When a Man You Love Was Abused: A Woman’s Guide to Helping Him Overcome Childhood Sexual Molestation by Cecil Murphey
Genre: RELIGION/ Christian Life/ Social Issues
Date Published: April 7, 2010
Publisher: Kregel Publications
The numbers of males abused in childhood are sometimes listed as low as 5 percent or as high as 33 percent. Though statistics are controversial, no one disputes the fact that childhood abuse is a continuing problem-or that such abuse can have devastating effects on future relationships. For all women who know and love a survivor of sexual assault, best-selling author Cecil Murphey has penned an honest and forthright book about surviving-and thriving-despite past abuses.
Both informative and highly practical, Murphey helps women understand the continuing problems that abuse survivors may encounter, including hurtful memories, issues of self worth, and the need to feel in control. With sensitivity and encouragement, Murphey then explains what women can do to help bring about healing and forgiveness. Written with the empathy that only a true survivor can convey, When a Man You Love Was Abused is a timely piece of advice and encouragement.
Cecil Murphey has written or coauthored more than one hundred books, including the bestselling book Gifted Hands which has sold more than three million copies, the autobiography of Franklin Graham, Rebel with a Cause and the New York Times bestseller 90 Minutes in Heaven. Murphey currently resides in Georgia.
List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Kregel Publications (April 7, 2010)
AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:
—P r e f a c e —
A Word about the Names in This Book
When I write nonfiction books I like to provide the full name of the individuals involved. I believe it adds integrity to the material and shows they’re not made-up accounts or composites. In this book, however, I can’t do that. This material is much too sensitive and personal.
“If I gave my name,” one man said, “my family might find out, and they wouldn’t forgive me.” His stepfather had been the perpetrator.
Others who talked to me gave no specific reason other than to say, “I’m not ready to tell this publicly” or “I’d rather you don’t use my name.”
Out of respect for these individuals, I’ve disguised their identity. If you read only a first name, it’s for one of three reasons:
1. The person requested I not use his name.
2. Several of the groups in which I participated are like AA—and we use only our first names. I tell the story of a man named Red, for example, so called because that’s the only name by which I knew him.
3. I no longer have contact with the person and couldn’t get permission.
How to Use This Book
I’ve designed this book in two parts, and it doesn’t matter which you read first.
Part 1 focuses on male sexual assault and its effects. This part is basically informative, and its purpose is to help you understand the problems that male abuse victims face.
Part 2 is the practical section. The purpose is to show you—a woman in the life of a man who was molested as a child—what you can do to help him.
— I n t r o d u c t i o n —
If You’re an Important Woman in His Life
He was molested—or at least you suspect he was. That means he was victimized by someone older and more powerful than he was. The man you care for might be your boyfriend, husband, brother, father, or son. He is someone you care about deeply, and because he hurts, you hurt.
He hurts because he was victimized in childhood. Many therapists don’t like the word victim or victimized and prefer to speak of survivors. They also don’t like the word abused and usually opt for assaulted. The media tends to use the word molested. In this book, I use the terms interchangeably.
Regardless of the word used, something happened to him—something terrible and frightening—that will affect him for the rest of his life. Something happened to him that affects your life as well.
How Can You Help?
Because you care about him, you have also been victimized. Because of your love for him, you’ve been hurt, and you may have suffered for a long time. But the man you care for didn’t hurt you intentionally. He was trying to cope with his problem.
Perhaps years passed before you knew about his childhood pain. During that time, you may have sensed something was wrong. Statistics indicate that men tend to reveal themselves more readily to a woman, usually a wife or girlfriend.
But even if you knew about his experience, how could you have grasped how it would impact your relationship? Because he battled the problem that he couldn’t talk about, he did it privately and sometimes not too well. How could you not feel rejected or hurt when he shut you out?
Even if he faced his abuse, he may have excused the perpetrator. Although the man in your life was the victim, he may have felt guilty for the abuse. His undeserved guilt is real. And he hurts.
Because he hurts, you hurt too.
That’s part of your victimization. His reactions, attitudes, and behavior caused you to assume blame and guilt, and you’ve asked yourself, “How did I fail?” You may not have voiced those words, but you felt you were the flawed person in the relationship.
If this describes you, you may already have gone through a lengthy period of wondering what was wrong with you. You tormented yourself with questions:
• Why does he shut me out?
• Why can’t I help him?
• Why can’t I take away his pain?
• Why won’t he talk to me or allow me into his private world?
• How did I fail him?
• I love him and try to show him that, so why won’t he trust me?
If you’re reading this, it means you know, or seriously suspect, that an important male in your life was assaulted in childhood. You love him and want to relieve his pain, but you feel helpless. Or you’re sure there must be something you can do to fix him. If you could just figure out the hidden weapon, the magic pill, or the right words, he’d be all right.
It isn’t that simple. Besides, you can’t fix him.
In this book, though, I provide suggestions in part 2 to help you understand and accept him. As you accept his situation and his resulting problems, I hope you’ll feel better about yourself and accept that his problem is not your fault. You may often need to remind yourself of this fact: it is his battle. You can’t fight his inner demons, but you can stand with him when he fights them. He must work through it himself. You can assist him by being available to him, and I’ll suggest ways to do that. But it is his struggle and his journey into wholeness.
You may feel more at peace with your inability to heal him if you can think of him as a once-innocent child who was victimized by a predator. This isn’t to deny your pain, but you can help him and help yourself if you can start with understanding something from his past.
His experience and his response to it are complex. He has been wounded in several ways, the old wounds reopen in unpredictable ways, and you can’t do anything to make him into a whole person. You can stand with him as he seeks and discovers his own healing. As you accept his situation and his resulting problems and behavior, I hope you’ll feel better about yourself and accept the reality that his problem isn’t your fault. He must work through his own emotional issues—with your assistance of love and encouragement.
I want to make an important distinction here. When an adult sexually abuses a boy, many people think of that as a sexual act. That’s not correct. The perpetrator’s actions weren’t about sex, and they weren’t about love for the child. Those who molest have deep-seated problems that go far deeper than sexual exploitation of a child. For the perpetrator, sexual gratification at the expense of a child is a symptom of deeper problems that go beyond the scope of this book.
When adults are attracted to children—compulsively attracted—we call them pedophiles. Although there are variations in the definition of pedophiles, here’s a simple one: the term comes from two Greek words—paidos, children, and philia, a word for love. It refers to anyone—male or female—who is sexually attracted to prepubescent children. I’ll say it even stronger; they are compulsively attracted. Generally, that means the objects of their desire are children younger than thirteen. Therapists have recorded that some pedophiles visualize themselves as being at the same age as the children they molest. Other therapists would say that pedophiles are adults who are fixated at the prepubescent stage of life.
Just as all assaulted boys won’t become homosexuals, the male perpetrator may not be gay. Most of those convicted of molesting boys vehemently deny that they are homosexual and insist they are heterosexual.
Regardless, when an adult molests an innocent child, that’s sexual abuse. My intention is not that you try to understand the abuser, or that you feel sorry for that person. By the end of the journey, though, I hope you and the man in your life will be able to forgive and to feel sadness for such individuals.
The perpetrator—whether male or female—is a sexual abuser of children. That’s the one fact to bear in mind. Sometimes it makes no difference to the perpetrator whether the victims are male or female. This is an important concept for you, the woman in the victim’s life, to understand. The result of his abuse carries long-lasting effects, and he may not want to talk about the issues related to the abuse for fear of being labeled as homosexual. Or he may feel he is gay because it was a man who molested him. You may need to help him accept that child sexual abuse is not a heterosexual-homosexual issue. It’s a crime and a sin that was perpetrated against him.
He probably doesn’t understand all that. He may still feel conflicted about what happened to him—and about the theft of his innocence. For now, the once–abused child needs support and encouragement. He needs someone he can trust as he copes with his pain and his problems. He needs you.
***Special thanks to Danielle Douglas of Douglas Public Relations for sending me a review copy.***
Today’s post is a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review. If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. As an Assistant Director to FIRST, I can tell you that I have personally enjoyed our tours for years. I am always excited to see what authors will be offered up next. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between!
I hope you enjoyed your free peek into the book!