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“That was Weird” – A Conversation for Men

There’s an exclusivity in the topic of sexual abuse and rape as something that only happens to women. That is simply false.

Men, let this episode invite you in, giving you space to consider what may have felt “weird” or called “lucky” as perhaps, abuse.

Allow this time to clearly define your understanding of what sexual abuse and rape can mean for men. You are not meant to be left out.

Let’s begin with affirming that what happened to you was wrong, that it was a violation, it was abuse.

Don’t carry it alone anymore.

Highlights:

A sexual violation is a violation because it is a failure to respect the body of another person.

God wants to restore the truth of who you are.

There are so many men who were sexually abused as children, or as young adults, or who were sexually violated as men, including adult men who had been raped and did not know that’s what they could call it.

Homework:

You are worthy of Healing. What does that look like?

  1. Making space to acknowledge that what happened to you was a violation, was abuse.
  2. Finding A trusted person in your life that you can talk about it.
  3. Taking time to grieve.
  4. Setting up boundaries within relationships and your own memories.
  5. Moving towards forgiveness in sexual and relational health.

Extras:

Andrew Comiskey – Living Waters

Treading Boldly through a Pornographic World: A Field Guide for Parents” by Josh Glaser and Daniel Weiss

For more on this topic, check our latest article Was It “Weird” or Was It Abuse?

Click for Full Podcast Transcription

I was talking to a friend of mine several years ago who was describing to me something that happened in when he was a kid. And as he described it, I was like, you were sexually abused. This is what you’re describing as sexual abuse. And it took him by surprise. He always known that was kind of a weird situation, awkward situation, an uncomfortable situation, but he had never known before that it was sexual abuse. Today, I want to talk about men who have been sexually abused. This, a lot of women say would apply to women also. But I think today I want to focus in on men, because of this experience. There are so many men who were either abused, sexually abused as children, or as young adults, or who were sexually violated as men, adult men, including adult men who had been raped. And who didn’t know that that’s what they can call it that they didn’t know. That’s what it was. We live in an age and I just want to show this by as an example. I think in the last 10 years, the church has begun to recognize that looking at the issue of pornography as just a men’s problem, has actually unduly wounded some women who struggle with pornography. Because when churches talk about pornography as something that just men deal with, then the women who hear those messages are not only dealing then with the shame of their pornography struggle, but now they’re also dealing with the extra shame the heaped on shame that what they’re struggling with is apparently not a women’s issue, but just a men’s issue. Well, pornography is both a men’s and a women’s issue. In a similar way, I think that there is a problem around culturally, when we talk about sexual abuse primarily as just something that happened to girls or young women, or we talked about rape is something that only happens to women. Now, granted, statistically, it happens in greater number to women, all those things. But with that said, Men experiences to boys experienced this too. And when we talk about is just an issue that is just happening to women and girls, then that extra shame can be heaped on men, because they now not only do they have to bear the shame of what happened to them, but they’re also bearing the extra shame that apparently would happen to them is something that really only happens to girls or to women. And men imagine that’s a shaming message. So I want to talk about this today just to begin the conversation. And just to appeal to men listening, like, Hey, this is a reality for a lot of men too. And if it’s a reality for you, we want to honor your story, and seek to get you the help that you need. So I want to frame the conversation just around several words, I’m going to I’m going to give the word then to kind of unpack what this word has to do with men and sexual abuse. And the first one is shame. As the first word as I just I just talked about that. And I especially just want to highlight men who’ve been carrying around shame around something sexual to happen to you and you’re younger, or something sexual happened to you a violation happened to you and you’re an adult. And you’ve been carrying around extra shame, because it seems like something that you know, the fact that it happened to you as a man, when you only when you really believe it only happens to women, you’ve been carrying extra shame about that I just want to name that’s not true of you. You don’t have to bear extra shame about that. This is something that happens to men too. And I know a lot of men have felt the sense of like, you know, I’m, I guess you know, I’m weak. I’m inadequate. I’m less of a man because this happened to me. And that’s not true. A violation is a violation because it is a failure to respect the body of another person. A sexual violation is a violation because of the failure to respect the body of another person. A violation sexual violation is a violation because it treats something irreverently and disrespectfully. That is meant to be sacred. Your body as a man, your body when you were a boy was sacred. Your sexual organs are sacred. And for someone to manipulate us those was a violation. It not an indicator that you were less of a man or less of a boy. That’s exactly why it was a violation because they were treating you as less than they were violating the truth about who you are. And I believe God wants to restore the truth of who you are. So the first word is shame. The second word is the word lucky. Lucky. What I mean by that? Well, a lot of guys who experienced sexual violation, sexual abuse, even rape, have been told that what they experienced was lucky. Lucky for you, lucky for you, way too. I mean, this is just part of the fabric of our culture that you know, the, the message is in our culture about men wanting sex, and men, and it’s a great thing if a woman throws herself at you. It’s a great thing. If a woman grabs it’s a great one. I remember watching a movie when I was when I was younger, I was a teenager, and I was exposed to a movie. And this just gives you a little sense of the my own kind of poor boundaries in my life when when I was younger. And some of the things that I was exposed to remember watching this movie where it was probably a middle school or young high school boy, was basically initiated into the world of sex by a grown woman, she kind of fell for him, and she wanted to teach him about the ways of sex and help help tutor him so that he could be more attractive and more desirable to the girls around him. And that’s exactly what happened in the film. But nowhere in the film, nowhere in the film, was there any mention of that what this woman was doing was highly inappropriate to say the least, or sexual abuse to just state it plainly. And no point should she have ever had any kind of sexual contact with this young man. And yet she did. She did. Andrew cummiskey define sexual abuse this way, in his living waters book, he says it’s any act of sexual power. That’s overt or covert, any act of sex of sorry, any act of overt or covert sexual power that is forced upon a child under 18 years old. overt means that sexual power is something that you know, because the child was weaker, smaller, unable to defend themselves, the person forced themselves physically, but covert. Sexual power, covert sexual power happens just because there’s a differential there’s a power differential, there’s authority differential, there’s a sense of this person knows what’s right, this person is in charge, this person is in the know they’re there. They’re inside, I’m outside, I’m the younger one. I’m the weaker one I’m, you know, and so I, they must know what I do not. That’s power differential. That’s a covert power differential. And that’s what happened in this in this film. And that’s what happens to so many boys and young men who are called lucky. Now, likewise, I’ve heard from not a ton, but enough men who have experienced a woman so in an adult man experiencing a woman who sexually violates them who grabs their genitals, who begins being sexual with them when they’re either asleep, or incapacitated, because of drinking or something else like that. And friends around them say, you know, kind of laugh it off like whoa, aren’t, you know, lucky you you scored? When in reality, in the quiet of this man’s heart, what he’s experiencing is, it’s not what I wanted, I didn’t want that. I didn’t want that. That’s a sexual violation that that’s rape. Now, can a man be overpowered physically with overt sexual power of woman? Yes. Can a man be overpowered by another man? Yes, that does happen to want to name that as well. But, but too often, there’s this kind of, you know, this machismo kind of sexualized idea that, that men always want sex and so anytime that a, that they’re approached in that way they want it and that’s simply not true, is simply not true. Okay, next, the word weird. Now, I mentioned the beginning, that, that my friend didn’t realize what happened him was abuse. So I just want you to, I’m asking the men listening. When you think back on your story of your early sexual experiences, were there experiences you had that you would say were kind of weird, sexually, or uncomfortable, that there’s something sexually uncomfortable happened to you? I think that often that can both be just a misunderstanding of what sexual abuse is a lack of kind of clear definition of what it is. I think it also be a defense mechanism. So if you’ve got weird sexual experiences, it’s possible that they weren’t weird. It’s possible they were abuse, it’s possible that you you call them weird, because that’s the best you’ve known to understand them, but that what really happened was you were sexually violated. Next word is manipulation. manipulation. So I talked a minute ago about kind of that trench trying to break down the idea of, of being lucky. Well, one things that happens for and this happens for women too. But one things that can happen for a man or a boy when he’s being sexually abused is he can experience sexual arousal, he can get an erection and he can feel physically pleasurable. And so when this happens for a man, oftentimes what what then gets confusing is, well, maybe I wanted this, because my body responded pleasurably. I maybe even have climax sexually. Even after the fact, there are times for when a young boy or young man may have felt himself desiring to be with physically with his abuser again, this older person again, and he goes well, I guess I do want it and they may even seek the person out again. That does not change the fact that it’s sexual abuse. The very fact that you as a as a child or young guy experienced sexual pleasure at the hand of somebody at the The power of somebody older than you that that is the definition of abuse, they have used their power to take advantage of your God given sexual desire and your capacity for sexual arousal. They manipulated the situation and groomed you to experience sexual pleasure in a situation that you never should have been exposed to, that you never should have been exposed to. That is sexual abuse. That’s one of the reasons that sexual abuse can be so confounding and so deeply deeply wounding because a person who did not invite these advances, experienced them along with pleasure and then come to feel complicit in what happened come to feel like it was my fault, I must have been asking for it. I must have been responsible for it. I pursued it later. And so it’s my fault. Not true. Not true. An adult knows better. The child is the one who is who does not have the power in that situation. There’s a power differential. The last word I want to use is the word porn, porn pornography. And I question were to talk about this or even if I should talk about it here, because I don’t want to downplay anything else that I’ve already said, I don’t want this to kind of trumper or, you know, kind of be the capstone on it. But it’s worth mentioning. Exposure to pornography. as a, as a child being exposed to pornography is, I believe, a form of sexual abuse. It’s highly inappropriate than any adult would expose a child to sexually provocative, pornographic content. Whether it was you know, a teenager who who, you know, handed you a magazine or showed you something on their phone, or sat down with you looked at stuff. And somebody might say, Well, yeah, but they didn’t do anything sexual with me, they didn’t touch me. They didn’t, you know, there was no, you know, quote, unquote, play between us. But they did do something sexual with you, because they showed you sexual content. They showed you content that was arousing to them, they pulled you in, they invited you into a scenario. And that is sexual abuse. Now, just by way, of example, and just you know, if I didn’t give a trigger warning before, let me give it now, like, by way of example, if you have had a nine or 10 year old daughter, 11, or 12, or 13 year old daughter, and you learned that an adult man, or a teenage boy, came, you know, pulled up in the car invited into the car, and for whatever reason they got in and he sat in the car and showed her pornography, Would you say that’s abusive? Would you say that sexual abuse a form of sexual abuse? I think you would. And so why is it not sexual abuse if an older guy, or adult man exposed you to pornography? Now, I also want to throw into the mix here that over my 20 years of ministry I’ve talked to I can’t even count the number of men whose first exposure to pornography was their dad’s stash of pornography, either on the computer or, you know, magazines that he had or videos that he had. And I’d like to suggest that this is, in some way a form of sexual abuse also. And men listening may say, Well, but I was the one who searched it out. I found the box in the basement or I’ve, you know, I found the DVDs, you know, like they were there, but I was the one who was, you know, nosing around. Well, listen, you we hear stories today of of kids who find their dads loaded guns, and are playing with them, and they go off and really hurt somebody. And the kids are never convicted in those situations, at least not that I know of. I think usually when a kid is playing with a dad’s loaded gun, the dads want to get who gets in trouble for having the gun in the house. So if your grandfather, your uncle’s, your dad, and older brother, whatever, had sexual stuff that you had access to by moving around your house where you lived, I suggest to you that’s a form of sexual abuse. Now, I’m not saying that they did it volitionally are they meant to do it and not even say they’d be happy if they found out that you found it. But certainly it’s it’s a form of sexual neglect. Maybe that’s an even better word for it, in all cases, sexual neglect, in the same way that would be neglectful for a dad to have a loaded gun around his house. Now with all this said, you know, young, young boy and a young guy need adult men in your life to talk to him about sex and need a dad to talk to about sex, I need a dad to teach them to walk with them. It’s a different matter altogether. If you want to learn about that. Take a look at my my book that I wrote Daniel Weiss, treading boldly in a pornographic world, the field guide for parents that lays out some good ways to communicate with your kids around this topic of sex. And that’s a different thing than sexual abuse. Guys, all I’m trying to do is really just begin the conversation with you. I don’t this is not a full teaching. It’s not all that you need. But I wanted to start the conversation because I’m I’m so saddened by the number of guys who have been violated sexually either as kids or as adults. And you have not gotten the airtime not got the information that what happened to you. Wrong, it was a violation. It was abuse. And you need healing to you need healing to. in healing includes among other things, space to acknowledge that would happen to you was a violation. What happened to you is abuse. A trusted person in your life you can talk with about it, the opportunity to grieve what happened to you to help setting up new boundaries, both in present day relationships, but even even maybe in your own memories about what happened. Not letting that person’s lies encroach on on the sanctity of the sacredness of your own body and your own experience anymore. And then moving towards forgiveness and, and new sexual and relational health. So it’s a process if we can be in it with you guys. That’s what regenerations here for, please reach out to us. There’s no shame here. We understand that just that the power of this stuff. And listen, if you’re a woman listening, and this is tapped into some stuff for you that you’ve never talked to anybody about, we have women on our team that would be happy to talk with you too. And listen, I’m not trying to sell something here guys. Like if, if this isn’t the place for you to address this stuff, that’s all well and good. Find somebody to help you with this stuff. Whether you’re a man or woman, you are worth it. And your futures worth it. Jesus, we need you. We need you. We need your grace, to acknowledge the things that have happened to us. And we need your light to help us sort through the good, the bad, the weird, the confusing, and untwist Lord, who you’ve made us to be the sacredness of our bodies, from the sinful things that have happened to us that we’ve engaged in a previous things, Lord that you would move in power on our behalf. In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

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