This was sent by Dale English to several men who have attended MS's weekends of recovery. So many of us struggle with the delemma of reporting what happened to us. We continue to torture ourselves with wondering how many others may have been abused because we didn't report those who abused us. Every person's situation is different, everybody's reaction to the abuse is different, everyone's fear level is related to where we were, and where we are. It is so individual, no two situations are the same. We can not judge one another because no one was where we were, or where we are.
I submit this because of the anguish that I have had, and that I have heard, here, over this issue.
Peace, strength and courage,
P. S. Thank you, Dale.
From Editorial/Opinion Section of the Salt Lake Tribune newspaper on Sunday, February 18,
Reporting sexual abuse is still risky in our culture
Article Last Updated: 02/17/2007 02:18:22 PM MST
Click photo to enlarge
I attended fifth grade in a small school in Illinois in 1970. My teacher was fresh
out of college. He was nothing like the older female teachers we were
accustomed to. A single man with unruly hair, he wore bell-bottom pants with
sandals and drove a muscle car. My friends and I thought he was cool.
He gave us much attention and encouraged us to act out in ways that other
adults did not allow. Several of us boys would pack tightly into his big Dodge
Charger for a trip to the skating rink. He didn't care that we climbed all over
He let us have a water fight at his home one Saturday. When our clothes were
wet he said something like, "Let me throw those clothes in the dryer. I don't
want your moms to know the crazy fun we have here!" We dutifully disrobed
and sat on the sofa naked, watching cartoons, totally oblivious to his intentions.
My teacher encouraged me in creative writing and allowed me to use my
imagination. He often told me I was his brightest and most mature student.
After we moved to Utah, I wrote letters to him as well as the boys my own
age. In the summer we made a trip to Illinois and I was delighted that my
teacher invited me to spend the night. After I had undressed for bed, he came in
and said he wanted to talk. I was uncomfortable when he began to talk about
When I objected, his advances became forceful. I resisted physically, but was
no match for his size and strength. When he had finished molesting me, he left
the room without speaking. I lay there all night, crying and praying and
wondering what had just happened.
The next morning I told him I had decided not to stay a second night. He
looked surprised and dejected. He said I shouldn't feel guilty about what I had
done. He said this was how boys become mature. He pretended to think the
whole incident was my idea and that I had wanted it to happen. I had respected
and admired him. I had always tried to please him and now he seemed so
disappointed in me. He implied that maybe I wasn't mature after all. He was
manipulative and I was confused.
For more than five years I told nobody of my secret pain. If I talked about it,
others might also assume it had been my idea.
When I was about 18 years old, a group of adults were standing outside the
church talking. My older brother said he had received a call from Illinois. He
told us that the teacher had been arrested for sexually molesting a student. Other
boys had come forward with similar stories. My brother doubted the accusations
were true. I felt safe to talk. "But it is true," I said. "He did it to me, too."
Everyone was quiet. Then someone implied that I was lying. "If you had
really been molested," the man said, "You would not have waited all these years
to tell someone."
Another person suggested that even if I were telling the truth, I shouldn't talk
about it. I would only bring embarrassment to my family. "If you really were
molested you should have told someone," he said. "By keeping silent, it's kind
of your fault those other boys were abused over the years."
So I shut my mouth. Not for only five more years, but until this year. My hair
is graying, my heart is bad and I have adult children of my own. But finally, in a
therapist's office, I told my story. I told of the confusion, the guilt and the
enduring self-reproach. Tears streamed down my face and into the white
whiskers of my beard. I slumped to the floor.
Then she said the words that I had needed to hear for 35 years. "Danny, it
wasn't your fault. He was a sexual predator. You were a victim. I'm so sorry for
what happened to you."
To say I cried would be an understatement. I wailed like a little boy. I
recognize that this kind of healing is going to be a process, but healing has
begun. I have a new sense of freedom.
It is estimated that females suffer sexual abuse about four times more than
males. The frequent newspaper stories about such abuse always jump out at me.
I know the helpless feeling of being overpowered by a man in authority. I know
the confusion, the fear and the conflicting feelings. I have asked the haunting
questions: Was it even partly my fault? Will anyone believe me? Is something
wrong with me? Was I really hurt so bad that I should risk ridicule and disbelief
There are no easy answers, because we live in a culture where speaking out
truly is risky. Victims are blamed and interrogated for proof. But it's your word
against a person who is in authority and who is respected.
I am not a trained counselor. But I would like to say something to every
person who has been sexually abused: It is not your fault. You are not a dirty
person. I'm so sorry for what happened to you. May your heart be healed and the
innocence of your youth restored.
* DANNY ROYER is a health-care chaplain and a freelance writer. He lives
"No soul is desolate as long as there is a human being for whom it can feel trust and reverence."