Naming Our Abuse: God's Pathways to Healing for Male Sexual Abuse Survivors

Naming Our Abuse: God's Pathways to Healing for Male Sexual Abuse Survivors


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780825444005
Publisher: Kregel Publications
Publication date: 04/27/2016
Pages: 160
Sales rank: 700,724
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

Andrew Schmutzer is a professor of biblical studies at Moody Bible Institute (Chicago) and a graduate of Dallas Seminary (ThM) and Trinity (PhD). He writes about integrative issues surrounding abuse, trauma, lament, and spiritual formation and speaks regularly on issues of sexual abuse.

Daniel Gorski is a thirty-year veteran software engineer, having worked for AT&T, Lucent Technologies, Alcatel-Lucent, and Nokia. He earned a BS in Mathematics and Computer Science from the University of Illinois and an MS in Computer Science from Kansas State University, specializing in expert systems and software automation.

David Carlson is a special education teacher, working in the suburbs of Chicago for the majority of his adult life. He takes great pride in being an advocate for his students and their families, helping them to navigate whatever challenges life may present. He is committed to encouraging and supporting male survivors through the various stages of their healing.

Read an Excerpt

Naming Our Abuse

God's Pathways to Healing for Male Sexual Abuse Survivors

By Andrew J. Schmutzer, Daniel A. Gorski, David Carlson

Kregel Publications

Copyright © 2016 Andrew J. Schmutzer, Daniel A. Gorski, and David Carlson
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-8254-4400-5




Part 1 of this book is about the truth, the horrific beginning of a painful journey that we — Andrew, Daniel, and David — never asked to take. "The Wreck" recounts the initial stages of how our abuse began for each of us. It is wave after wave of childhood catastrophe. This season of our lives saw the most malicious acts conceivable enacted against us. Writing these entries barely captures the layers of betrayal we endured as boys. These layers involved the physical, relational, emotional, and spiritual: in short, all areas of our lives. In part 1, we revisit that painful wreck, which in so many ways is like the scene of a bad car accident. Old memories can bring fresh tears. Indeed, they did.

Here's where the car lost control, flipped end-over-end, and then slid into oncoming traffic. How our abuse began draws on this metaphor of a car wreck. The rest of our lives have been, in many ways, picking through the broken glass, mangled steel, and burned-out seatbelts that didn't seem to do their job.


Home or Lair?

In the movie Forrest Gump, there's a scene where Jenny and Forrest walk past her childhood home. Jenny suddenly stops and stares coldly at the old house. Then she storms up the driveway, picks up rocks, and starts throwing them at the run-down house. As her rage subsides, she collapses on the ground in tears.

It was a beautiful display of anger. In tender solidarity, Forrest approaches and sits on the ground next to her and concludes, "Sometimes, I guess there just aren't enough rocks."

When Jenny was a child, her father abused her in that house. I wonder if Jenny's adult tears reflected her final realization of what lay behind all her years of self-destructive behaviors. I do know that scene puts a massive lump in my throat.

I can relate to Jenny. Only, my abuse occurred in three different homes and twice as many bedrooms. I agree with Forrest: some roads in life don't have enough rocks. Anger for the survivor is its own language.

There's always a backstory to anger. It was actually years of grief that flung Jenny's rocks, not her own strength. She had none left. What few understand is how the home — its look, layout of the rooms, its stale smells — all became "slimed." Jenny fought a house because she could never overpower its owner, her own father.

What creates a lair is betrayal. Homes raise children, but lairs break them. A child's home should be the definition of comfort, second only to a mother's breast. But I have no desire to ever again see any of the homes where I was abused. They were where I raised orphaned calves, practiced my first free throws, learned to drive a car, helped build my own basement room, buried arrowheads, and began puberty. But most of those memories have been overwhelmed, sacrificed to a cold lair.

I lost myself at home. Abuse does that. It destroys the hanging pictures, the old wallpaper, the porch, even the trees that did nothing to intervene.

Recent years have seen a rash of stories in which children were locked in basements, caged in secret rooms and dark passageways. Their experiences were more than lair-like because of the lack of safety, the neglect of their basic needs, the sexual abuse, and the brutish secrecy that kept their hell going. Doors should keep the children behind them safe and secure, not imprisoned in a nightmare. My heart churns in me every time I hear the stories of doors and homes turned against helpless people. Lairs destroy dignity. Victims survive by living far away or destroying their lairs.

My lack of any childhood addresses I care to remember from age twelve through eighteen brings me a certain kind of homelessness. So one of my happiest images is to be with my God in a home he built. I call it my "Safe House."

My God, you can meet me in my lair-like experiences. Help me give to my own children the safe dwelling I was denied. In the name of Jesus: born in a borrowed hay trough with no place to lay his head. Jesus, your homelessness brings us a strange comfort.

Privilege and Confusion

I've been told that children are naturally resilient. As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, that's a painful concept for me. The logic reminds me of a medieval test for detecting witches: if the person, tied to a chair and lowered into water, drowned, then he or she was innocent.

Seriously? What do children have to endure to earn the Resilience Award? If I'm diagnosed with several symptoms of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) as a middle-aged man, does that prove I really was weak? Or am I strong for still asking questions about my horrific experiences as a youth? Add a layer of stereotypes that Christian men are judged by and you'll really get me on a rant.

My name, Andrew, means "strong, courageous, manly." I learned to endure and slog on — and, okay, to deny. "Manly" grew up in a conservative Christian home. Born and raised in the Swaziland area of South Africa, I learned some remarkable strengths in that home: hard work, dedication, and commitment to grassroots ministry. My parents were well known in the circles of medical missions and church work. That would make me both an MK (missionary kid) and a PK (pastor's kid). Missionaries sacrificed. Pastors' families worked hard and were a "cut above," spiritually. I had a lot to live up to.

Those were tight communities, even virtuous communities in many ways, and in them I learned the art of sacrifice. But they could never have prepared me for the crushing sacrifice I experienced after I moved with my family back to the States at age twelve.

My sexual abuse started when I was fourteen, as I was struggling to relate to the American culture and junior high. One summer night, a spiritual giant stole into my basement room while I was sleeping ... and stole my innocence. I reasoned that this must be the next phase of my privileged spiritual upbringing. Some private hush-hush ritual. (Looking back on it now, it smacks of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints scandal of girls who were sexually initiated in their early teens. They too rationalized their experiences: "Warren Jeffs is a very spiritual man — he's God's prophet!")

The episodes of abuse that followed left me feeling increasingly weirded out. When sexual experiences lack meaningful dialogue and relationship, there is no cohesive narrative. The silence was deafening. Where did this all come from? Where was it going?

A strong dose of confusion was about to be added. My strange "privilege" moved to a room upstairs. There the abuse of Manly continued. But a counter-narrative also commenced: when someone else was heard walking the floor at night, my father would quickly exit my room and throw out any verbal misdirection deemed necessary. These actions began to confirm what the little boy — now hiding in a teenage body — had sensed. Deceptive games were being played, and my innocence was burning up, leaving ashes of confusion. Something was quite wrong.

One reason sexual abuse can be so confusing is because it is kept silent, and the silence itself is abusive. All was done in secret; there was no privilege in any of it. And resentment was creeping in.

"When at night I go to sleep, fourteen angels watch do keep. Two my head are guarding. Two my feet are guiding. Two are on my right hand. Two are on my left hand. Two who warmly hold me ..." (Prayer from Hansel and Gretel). What a damn fairytale! Guardian angels have become a cruel joke. God, if my angels were helpless, then please tell me they were crying.

Seal 16 Gets a Physical

One cool thing about growing up was a body that never let me down. Aside from some fear of heights, there was nothing my body couldn't do, when I asked it. I had the abilities of a Navy Seal. In fact, there was no sport in which I couldn't hold my own. I have many stories of PE teachers and coaches pulling me aside in disbelief and admiration for: carrying my eighth-grade track team to a championship, squatting 220 pounds in ninth grade (when I'd never tried before), sitting-pike rope climbs, a wrestling coach who begged me to join his team, benching 110 pounds over my weight as a junior, beating college coaches in badminton, and an arm that could throw a football farther than my peers could ever kick it.

But my sports physical one year "threw me down."

I'd had sports physicals before, but not like this one. For whatever reason, it was conducted at a clinic my father worked at in a disadvantaged Spanish community. Lying on my back on an examination table, I was "examined" by my father in ways I'd never known before, nor were the procedures ever explained to me. Caught off guard, I entered a dark and distant world I now know as dissociation (i.e., "splitting off" mentally and emotionally from traumatic circumstances). That was how I always survived these strange encounters.

What that sixteen-year-old boy remembers as most degrading was the wry look on the abuser's face. I caught a glimpse; then I had to look away ... far away ... very far away. There was a painful helplessness that glued Seal 16 to the table. In wrestling lingo, I was pinned. My mind, like a film editor, tried hard over the years to leave that humiliating scene on the cutting-room floor. Obviously it didn't work. Even if I was being checked for gonorrhea (not uncommon in that neighborhood), my "examiner" knew I was clean. Though this scene was different, the script felt the same. The face I had glimpsed seemed to say: "Okay ... been here before." Worlds suddenly collided.

Seal 16 never fully recovered. To that point, I knew the world could be an odd place. Now, however, I saw how manipulative and icky it could be. I was ambushed, and I dealt with it the only way available to me at the time. I wish I could have ten minutes with Seal 16. I would tell him that what happened to him that day was not a race he was trained to run or a basketball game where the buzzer could bring some relief. A flagrant foul occurred, but there was no ref to call it. I want to tell him that he kept his honor.

Something died in me that day — another layer of innocence. A teenage boy was becoming a master-denier. I had learned to deny enormous physical pain throughout my athletic years; now I was learning to ignore an unthinkable psychological pain. But some pain has no gain. There were no letter jackets or medals for surviving this kind. I began running a new race, and I had no idea where the finish line was. But Seals do that. They survive.

Lord, thanks for strong legs to carry me, but I can't stop thinking about all those other violated kids who ran away from life, just to find relief. Catch them, Lord! Rescue them!

"I Know What You Did!"

When I was almost eighteen, I went off to college at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. At that time, the school was rich in belief but shallow in comfort. Social evil, and certainly systemic evil, was never mentioned — until ...

One day a social worker spoke in chapel. It was the first time I'd ever heard someone talk about violent mugging, domestic violence, and ... sexual abuse. Suddenly a light went on! It felt as if an indispensable clue in a mystery novel had finally dropped into place. "That's what it was! That's what happened to me! I was sexually abused! By my own father, I was sexually abused!"

Now it wasn't just an icky experience rattling around the halls of my sanity. I knew its name — the speaker had named it for me! Fish don't know the water is wet, and survivors often don't know what they've survived. But now I understood: I had been sexually abused. It was wrong, and it needed to stop! But I did not understand what it meant to be a victim. I had much work and pain ahead of me.

It was obvious to me what I had to do. Armed with the truth, I had to confront my own father. The jig was up. Having only been at school one semester, this detective was on a roll. That Christmas break, I told my brother. If he was nervous, I was disgusted.

Concerned that a confrontation might give our father a heart attack, we decided to run it by our mother first. She stated that he seemed to be heterosexual. That's where the conversation went. It was all about him. Nothing was ever done for me, not even an empathetic, "I'm sorry!" No one questioned me about my experience. There was no investigation. No counseling. No follow-up. This was the early 1980s in rural Nebraska in an Independent Fundamental church. Divorce, premarital sex, and extramarital affairs were all known in the larger church family — but they were never discussed. Apparently Scripture had nothing to say about them.

Add incest to that list. In my home, this reality was stuffed down in order to save face. Further, there was no family history of calling out my father for anything. It was about everybody else's feelings — especially the abuser's — but not those of the abused. The response was denial. Silence is a response.

I arrived home that summer on a mission. Neither brother nor mother had intervened for me. No one expressed any anger or further concern. It was time to confront, and I had to do it alone. Pain and betrayal actually brought me clarity.

I remember where I was in the kitchen when I confronted my father. What I had to do was unnatural. A relationship died that day, but a young man emerged. "It's going to stop!" I told my father. To prove my case, I mentioned some key details too painful to write here. "No, you misinterpreted what happened!" he kept insisting. Actually, I hadn't.

We then proceeded to go outside and work together in the yard, as we had for many years. But I had done it!

While there was no admission — certainly no apology — I was utterly elated! In fact, I recall feeling like a massive weight had been lifted. To my mind, the primary layer of toxic silence had been broken. I had identified it, using the simple words I knew at the time for what had happened. Now, the ugly thing was all over! Many years later, no one would ever thank me for speaking out. Though I did have a few friends call me courageous, because they saw what the truth had cost me. The simple truth has always been my best friend.

A day later I found a fat letter on my bed — a detailed, written self-justification. I endured a few sentences about how his father never knew about his puberty. The clear message was that I should feel like my parent really cared. Hardly a paragraph in, I was instructed to burn the letter when I was done reading it. Why? Shouldn't the truth set everything else ablaze? But faced with pages of excuses, I could read no further.

It's grotesque, but abusers often demand the last word. It is a skill that controlling people have honed. You cannot out-victim a victimizer. The letter should have been an apology! I marched it out to our trash barrel and lit it. Had I actually kept the letter, it would have been a frightening transitional object for me, nailing my psyche to the crime scene. Instead, secret abuse had a secret end. That was my closure. As my father's excuses floated away over the corn fields of Scotts Bluff County, a lonely but resolute nineteen-year-old emerged from the flames. I found some meaning in the confrontation and letter burning, but it would be another lifetime before I could talk to the child inside that young man. His emotions had frozen when the abuse started.


Excerpted from Naming Our Abuse by Andrew J. Schmutzer, Daniel A. Gorski, David Carlson. Copyright © 2016 Andrew J. Schmutzer, Daniel A. Gorski, and David Carlson. Excerpted by permission of Kregel Publications.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


Foreword, Josh D. McDowell, 15,
Acknowledgment, 17,
Introduction: How This Began, 19,
Andrew, 25,
Home or Lair?,
Privilege and Confusion,
Seal 16 Gets a Physical,
"I Know What You Did!",
Daniel, 32,
Call of Duty,
Otherwise Occupied,
Unmemorable Occasions,
What Happens at the Cabin ...,
David, 39,
Divergent Thinking,
Eye of the Storm,
Moving to Hades,
Naming Your Abuse, 45,
Andrew, 51,
Sleep Paralysis,
My Shotgun,
Sticks and Stones,
"Community Down!",
Daniel, 59,
Intimacy and Anger,
State of Delusion,
Dissonance and Distortion,
Reserved Words,
David, 65,
Dissociative Pressure-Cooking,
Rebel Without a Cause,
Guilt and Suicidal Ideation,
Naming Your Abuse, 72,
Andrew, 79,
The Advocate,
The Letters,
Warm Tears,
"Not on My Watch!",
Daniel, 88,
Close Encounters,
Committed Institutions,
Trials and Mediations,
The Ring of Power,
David, 97,
A Helping Hand,
Reconstruction from the Ground Up,
Fresh Air and Sunshine,
Filming the Remake,
Naming Your Abuse, 103,
Andrew, 111,
Finding Words,
Men in Search of Brothers,
Eternal Wounding,
Though Pain Remains ...,
Daniel, 122,
Island of Misfits,
The Quiet Hours,
Shake, Rattle, and Roll,
No More Secret Agents,
David, 134,
Finding Purpose,
Fighting for the Cause,
Love? Actually!,
No Man Is an Island,
Naming Your Abuse, 141,
Afterword: Letters to Our "Little Boys", 147,
Notes, 155,

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Naming Our Abuse: God's Pathways to Healing for Male Sexual Abuse Survivors 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
VicG More than 1 year ago
Andrew Schmutzer, Daniel Gorski & David Carlson in their new book, “Naming Our Abuse” published by Kregel Publications shows us God’s Pathways to Healing for Male Sexual Abuse Survivors. From the back cover: A stunningly vulnerable look at the horrific realities of sexual abuse and how to overcome them Male sexual abuse is increasingly in the news, from scandals in the Catholic Church to exploitations at Penn State. Yet books and programs about healing are still overwhelmingly oriented toward the female survivor of abuse. As men who experienced childhood abuse, the authors of this book are uniquely qualified to address the healing process of male survivors. Using the metaphor of a car accident, Naming Our Abuse leads the survivor from the Wreck to the Accident Report to Rehabilitation to Driving Again. This four—step model illustrates that healing is a process to be nurtured rather than something that can be healed in a single telling. Following the authors’ examples, readers are invited to find solidarity with other male survivors and develop an understanding of their own wounding through journaling exercises. You would almost believe that being a male and a victim of child sexual abuse is a source of shame. Well the authors were victims and they are here to not only tell us but show us that not only is it not shameful but there is healing in God from it. This is a book for men written by men. That means something. Additionally it is also a book written for the little boy who needs a healing as well. It is time we addressed this problem. For too long we ignored it and not only did it not go away but it got worse. If you are a man who has not dealt with his pain God wants to use the stories within these pages to heal you. I also think it is a great gift to give to friends and family who are abuse survivors as well so that they can use it to heal. I recommend this book highly. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Kregel Publications. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”