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"Good" and "evil" always seem like handy labels, especially when describing those involved in incidents of child sexual abuse.
So depending on your point of view, I was either blessed or cursed by lessons I learned 25 years ago from Roger, a complicated man who upended any certainty I had that the distinctions between "good" and "evil" are actually so sharply defined.
Why haven't I worked through all these issues? Why am I still not healed?
Most of us who are survivors ask ourselves these questions many times. "I've been on this journey for five years. When does it end?"
They are the questions we ask on our worst days.
If you wanted to get a message out there in relation to helping men who have been sexually abused, what information would you want put out there?
That was my question to a group of men who attend a monthly support group in Brisbane, Australia. The group is part of a service designed to assist men sexually abused in childhood, their partners, friends, family and service providers.
If you walk into my home office in Austin, Texas you will see two posters—one of Emiliano Zapata and the other of Cesar Chavez. Both of these men struggled for the rights of the poor and oppressed and organized movements that changed society; however, the tactics they used to achieve this social change differed greatly. As his birthday approaches, I would like to reflect on the example of change set forth by Cesar Chavez.
Chavez once said:
If you're like me, you watched in disbelief as the news media uncovered recent childhood sexual abuse allegations at Penn State University, Syracuse and numerous other institutions. I couldn't help but wonder how these allegations were kept from authorities for so long. As someone who endured seven years of sexual abuse as a child, I understood why the alleged victims didn't feel safe to talk, but I couldn't get my head around how or why the adults who were made aware of the alleged abuse were so reluctant to demand justice.
It's been gratifying to see the Justice Department's recent revisions to the definition used to compile statistics about rape. Language is an important part of any discussion about sexual abuse - for men, filtered through the lens of cultural expectations of males. Words shape, define and categorize experiences. And the shift may have some deeper implications than are immediately apparent.
1in6 Thursdays: Law & Order: SVU Episode Takes on Sexual Abuse of Boys - Great TV, Even Greater Public Service
Tonight is a very important one—for Joyful Heart, the community of survivors we seek to serve and for millions of viewers who will tune in to Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.