Take a look at most books and resources for adults with abuse histories and you will discover that they do a great job illustrating the experience of females. The vignettes are often about the experience of young girls. The pronouns used tend to be female. These books are incredibly important and I wouldn’t suggest for a second that there are too many such books. But if you are a male and you have a history of sexual abuse, you may have to look far and wide to find resources that tell your story.
Look no further. Andrew Schmutzer, Daniel Gorski, and David Carlson have published, Naming Our Abuse: God’s Pathways to Healing for Male Sexual Abuse Survivors (Kregel, 2016). All three tell their stories but do so in a way for other survivors to process (and re-write) their narratives as well. The book is written in 4 sections and is in the form of a journal with ample room for the reader to write along with the authors. The sections, The Wreck, Accident Report, Rehabilitation, and Driving Again, enable the reader to reflect on his own experience as well as move into next steps and ways to cope–first illustrated by three different voices and then followed by a good number of questions to engage. I would highly recommend that readers share the experience with a trusted friend and/or counselor so as to manage the response to the subject matter. As I said in my blurb, “…work slowly through this book, examining how you might tell your story (which has not ended!) to yourself.” Our stories are not over and it is important to examine how we may distort our own stories (or have them distorted for us by voices from our past or present).
One of the little treasures in this book are the letters the three men write to their little boy selves long ago. Read these letters and consider what you would say to your younger self from your present self (but avoid shaming and judging that child that you were).
18 responses to “New resource for adult males with child sexual abuse histories”
It’s not clear to me that any of these three people were actually abused. Maybe. I wasn’t there. Lots of recovered memories. Lots! Daniel, on page 10, says, “One of my childhood memories that I DIDN’T have to recover…” (emphasis, Daniel’s) The AMA and APA are pretty clear that without corroboration, the rest of us are within our bounds to be skeptical. Schmutzer has been pushing his recovered memory narrative quite openly for a long time. I’m surprised, Phil, that you’re riding the same bus. How about some critical thinking here?
Tom, there is lots that could be said but I think your first line reveals that you start with a hermeneutic of suspicion which causes you to doubt anyone who uses language you do not agree with. Frankly, it not only interferes with your critical thinking, but also your ability to listen to the stories of others. It seems you cannot tolerate anyone who speaks about abuse and talks about new (or most likely renewed memories) and so you discount them (just as you did these authors). Watch out for your all/nothing response. I can’t imagine that you would do this within the field of anthropology, to reject entirely their work because you disagreed with fundamental views of reality. Your colleagues are rarely believers I would assume. If you treated them with such suspicion, I suspect you would not be able to learn from anyone but yourself.
I think you’re making some of your own leaps in judgement here, Phil. I didn’t say these narratives are not true – it’s just hard to know. Given that recovered memory is involved, skepticism is warranted. And since you didn’t raise even the most basic questions in the face of a flagrant presumption, I’ve called you on it.
Andrews response is the best case-in-point for a skeptical response. What? No one has the right to ask questions? I really don’t think that is very healthy.
Tom, you didn’t technically say they weren’t true, but you also know that saying “actually” is in fact doubting more than questioning. Second, you make a repeated error that even McNally, who you have quoted here in the past, argues is a false approach to the problem. You conflate recovered with repressed memories. They are not the same. He does a great job in his 2006 research essay delineating between repressed, recovered, and continuous memories. In his 2009 essay he argues further for a 3rd way in addressing memory of past abuse. He illustrates that recovered and continuous memories have far more in common and are equally validated with outside evidence. Your automatic, knee-jerk reactions to anyone who says, “I remembered” illustrates your (a) foreclosed position not seeking to understand, and (b) your insistence on ignoring the messiness of language to describe a re-awakening. Finally, consider this opening lines written by a Brit lawyer as they talk about handling delayed reporting of child abuse.
Except for the ” automatic knee-jerk” comment, I have no problem with the points you’ve made here. What I object to, Phil, is that in the face of what you’ve cited as a “heated controversy”, there is not the slightest hesitation in your recommendation and review of a book that should have come with warning lights and tornado sirens. I’m offended that you would presume your readers so ill informed that “Naming our Abuse” wouldn’t raise the slightest concern.
Dear Tom, sincerely,
After absorbing the initial sting of your comments, I am offering what I hope to be a tempered reply. I do not condemn your skepticism or your inquiry. I suppose that, looking back on my journey, I was skeptical myself. My skepticism gave way to outright denial; I refused to see what my wife knew and independent evidence had already confirmed.
Indeed, I possess a box of evidence that traces my perpetrator’s back story, the active and willful efforts of the Joliet Diocese to cover up his and their crimes, letters from my own mother to the bishop, and independent, unsolicited testimony from multiple survivors who denote my, um, unique relationship with Larry and who place me at his cabin.
Many survivors owe a great debt to others who helped to pry open a vault controlled by powerful forces. I was approached by private investigators in 1996 who asked non-leading questions and who transcripted our interview for a separate case they wanted me to join. I refused. My wife knew I had intimacy issues and suspected there might be a link. I didn’t want to go there. Our marriage had reached a point where I acknowledged that I needed help two weeks before Andrew spoke at our church. There was no overt sin; I was just progressively isolated and had been regularly experiencing night terrors and was completely sexually repressed. Andrew’s courage in sharing his story completely undid me. I couldn’t run away from my past any longer.
A few years later, another survivor whom I have yet to meet and thank completely opened the floodgates. David Rudofski had fought the Joliet Diocese to a settlement that included the public release of all of the documents that heretofore had been held in sole possession by the Diocese. You can read about the fruit of his sacrifice at http://www.bishop-accountability.org/Joliet/. If you’ve seen Spotlight, Rudofski represents the efforts of one survivor. All of the Chicago papers were standing on the sidelines, apparently cowed by the Chicago Archdiocese.
I had filed suit against the Diocese in 2013. Ironically, the law firm that represented me was very Catholic, my lawyer and the her partners all attended parochial schools and were sending their kids to parochial schools in the Archdiocese. When Joliet settled with Rudofski in 2014, we were finally able to see what the Diocese (and the Archdiocese) knew. Surprise! The stories matched and the files included information on me.
Here are a couple more links to related stories…
So there you go, Tom. I’ve invited you to place your fingers into my wounds. I’m one of the few fortunate ones. The Diocese left a paper trail. Some of the names I recalled back in ’96 were not so lucky. Some have fallen to addiction, many have rejected Christianity, a few have taken their own lives. If you’ve actually read our book rather than the “Sneak Peak” selected excerpts provided on Amazon, you’ll get a fuller portrait of the unique challenges of male survivors of child sexual abuse.
Andrew, David, and I spent years together, every week for several hours — in addition to our therapy and psychiatric treatments. Honestly, we worked hard to provide “just enough” of our distilled stories since we were not interested in writing a book that focused on us. God raised up David Rudofski to expose the evidence that Joliet withheld and I wanted nothing to do with. I wanted to do something affirming to advance the ball.
We wrote this book as a way to help fellow male survivors climb out of the dungeon of despair and hopelessness to face what we’d prefer not to face. Sadly, your viewpoint and too many others who are inclined to voice it serve only to bottle up the toxins of abuse, leading to further and sustained injury to the survivor and those in his world. We share a fallen world together, Tom. Let us fix our hope our hope completely on the grace to be brought to us at the revelation of Jesus Christ (I Pet. 1:13). But let us also learn to weep with those who weep.
God be with you.
Very well said, Daniel Alex Gorski 🙂
Daniel, if you were abused, I am truly sorry. The information you’ve provided doesn’t offer much closure, however. I guess I was looking for some evidence of corroboration. What seems clear from your own word is that you had no recollection or memory of the abuse until recently. Is that right? You also, apparently, worked to develop those memories…how? In therapy? Did they unwind slowly or all at once? These are elements that you yourself have brought to your story. They are also the specific triggers of official opinions of medical associations and legal experts who conclude that, when present, should raise questions and require evidence before committing to a particular outcome. It might have been wise to probe this predictable area of contention up front. You’ve place your reader in the awkward position of having to ask after the fact.
BTW, the apostolic and messianic overtones here bother me a lot. The subtitle of your book – “God’s Pathways…” That sort of puts your story beyond critique by mere mortatls. The Jesus allusion – Place your fingers into my wounds – whoa!. I don’t think I’ll touch that one.
It took a couple of iterations but I get where you’re coming from now. I don’t owe you a shred of evidence, though what I’ve provided is more than sufficient for a forum such as this. God is my judge, not you. My lawyers gathered evidence and laid out a deposition case based on that gathered evidence in addition to what is now in the public domain. Based on those findings the Diocese requested mediation. Any more than that is both sealed under the agreement and, frankly, is none of your business.
If you are not a scoffing, mocking troll, then please present the evidence of your humanity. Each remark that you have posted has served to question the integrity and motives of each respondent — all while providing no indication that you possess any yourself. Must be nice to be where you are, or so it would seem. I think it rather sad.
What say you try opening yourself up and share from your deepest, most painful and vulnerable experiences. Meanwhile, we’ll all be ready at our keyboards to cross-examine you. Oh, and IF that offends you, I am truly sorry. Yeah, right.
very well said, Daniel Alex Gorski 🙂
Tom, what profound insensitivity you show in your comments. If you are a survivor, you have no business questioning the reality of another victim’s story; if you are not a survivor, you need to “back off” and show some respect for the courage and sacrifice all three of us undertook to write this.
Your suspicion-until-proven-otherwise approach (critical thinking?) is not only insensitive, it has fixated on the issue of “recovered memories.” There’s a proper way to go about your line of inquiry and it doesn’t begin with your opening line (“It’s not clear to me that any of these three people were actually abused”)–how dare you speak of survivors pain and suffering this way! Please take your rubric for “proof of abuse” somewhere else!
You are also out of line to describe my writing as “pushing his recovered memory narrative.” My writing on abuse and my own story only started in earnest in 2011. Many years of professional therapy form the foundation of our writing, and I routinely refer to my therapist. I’ve been pushing nothing but a robust biblical theological address of sexual abuse by professionals and for the nameless men and women in the church of our Lord and leaders who desperately need greater tools to help the abused in their midst (see The Long Journey Home: Understanding and Ministering to the Sexually Abused [Wipf & Stock, 2011]).
Please, Tom, ride your insensitive bus to a different location and pick up some pastoral tact along the way. Let real abuse survivors celebrate real healing and real therapy for their real stories with people who really get it!
Dan Allender’s new book, Healing the Wounded Heart, has a chapter on men.
Studies indicate that many people don’ remember their abuse, since it is so traumatic. Sometimes other family members provide the initial information. Victims don’t want these things to be true.
I’d expect that of Allender. I wonder what research we’re talking about.
Tom, your stance makes me wonder whether you have something to hide, or some kind of immoral axe to grind. Did you know that those who have cast suspicion on recovered memories are OFTEN abusers themselves?
And research has shown that many recovered memories of childhood abuse are genuine. There has been research done on adults who believe they have recovered memories of childhood sexual abuse. The researchers examined the history of those individuals, to see if there was any documentation of those individuals having been taken by caregivers to professionals (doctors, legal professionals, etc) during their childhood, where the documentation stated that the child was either reporting sexual abuse or was showing classic signs and symptoms of having been sexually traumatized. The researchers found that there was in fact quite a lot of documentation of that having occurred, but for one reason or another the alleged perpetrators were never charged at the time.
And I would guess that in those instances, one of the reasons the child then buried the memories was because so few adults believed them and took sufficient action against the perpetrator.
In my view, people like you who keep recycling the hermeneutic of suspicion about the reality of recovered memories are enabling abusers to continue to escape being legally penalised for their crimes.
Barbara, I don’t take an either/or stance with RMT. A goodly number of those claiming recovered memories of abuse are also dealing with factual, authenticated (or maybe not authenticated) abuse. But there’s no guarantee that these two coincide. It an Alice-in-wonderland sort of world – very hard to navigate.
About your research… You need a reference. Who did this? Note that the Minnesota Supreme Ct, in 2013, threw out 330 purportedly scientific research reports submitted in support of recovered/repressed memory. They lacked “scientific validity” said the court. There’s a lot of research that supports RMT. Most of it is bogus.
BTW, your initial comments border on libel…
Sorry Tom, I knew my comment about the research would have been much better if I’d given the reference. I read that research article some years ago and didn’t keep a ref to it, and I’m unfortunately too busy with my other work to dig for it now. Maybe others on this thread can cite the reference?
The part of my comment which you say borders on libel… hmm. Is it bordering on libellous to wonder and express one’s doubts about the righteousness of another person’s motives? If so, your expressing suspicion or doubt about the veracity of these men’s recovered memories could also perhaps be cast as ‘bordering on libel’.
The fact remains that you have shown a strong desire to steer the conversation right to the arena or legally provable things and legal issues such as libel. This indicates to me that you have a profound lack of compassion for survivors of childhood sexual abuse. And that you do not care how much your hermeneutic of suspicion hurts such survivors. And I am at liberty to wonder why that might be so.
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Phil, I am grateful for your kind review of Naming Our Abuse. These comment sections can certainly generate a lot of heat with too little light to show for the pains. Having worked my whole career in telecom R&D, we embraced the ideal that greater access to communication would lead to a freer world. I don’t think we anticipated that our work on ubiquitous Internet access would lead to the junk that is found in much of social media. Sorry about that.
I wonder whether there exists a communications protocol that makes room for someone like Tom to carefully inquire without — unwittingly, I pray — inflicting injury and chilling the environment for male survivors who are trying to reconcile themselves to what happened during their childhood. I don’t think it’s outrageous to wonder and seek understanding without accepting a narrative prima facie. In an age where many claim the title “victim” almost as a trophy and subsequently as a license to demand special treatment, I expect the task to lead men to recovery will be increasingly difficult. It didn’t take long after the story of my suit broke that skeptics and detractors pounced — and pounced hard. I am thankful they don’t endure what we and our families have had to endure.
Are we simply a culture in denial? 120 years ago, H.H. Holmes roamed freely in Chicago as an envied and upstanding citizen, while murdering young women by the dozen. John Wayne Gacy’s and Jeffrey Dahmer’s crimes were so beyond the pale, no one could believe they were true (for years) until the bodies were finally discovered. A Breitbart reporter (i.e. a site overtly sympathetic to Trump) could be grabbed, the event witnessed and audio captured by another reporter, and the principals could deny it, calling the reporter delusional — even after images exposed the lies. And we yawn rather than be incensed.
I’ve heard more than a few people respond in wonderment why the First century Jews and Romans rejected Jesus, given the apparent overwhelming evidence of his miracles, his life, and the martyrdom of the early Church believers for refusing to recant what they said they saw and heard. But despite 2000 years of advances in science, technology, engineering, and math, the heart of man is unchanged. We are more informed but arguably less enlightened.
Blessed are those who do not see and yet believe.