I realize this probably rambles. I'm sorry about that but if I take the time to edit it, I'll never get around to posting it. So here goes:

The first time you tell someone that you were sexually abused as a child, it's like ripping off a bandaid that's been stuck to your balls. There's just no way to keep your cool. You try. You speak in that "far off" detached sounding voice. You know that you can't hold back all of the tears but with a little luck you might be able to get by with that one solitary tear running down your cheek like the noble warrior who sees mother earth being defiled by some idiot throwing trash out of a car window. You just can't look cool when the bandaid comes off. And it's really important for us to look cool. It should be easy for me. I grew up on the south side of Chicago in a neighborhood where looking cool wasn't just a personal style choice, it was a survival skill. I learned really well how to keep people at a distance. That felt safe then. As an adult it's a skill that comes with a lot of unintended consequences. Never show fear. Never show weakness. Also means never show anything that makes you approachable. It leads to a very lonely place.

So even after all of that I still managed to avoid actually typing the words. I was sexually abused. There, I said it.

The first time was an incident that I have only recently come to understand as abuse. It was pretty tame compared to what was to follow. Nevertheless I was only about four or five years old and I think it may have had something to do with why I became a target for other abusers in the future. I was playing with three older kids who were friends of the family. The youngest, a girl was about four years older than me. The oldest, also a girl was about nine years older. The boy was somewhere in between. I remember him daring me to suck his older sister's nipples. I remember her lying on her bed with her shirt open. I don't know if I touched her or not because the memory stops right there but I remember being scared and knowing that this was wrong. I also remember the smell in the room. I don't know any better way to say it...it smelled like ass. The room, which both girls shared always smelled like that like someone was always having anal sex in there. Looking back on the situation now I suspect that some if not all of them were abused by their father. I learned later in life that he had abused my mother when she was a teenager. Anyway, after that the memory skips ahead to my mother calling me from downstairs and me slowly making my way down the stairs holding on the railing. I was so young I still hadn't mastered walking down stairs yet.

The next time I was either six or seven. He was the son of my dad's best friend. I think he was about twelve. My parents had just split, my world was upside down and as an only child I was desperate for any attention I could get. Here was a big kid who wanted to be my friend. I thought that was pretty cool. I remember helping him build a fort out of pillows and blankets. In the fort was where he thought me the spoon game. Basically he would touch my body in different spots with the back of a spoon. Depending on where he touched me the spoon might feel warm or cold. My part was just to tell him how it felt while he kept touching me with the spoon and then with his hands. This quickly progressed to hand jobs and then to oral sex. After that, pretty much any weekend that I spent at my dad's house, this boy would stay over with me or I would stay at his house (both houses were on the same property) and there was always some sexual contact. This continued until I was thirteen. I finally stopped visiting my dad in order to put a stop to the abuse.

The last period of sexual abuse that I endured was with my uncle's wife. I used to call her my aunt but she doesn't deserve that title. It began one night when I was fifteen. She was twenty-eight. Looking back, I can see that she had been grooming me for some time, making comments about my body and slapping me on the rear end a couple times. One night I was staying at their house, as I often did. We all slept in the living room because it was summer and that was the only room that had air conditioning. She and my uncle were were sleeping on the sofa-bed. I was on the floor immediately next to her. My three little cousins were on the floor all around the room. As I lie there awake I noticed that her arm was hanging off the bed. Her previous behavior had made me think that she wanted to have sex with me but I had already learned not to trust my own instincts. I felt like I needed to know so I reached out and held her hand. I was pretty sure that she was awake but she didn't pull her hand away so I started to caress her arm. Then she leaned down and kissed me passionately. The rest of the night she fondled my body while my uncle slept next to her. Early in the morning, he got up and went to work. She saw him out the door and then came back to the living room where we had sex for the first time. We had to be very quiet because my little cousins were sleeping all around us. At one point the oldest one woke up briefly. She quickly pulled a blanket over my head and told him "go back to sleep. Daddy and I are just playing." I didn't realize at the time, how messed up that was. She wasn't only taking advantage of me she was also abusing her own kids at the same time by exposing them to the situation. She and I continued to have sex every chance we got for the next few months. During this time i officially moved in with them. I had a lot of conflicting emotions during this time. I thought I was in love with her. I also thought something was wrong with me because I was a teenage boy getting laid on a regular basis but yet I felt bad about the whole thing. After a few months my mom caught on to what was happening. She confronted us both and then told my uncle everything. There was a lot of drama that followed but still no one did anything to stop the abuse. I lost all respect for my mom and my uncle. Neither of them lifted a finger to protect me and he didn't even have the balls to leave his wife. Instead they worked out a schedule. By this time summer was over and they had been sleeping upstairs in their own room. She continued to sleep upstairs with him during the week and spent the weekends downstairs in the living room with me. It was a very uncomfortable situation for everyone and after a few weeks she said we couldn't keep doing this. She broke It off and I moved to my grandparents' which was just the other half of the same house. Every time she heard that I had a new girlfriend she would try to start things up with me again. Eventually I got tired of her games and moved back to my mom's.

Through all this, no one ever held a gun to my head. I was never forced or even threatened in conjunction with the sexual abuse. So I spent most of the next two decades feeling responsible for all of it. Mentally, I finally accepted that these things weren't my fault about ten years ago but knowing it and feeling it are two very different things. It is only within the past few months that I have begun to really feel that it wasn't my fault. I'm a grad student, working on my doctorate in forensic psychology and I decided to write my dissertation on the difficulties male survivors face with disclosure. My research has made me realize that I have to heal myself if I'm going to be any good to clients. That combined with the birth of my son have motivated me to face the daemons.

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"Life has meaning under all conditions." Victor Frankl