I have come a long way in my healing from sexual abuse as a child at the hands of my father. It has taken me nine very challenging years to get to the point of where I am today. My life continues to be a work in progress, but really, whose life isn’t? The challenges that I face today are no longer directly attributed to the challenges I faced yesterday, they are new challenges, challenges that each of us faces when confronted with the realities of life. What I am left with now are the bigger questions of why. Why did it happen to me? Why do good people hurt others? Why didn’t I continue the cycle?
Why did it happen to me?
When I ask myself “why me?”, a bigger question comes to me in “why not me?” As much as we may believe we are in control over our purpose in life, we really are not. We are only in control of actually realizing it. Our purpose in life is a combination of events, situations, and genetics that are given to us by the intricacies of life. It is up to us to accept or deny that purpose. Many people have lived long and prosperous lives without ever accepting their real purpose, instead relying on a self-made purpose that they struggle with every day to maintain.
So while I have struggled with wondering why I was abused, I had to spend more time realizing why not. This is my purpose, to become a champion for abused men who were abused as a child but lead healthy and normal lives away from the pain and stigma. Once I accepted my purpose, the why really didn’t matter anymore.
Why do good people hurt others?
Good people make mistakes, sometimes very big mistakes. I have recently read a book called “It Didn’t Start With You” by Mark Wolynn. The book cites scientific proof that our genetics predispose us to act and think a certain way. That traumatic experiences lived by our grandparents and parents can affect the DNA that is ultimately passed on to us. This inherited epigenetics can set the stage for good people to do bad things. It not always necessarily bad experiences that happen to good people that are the precursor.
I don’t look at my father as a bad person. He has done a lot of good things in his life. He is a good person who has made a very bad mistake. I chose not to have a relationship with him not because of his mistake but his reaction to it. I have long forgiven him and hold no anger or ill-will towards him. But I chose not to have people with his mindset in my life and there is no room for negotiation on that. The more I read about relationships and how our brains work, I understand a little more clearly about how good people can do bad things. Just because I understand them a little more, it doesn’t mean I can excuse the reaction to the responsibility of mistreatment.
Why didn’t I continue the cycle?
It is a fact that those who have been sexually abused as a child are more inclined to be abusers themselves. The earlier in life and the frequency at which the abuse happened on a child can have a long-lasting effect in creating a sense of normalcy to the abuse. This cycle of abuse (not only sexual but physical and mental as well) can span generations and can affect many lives. If the science of epigenetics is true, this sickening cycle of abusive trauma can imprint itself into our DNA, making the next generation prone to be abusive! While a child can have a normal upbringing in a safe and loving house, there is an outside chance that his or her DNA could lead them to live an abusive adulthood. How did I escape this cycle?
I grew up in a childhood that contained a fair amount of sexual references. I can remember being exposed to pornography at a fairly early age (at least by today’s standards) and I remember conversations had with family members and adult friends that were very sexually charged. But I never felt comfortable in these situations. Even as I grew up to be a teenager, I never was comfortable with the normal hormone filled sex talk among my friends. I would often shy away or try to skirt the conversation in a different direction.
I can remember my mother also being very uncomfortable in these situations and she would often be vocal about ending the conversation when it got too far. While a part of me wants to believe that I “took after my mother” when it comes to sexuality, I am starting to believe it is deeper than that. With epigenetics, I believe it has more to do with my genetic disposition rather than just my life experience as to why I never continued the abusive cycle and why I never normalized deviant sexual behavior. Thankfully, my DNA was not spoiled and I can rest knowing that I have done everything I could to stop the spread to future generations.
To truly understand the trauma of abuse we must remove anger as the default emotion of choice. Anger builds walls around the problem and doesn’t allow reason to get to the center of it. I believe we can fix our emotional problems if we spend more time empathizing and digging to the root cause of where our corrupt emotions come from.
While I will never condone the actions of a sexual predator, I believe we must remove the stigma away from those who have indecent thoughts before they turn those thoughts into actions. Sometimes, people who do sick things started off with sick thoughts, if we can mitigate those thoughts early with professional help and empathy instead of ridicule and judgment, we may just have a chance of fixing them before they break someone else.
The problem is, the responsibility to find help and accept illness falls into the hands of the deeply sick. Those who refuse to accept that responsibility by choosing to continue the circle of abuse is sadistic. And their actions should be dealt with to the full extent of the law.