“I’m a child rapist” — a story in four parts: Part II

See also: Part IPart III – Part IV

Part II: The seeds of the man are planted in the child

We would all love for life to be simple. You’re a this, and he’s a that. She is white, and he is black. Up is up, and down is down. But it just isn’t that simple, that clear, that black and white. People are not just this or that; they are many things. Rather than being good or bad people, they are people who do good and bad things. I tell people all the time that we all suffer from the same condition — the human condition. All have fallen short, not just some. And as soon as we can all agree that we don’t need to put people in a box, label them, lock them up out of sight, and make it all a them or us scenario, the better off we will be.

The sooner that we have conversations about sexual abuse, from the perspectives of both victims and abusers, the sooner we will all heal. The sooner we can learn to lean into these messy conversations, the much better off we all will be. And this is where restorative justice can help; it comes with a built-in framework for leaning into the messy, hard conversations. Accepting the principles of restorative justice establishes a cornerstone on which to build.

My story is unique, yes, but truthfully probably not so much different from many others and perhaps not so different from the story of some of you reading this. I can’t, and I won’t, be defined by just one label, one act, one diagnosis, one upbringing, or any single terrible act or acts. I believe you must look at the totality of life, the movie if you will, rather than a single snapshot, to take the measurement of a man.

When I die my gravestone will bear three indicators: The year I was born, the year I die, and a dash to separate them. The dates are only snapshots; the dash is the movie. It represents the entirety of the life for which I want to be known.

I believe that every life has value, no matter how far it has fallen, and if we are not restorative in our justice, then we condemn those who offend without hope and, in doing so, lower our collective humanity.

I was born in 1962 in the south but grew up mostly in the north; I’ll be 57 this year.

I was the middle child of eight; there were four boys and four girls. With my mom, dad, and my maternal grandmother, that made eleven of us living together.

My father was an alcoholic; he verbally, physically, and psychologically abused my mother, myself, and all my siblings.

I have either first hand knowledge or very strong evidence that I, my father, two brothers – one older and one younger — and three sisters – two older and one younger – were all either sexually abused, sexual abusers, or both.  I am sure of these seven of the eleven and would be surprised if more were not also.

Only one incident ever came to family light, and that was me abusing my younger sister, for which I was beaten by my father so badly that I wet myself in fear, was battered and bruised, and suffered a dislocated tail bone from being viciously kicked by my father. This incident never came to public light, and neither my sister nor I were ever offered help, presumably due to fear of exposure for the entire family.

My first love in life was my four-years-older brother, and this was not brotherly love but romantic love. My brother started as my abuser and introduced me to the abuse of two of our sisters, one younger and the other one year older than I. I still have a very difficult time talking about my brother; he committed suicide in June of 1991, due to, I am sure, the physical and sexual abuse he received at the hands of our father and his inability to overcome his demons. He was an addict as well, which certainly contributed to his desperation.

I was sexualized at a very young age, approximately six to eight years old. I learned very early on that love meant sex and that being sexual was synonymous with love.

I’ve struggled with drugs and alcohol most of my life but don’t have an addictive nature so have never been seriously addicted. I no longer do drugs and drink only very seldom socially.

As an adult, I’ve had a very hard time not sexualizing my relationships because to me sex and love were the same thing. And yes, I have this difficulty with both my adult relationships and relationships with the children that I love.

See also: Part IPart III – Part IV

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    • #54942 Reply
      totally against public registry

      I agree that we are all broken and need healing. The society we live in is a very cruel and judging one. I have always believed that perpetrator of a crime and the person abused should come together in a controlled and compassionate dialogue for healing and forgiveness. You are brave, sir, to tell your story and share the hurt you felt and caused. Thank you

    • #54952 Reply
      Timothy D.
      Tim Davich

      Thank you again for sharing your story, I feel that the more we talk about our lives and actions the better off all of society is. Sharing what has happened helps those that have lived a “perfect “ life understand that not all children’s lives are the same and that as adults we virtually relive our childhoods. I wish there was a public forum that we all could share these stories so that the public would have a better understanding of who we are and why we may or may not have done what we have to be labeled as we are. But society, as a whole I do not believe is ready to be honest with its self and truly look at and understand why sexual abuse happens. We must remember that “sex” sells, it gets people’s attention and gets them to act, or act out.
      Off my box, thank you again and thank you NARSOL for allowing or having a place for these stories to be told I hope this is going to be a regular thing, and that others will be willing to step up and do the same. I know from personal experience that talking about it helps me, as well as others who were victimized and became the victimizers.

    • #54965 Reply
      Barre Flynn

      I was lucky to have grown up in a setting that was nurturing and safe. I was very sexual growing up during the sexual revolution. That combination did not help my life. I was arrested twice and ended up in a very good treatment program which I have been attending there for more than 18 years on my own will. After hearing hundreds of stories, I am convinced that One’s first sexual experiences will pretty much define life desires. If for no other reason, this is a good reason why laws should exist to give children some degree of a fighting chance to have a normal sexual life. The account above is a good example of what happens when sexual experiences are deviant. A young life is thrown into a journey that will bring a lot of pain as we all know. Looking forward to hearing more. Thanks for sharing.

    • #54989 Reply

      Wow. Sexualization is where it is at. Kids are NOT supposed to have sex or feel sexual feelings or even know what sex is. When they do, they open Pandora’s Box by learning that kids can feel sex; it is a lesson that we do not forget when we grow older. I was raped when I was 12 years old and I found myself fixated about porn of girls who were my age when I was violated. The cycle continues.

      We are more than merely a sum of the worst things we did in life yet for registrants that is all anyone ever sees. Your bravery, Joe, humbles me. It makes me want to stand up and speak out. Thank you!

    • #55032 Reply

      Again, your courage to speak out is courageous and I am grateful you found the strength to do so. I read these comments too of people expressing what they have gone thru and it is moving. Coming forward and sharing will move this cause forward and educate and comfort those with similar stories. That is a lot of good.

      I have never understood as a society, going back to my childhood, why we didn’t do more to promote and understand mental health. But I also grew up with a brother who is intellectually challenged as they call it now. A nice change from retarded. My father was a psychologist. So my views, thank goodness for the good, were shaped in part because of that. So we all take what we have experienced and make it work for a better future.

      I look forward to your next installment. Thanks again.

    • #55066 Reply
      Darrel R Hoffman

      This sady story is true for the vast majority of sexual abusers. The abused usually grow up to be abusers. If not, they grow up to be addictive in behavior or extremely paranoid. I noticed this pattern when I went through my group therapy. It was always the same story. But you must understand the real,underlying cause of this bondage, which are demons-perverted demons that look to attach themselves to those are being abused by someone who already has one of these things. They are real, and the only way to be free from them and healed is through the power of Jesus Christ. Yes, you still need the therapy to deal with the learned behaviors that come with this, but you need the spiritual deliverance to break the power that urges you on to do it. I know, because I encountered it myself having been molested at 6 1/2 and attacked by a homosexual at age 13. Until I understood the spiritual power behind this, I couldn’t get free. Once I understood it, recognized it, and accepted the truth of it, I dealt with it and now am free. Therapists say you can’t blame the devil, but that isn’t exactly true. He can’t make you do something you don’t want to do, but if you never understood that principle from the beginning, which most children don’t, then yes he can. Only the truth can set you free, and to deny his evil influence in these matters is foolish and deceitful. Find a good pastor who understands these things and believes in deliverance ministry if you really want to be free from this bondage.

    • #55074 Reply
      Carol Salacka

      You are a very brave man. I don’t think you said what state you are in. I am a retired psychologist in PA trying to bring awareness to the brutal, traumatic and psychologically damaging ‘treatment’ of those on the registry. PA follows no rules or standards but their own. Even POs think the providers are clinically licensed but they are not. Almost none of the people doing the actual ‘treatment’ are not on the ‘approved provider list.’ A cottage industry has sprung up and these often licensed (NON-clinical) folks are committing fraud. The providers do not tell group members of their credentials or lack thereof. Clinically licensed people would lose their licenses if they did what these folks are doing. I am making our AG, Governor, state reps and others aware of the damaging impact of these providers practicing without a license. I am so sorry for all you have endured. We must all raise our voices and ask for help from the licensing boards of all MH professions.

    • #55232 Reply
      John Rackman

      The majority of sexual abusers were, in fact, not sexually abused themselves. The literature on the subject proves this to be true. I see commentary discussing, essentially, the ‘cycle’ of abuse continuing. In a vast majority of sex offenses, this is not the case.

      For the record, I am a convicted sexual offender. For the record, I was sexually abused and elements of that abuse were prevalent in my offense. The distinction is that I don’t blame something that happened to me for something I chose to do almost 20 years after the fact. I took/take responsibility for what I did, the impact it had on myself and others, and the consequences on my life.

      I know lots of former offenders. The main aspect that seems to be of consequence to them is their inability to move past what is ‘being done to them’. Before my offense, I had no job, lived off of other people, was mentally and verbally abusive, was diagnosed with BPD/Bipolar, hadn’t graduated high school. SINCE my offense/incarceration, I have helped run parenting classes, tutored GED students to success, graduated with honors from college, and help start and run a program to funnel ex cons to scholarships and funding for college. I’m on my way to law school in two short years, and no longer have any mental health diagnosis. The kicker? Probation and Parole gave me their blessing to do all of these things. No one else did anything else except for complain about circumstances they put themselves in. Life is only as difficult as you perceive it to be.

      Your attitude about your life and the future says a lot and dictates a lot for you. You put yourself in a situation to have these things happen to you by offending; once you wake up and realize that, your perspective changes. As a result, I am not a sex offender; I am a man who made a bad decision 10 years ago, takes responsibility for who he was and who he now is, and has moved past that part of his life. Because of my attitude and accomplishments, everyone else has moved on, too.

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