I I decided to write because I need to talk about my experience and I am afraid to talk to people I know. My wife knows the story. I have told a couple of trusted friends the basics. I was reluctant because my story is so different. I recently found this site and I get so much out of it. I'm afraid that after I tell my story, I won't want to return.

I am quite certain I was sexually abused before I was eight years old, but have blocked it out. I base that on a number of things, which don't tell much about my story.

I had an older cousin with whom I played sexually-tinged games. He was a year older than me and we spent a lot of time together. We played “Truth or Dare”, which evolved into just “Dare”. “Dare” would mean running somewhere naked or “humping” something.

A month or so before I turned 11 and he turned 12 he got me to masturbate him while he pretended to be asleep, which gave him his first orgasm. He got me to try again, but he couldn’t repeat the experience. I was young, naďve and submissive. I had no idea what I was doing or what this meant. It was more like a science experiment to me than anything emotional.

We spent the night at each other’s houses frequently, especially during the summer. Not too long ago, his mother said I was his sidekick. Every time we were together after that first time, it involved some kind of sexual contact. As time went on, he got me to participate in more and more sexual acts, some of which we did while awake and some of which one did to the other while he pretended to be asleep.

On my 12th birthday I had a slumber party. My cousin was there. That night, I asked the other boys what a word meant, a new word to me: “fag.” They said, “It’s when a guy humps another guy.” I said my cousin and I had done that, though I don’t think we had done anything involving penetration yet. He immediately said, “No we haven’t!” I knew then that what we had been doing wasn’t ok with other people.

I didn't try to end it, though, until I heard my mom say a few months later that homosexuals couldn’t go to heaven. That did it for me. The next time, after going along with what he wanted, I told him I didn’t want to do this anymore.

It didn’t work. It just ended the part where we were awake and talked about it. The part where we pretended to be asleep kept going. I don’t remember what happened that first night after I told him no, but I know I blamed myself just as much if I let him touch me as when I touched him. No matter what happened that night, I would have blamed myself. By this time, homosexuality in general and sex with my cousin in particular were burned into my self-image. I thought this was truly who I was.

Our sexual relationship lasted a little over four years. I didn’t get any real pleasure out of it. It finally ended when I realized I didn’t enjoy it. I guess I finally realized I should be enjoying it. That change in my self-image helped me get out of it.

When I was in my early 20’s, I heard a talk that explained the symptoms of sexual abuse. I recognized myself. The speaker talked about the shame that survivors feel and I recognized that in how I felt about sex with my cousin. But that wasn’t abuse, right?. So I decided I had all the symptoms of sexual abuse without having been abused.

I was very screwed up, in a lot of ways. A few years later I ended up in therapy. Then I started having flashbacks of sexual abuse as a child. My therapist pointed out a few things about me that were common in men who were sexually abused as children, including self-identification as a homosexual. (I had talked to her about coming to the realization that I wasn’t homosexual.)

I told her I thought what happened between me and my cousin was abuse. She told me it wasn’t. She told me it was experimentation and blamed my religion for making me feel guilty about it.

A few years ago, I told another therapist about what happened between me and my cousin. I had met with her for some time, but hadn’t said anything about it. When I did, I cried, something I have done very rarely since I was 10 or 11. She told me that it wasn’t experimentation if one of the kids is traumatized by it. She referred me to Mike Lew’s book, Victims No Longer.

It opened a new world to me. I couldn’t believe this stuff existed and that in all my years of therapy, no one had told me about it. There really was treatment for my condition. Since I first heard about the symptoms of sexual abuse, I heard there was treatment for it, but in all my years of therapy I hadn’t seen any. I had lost hope that it really existed, even though I really liked a cuople of my therapists and learned a lot from them.

Because my cousin was only a year older than me, what happened between us wasn’t abuse under the law. It wasn’t molestation. It was just experimentation, just two kids choosing to play around.

Unfortunately, that play completely twisted me up. I’ve been through years of therapy and a long list of medications. Since I read Mike Lew’s book I’ve made real progress, but I’ve still got a ways to go. It can still be really hard.

I feel a little different from other suvivors of abuse because I have this huge traumatic experience in my past which affects everything I think, say and do, but it is harder for me to say it wasn’t my fault. I don’t have laws to point to or the condemnation of society to lean on. I'm also different from some survivors because instead of rebelling against authority, I rebelled against my peers. I did not want to be like the other boys. And I wasn’t. I'm still not.

Whatever it was that I experienced before I was eight left a serious mark on me. Anytime I get past what happened with my cousin, I feel it and see it there, underlying everything. Its biggest ripple effect, however, was making me willing to be my cousin's sex toy for four years, most of my puberty.

I still sometimes see him at family functions. Nobody knows and no one is ever likely to know. The secrecy kills me, but I’m afraid to tell anyone in my family, even my mother, who I’m very fortunate to be close to and who can keep a secret. So here it is.

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Now hope that is seen is not hope, For who hopes for what he sees? (Rom. 8:24)