I have a very freeing experience today. I attended a required course called Virtus at my local catholic church today to become a volunteer. I thought it would an instruction on the beliefs of the church, but it turned out the the whole point of the Virtus class was to communicate the warning signs of sexual abuse as well as way to prevent it within the church. One disturbing aspect of the class was a video of interviews with convicted child molesters where they recounted how they chose, groomed, and attempted to silence their victims. It was quite triggering at times, but very insightful as we got to take a look inside the mind of a predator.
We were required to discuss what the video said regarding warning signs. During the discussion, the instructor said that while she had had several women admit during these sessions that they had been abused, she doubted that a man ever would. Something stirred within me, and I decided that I would become her first.
Shaky and staggering, I stated that the interviews with victims and offenders really hit close to home because I was a victim of abuse. And I stated that adults are just as culpable if they ignore warning signs as my parents did with me. It was like I had just dropped a bomb in the room. The two other ladies taking the class could not say a word. They were clearly uncomfortable. I really don't care looking back now, because the whole point of this class was to have an honest conversation about sexual abuse even if it made us uncomfortable.
The instructor thanked me for my courage and then stated that she too was a victim of abuse. I sent her an e-mail afterward thanking her for her courage and also commending my church for it's serious commitment to preventing child sexual abuse...for obvious reasons. This was the first time that I stated in front of complete and total strangers that I had been abused. I felt honored to be the first man to come forward during these classes and I hope that it will do some good.