Category: Sexual Assault

“Somehow You Have to Find Peace in Yourself”

When I was between the ages of 5-12 I was sexually molested by my mother. I was also physically beaten and psychologically abused. She would put me down and say nobody would ever believe me and that if I told anyone that I would die for sure. My mother was a severe drug addict and a neglectful parent who put her addictions and her abusive boyfriends before her children. My siblings and I were in and out of foster care most of our lives. I held in my abuse and didn’t tell a soul until I turned 18. My grandfather and my cousin were the only people I could trust to tell. I knew they would believe me and support me.

It makes it extremely hard to allow others into my life. I feel like all people are a threat to me in some way. I have an even harder time with personal relationships. I do not show affection like most people do.  Because I was sexually abused, I became very sexual and hurt a lot of women through the years because I couldn’t commit to anyone out of fear. I have a really hard time trusting that someone really loves me and isn’t out to hurt me. Often times I look at it as I need to hurt them before they hurt me. I have PTSD not just from the sexual abuse but also from being physically and psychologically abused. I can’t cope with arguments or yelling or anyone that acts like my mother.

I am now in a long term relationship with a very loving and understanding woman who also suffered sexual assault and she is my rock. She stands by my side through everything I have done to push her away. We are parents and we both are very protective of our children especially in public settings. Everyone is a threat to me. But the absolute hardest thing for me is coping with the feeling that I can’t protect my family because I couldn’t even protect myself.

Growing up with that abuse was hard for me to cope with. When I was younger I would lash out on my siblings with aggression. To cope with everything now I take time to myself in a dark room, headphones in my ears, music as loud as I can get it. Somehow you have to find peace in yourself. Everyone needs their personal space; time to break away and fall apart. I can talk to my girl and a few family members about things that are currently on my mind. I also like to help people as much as I can. I have a hard time setting boundaries so my girl steps in when I go overboard. I like to offer advice on subjects I have lived and love to mentor younger people. I am often told that I should attend support groups but I don’t think I am honestly ready for that.

I still love my mother but I will never forgive her for the pain she has caused me. The pain she has caused my family. I don’t feel bad that I can’t forgive her that is the price she has to pay. Knowing what she did was wrong and that there is no excuse for her actions; knowing that I won’t forgive her and that everyone now knows how horrible she was. Despite all of that I will keep on loving her but I will never trust her.

Dan’s Truth

I am here today to talk about the sexual abuse of little boys, through my own story. I grew up in a modest, blue collar home, in inner-city Pittsburgh. It was a very tough neighborhood; tough kids, lots of fighting. A very “macho” environment. Football was an integral part of the social fabric of that community. I played four years of college football – I was a middle linebacker – the tough guy. This was all a mask to protect myself. To the outside world, I was a “normal” guy, but, I held a terrible secret. I was abused for two years from the age of 11 to 13. The very first incident of sexual abuse was everything to me. This meant that I was a BAD person. Somehow, I had determined that I “gave in”, that I was to blame. This devastated my self-esteem for years. The perpetrator was a serial pedophile; he probably abused over a hundred boys in his lifetime. He was a football coach for a 13 & 14 year old elite travel team in Pittsburgh. He would abuse players, then work his way down through all the younger brothers. He was not a homosexual, not a heterosexual, he was a pedophile. He was very subtle, very smooth. He would have you over to his house to wash & wax the car (always a flashy Cadillac). He provided alcohol, dinner at fancy restaurants – he lavished attention on the victim. He took me on trips to the NFL Hall of Fame, Niagara Falls, even the Orange Bowl in Miami. What poor kid from Pittsburgh would turn down a trip to the Orange Bowl?

To me, it was imperative that no one found out my secret. I withstood repeated abuse to avoid discovery. If I refused a trip to the Orange Bowl, that would bring on a deluge of why? questions. This secret dominated my life for 25 years. The abuse continued unabated – the child could see no way out – all I could do was keep it a secret. But the hurts compound daily for the child. I spent 22 of the 25 years as an advancing alcoholic, along with other self-destructive behaviors. It is very difficult for me to convey to you the overwhelming fear that I had of being discovered. All of this happened and was allowed to happen right under my parents’ noses. They failed in their primary role – protect your children. Many other bystanders had suspicions, but nobody ever spoke up. Nobody stepped in to help that little boy. They were silent bystanders. My efforts today are intended to eliminate today’s silent bystanders.

There are many effects of the abuse that are particular to males. Men are not supposed to be victims; throughout my recovery, that has been the most difficult concept for me — I am a tough guy, not a victim. Society tells us:

  • Men are not victims
  • Men don’t get depressed
  • Men don’t seek help
  • Men don’t need therapy

All of these attitudes are reinforced by the society that we live in. But, attitudes can be changed, and this speech is part of that process. In closing, I would like to tell all the hidden survivors out there: Get help, ask for help, help is out there. If you live in The Illinois Valley you can speak to an advocate at The Illinois Valley Safe House Alliance.  They will enable you to remember that you are not alone, that there is help available and that most survivors have had to wrestle with all the same effects of abuse that you and I have.

What is a Green Dot?

“Green Dot, etc.” is a five year strategy designed to engage ALL community members in the effort to decrease violence. It uses awareness, education and skill-practice to encourage proactive behaviors that establish intolerance of norms that support violence. The goal is for individuals and groups to engage in a basic education program that will equip them to integrate moments of prevention and intervention within their existing relationships and daily activities. It reinforces the community members that they CAN make a difference. Perhaps more importantly, it engages them actively in norm changing behavior that ultimately will lay the groundwork for a culture within our community that does not tolerate violence. The “Green Dot, etc.” does not require that a group or individual has any understanding of domestic, sexual or dating violence. It does not require a particular perspective or a point of view. It allows us to meet people where they are and engage every member of our community in the work to end violence.
So, what is a green dot? A green dot is an individual action, activity or statement that communicates to someone else that violence is not okay. Often a green dot happens when someone sees something that indicates that violence is possible, is imminent or has already happened. It might be a dangerous situation, something you know is wrong or something that just makes you uncomfortable. A green dot can be as simple as a check in: “Are you okay?” or “Do you need some help?” A green dot can also happen without the presence of violence. You can just tell a friend a cool story of when someone kept someone else safe or put a poster in the window at your workplace or business, or wear a green dot pin. The idea is that small changes add up to cultural change. We all just need to say or do something that lets others know that violence is not okay with us and we are willing to do our part to stop it.
Seems so simple! Unfortunately, sometimes obstacles get in the way of us doing our green dots. We might be shy, worried about what others will say, think it’s none of our business, don’t want to get involved, afraid of retaliation or just don’t know what to do. “Green Dot, etc.” teaches us to be aware of our obstacles and to come up with new and creative ways to initiate a green dot that feels comfortable given those obstacles. It doesn’t matter what you do. It just matters that you do something! Enough green dots and we WILL change the culture that supports violence in our community.
The “Green Dot, etc.” does not ask you to change who you are or what you believe. We have just recently begun implementation of a five year “Green Dot, etc.” strategy locally. We can come to your organization, place of business, agency, community group or church and give a green dot presentation. It is free and we can customize the presentation to the types of issues your particular group sees or hears about. If you would like us to give a presentation to your group, give Marcy a call at 541-592-5332. We can do a very brief presentation (5-15 minutes) to a large group and/or or a more extended and interactive presentation to those who are interested in the brief overview. The presentation provides a framework to engage the broader community and creates a common language. We are very excited about the program and we believe that this strategy could make a REAL difference in our community. Follow us on twitter @ivgreendot.
P.S. Calling and asking about a presentation is a green dot!