Thursday, December 5, 2013
Meet Edward. He has a message for men – and there are more than you may think – who have spent far too long lost in a secret like the one that once almost destroyed him.
“Just ask for help,” Edward said in a telephone interview last week. “You got to ask for help. You’ve got to get it out there or it’s going to kill you.”
The recently concluded trial of convicted child molester Jerry Sandusky will long be remembered for a lot of things – from Penn State University’s astounding attempts to cover up the crimes of its once-revered football coach to Sandusky’s stupefying claims, even as he awaits sentencing, that he did nothing wrong.
But for all the lurid details that surfaced day after excruciating day in that courthouse in Pennsylvania over the last several weeks, one good thing also emerged: Eight young men took the stand and confronted the monster who beguiled them with his power and charms only to leave them scarred for life.
That’s courage. And it has not gone unnoticed.
“A couple years ago, one out of 10 calls to our hotline would be a male caller,” said Amy Thomas, executive director of Sexual Assault Response Services of Southern Maine (www.sarsonline.org).
“Now it’s one of out five – and we’re expecting it to even increase from there.”
The uptick in calls has prompted Thomas and Paul Matteson, a licensed clinical professional counselor from Portland, to organize a weekly support group for male victims of sexual abuse. To join, or even just to talk about it, call the hotline at 1-800-313-9900.
Just like Edward once did.
He’s 45, lives in Maine and agreed to share his story on the condition that only his first name be used.
He first called the hotline 15 years ago – it was either that or go ahead with his second attempt to kill himself.
“I was very depressed, just in excruciating pain,” Edward said. “I had stopped drinking and all this stuff started bubbling back up to the surface. I really didn’t know what to do with it – I was just overwhelmed.”
It all started when he was 8. And unlike the typical sexual-abuse case involving young boys, his perpetrator was not a man.
“It was incest,” Edward said. “With an aunt.”
She was the self-appointed baby sitter for Edward’s large, extended family. But whenever his parents left Edward and his older brother and sister in her care, their otherwise normal world suddenly would be turned upside down.
“Something would always go wrong – and it was always our fault,” Edward said. “And because we had done something wrong, we needed to be punished. And (the sexual abuse) was always part of the punishment.”
Being molested by the aunt was, for an 8-year-old boy, traumatizing enough. But then it got worse.
After a few years, Edward’s brother and sister began acting out sexually even when the aunt was not around. Their inevitable target: their little brother.
It went on for five long years, a pre-pubescent boy-turned-sexual plaything behind the facade of a close-knit, loving family. Edward would complain occasionally to his parents, but they’d either ignore him or tell him to stop saying such terrible things about his aunt and siblings.
“I had a lot of guilt,” Edward said. “It was just shame compounded upon shame.”
At 13, he finally made them all stop. And suddenly, it was like nothing had ever happened.
“So I just shut myself off. I became isolated,” Edward said. “We just wouldn’t even talk about it. When it got to that point, we all just sort of avoided each other.”
(Continued on page 2)