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Trigger Warning: The following blog may contain sensitive imagery.
I “forgot” about my abuse. I didn’t remember anything about my childhood before I was 11 or 12 years old. Forgetting, a form of denial, is a common coping mechanism. Looking back, the clues were there, but I didn’t know. Several times a month a dream recurred. In it, I walked through our home where I had lived until we moved when I was 15 years old. When someone unexpectedly touched me from behind, I jumped. In a movie, a sinister figure chased a boy in the dark and I cringed in fear.
One day, as a middle-aged adult finishing a 12-mile run, a memory flashed through my brain. Tears flowed and the first painful linking of my past forced itself on me. Then I knew: I had been sexually molested. Over the next months, other incidents seeped into my consciousness.
I kept trying to convince myself that the abuse hadn’t happened. About that time, the false-memory syndrome became national news. Apparently, a few therapists had inadvertently planted false memories in their clients. I hadn’t gone to a therapist, but I wanted mine to be false memories.
But they were real.
I’m an imaginative person and, despite the inner turmoil, I tried to banish those experiences as self-inventions. “They’re not true,” I cried. “I’ve made them up.”
But they were real.
Once I faced the truth about my tormented childhood—and for months it was a struggle—the healing process began.
“They were real,” I said to myself repeatedly. “They happened.”
Those two simple, oft-repeated sentences opened the door into my long-hidden pathway of denial. Later, my three sisters corroborated my memories, even though they weren’t aware of the abuse.
Now I know. They were real.
Yes, I was molested. Those things happened. Because I accept that fact, I am overcoming the pain.
- By Cecil Murphey
Cecil Murphey has written two books on sexual abuse. The first was When a Man You Love Was Abused and Not Quite Healed. He is the author or co-author of several best-selling books including 90 Minutes in Heaven, which was on The New York Times’ best-seller list for five years and Gifted Hands: the Ben Carson Story.www.menshatteringthesilence.blogspot.com
The mission of 1in6 is to help men who have had unwanted or abusive sexual experiences in childhood live healthier, happier lives.
1in6′s mission also includes serving family members, friends and partners by providing information and support resources on the web and in the community.
The views expressed above are not necessarily those of the Joyful Heart Foundation or 1in6.