8 Things You Should Know About Boys Who Are Sexually Abused written by Gregory Reid is our newest Lighthouse Trails Print Booklet Tract. The booklet tract is 18 pages long and sells for $1.95 for single copies. Quantity discounts are as much as 50% off retail. Below is the content of the booklet. To order copies of 8 Things You Should Know About Boys Who Are Sexually Abused, click here.
By Gregory Reid
I’m a male sexual-abuse survivor. I’m also a ritual-abuse survivor. I am rare, and belong to a company of men and boys, mostly silent and scared. So few have survived well enough to talk about it. I know I have to talk, because I DID survive, and because I see them in every group I meet, from five to seventy-years-old suffering, silent victims who are not really considered REAL victims by many, since the male species, in their minds, should be able to fend off any abuse. No matter how little they were. No matter how bad and scary it was. So we keep mostly quiet, to avoid the humiliation of questioning, cynical eyes that seem to say, “Come on, you could have done SOMETHING to stop it!” Can you imagine the public outrage in most places nowadays if you said that to a female rape victim? But no one really defends boy and men victims. So we’ve stayed silent. Wouldn’t you? If you’re a victim, you probably do. You probably picked this booklet up with a big knot of fear in your gut, hoping no one would suspect you might be one of the one in six boys who are sexually abused.
I want to tell you, you’ve got nothing to be afraid of. After all, being molested was something that was done to you, and you shouldn’t feel you have to apologize for looking for some hope, that you feel you have to hide because of someone else’s sins against you. Do those who are cynical have any idea what it’s like, what it feels like, how much pain it causes? Then forget about the doubters. You need a friend, and I hope you just picked it up—a booklet with a voice, one you’ll know is also maybe yours and one that is warm and real. A voice, mainly, of a brother who’s struggling out of his pain, too.
I try not to look too hard at how much progress I’ve made; I get too introspective, and then it goes into self-pity, and that’s worse than anything I can think of. When things about being molested come up, I do my best to face it. I’ve totally overcome some things (like blaming myself) but I’m still struggling with others (like being afraid that it’s written all over my forehead and people just “know”). Some struggles are no surprise, some are very fresh and event sensitive, and some knock me sideways when I’m not expecting any more to handle. But now I have hope, because little by little I’ve been healed, and I want to give a little of that to you.
I’ve written from my history, my head, and my heart. There’s not a lot of statistics, but I’ve put in a few for those who just want to help. A lot of the following is from my own experience, as graphic and real as I dare. For me, no one knew. No one should have to struggle that way. Accept this as a gift from a friend to let you know YOU’RE NOT ALONE.
I. Looking for the Signs
This is for those with children and teens, and those who work with them. It’s also for abuse survivors still not convinced that they were abused. Having one or two of these may be normal or not a sign of abuse, but the more that apply, the more likely abuse has happened.
Lack of Feelings
Aversion to Touch
Fear of Adults
Extreme Privacy Need
Extreme Control Need
Age-Inappropriate Sexual Knowledge
Extreme Need for Order
Clinging to Adults
Fear of Abandonment
Rebellion Against Authority
Rage Toward Parents, especially father
II. A Predator’s Toolkit
Most “professional pedophiles” have turned molestation into a fine science. They are precise in their plans and use well tested lures and traps to get kids in a place where they can be molested. The following is a “profile of seduction,” an overview of how a predator works.
1. Drugs (Voluntary and involuntary)
2. Alcohol (To lower the victim’s inhibitions and make them confused and vulnerable)
3. Pornography (Printed and video, to lower the sexual inhibitions and arouse the victim)
4. Music, video games, etc.
The predator is current on music trends, video games, movies, etc. and their homes often look like a kid’s paradise.
5. Prestige & Status.
To a boy or teen, hanging around with a dynamic, fun adult with a nice house and a fast car is a very powerful lure, a major ego booster.
6. Money & Gifts.
Predators shower their victims with gifts and money, which is very seductive to a kid who may not have much materially, and it also puts the boy in a place of “obligation” to the giver.
7. Physical affection.
Predators can sense kids who have little affection at home, which is something every boy or teen needs, and he slowly begins giving that affection to the boy a little at a time, making him dependent on it, craving it to feel loved and liked and special.
8. Emotional support.
Predators go out of their way to listen to a boy, sympathize with his problems, and offer help and advice as well as encouragement. This goes a long way with a kid who doesn’t feel like he’s worth much.
9. Sexual gratification.
Predators are experts on how to seduce, entice, arouse, and sexually stimulate a boy or teen; and like it or not, it can become an addiction for the boy, especially if it’s his first sexual experience. Mix that with needed affection, and soon the boy won’t know the difference between sex and affection, love and arousal.
Time is the predator’s most powerful tool. Unlike normal adults who have lives, jobs, children, families, hobbies, and other interests and obligations which all play important but somewhat equal parts in life, the predator has a job, a career, interests, hobbies, etc., only as props to support his addiction—kids. Since this is his all consuming addiction, money, time, and interests are all expended toward this one goal—to find his fantasy child or teen and molest them, photograph them, use them. Since the other things, like work and family, are just asides, they have enormous amounts of time and energy to devote to the finding of kids, the luring of kids, the prepping of kids, for the seemingly endless amount of time spent listening to kids and going places with them and buying them things and doing things with them, all in hopes of the ultimate—sex with a minor.
Once a predator determines to find a victim, this is the general chain of events that often follows:
1. He finds the desired child or teen. Befriends him, gains his trust.
2. Gains the trust of the parents so they won’t suspect.
3. Makes the boy feel important through lots of time and personal attention, makes him feel he is more important to him than anybody.
4. Flatters him. Tells him he’s handsome, smart, etc.
5. Makes plans for private time with him,
a. Counseling him,
b. Going to movies,
c. Going to the park, video arcade, beach, pool, concerts, etc.,
d. Plans a camping trip with him,
e. Hires him to work around the house or business,
f. Helps him with his schoolwork.
6. Treats him like an adult.
7. Builds non threatening affectionate physical contact.
8. Introduces or allows “adult” activities; smoking, drinking, drugs, pornography, swearing, etc.
9. Starts slowly discussing sex, gaining as much intimate knowledge of him as possible.
10. Remolds his thinking about what is “normal sex,” eventually disclosing his “normal” desires for sex with the boy.
11. Having changed his thinking, gained his trust and dependency and accelerated physical contact, the boy is now totally vulnerable to being molested.
12. The predator plans the time and place where there will be no suspicion or interference or time constraints.
13. After prepping him with alcohol, pornography, etc., while he has broken down the walls enough to start molesting him, he tells him:
All guys do it.
He knows some of his friends who do it.
He loves him.
The boy is “turned on” and that’s normal and means he wants it too.
Guilt is wrong.
He’s the greatest kid in the world.
14. After he’s molested him, he makes the boy feel he started it, threatens to tell if he has to, tells him he will be destroyed if the boy tells—whatever it takes to keep him quiet.
15. After he has outgrown his attraction for him, the predator keeps the photos or videos as a memento and searches for a new kid.
This is a general picture that doesn’t fit every victim or every predator, but fits many of them, and in that respect it is very painfully accurate. Knowing your enemy is half the battle in stopping him.
III. Myths about Abused Boys
Myth: It is not a widespread problem.
Fact: One in every ten men & boys, and some say one in six has possibly been molested in some form.
Myth: Most molesters are dirty old men.
Fact: Most predators are highly intelligent career people with community respect and a good income.
Myth: Most predators are stranger to the child.
Fact: Stranger molestation is the exception, and most boys know their molesters well, as relatives for whom trust comes naturally or family friends or people in authority who have pursued the child to seduce them over a long period of time.
Myth: Abuse must be forced or violent to be called rape.
Fact: Any time an adult lures a child to sexual acts it’s rape.
Myth: If the abuse was pleasurable for the boy, it was not rape.
Fact: Sex is a biological stimulus. Feeling pleasure may be a natural reaction, but it is still a crime that a powerful, older person took an underage child or teen and used them for their own gratification, and the psychological and emotional damage done to the child is still just as real.
Myth: Most victims become abusers.
Fact: This is largely a jailhouse excuse for predators. Some do go on to abuse: some become violent, but most just live self-destructive, miserable lives until they get help. But the fact is most boys who were molested do not grow up to molest. Furthermore, when a victim of abuse commits himself to the Lord and God’s Word as a born-again Christian, an avenue for true healing is opened.
Myth: Nonforced abuse makes the boy responsible.
Fact: No child is ever responsible for being raped.
Myth: It happens to other people’s kids.
Fact: Molestation of boys is one of the most unreported crimes that exists. It COULD be your child. Communication, unconditional love, and acceptance is the only way to keep the door open to your son if something does or did happen.
IV. What a Victim Looks Like
Boys who get molested hide well, and it’s not always easy to tell who they are. But there are certain things that make a potential victim vulnerable, and make them “desirable” to a predator.
1. Four- to sixteen-years-old.
2. “Innocent” appearance (to Predators this is very important)
3. Lonely, friendless, lost looking.
4. Starved for attention and affection.
5. Absent or emotionally distant father.
6. Sexually naive or inexperienced.
7. At a sexually awakened and experimental stage.
8. Emotionally pliable and easily trusting.
9. Identity unformed.
10. Looking for a hero.
11. Self-conscious about looks, insecure and shy.
V. What Being Molested Cost Me
The cost to a kid who gets molested is higher than most people know. It’s too easy to minimize the damage by saying, “It’s just one of those things,” or “Get over it.” Sexual violation is a violent thing even when it’s not violent. It takes so much inside. After many years, I’ve taken notice of the losses (much of which has been healed and restored), and I want to tell you about it so you’ll know.
It cost me my childhood. Repeated molestation blocked my memories, and what I did remember was covered with a haze of physical illness, stalking fear, repeat nightmares, and deep loneliness.
It cost me my ability to trust. I resented authority and feared adults so much, I wouldn’t go anyplace like a public restroom or swimming pool locker room because I’d get sick from the fear of what might happen.
It cost me my ability to be spontaneous. I kept such rigid control over my emotions, my body, and my mind, that I couldn’t laugh, I couldn’t play, and being around kids could made me feel sullen, angry, depressed, alone, left out.
It cost me my sanity. Shortly after the initial abuses, I was in a complete emotional dead zone; and one night, as I sat alone in a chair, my mind filled with filth and blasphemy, and tears streamed down my face, because I loved God and I couldn’t stop this mental rape, and I just snapped after several days of this, and I started cursing and smoking and drinking, and I told God to give up on me because I was evil.
I was eleven.
It cost me my education potential. I was a brilliant child. Being molested cost me my ability to think without confusion, trance outs, and frustration. I couldn’t concentrate. I could have been a straight A Valedictorian. Instead, by the time I finished High School, I was taking four basic classes and barely passed.
It cost me my identity. Being molested created such sexual and emotional confusion that I was an old man before I was fifteen and still a boy at thirty. I felt numb and removed, like I was not there, just a piece of property for others to use and discard.
It cost me my adolescence. Being molested made me afraid of adults, men, women, crowds, public places, challenges, fights, and almost everything else including being scared to death I was gay and scared of all my emotions including anger and joy. I couldn’t date, I didn’t go to the prom, and alcohol was my only “friend.” Being a kid is screwed up and scary enough, but I carried enough guilt and fear to take down ten normal adults.
It cost me time. Being molested started me running, and I ran and kept going until I crashed in my late twenties, and then it cost me time in recovering, facing hard truth, and healing.
It cost me family. Being molested crippled my heart enough to destroy any potential marriage or children.
God has restored most of what was taken, and more. But you need to know being molested is not a “get over it” thing. It’s an evil robber whose damage goes deep and keeps taking until we can face it and start to heal.
VI. Why We Don’t Talk
I’m speaking on behalf of the many boys and men who have been molested. The “One In Six.” We sit in your classrooms, worship in your churches, socialize at your parties, work at your businesses, and sleep in your beds.
We are a mystery to you. You probably sense something is “not quite right.” We’re distant and yet long for closeness, so we pull you in and then push you away. We drink too much and laugh too loud, and then suddenly retreat, fearing we’ll call attention to ourselves—and then you’ll know or at least start asking questions. And we never, EVER cry in front of you. It’s too scary. We’re too fragile. We’re afraid if we get started, we’ll never stop.
The littlest among us don’t talk because we’re scared. We know what they did to us is wrong, but they’re big enough to hurt us or kill us if we tell. It may be our dad, and then if we tell they’ll come and take him away, and it’s our fault, and then our family will be gone, and who’s gonna take care of us then? Besides, he said he’s sorry and he loves me. That’s why he said he did it, ‘cause I’m special, and if I tell and he leaves, I won’t be special anymore.
VII. What Not to Tell Us
We may look tough on the outside or able to handle things well, but it’s mainly a disguise. We’re pretty fragile, and what you say to us when you discover where we’ve been could make the difference between us getting help or turning help away forever. That’s especially true if we’re little boys or teens. Every word you say counts. For all of us, here’s some things you should never say when you find out what’s happened to us:
1. “How could you do that?”
It was done TO me. I had no choice!
2. “Why didn’t you stop it?”
We couldn’t stop it. It was too unexpected, too powerful, they were bigger, we trusted them, and we had no way of knowing what would happen if we said no. How did we know they wouldn’t kill us or tell everyone we made it happen?
3. “Why didn’t you kick them and run?”
We were paralyzed. The fear of what was happening was so strong that we had no choice except to let it happen. WE COULDN’T MOVE!
4. “You should have told us!”
We were afraid to. We were afraid you’d hate us and blame us. They said you would.
5. “Let’s not talk about it.”
WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT IT! When you say that, you make us feel like we don’t matter, our hurt doesn’t matter, that you’re just concerned about yourself and you don’t care about anything but getting us to shut up.
6. “What will people think of our family?”
Aren’t we family? How do you think I feel about myself? If you’re more concerned about our reputation than about me, then I’ll just withdraw and not have a family anymore.
7. “Didn’t you know you were sinning?”
No, we didn’t. And we weren’t. You forget that this was done TO us, not something we asked for.
8. “Let’s not mention this again.”
Why not? You make us feel like nothing happened, that it wasn’t any big deal, but it was, and we know it. If you won’t talk to us or let us talk, we’ll explode.
9. “Forget about the past. You can’t change it.”
But it’s changed US. We can’t forget. It’s like you’re telling a cancer patient to forget about his disease. If there’s a cure (and there is for abuse) for God’s sake don’t keep it from us by denying where we’ve been.
10. “How long is it going to take for you to get over this and get on with your life?”
I don’t know. You tell ME. I bet you don’t know, because you don’t feel this devastating anger and hurt and sense of loss. It will take as long as it needs to, and we need you to accept us no matter how long it takes. Nobody wants to get through this more than we do.
VIII. Letter to a Molester
To Whoever You Are:
Your name doesn’t matter, for to me, you were just a stranger in a Volkswagen who gave me a ride. And to you, I was just a number, a cute fourteen-year-old anonymous kid, one of God knows how many.
I think about it a lot. Even though you weren’t the first to molest me, you probably did more damage than most. At fourteen, I was just beginning to explore my sexuality, and I was vulnerable. All my sexual antennas were active, but then you knew that, didn’t you? That’s why you picked kids like me. We were easy prey; we were little enough to feel scared and overpowered by you, old enough to sexually respond to what you did.
I hated you, and I have forgiven you. Because to not forgive you meant I always lived for you, thought about you, lived in the darkness of what you did, and longed for vengeance. Five years after you raped me, I saw you while I was driving, and pressed the accelerator to the floor to kill you. You were still driving the same Volkswagen. Only God’s grace pulled back my foot and let you live. And then I knew that you bound me still. And so I forgave not because it was rational but because it was killing me, not because you deserve it but because I needed to let it go. Forgive means “give forth” and so I gave back the chains you put me in. I don’t hate you anymore. I feel nothing at all, but sadness, for what you took from me—that I can never reclaim my adolescence.
I do pray for you for repentance, if possible. And if not, for imprisonment, not to punish you (for you must loath your every breath) but to stop you. Because if you raped me, I wasn’t the first, and certainly not the last.
I pray for all the kids you raped like me. You cannot know what you took, what you destroyed. The walking wounded see your face, feel your evil touch, and blame themselves.
I wish I could tell them it wasn’t them. You knew exactly how it’s done. They were powerless, and paralyzed, and afraid.
They probably still are.
To order copies of 8 Things You Should Know About Boys Who Are Sexually Abused, click here.
The booklet you have just read is an extract from Gregory Reid’s book, The Color of Pain: boys who are sexually abused and the men they become.