanation, anything  to calm the unsettled instinct churning their gut, and they’ll grab for it like a life preserver off of a sinking ship.

So I grew up under the thumb of my father, subjected to his insane, violent whims. His favorite “game” was to train me to be a pet, like a loyal dog. Because of that, one of my biggest challenges is to learn that I have human rights, even though I don’t always feel like a human at all. My abuse wasn’t hidden in my home. My mother and I endured it side by side. There were others, too; “friends” of my father. They knew. Sometimes they did things; and my father let them. One of those men was my family doctor, the man who put me on Zoloft at age nine and contributed to my becoming a bipolar rapid-cycler . Yet some people question why I have such a difficult time trusting doctors, or anybody.

Sometimes what I endured makes me a little crazy. Bipolar, PTSD, panic attacks, agoraphobia, and a debilitating grab-bag of other phobias, can make life a challenge. Also, I deal with some uncommon kinks that my abuse taught me to crave, and that makes my relationships now an endless challenge. I’m grateful to have the lovers, family, children, and friends that I do – they are teaching  me how the rest of the world works and interacts, how people who had loving  homes actually think and feel. I hope this will help me to cope, to understand, and someday to heal.

Those of you who don’t know this pain, I’m so happy you had loving childhoods. Please pay attention to people you know who may be acting depressed or strangely reclusive; if they have a past of abuse they are hiding, a word of kindness or offer of friendship from you could make all the difference in the world to that person. It might also save their life, because it’s so easy to give up when you think nobody cares.

Right now, I have no pretty words for my real peers, those others who are survivors of physical and sexual abuse. I have no tales or lessons wrapped in poetry, though if you explore the pages of my journal here, there are many, both ugly and hopeful, all truthful. Yet hopefully, you already know and understand how helpful it is to share even the ugly and the frightening things in our pasts. To speak is the first step to healing, and all people, survivors and their families and loved ones, need to realize that silence is the enemy. Your silence can kill; because nobody who loves you has a chance to help if they don’t know you need help.

For now, I just needed to speak out in the midst of one of my harder-to-cope days. It does help. It does get better. Just to tell and find out that people who love you don’t stop loving you when they know your secrets, is one of the most healing things I’ve ever discovered.

Some secrets are bad and silence can kill. Break the silence.

~ ~ ~

© W.R.R. 10/3/2011

For all survivors of any form of rape or abuse; you are not alone. Speak out. Find your path to healing.

To Be A Better Man

I know I’m not going to meet Adam Lambert. Between being bipolar and agoraphobic, plus suffering from PTSD and panic attacks, the deck is stacked against me; I simply can’t tolerate being in a crowd, either for a concert or standing in a clutch of people at a barricade. The amount of well-meaning folks who like to cajole me with “oh, someday, maybe” just don’t understand the debilitating nature of these maladies. The thing is, it’s ok; I don’t have to meet or touch him to have him touch me. It’s the nature of his charisma, his aura, essence, whatever you want to call it, that allows his voice and compassion, his passion for life, to touch and change mine.

I do love hearing about others meeting him, though. It’s a vicarious joy, and the excitement of another person can and does transfer some of that Adam mystique to me, every time.

Fact is, this amazing man, my stepping stone to a healthier stretch of the path before me, doesn’t need to ever touch my hand… because his voice and shining example touch my heart.

When I’m in depression, I have a playlist of Adam’s interviews that I listen to on repeat as I sleep. His voice, as mesmerizing in speech as in song, gives me something positive to focus on, and holds the nightmares at bay. This is a gift I intend to repay by striving to get better, to do better, to become the sort of person who is capable of helping others. With a gift like that, it just doesn’t matter that I can’t meet him in person. In my heart, I already have.


© W.R.R. 9/20/2011

For all survivors of any form of rape or abuse; you are not alone. Speak out. Find your path to healing.