I don't think there is any starting over. The damage is done and cannot be removed. If a boy feels pleasure from sexual activity with an adult, that fact cannot be changed...ever. When the boy is groomed to think that this behavior is okay, the only hope is to realize the lies that were planted in his head all those years ago. But how do you tell yourself that the pleasure you felt was a lie. Physical pleasure is what it is. Your body doesn't lie. How do you deal with the pleasure of the activity? I don't know how any boy who was abused by a man cannot help but think that he is bisexual or gay the rest of his life.
I see two issues here, the first being that of what it means when a boy feels physical pleasure as he is abused.
That issue is huge for survivors (me included), not least of all because when an abused boy gets an erection, achieves orgasm or ejaculates, the abuser will often tell him that this proves the boy "likes it" and is in fact "in on it" with the abuser. But in reality all this proves is that the boy's body is functioning as it's supposed to. We are all sexual beings, and a boy will often feel physical pleasure from sexual contact that he doesn't want or like or understand, and even if the contact frightens him. The fact that the boy was physically aroused has not the slightest thing to do with his real sexuality, and the arousal does not make him responsible in any way for what's happening to him.
We can even take this and apply it, Shelly, to the case where a boy willingly goes to the abuser, or where he specifically seeks out the abuser because he wants
the sexual arousal the abuser can provide.
The fact here is that a young boy, however curious about sex he may be, and however much pleasure he derives from stimulation by the abuser, is still being abused
. He is not old enough or mature enough to understand what is being done to him, or what he is expected to do as "payback". He cannot make an informed decision to participate with the abuser, and when the whole case is looked at it inevitably emerges that the boy was tricked, cajoled, lied to, groomed and maneuvered into exactly the position where he would be most vulnerable to the abuser's advances.
A basic truth we all learn about abuse is that what defines it isn't the sex, but the misuse of power and authority. Figures like fathers, big brothers, uncles, priests, pastors, Scout leaders, coaches, and so on, are all personalities that a young boy will look up to and even adore; he will linger on their every word and feel so special and important because this guy wants to "be with him" as a "special friend" or for their own private "special time". What the boy doesn't see is that none of this is really for him; he doesn't really mean anything to the abuser, who is putting his own desire for sexual arousal over and above an innocent child's need for safety and happiness.
The second issue has to do with a very real and valid point you hit on: that an abused boy will THINK he was responsible for the pleasure he felt. Certainly he cannot deny what happened, since the evidence is pretty dramatic and hence rather difficult to ignore or explain away.
The key here is that the boy, or the man he becomes, has to understand that recovery isn't about changing or rewriting the past. That of course we cannot do. Healing lies in looking at the feelings we have, here and now, about the abuse we suffered in the past.
To take the example of feeling pleasure, a survivor who worries about this needs to understand what I mentioned above: that he was being used and tricked, that his own needs and feelings didn't matter to the abuser, that the physical arousal he felt has no moral dimension to it, and that he was never in a position to choose
what would or would not happen to him.
Once we understand all this, we realize that we were never
willing or active partners in any meaningful sense of those terms. We were just being used and exploited. That is, we were being abused. Any pleasure we felt, or sought, does not and can never change that fact.
A final word on this one, Shelly:
I don't know how any boy who was abused by a man cannot help but think that he is bisexual or gay the rest of his life.
I see what you mean, and this issue is one of several that shows how important professional support from a therapist is to a survivor. An abused boy, or an adult, will often feel a deep sense of confusion over matters of sexuality.
A good T will help a survivor to acknowledge and then believe (the two are not the same thing) that he was never to blame for what was being done to him, and that he did not "choose" it. By the age of 14, for example, I felt that it simply didn't matter what was done to me; I thought I wasn't worth any better treatment. That was of course wrong, and therapy has helped me see that.
A gay man will need to understand that his homosexuality has to do with a lot more than who he sleeps with, and that it's part of who he is as a man. Abuse, on the other hand, was a crime committed against him by someone else.
The "starting over" that I refer to earlier in this thread is all about this process of recovery. You are so right: the reality of what happened in the past is something we don't get to cancel or forget. But by understanding what abuse is all about and how pedophiles operate we come to a new understanding of that past. We discover ways to reject old feelings that have come to us from false lessons taught by sexual criminals. We get to see ourselves in an entirely new light.
What emerges is a man who is not only confident and happy with his sexuality - whether gay or straight or anywhere around or in between - but able to live in peace and happiness with those he loves.
If you ask me am I there yet, the answer is an emphatic "no". But I am far enough along in my recovery to see that this is where I am headed, and yes, that makes all the difference!
Thanks for standing your ground and raising some important questions. If you have any further comments, let's hear them. Dialogue is what this site is all about.