I was lying in my bed, trying to hide, pushing my face between the mattress and the wall, trying to make my small body as small as it could possibly be. I could hear his footfalls, casually, determinedly, coming up the stairs. My body became frozen, my mind started drifting, I was barely still in the room. Trying to be as small as I could, trying to disappear between the mattress and the wall. I’m on my stomach hoping to protect, my cock, from his large, rough hands. I lay there. Still. Barely breathing. Heart pounding. I could hear him going into the bathroom, which was at the top of the stairs and shared the wall with my bedroom, the wall that I was trying to jam myself into, between it and the mattress. I could hear him urinating in the toilet, the splashing, the force echoing in the small room on the other side of the wall. Then I heard the toilet flush and I knew that he was coming for me next. The tap in the bathroom ran for a moment and I heard the silence resulting from the light switch being flicked to down, shutting off the bathroom fan. A couple of footsteps, the turn of my doorknob, a peak of light hitting my downward cast tightly closed eyelids. I knew what was about to happen. My shallow breath was almost non-existent. My body felt rigid with fear. As he entered the room there was a palpable smell in the air, of him, I don’t remember if it was a subtle aftershave, applied hours earlier or the scent of the soap he had just used to wash his hands, but there was a smell which followed him in, that I both longed for and feared, simultaneously. With a click the door was closed again, shutting off the momentary glow from the hallway, plunging the room back into darkness. He walked a few deliberate steps to the edge of my bed. I was on the bottom bunk in the room I shared with my older brother, who was somewhere else in the townhouse as this was happening. I could feel the mattress sigh, as he sat down on the edge on the bed. I lay frozen, pretending to be asleep. Somehow I hoped that if I was asleep, he would just leave me alone. I could feel the covers come off my shoulders, rolling silently down my back, all the way to the midpoint of my legs. I wasn’t cold. I wasn’t feeling, anything really. I was numb and my desperate mind was starting to go somewhere else. I was still trying to jam myself between the mattress and the wall. The fresh air from under the bed flowed into my flared nostrils. I was starting to breath harder, as I knew what was going to happen next. Then I felt his heavy, damp, cool hand, lightly rubbing my back, midpoint just beneath my shoulder blades, slowly in counter clockwise circles, his large hand ran across my slightly framed back, down my lower back, all the while an intense fear gripped me, a feeling of horror a feeling of no control. I did not want this. This is not what I wanted. Yet I still confusedly thought this man was looking out for me. I thought that this man had my best intensions at heart. I thought that this man could be trusted. I thought this man loved me. I thought I loved this man. The attention and affection he showed me, was missing from anywhere else in my life. My father, god knows where, drinking, fighting, writing. Bouncing from one freelance reporting gig to the next, one Annex rooming house to the next. Spending the rest of his time in dank watering holes in downtown Toronto, at war with his various landlords, at war with the demons from his past. My mother, she cared for me, she looked after me, she made sure I was clothed and bathed and fed, but she left me with this man. She turned a blind eye to what should have been obvious. Herself lost in grief and unspoken trauma. She didn’t see my distress. My distress when I pleaded with her not to go out and he sat on the living room couch with my brother. “Oh don’t worry about it”, he’d say, “he’ll be fine, he’s always fine after you leave, he just misses his Mommy, when she’s gone“. But that wasn’t it. And I had no words, I had no way, I did not know how to say what was really going on. I had no frame of reference for this experience. I was o afraid of losing the benefits of this relationship. I was so confused about the feelings in my body, the feelings in my heart, the way it made my head feel. I was so confused about the price I was paying for his attention. There were so many mixed messages from this prick, so much attention, so much affection, so much “but if you don’t”, “then maybe I won’t come around anymore”, “maybe we won’t do all those other fun things”. “You know, if you don’t, if you won’t, I guess you won’t need me as a babysitter anymore”.” “I guess you won’t need to go out, to the movies, to the playgrounds, to the parks, the pools, the gyms, on the boat, all those things that you enjoy so much”. And he showed me, what no one else in my life was showing me. That I mattered. That I was considered. That I was cared for. That I wasn’t just some piece of shit that no one really gave a fuck about. But even then I knew this wasn’t right, I knew that this shouldn’t be happening. And I could feel my pajama bottoms, slowly being pulled down. I could feel the cool air on my ass as I tried, still in my mind to disappear between the mattress and the wall . And I was gone.
there is a way
i have said
i am tired
but really just fed up
with an overtaxed
sympathetic nervous system
holding all the negative energy
of our collective trauma
conversations have finally started to change
and this is allowing me to
grab this moment
and put words together
in ways i have never been able to until now
i have felt like i have been writing
the same lines
the same pain
for so fucking long
trying to find a voice
that has been shut down
and shut out of the most important of conversations
a healing is happening
voices are coming out
the reality that my pain
is your pain
is our pain
is finally emerging
the truth of a culture
so far in denial
of its disregard
and indifference to other
is becoming more obvious
me too, you too
for so many now
it has become
I am angry because these motherfuckers set me up. I am half a century into this and in a stunted relationship that is disconnected emotionally, spiritually and sexually and I don’t know that I have what it takes to navigate theses rocky shallows with my heart hanging out, still beating and spraying blood all over the carpet. I feel like I am a raw nerve in the back of a mouth unconsciously and absently being tongue fucked. Sharp deep stabs of pain, uncoiling like a tightly wound spring through the thin strand of stubborn flesh keeping it in an unnatural position, keeping it from letting go. Crying doesn’t stop the pain, the salty tears only sting and shutting down or responding in anger (which is really just a response to fear) isn’t and certainly hasn’t been helping. I am continually reminded of my failure to produce the art, which I have convinced myself, all my life and more so over time, is what I have to give back and that belief perpetuates the pain and the hollowness that is deep inside of me, that which leaks into all my relationships with women, the original wound perpetuated by the mother. I can still hear my brother tell me that our mother sexually abused him. At the time I only allowed myself to think, “that’s the schizophrenia talking”, but something inside me rang that as true. So I put it aside, simply because, what the fuck does one do with that? And I just thought I was hurt because she didn’t know how to love, didn’t know how to show up for me the way I wanted her to, didn’t show up the way I needed her to, so here I am looking for love in all the wrong ways and wanting desperately to be wanted. To feel wanted and the only time I recall feeling wanted was by that son of a bitch that played me, baited me, used me and fucked me, all when I was still too young to have known what that felt like. So I wanted him, because he wanted me and made me feel special and made me want to show up. Then he stole my idea of god and he took my childhood innocence (if it was still intact by that point) but he took also away so many opportunities for me to be myself because he hurt myself so deeply, so indifferently, so fucking permanently, that I am still trying to process it. The me that is me when you see me, is but an inverted reflection of who I would have been if not for the horror and dysfunction of this imperfect co-creation of our divine and impermanent selves.
the following is a speech i gave on friday to a group of 25 students in my speaking with confidence elective.
What I want to talk to you about today is an issue that has been close to the core of my reality for a very long time. It is one that I have been drawn to in media reports and in all honestly has occupied so much space in my mind that I have at times questioned my own sanity. It also happens to be a topic that no one really wants to talk about.
My name is Bryant and I experienced sexual abuse over a three year period between the ages of 6 and 9.
I do not see myself as either a victim of or as survivor of sexual abuse, but simply as one who has experienced it, all the while being acutely aware of its impact and how it has shaped the reality I have experienced.
I could talk for the next hour about the impact of this experience in my life, but that is not what I am here to do today. I am looking to start a conversation that will hopefully allow you to think about having a conversation which could move us as a society to have a larger conversation because in my experience as far as the subject of Childhood Sexual Abuse goes, we have either been not having a conversation or have been having the wrong conversation. Continue Reading
the following is a research essay I did for a first year course, Canadian Social Welfare, in 2010 at George Brown College in Toronto.
While my directional analysis could have been more focused and provided more in the way of solutions, I still feel that it is worth posting here.
Childhood Sexual Abuse and Its Impact In Canada
The perpetuation of child sexual abuse in Canada has far reaching effects and consequences for its victims, its perpetrators and Canadian society as a whole. These effects are systemic in nature and include: the trauma of the individual, the family and the community to the added burdens that it places on all of society economically, judicially and through the need for added social services. I am going to illustrate the current ramifications of child sexual abuse and what is and is not being done to prevent it from occurring. Ultimately I will suggest some structural issues that I believe need to be addressed in order to move towards improving the social impact of this issue.
About 4 weeks ago I was asked if I would be interested in giving a talk to a group of about 30 law students at Osgoode Hall, the Law School at York University. It was suggested that while the students get the perspective from both the defense and prosecution they seldom get any real insight into the impact and perspective of victims of sexual abuse. I readily agreed despite my inexperience (and discomfort) with public speaking. I felt that this would provide me with an opportunity to share my perspective, based upon my personal experiences, of a culture that to me does not want to honestly look at or discuss what needs to change in order to prevent the sexual abuse of our most vulnerable citizens with people that may one day be in position to assist in that change.
Yesterday I was informed that it might not be a good idea for me to proceed, as there was a very real possibility that my words, opinions and perspectives would be taken out of context either by group members or the Crown Attorney leading the seminar. As a result of this potential my engagement did not proceed.
So I am laying it out here for you as I feel that this needs to be said.
My name is Bryant, I am 43 years old and I was sexually abused for a period of about three years between the ages of 5 and 8.
I do not consider myself to be either a victim or a survivor as I feel that both those terms diminish me as a person who has experienced one of the most insidious yet pervasive violations of the individual.
Victims to me are those still cowering, wounded in the corner and survivors are those that our society holds up to prove that all this can be gotten past. But the bottom line is that having this kind of experience will have lifelong ramifications upon the individual.
And in my case the effects of have played out in every aspect of my life since.
In my teens and twenties I had minor issues with substance abuse, namely alcohol, and I have tried at one point or another most drugs you can think of. I now rarely imbibe but have been smoking marijuana fairly steadily since I was 11 years old.
I have had problems in my familial relationships, my brother who is 3 years older than I and was also subjected to this same abuser, we have never been close since the abuse came to an end
He, I believe, because of his guilt for not protecting me as well as the resulting trauma that has affected his life.
And for myself I can only surmise that I did hold on to some of the same, that he didn’t protect me and the resulting lack of trust, particularly of males that has permeated my life affected that relationship as well.
The relationship with my mother, who I always both loved and respected was never the same after the abuse, her own guilt drowned out with alcohol, and for her own prior reasons an inability to deal with the issue of my abuse from an emotional perspective.
While I never felt that I was holding my mother personally responsible for allowing this to happen, the reality of the matter is that she left my brother and I alone with a sexual predator.
And honestly ladies and gentlemen, that is a pretty difficult dynamic for all parties to resolve in a way that truly salvages relationships.
I do however, look back with happiness, that I was able to assuage her guilt on her deathbed 5 years ago.
I first met Dr. Julian Gojer, about 17 years ago when at the age 26 it finally dawned on me that so much of what seemed wrong in my life, from my issues with anger, borderline alcoholism, difficulties in relationships, nihilistic worldview, hardcore atheistic perspective, minor criminal and anti-social behavior, and most ominously a lingering depression could all be traced back to the sexual abuse that I had always known was there but could not see it’s effect upon my state of being both in myself and in my broader worldview.
Dr. Gojer diagnosed me with Dystimia
Which is basically a longterm omnipresent and low-level depression that has informed most of my life. While I am not looking to box myself in with a generic diagnosis / label, the shoe does seems to fit.
Since I am at this venue talking about this subject it seems to make sense that I address my perspective here utilizing a cultural and societal based model.
My personal opinion of this issue is that we live in a culture that indirectly condones the sexual exploitation of children. This issue is so rampant and wide spread that I have been unable to come to any other conclusion.
So let me ask this question:
How many people here today have been sexually violated?
If the statistics are to be trusted,
1 in 3 girls and 1 in 6 boys will suffer some form of sexual abuse before the age of 18.
If this hasn’t been your personal experience, I ask you to look around the room and do the math.
This is on so many levels unconscionable.
In a society that pays so much lip service to the protection of children it really begs the question: what the fuck is going on here.
I do not have any answers for you as to what needs to change here, though I will pose 2 questions:
1) Why is there so little effort put into preventing this when we know the number of people affected is so high?
2) What needs to change here?
We still live in a culture that does not truly want to look inside of itself and find those answers. Because if it did this would be part of a larger ongoing conversation involving all levels of society to actively and honestly address, change and help assist those affected and not simply with monetary compensation after the fact.
Ignoring the broader issue and piecemeal monetary settlements does nothing to assist those who have been violated actually heal.
I do not believe that the police, the crown, the judges or the law makers really understand or care enough to change the status quo, for I can assure you that there are abusers involved in all of those professions.
When my abuse came to light as a result of another child telling his parents and the police being brought in.
I was home on a PA day with my brother when 2 non-uniformed cops came to my door, we called my mother at work and she said to let them in and she would get home as soon as she could.
All these years later in still feels to me that it was an interrogation.
And the end result was that while the abuser was removed from my life, that was the end of it. We were neither informed further about the investigation nor what happened to the offender. And I was left with a lingering sense of betrayal and loss. For these types of individuals are well versed in gaining trust and friendship and then turning the resultant vulnerability into exploitation and power over.
Flash forward to 1998 just before I stopped doing work with Dr. Gojer.
I had found my abuser’s name in the phonebook and in one of many ironies found that he was living in the same area where my mother now lived, in Scarborough as opposed to where the abuse had taken place in North York. I staked out his house and confirmed that it was indeed him, all these years later and as I sat in my car I wondered which of my friends I could get a gun through, knowing that it wouldn’t be that difficult.
But in the end I decided to speak with the sexual assault squad at 42 division near where he lived. I called and asked if they would like to know about a pedophile that lived in their neighbourhood, when I told them the name Trevor Man, I was informed that they were aware of him as he was under current charges and asked if I would like to come in and talk to them. A few days later, I went in and spoke with a near retirement and completely sympathetic detective named Tranter (sp?). Who after interviewing both myself and my brother asked if we would like to add on an historic charge to his current ones. We hesitantly agreed.
Man’s current charge was for sexually abusing a 15 year old boy who lived on his street with his single mother, whom he had befriended. A similar pattern as all those years ago. I also found out that he had 2 prior convictions for sexually assaulting under aged boys.
It was suggested that by adding this historical charge and being allowed to read a victim impact statement into the court record I would be able to add some weight to the sentence and possibly allow for some healing in me.
Needless to say this was not how it worked out.
Prior to trial there was a meeting with my brother, detective Tranter and myself in the Crown Attorney for the City of Scarborough, John McMahon’s office. Mr. McMahon is now a judge with the Superior Court of Ontario.
In his office the Crown informed me that I had 3 options.
As the current charges related to a now 17 year old boy, who was unwilling to testify, in open court, something which I could both understand and empathize with, the crown had cut a deal with the defendant – a twice convicted serial pedophile – to give him 2 years less a day, as you are aware the maximum sentence allowed before a penitentiary sentence. Allowing for selective memory, I am pretty certain he laughed when I suggested that Man was a dangerous offender.
In my incredulity of hearing that I really cannot be certain of the vitriol that I spewed forth upon the Crown, but let’s say it is probably a good thing that I never sought out that gun .
So as I said I was given 3 options:
1) Shut up, like it and proceed.
2) Do nothing.
3) Separate the historical charge, which would most likely result in taking 3 to 5 years to run through the courts and probably result in a concurrent sentence.
I went with door #1 but I did not like it.
On the day of the sentencing I was denied being able to read my statement into the court, despite previous promises, by the Police, by the Crown and by the Victims Services Worker.
The only feel good moment in this whole affair happened just as the proceedings were completed. A woman leaned in behind me and quietly thanked me, as the now third time convicted pedophile had been coaching her young Son in water polo at this very institution, York University.
Having had a lack of trust for all authority especially the police, having had no belief in the criminal justice system, having had no faith in lawyers and crown attorneys I had actually set out on this last chapter hoping that this outcome would change some of those old imprints, but here I was again being proven right by a system of indifference that does not seem to care about the impact that this type of violence, has upon the weakest members of our society. And this is violence; just because I was never physically harmed by this experience the sexual coercion of children by adults is an act of violence, which leaves scars much deeper than any physical wounds ever can.
From my vantage point here today I can categorically state that having to deal with this added dimension in my life has:
Fucked up my family, both as individuals and in relationship with one and other.
Fucked up my intimate relationships, because these types of experiences wreck so much havoc upon sexual dynamics.
Made me miss out on many educational and employment opportunities and has really skewed my relationship to the state, to society and to this culture.
I suppose my hope for being here today is to allow you the opportunity to hear what kind of effect this can have on the people who suffer through it, but also that maybe with this information you will go out into your chosen profession and help make a difference to stop the continued victimization of children both before and after they cross your paths.
Thanks for listening.