This all sounds painfully familiar.

I was utterly helpless to defend myself during any of the assaults I suffered. The first time, I simply couldn't accept the horror of what was happening. I pressed my hands over my eyes and started chanting, over and over, "No. This is not happening."

It's haunted me for years that I didn't do anything. Couldn't do anything. I've tried to rationalize it, reminding myself that I was frail after many years of illness, and my former instructor was much bigger than me. But that isn't why I froze. It was the horror and the terror. And part of me has never been able to forgive myself.

Afterwards, I went into total denial. But that didn't restore me to normal. I hid in my apartment for a month, while my music instructor stalked and harassed me by telephone and mail.

When I finally ventured out, further assaults rapidly broke down that denial. I started resisting, first by just crying and pleading. Then, by degrees, by struggling. In response, my instructor got ever more violent, bashing me in the face at one point to subdue me -- and forcing me to do things, horrible things, that filled me with paralyzing shame. I went and hid in my apartment for another five weeks.

Then I did something really stupid. One of my instructor's oldest friends had taken me aside weeks before, and pleaded with me to convince my teacher to get psychiatric help. He told me that he, and my instructor's sister, who is a medical doctor, were afraid my teacher was going insane and might be on the brink of suicide. He told me how my teacher's best friend had killed himself about a decade before because he couldn't stop himself from molesting boys. I held onto his words like a life preserver. It seemed so much easier to blame what had happened on my teacher's being mentally ill -- and to imagine that he might somehow be "repaired," and everything somehow magically undone.

So I left my apartment, and my city, to intercept my instructor and confront him. He rewarded my efforts to convince him to get help with a particularly brutal assault.

I fell apart. Spent five weeks in hospital being subjected to "secondary victimization" by a doctor who later apologized for his incompetence.

Lost everything. Academic career only a distant memory in a few years. I wouldn't be here now were it not for a brilliant psychiatrist, a great psychologist, mountains of Prosac, and the woman who's been my wife these past 20 years.

Her only reward, however, has been to be dragged down with me as I've slowly sunk under the weight of all that horror. She left me for about six months during the mid-90s, during which she aborted what would have been our only child. I begged her not to. But she'd despaired of my ever recovering sufficiently to support a family. That pretty well finished what little was left of me.

I've since briefly risen to some prominent positions, only to be knocked down by a self-punishing stretch of depression and flashbacks. And I've long ago forgotten the things that made me happy before I took that music class.

On November 6, it will be 25 years since the first assault -- since I put my hands over my eyes because my mind wouldn't accept what was happening. And I can honestly say, looking back on all those devastated years, that it would have been merciful if he'd had the decency to simply kill me afterwards. Making me live all these years with those horrors playing and replaying in my head has been the cruelest thing he's done to me.

But he will pay for it. I learned this past spring that I can go after him, by suing him in his home country, England. I've got two boxes full of documentation. And as of today I've got referrals to five first-class solicitors in London. If I can find one that will overlook the fact I'm flat broke, my former instructor will be in for one hell of a shock. Believing that I can make that happen, that I can punish him after all these years of pain, is really all that keeps me going.