This is the first time I've been able to write all this down in coherent form. All names have been changed.

I was born and raised in a small North Carolina city. My parents both worked, we were solidly middle-class, and I had all my material and educational needs provided for. I grew up as an only child-- I have three half-sisters from my dad's first marriage, but they were much older than I and lived with their mother in another state; I only saw them once or twice a year.

The abuse started when I was four with my dad fondling me. Then he had me perform oral sex on him in the shower. Then he started coming into my room at night and raping me. He continued abusing me until I reached puberty. I can't remember how many times the abuse happened. He also took erotic photos of me, which continued through middle school.

Just this past year, I found out he did the same thing to my half-sisters when they were growing up. He physically abused them, and I remember his being proud-- telling me he didn't beat me like he did my sisters. I got more of the sexual abuse than they did, though.

I've always hated my dad. Aside from being sexually abusive, he was mean, passive-aggressive and overbearing. He chilled out a lot after he retired, but I still felt depressed whenever I was around him, and whenever he'd hug me or take my picture I'd get creeped-out and angry. I loved my mom (still do, I guess), but I'm afraid her time with my father and I has made her quite neurotic.

When I was 7, a doctor who was a friend of the family videotaped me and his daughter, who was my age, having sex. I was afraid and confused, but it turned me on. It only happened once. The last I heard, the doctor was in prison for running cocaine. This pornography experience hypersexualized me, and afterwards I was promiscuous with other kids, both boys and girls.

Sometimes in the summer I'd stay with one of my mom's old friends, Marsha, and her family. When I was 8, Marsha's son James, who was a year older than me, recruited me into intense sex play and exposed me to more pornography. One time when his parents were out he made me watch as he molested his toddler-age sister, which made me feel very uncomfortable and sick. One night in his bedroom, James and I were naked with him on top of me trying to penetrate me. I loved it and at that moment I realized I might be gay. Then his dad walked in and yelled at the top of his lungs for me to get back in my bed. I was terrified and ashamed. In the span of a few moments I had learned the ecstasy and horror of being homosexual. James and I stopped having sex, but his father was always mean to me after that. I often wondered how James came to be so sexualized at 9 years old, but I haven't talked to him since high school.

When I was 10, I went on a ski trip with my best friend Chad and his family. It was the week of the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster. One night, Chad's older brother Jared came into the room Chad and I were sharing, climbed into my bed on top of me and penetrated me. It was dark and I pretended to be asleep, but once I opened my eyes and could see Chad watching what was happening from his bed across the room. I idolized Jared. He was physically developed for his age and I was afraid of him, but I thought he was really cool. I knew what he was doing to me was wrong, it made me feel dirty, but I liked it as I did that time with James. One time previously, Jared had asked to see my penis. I pulled my pants down and he laughed as I got an erection, then went back to his room-- I wasn't sure if he wanted me to follow (he usually forbade us to go in there), so I just went back to playing with Chad. Back in the ski cabin, when Jared was done having sex with me, he got up and left, and never spoke to me about it or tried it again. Chad and I never spoke about what happened, but whenever Jared was around there was a heavy sense of shame between us. A few years later I was supposed to go to the waterslide with Chad, but his parents wouldn't let him go because he hadn't mowed his neighbors lawn like he was supposed to, so Jared came along instead. He was really nice to me that day. He felt me up when we were going down a waterslide. I thought maybe he liked me, but we didn't have much interaction after that.

In middle school, the abuse pretty much stopped, except for my dad taking pictures and copping a feel when we were alone in the car together (that stopped once I got to high school). In my early adolescence, a few men in the community made sexual advances toward me. These incidents totally freaked me out and made me panic. I reported one of the men, who was my mentor, because he was into having us boys look at girly mags with him. My parents made me feel like I was overreacting. One night they had the mentor over to the house and my parents made me sit and listen to him explain that what he was doing was "educational". The mentorship continued, but he knew that I was not a kid he could play his tricks on. In terms of my intellectual and academic development, he was a great teacher, but even when I was in college I felt uncomfortable around him.

I had a sexual relationship for the duration of high school with a boy, Nathan, who lived next door. We weren't boyfriends, but we enjoyed being gay together. North Carolina at that time was an extremely homophobic place, and I had no one to talk with about my sexual confusion (much less the earlier abuse). Senior year, we had to write a one-act play for theater class. In mine, a boy sits on the beach contemplating suicide because he is bisexual. My parents were very intrusive into my privacy, and when it came to my creative work, they wouldn't take no for an answer when they wanted to see it. So, I let my dad talk me into reading this one-act play of mine. He looked very sad and asked me if it was autobiographical. I told him yes. Then he asked me if he could show it to my mom. I knew I couldn't say no, so I assented, and the next thing I know my mom is totally freaking out because she can't accept having a gay son. The next day when I was at school, she went into my bedroom and read my journal in which I wrote about Nathan and my sexual relationship. Without talking to me about it, she took the journal over to the Nathan's parents and exposed to them what was going on. Nathan's parents flipped out worse than even my mom. They made threats that if we didn't move, they'd burn down our house. They threw rotting fish and shrimp over the back fence to drive us away. I was forced into a psychiatric hospital for a few weeks. While I was in there, one of Nathan's brothers told the whole school about what happened. It was really rough going back to school. I lost half my friends, but the other half stuck by me. I was constantly in fear of violence, the rumors were non-stop, and the shame was crushing and constant. I graduated a couple months later and we moved into a condo at the beach. I just had to make it through a summer of washing dishes at a seafood restaurant, then I could leave for college, leave my hometown hell and find freedom.

Initially, at college I found that freedom. It was a small liberal school with a supportive LGBTQ community. I decided I was more gay than bisexual, but began having problems with my male sex partners. I was unable to achieve orgasm, I'd throw up during oral sex, and have flashbacks and blackouts when penetrated. I started smoking pot, which helped with the sexual anxiety and my increasing feelings of depression. Over the course of my college years I got very heavy into drugs. I decided to eat acid over Spring Break my senior year instead of finishing my thesis. I was strung out on amphetamines and was well on my way into alcoholism. I barely graduated.

The summer after graduation, I tried bartending school, but dropped out due to my drug and alcohol abuse. Then I decided to pack a few bags and take the train to San Francisco. I was there for about a month, living in squats and junky hotels. I was being groomed by a pedophile I met on the street to become a prostitute. He gave me drugs for sex and made me pretend I was a little kid while he was giving me oral sex. I was doing a ton of acid and meth, and one night I had a psychotic break where I thought people were trying to burn down this shack I was sleeping in. I yelled at the people I was squatting with the reason I was so messed up was that I was molested when I was a kid. As screwed up as the situation was, it was the first time I had admitted to anyone my childhood abuse. One of my friends, who had been on and off the streets since she was 11, gave me enough money to go to the airport where I slept off my bad trip. The next morning I went to Berkeley and slept another whole day in a park. That night I was freezing and had no money. I knew that if I went back into the city, I'd end up selling myself for drugs until I died. I called my parents. They agreed to fly me back to NC, if I'd go into treatment. I agreed, and they arranged to have an old college friend pick me up, stay at his house that night, and take me to airport in the morning.

The next decade was a whirlpool of recovery attempts, relapses, increasing alcoholism, spiritual quests, writing of poems, suicide attempts, overdoses, psychiatric hospitalizations, one lost job after another, and moving in and out of my parent's house. Around 2004 I had a stable period of sobriety and did some intense 12-Step work with a sponsor I trusted. By this time, except for being triggered during sex and having nightmares, I had blocked out the abuse before middle school. Most of my childhood before that time was a blank. It seems most recovering people, when they complete a thorough 4th and 5th step, feel a huge weight lifted from them and a sense of freedom from the past. I didn't. I spiraled down into a deep depression. I was going to a dual-diagnosis support group at the local mental health center. One day, one of the other clients started talking about being abused as a boy. I felt this huge falling force go through my body, from my head down through the soles of my feet. I left the group feeling totally disoriented. Over the next few weeks, I completely fell apart, fragments of memory flying around in my head like a shattered mirror. I'd go over to my parents house, borrow the photo albums from my childhood, and sit for hours on the floor in my apartment trying to remember what the hell happened. I couldn't recognize the boy in the pictures as me. I became suicidal and entered a period of heavy DXM usage, trying purposely to fry my brain. I was in and out of the psych ward again. Finally, I got back into recovery and started exploring with a therapist my early childhood. The terrible confusion continued, I didn't know what was real and what was not, and they had me on a cocktail of antipsychotics and mood-stabilizers.

I got another year of sobriety, but I started to get really sick again from what I knew by then to be PTSD from sexual abuse. I lost the pizza delivery job I had managed to a hang on to for over two years (a personal employment record), I was going to lose my apartment and my car. I was faced with having to move back in with my parents. By this time I had remembered what my dad had done to me. I decided to take a fatal overdose of nicotine instead of moving back with them. I had everything ready on my kitchen counter, but at the last minute I decided too get drunk instead. While I was getting buzzed and web-surfing, I came across a picture of Seattle taken from the Space Needle, where Elliot Bay and the waterfront cranes were bathed in a silvery, holy light. I told myself, "This is where I must go." The next day I told my family and friends my intentions. I moved everything out of my apartment, packed a couple of bags, and used my last paycheck to buy a Greyhound ticket to Seattle.

Before I left, my parents and I got into a fight. My dad yelled at me, "Why do you hate me so much?" I almost confronted him, but I walked out instead.

I've been in Seattle for over two years now. Coming here was the best decision I ever made. It wasn't easy. After my money ran out, I was homeless. I worked my way up from Tent City to a half-way house to a flophouse to a real apartment. I've been in intensive therapy for CSA/PTSD. I've made huge progress. I finally have a real relationship with my sisters due to our discussions of what happened to us as kids. I confronted my mom about my dad's abuse. She denies remembering anything, but we continue to communicate. My dad has dementia and really went downhill after I left. I feel there's no point in confronting him now. One of my sisters tried a few years ago when she was in therapy, and he denied everything.

I'm still having problems processing the emotions related to my father's abuse. When I let myself remember what happened, I get very frightened and feel like I'm losing my mind. However, the nightmares in which my father is raping me have changed to dreams of me screaming at him to stop and leave me alone.

I continue to feel empty and lost most of the time, but my self-destructive thoughts and behavior have abated. I have over a year clean and sober (again). Except for pot. I already know everyone's opinion on this, but both my inner boy and I are in consensus that we need this crutch right now. Sometimes, it's the only thing that quiets the demons. I'm more worried about my tobacco intake, anyway.

I hope my involvement with Male Survivor will help me close the chasm between my adult self and lil' Liri. As I type this, he's looking on from the wall to my left: nervous, but grinning. Maybe even dancing.

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As a small child, I felt in my heart two contradictory feelings, the horror of life and the ecstasy of life. --Charles Baudelaire

My Story