It is difficult to write a story about being a Survivor. Sometimes it feels as if "dealing" with the abuse becomes a lifelong occupation that permeates every fiber of our being. Sometimes I feel very confused because I know my story is not nearly as horrific as others who have faced this challenge and have overcome - not only to Survive but to Thrive!
Having said that - I also realize that the actual facts of the abuse we suffered have very little to do with how that abuse impacted us as it relates to our psychological health and functioning.
My abuse began when I was very young. I believe I was around 7 or 8 years old. I was sexually abused by 3 older brothers. I don't remember any incidents of abuse that took place after I was 11 or 12 years old. I am very lucky that I was never violently abused (I think - I'm lucky that is). Perhaps that makes recovery more challenging in a different way. Perhaps when you look back on the memories of abuse and see that you were not "forced," it is more difficult to accept that it was not your own fault. I do not believe that it WAS my fault - I have enough recovery under my belt to see that it could not possibly be my fault I was a child. Of course to make matters even more difficult - my brothers were children too - at least they were not full grown adults.
I kept silent about my CSA for many, many years. I can't say that I ever repressed the memories of it happening - I simply ignored it as having any significant impact on my life. It wasn't until much later in life that I realized that MOST 9 year olds don’t masturbate every single day. (Or maybe they do - I have no way to KNOW what normal sexual development looks like - mine was jump started by CSA).
By the time I was 14 years old the CSA had stopped, but my maladaptive behaviors had just begun. I was already smoking pot daily by this time. There had been isolated incidents where I would be hanging with friends my own age and we would find a secluded spot (I was raised in Maine - there are lots of secluded spots), we would play around with each other - again I am a lucky one - it was not forced and I never forced anyone. I am friends to this day with one of those kids I used to play with. We haven't been sexually involved for many years, but we have had sexual relations with each other as adults.
So, here I am at age 14, behaviorally challenged, my poor parents have no idea what has happened to me - only that the good little boy who was their youngest has gone wild! I would not listen, I skipped school, I failed every class. At their wits end, I demanded they allow me to quit school because at the end of the 8th grade I had all the knowledge I would need to make a good life for myself. Yeah right! So I worked some nowhere jobs that teens were able to get back then, until I reached 17 years old. Once I hit 17 I wanted to enlist in the U.S. Army and despite my parents objections, I managed to bully them into signing the paperwork so I could.
After Basic Training and Advanced Individual Training at Fort Benning GA in July (what was I thinking), I came home a solider all grown up at 17 years and 4 months old. Home for 10 days of leave with lots of heavy drinking and partying then it was off to Fort Riley Kansas. Now I had freedom! I would have a monthly paycheck, doing something I am proud of serving my country - I am a man now. Well, nothing in Basic & AIT had prepared me for the mind games that would continue in a peacetime Army at the Big Red 1 (First Infantry Division). I wasn't well liked by superiors because I had real resistance to authority and would argue with every order given to me. I got into a lot of trouble - for stupid stuff like showing up drunk to formation.
After I had been at Fort Riley for about 3 months I was hitch-hiking back to base one night from Junction City Kansas (JC). I was still a virgin - having never had sex with a woman at this point in my life. I was interested in women - I just didn't know how to approach them and was afraid to pay for a hooker. This guy stopped to pick me up. He was nice enough, he was black (no racial intent here). While we rode he asked in a very polite and non-threatening way if I had ever had sex with a man I said I had not. He followed up when I didn't become upset with him asking that question with; "would I like to try it?" I said "sure."
My memory of that night is pretty foggy - I was pretty drunk (no excuses here) but I do know that the what little I can remember, it was one of the best sexual experiences I have ever had in my life. BUT - the next day I remember being so scared that every one would know that I WILLINGLY had sex with a man and that I was GAY!
One night, when I had Fire Guard, one of the men in my unit came back to the barracks at about 3 am with a friend. He asked me if I wanted to go up to his room with him and his friend and smoke a joint. Never one to turn down a buzz I gladly accepted. Once inside the room, I was not surprised when he locked the door because after all we were about to break the USMJ. Well he decided that he had not been able to find any "action" at the bars in JC that night and he wanted some "attention." He pulled a knife and held it to my throat and told me that he could either cut my throat of I could choose to pleasure him with it instead. I chose the latter - because - well after all my brothers had trained me to be able to do a really good job sucking dick. (And remember I had willingly done this with a man once before). This was the first and only sexual experience I had where I truly was afraid for my life - and therefore was the only experience that I had ever had where I truly felt I had been raped - until many years later when I would come to accept that what my brothers did to me was CSA.
So to fast forward here (as this is getting to be much more involved than I had intended). My life history is full of job hopping, resistance to ANY authority figure, 3 marriages and literally hundreds of "one night stands" with woman.
I spent many years with sever rage problems - one night shortly after my discharge from the Army. I was living at my parents home and a friend had asked me if wanted to hang out and drink. Well drink I did (in addition to another substance which I will not say here in case any others have had problems with it), To make a long story short - I flashed back to my rape at Fort Riley and before I was done I had assaulted my dad and mom violently - Thank goodness they were okay but they never quite trusted me again with a drink in my hand - however - THIS was the beginning of my journey to recovery.
When I was about 25 (a couple years after the incident with my parents), my oldest brother gave me a ride home one night (to my parents house) I was VERY Drunk and he and I got into a fight about some thing - but the time it was over my mother who was very upset said "I can't understand why you hate him so much!" My very drunk, angry reply was "Because he used to make me suck his fucking dick!" You could have heard a pin drop. I began to sob. When I woke up the next morning my mother sat at the kitchen table with me and asked me if I remembered the events from the prior night. I sobbed and apologized to her and my dad then proceeded to tell them what had happened when I was a kid. I really have to give my parents credit here. Despite being older people, from a different time, they never questioned the validity of what I told them. My dad just got very quiet and my mom said "I am so sorry - we didn't know, we would have put a stop to it if we had known." There was more healing in those words than years of therapy ever could accomplish.
When I was 26 years old, in my second marriage I had told my wife (before we got serious) that I was bi-sexual and that if she wanted to still have a relationship with me that she would need to understand that I would occasionally engage in sexual relations with other men. I told her that I believe a marriage should be based in trust and honesty and that I understood if she wanted to end it. To my surprise she said she appreciated the honesty and understood. This brought me down a path of change that would alter the rest of my life. We remained married for only 2 years and in that time we discussed my sexuality and decided that we'd bring other men into our sex life. We only did it a few times but I found it to be extremely erotic and exciting. We eventually parted ways - not because the marriage was horrible - just because our lives took us down different paths. I am happy to say that we remain friends today - 22 years later.
While I was married to my 2nd wife we had a friend over one night (not a sexual friend) and he brought a date. The date my friend brought would become my 3rd wife in just a couple of years. After my 2nd wife and I broke up, I began to head down the path of some serious substance abuse again. After a few months of this I had remembered the woman who used to date my friend. I knew that she played guitar (so did I) and that she did NOT Drink or party. I needed to associate with someone who was not a partier so we connected.
Again when it began to get serious with my 3rd wife, I told her of my sexuality and simply stated that she could either benefit by participating or be understanding, but I was comfortable with my sexuality and didn't see it changing. We have been together for 22 years now. We have raised a family and are now empty nesters.
So for all of these years my wife has allowed me to have sexual encounters with other men. She set limits that I not be with other women as she would feel threatened by that. The strange thing about this is I was never abused or assaulted by a woman, but I enjoy engaging in sexual activity with other men while my wife is present. What I seem to enjoy even more is when she participates with other men as well. Over the years I have come to understand that this relates to something Patrick Carnes Wrote about - "Betrayal Bonds." In all areas of my life, no one who knows me would consider me a "submissive" type of person. But, when I am with a man I am somewhat submissive. When a man is with my wife and I - I become VERY Submissive. I enjoy her and her lover saying degrading things to me and ordering me around.
I have come to realize that this is most likely based in recreating the trauma in many ways. But I think it mostly has to do with the act of betrayal by my wife when she is with other men. That is the place where I think I am still stuck. It is the part of my traumatic experience that I have not overcome, have not managed to effectively address in therapy.
I have found recovery in a variety of ways. After having a heart attack at the age of 32 years, I decided that some things were going to change. I became self employed after that and owned a printing and publishing company for 12 years. In 2004 at the age of 41 I decided that I wanted to go to college and began school at the local community college. After graduating with my AA in liberal studies - I transferred into the University where I earned my BA in Psychology in 2010. While attending school I also began therapy for some of the sexualized behaviors (I have come to realize these are addictive in nature) and for the first time after about a year of therapy I told the very first person in my life that I had been raped at knife point in Fort Riley Kansas.
I continue to work on myself - but I have learned not to be too judgmental. I have struggled with my sexuality and worry about whether it is "normal." I often WISH I could lead a "Normal" life without feeling the need to re-create my trauma. I continue to struggle with the "Betrayal Bonds" that I feel I need in order to "feel" emotions.
I have been diagnosed with PTSD and know that one of the major symptoms I continue to battle is "emotional numbing." I know that this has been what has led me down the perverse path of "swinging" and engaging with men in various situations. I don't beat myself up about it - at the end of the day I KNOW that I have never forced anyone to do anything.
Well that is my story - I hope that it was not too graphic or triggering. It is the first time I've told my story to include the long term effects in my adult life and how my trauma messed me up regarding my sexuality. I am NOT ashamed of my sexuality, I don't feel Guilty about what I do both with and / or without my wife and I don't expect that I'll ever stop having sexual relations with men. I am Okay with that, my wife and I have an open, honest relationship that works for us. I could not live with myself if I were to lie about what I do and with who. Honesty is for us the most important ingredient that makes our marriage work.