It’s been a hard week or two, watching media stories about women coming out with their stories of childhood sexual abuse at the hands of older, supposedly trustworthy, men. These women are heroic, but I’m a mess. Their stories have triggered horrific flashbacks. In fact I’ve stopped reading and watching the news all together, because I too am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. I was raped as a boy, at age seven.
It happened in a working class neighbourhood, East Vancouver. I’m fifty-six today, so it’s easy to imagine how different things were back then. Kids roamed freely. It was understood that our adult neighbours would watch out for us, from their yards and through windows, offering their homes as refuge if a child knocked on a door seeking protection. Moms were home every day, and dads home for dinner each evening. And though my parents were awesome, they never knew. I couldn’t tell them; I didn’t know what to say.
I’d gotten stuck in a strange kind of vortex, and the point of my writing this is to point out that childhood sexual abuse happened/happens to boys, too. I don’t think anyone but the perpetrators will deny this, but for me, I hope, stating this fact will be cathartic. I even, occasionally, write fiction in which the perp gets caught. It’s something that can be helpful, since mine never was.
The man who raped me was trusted by the entire neighbourhood. I remember it was summer, and that I was lured into his home with trust, toys and comic books. The crime was violent, humiliating and painful, and if I did then what I do now to avoid remembering, I likely experienced leaving my body as a way of escape.
As another example of how different things were then, my rapist later bragged about it to my friends. I became an outcast, as a result, and have remained one, to one degree or another, ever since.
It was an experience that bored itself into every cell of my body, brain and soul. And I was rewarded with the reputation as the kid who gave it up for the fag who lives(ed) in that house on Eighth Avenue.
Today, I remain an inmate in this prison. Almost everything is a trigger, taking me back. The dissociative disorder I live with is, at times, disabling and hard for others to understand. For some, their attitude, the question they ask, is why haven’t you gotten over it? I haven’t got an answer. Psychiatrists are mutes, hostile in their passivity.
As I’ve said, I’ve been reluctant to write this little essay, because I believe that this is the moment for women to come out with their terrible stories. But watching these moments unfold in the media has caused me no end of grief and pain. As happens with so many who’ve experienced what I have, my childhood was stolen from me, and the thief got away.