WARNING:This testimony is sexually explicit and graphic. It may not be suitable for children under the age of eighteen. But, because of the reality of sexual abuse and the shame that is associated with it, we at shalombewithyo.wpengine.com feel it is important to share stories of true abuse and the individuals who have experienced extreme transformation through Christ in order to give those who are currently suffering some hope.
My history of being trafficked sexually began nearly at the beginning of my life. I was born into a fairly large middle class family in a suburb near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and was the youngest of six children. One of my earliest memories is of being taken into the bathroom at the age of 3 by my father and violently raped. This continued until I reached the age of 5 and began elementary school. During this time, he began taking me places so other men could also rape me and they paid him. One of those was his brother, the father of two cousins I enjoyed spending time with. On one occasion I was taken to this uncle’s house to help with yard cleaning and left there for an hour or two. I wasn’t thrilled about it, but made the best of the time by talking with my cousins. Then my uncle ordered me to help him in the cellar, and I was raped again just as my father had done. When my parents came to pick me up, I emerged from the cellar feeling numb and less than human. The tearful, frightened stares of my cousins told me they knew that feeling also. My father and uncle talked quietly as I walked to the vehicle, and I saw the money exchange hands. I heard my uncle say, “He took it like a man,” and they laughed loudly. Another incident that took place before I began school involved being taken to a party while my mother was elsewhere. There were 20 to 30 adults, mostly men and only a few women. Another little boy was there, the son of the man who owned the home. He was upset and crying for some reason that I didn’t understand. As the night progressed, I was made to understand. I turned to one of the women as if she could protect me, and she said, “It’s okay. You can take your clothes off.” The other boy began crying hysterically, and then a gunshot from outside the house silenced everyone. A man walked in and I recognized him as a police officer, only he was off duty. He sat me on his lap and let me look at his gun. I respected this man as someone important already. That respect changed out of fear as he began touching me and then raping me, not violently, but with strength and control that crushed any resistance. After he was done I was taken to a room and told to get down on my knees. One by one, 18 men entered the room to force me into performing oral on them. I remember counting 18, breaking into terrified sobs once I realized no more were coming, then passing out. There were a lot of regular visits with certain men and sometimes our family vacations to see relatives included arrangements my father had made for me to be sold and raped in secrecy. The last time he attempted to sell me happened at a barber shop, and he said something to the owner that caused us to be yelled at and told to leave.
I entered elementary school with a lot of dissociation and frequently was taken to counseling. No one could know my secrets, though. My mouth couldn’t form the words. I had night terrors and often woke up screaming in such fright that no sound would come out. Even though my father no longer preyed upon me, I bore the mark of The Used and Abused, and I was in demand. An older male cousin whom I had thought was a close friend molested me and threatened to kill me if I told anyone. Another older male cousin attempted to trap me in his bedroom during a family visit, but I escaped. An older brother who shared a bunk bed with me crept up the ladder in the middle of the night and violently raped me while I was nearly suffocating in my blanket. A classmate at school that I walked home with told me about a man who was his friend and kept pet snakes, and after school we could stop by to see them. Being an intelligent child with a keen interest in science, I gladly agreed to go. Upon entering, we were shown the snakes in the living room and told there were more in the bedroom. When the bedroom door was opened, I saw a luxurious bed with tiger print sheets and pillows and a camera set up on a tripod. Knowing instantly why I was brought there, I quickly turned and ran, nearly dropping my book bag and explaining that I heard my mother calling me. In all of these incidents I related within this paragraph, pornography played a role. There were porn magazines in my cousins’ rooms and hidden among my brother’s artwork. The man who enticed me into his house with reptile pets was charged years later with possessing child pornography, some that he had filmed himself. At no other time in my life did I feel so betrayed, desperate and vulnerable.
At the age of 10, I found out that my mark of The Used and Abused wasn’t only visible to male predators. On a summer day while I enjoyed the break from school in the back yard, a middle aged, female neighbor called to me. I walked over to see she was taking in her laundry, but her husband was at work and the basket was too heavy. Making compliments about how strong and handsome I’d become and turning the Big 1-0, she asked me to carry the basket into her house for her. Feeling safe and quite flattered, I did so. By that time, my sexuality was awakening and I was very much aware of the fact that I was alone in a house with an attractive woman who happened to be wearing a bikini. I felt awkward, though, and when she urged me to sit with her in the living room and help her fold laundry, I nervously agreed to. When we were done, she asked me if I wanted to play a game, but wouldn’t tell me the details. She started touching me, but I didn’t back away. Then she instructed me to wait while she went to get something and returned a moment later with a handful of shoelaces. She used them to tie my hands and feet to heavy furniture and told me to close my eyes. Then she performed oral on me and also took my virginity. It was rape, only it took 30 years to finally realize it. It wasn’t violent. I wasn’t afraid. It felt good. It made me feel wanted in a different way. I thought it was love. When she finished with me, she gave me five dollars and told me to buy some ice cream from the truck that used to come down the street every night. In my head I thought it was love, but on a deeper level, I made a connection between sex and money. The next day I knocked on her door with flowers to give to her, but her husband was home. The door didn’t open, but I heard them arguing within. He wanted to know why I was there. Then my high that I thought was love came crashing down and I walked away completely lost in hurt and confusion. The world was no longer a place where heroes saved the day and everyone lived happily ever after. My soul was dying. In addition to these crimes committed against me, I was also witness to the rape of my girlfriend in the spring of our 3rd grade year. I tried to help but the perpetrator scared me away, and when I tried to tell relatives who lived nearby, I was reprimanded for ever accusing someone of an act like that and my mother was called from work to take me home. It took me a while to tell my mother about it, and when I finally did I told her I wanted to burn the man’s house down. Nothing that I know of was mentioned to authorities, though, and my girlfriend moved away. I never saw her after the rape. I also witnessed my father raping one of my sisters through a basement window. I had been out playing in the neighborhood and when I returned and saw that, I tried to get into the house to stop it but was locked out. My heart felt like it was being ripped out of my chest and after being told so many times not to tell, I ran into a nearby field to hide and cry until there were no more tears.
Any sense of love or respect for my father was gone, and I did what I could to avoid him. I also began shutting down emotionally and avoiding other family members. This changed briefly when my sistermoved out and an older female cousin came to live with us. She had been kicked out for accusing her mother, my father’s sister, of being abusive. She was six years older than me and had an active social life, and was also rebellious. I gravitated to those qualities and envied her. We spent time together talking about music and other things we had in common, and one day when my father was alone with the two of us, he forced us to engage in sex while he took pictures. Again the numbness took over, but I saw how my cousin handled it like it was no big deal and I played the part the way she did. She acted like she enjoyed it, and maybe she did, though this was obviously not her first time being sexually abused by an adult. After the pictures, he made me move aside and forced himself on her while I watched. I was being shown what to do, not only by him but also by her. When he was done and left us alone, we comforted each other as best we could. That incident brought us closer together out of sheer desperation, and we started talking about running away. It also gave her an opportunity to demonstrate her twisted sexuality on me, whether she meant to or not, I’ll never know. She gave me a progression of “sex lessons” that taught me about the female body, how to give the most pleasure and how to do it as quietly as possible so no one would know. This continued throughout the span of almost a year that she lived with us, until I accidentally said something about her wanting to run away in front of my parents. She ended up getting kicked out of our house, and with her went the only strand of stability I felt I had.
It always seemed that just when I couldn’t find myself any lower, a new low would come along. The next new low came in the form of alcohol and drugs. I was looking for any way to ease my pain and rebel against my father, and I fell in with the rocker crowd at the beginning of my teenage years. My taste in music made me popular with them, and as I drifted further from my family and obeying the rules, I started gaining some sense of independence and inner strength to stand up for myself. I pushed the limits of my curfews, making my parents worry and call the police to look for me. When their punishments didn’t seem to phase me and my growing determination to break free, they backed off and let me go. I noticed my father spending less and less time at home, which gave me some relief, but it also caused stress for my mother who suspected him of cheating. I also noticed his pornography collection had expanded and featured increasingly more hardcore content. My own sexuality was in high gear to the point of obsession, and I sometimes stole his magazines for my own use. Pictures couldn’t give me what I craved, though. I needed to be held, touched and set on fire. The flames of passion became my DOC, drug of choice. I began having regular sexual partners, usually girls who were older and more experienced than me. I became wrapped up in a relationship with a drug-addicted girl who I later found out had been sexually abused and was a prostitute since she was 14. We had so many things in common that our coming together was practically inevitable, and we saw each other off and on for a few years. As I reached 15, I developed severe depression and was taken for counseling and given medication. I knew it would solve nothing and I stopped taking it. My mother, who knew more than she’ll ever admit, knew it would solve nothing as well. I began to gain some self-confidence as time went on, especially as I began working some small jobs. I found myself falling in with different friends who were more trendy yet less socially accepted. This was during the 1980’s punk and new wave movement, and I suddenly discovered the ability to reinvent myself. I changed my appearance drastically and my attitude followed close behind. I became edgier and cocky, like I owned the world. For the rest of my teen years, it seemed like I did.
Before this reinvention, I had been in and out of a few hard rock and heavy metal bands that my friends had started. I traded between playing keyboards and singing lead vocals, and gained a reputation as a talented musician, but I just didn’t have “the look.” After turning to the punk scene, I discovered what “the look” meant. I had been ill and lost a considerable amount of weight, and that alone garnered more attention. As my focus became more appearance oriented, I was more fashion conscious and experimented with avant garde style. My friends got into the habit of taking me with them as a sort of style consultant when they shopped, and from spending so much time around fashion retail, I began working it. Two stores hired me and I took some advice I received about trying out as a model. The retail jobs I bounced between also featured me as a model from time to time, and as I took each step more doors opened. As an added source of income, I began escorting for a female-only clientele. This made all the wrong doors open, but being caught up in the moment, I thought nothing of consequences. I was very blinded by the attention and couldn’t see myself spinning out of control. I also had a habit of romanticizing everything, and even the most brief of sexual encounters brought about an emotionally heavy toll. Strangely, the more painful I felt, the more women were drawn to me. I viewed beauty as my salvation, and every face I looked upon glowed with the possibility that I might be set free. From the time that I was 10 up to and during my 17th year, I had been involved in over two hundred sexual encounters, sometimes with multiple partners. Most of these encounters were with females 18 or older, and this was my fetish that developed from being abused by older females.
I was essentially repeating my past experiences over and over, yet deep inside wanting a different outcome that on another level I knew would never happen. It never occurred to me that I was just being used like I had been as a child, although my depression was returning and I had buried the abuses too deeply to remember. Or maybe I chose not to.
During this chaotic period, I became involved with a girl who was older than me by two years or so. She was a model, like many of the girls and women I was involved with, but with a dark side that I was deeply attracted to. We were both drinkers and sometimes drug users, but because we were under legal drinking age we had to scheme our way to get what we wanted. She knew a man who produced porn that frequently featured underage talent and distributed underground, and also provided alcohol or drugs as perks. She had been filmed before and was preparing for a career move to L.A. She resembled Traci Lords and was banking on that as her ticket to bigger porn studios. I was like a puppy going wherever she went and doing what she told me I should, and ended up being filmed myself, both with her in scenes and other female talent. It seemed to be a high point in my life at the time, but it was the really the lowest of my lows. Some scenes brought on flashbacks of losing my virginity at 10 and my first experience with being photographed pornographically with my cousin. I tried to drown it out with alcohol but couldn’t shake the feeling that I had to get out. A few days before my girlfriend and I were to leave for California, I broke our relationship off and chose to stay on the East Coast. Then it dawned on me that I was nearing 18 and didn’t have a future.
While walking down a busy street with a friend one day, I saw my father’s vehicle coming toward us and waved, then felt the sidewalk give way under my feet when I saw he was with another woman, and at an hour when he was supposedly at work. When I got home, I told my mother, but she denied it. I could see the questions and doubts swarming in her eyes. It was confirmed when the other woman confronted them at a restaurant and all hell broke loose. They came home fighting, he left and she followed him, finding him running to the other woman’s house. She was the mother of the young prostitute that I had been involved with years before. When they returned again, she was distraught and walked alone out into the night. I threatened to beat him senseless if anything happened to her, and he appeared not to hear me but then went after her. The time that followed was tense and silent, and I went to sleep every night not knowing if I would be alive in the morning, a knife tucked under my pillow. Somehow he smoothed it over and things went back to almost normal, and he suffered a heart attack not long after that required quadruple bypass surgery. When I went to see him,
he was no longer the monster of my past. He was frail and pitiful, and I knew I would never fear him again. When he recovered, I grew to tolerate him but always had hate on the tip of my tongue. Every son would like to say they loved and respected their father. No matter how much I would have liked, that moment never came. The damage was irreversible. As I’m writing this, a voice in my head is saying, “He was your father, don’t be so harsh.” Not being harsh would be a severe injustice. It is what it is, and to hell with filial piety.
With my father no longer a threat, I started focusing more on some kind of plan for my future. I was getting fiercely independent as I turned 18 and insisted on finding a direction that pleased me. I turned away from fashion and modeling, suddenly becoming frustrated with the superficiality of it all, and threw myself back into music. A friend of a friend offered vocal lessons and I upgraded my keyboard equipment. It was no surprise that I found my old friends still trying to make the big time, but it was surprising to see how far they’d come. I fell back in and we started booking sessions at IRIS recording studio in the city and got ourselves some gigs. The 80’s hard rock and heavy metal scene on the East Coast was exploding, with bands popping up on every block. From 19 to 20, I saw my dreams rise and then crash in slow motion. As the stakes got higher, so did we, and as much as I hate sounding cliche, it really was sex, drugs and rock n roll. We were creating a buzz on the scene, but internally the band was coming apart. Not everyone was as committed to the music as they were to the lifestyle, and I again grew frustrated with superficiality. I started distancing myself from the band, although much of my wages from a new job were being spent on it. Because I played keyboards and sang backing vocals, my dwindling interest wasn’t noticed all that much. I was also backing away for another reason. I had begun attracting the attention of people who were obsessed. It was bad enough I had my own issues to deal with, but then I was being stalked. I was still living at home and my parents had a listed number, so anyone could locate me. Adding to the mess, my growing depression kicked my drinking into high gear along with the need to medicate with sex. I returned to escorting to try and build my savings back up, because I wanted to go to college at some point. At least that’s what I told myself. It was more like a giant hand was pushing me back from any attempt to move forward, and I started thinking that my whole life was spent living a lie, and that the reason I was brought into the world was to simply be a whore. That was my line of thought, not truth, but I couldn’t see a way past it. I also realized I was becoming intensely attached emotionally, and rather than craving sex I craved the rush of the initial stages of attraction. I needed to feel like I was in love. I had become a love addict.
By the spring of my 20th year, my number of sexual encounters had nearly doubled. There were times I didn’t expect payment. As long as I wasn’t alone, it didn’t matter anymore. I just couldn’t stand to be by myself with the darkness closing in on my heart. I spent hours walking the streets to keep the numbness at bay, my pulse quickening with every car that drove by, my eyes pleading for someone to take me with them even if only for a little while. For the first time in my life, after all the hardship I’d gone through, I was losing my will to go on and seriously contemplated suicide. I had told myself for a long time that if I could just meet the right girl, everything would somehow be fixed. The band had continued to plod along and suddenly had an opportunity drop into their lap, so a celebration was taking place one night at a friend’s house. Of course there was plenty of alcohol, and I drank heavily, keeping to myself. Then there she was. Our relationship didn’t come without it’s difficulties. I did stop drugs. Alcohol took a little longer and I still have to be careful. I decided to leave the band and entertained the thought of working with other musicians, placing advertisements as a lead vocalist, but that came to a screeching halt when the stalking incidents not only continued, but worsened. I was hounded by both women and men, and some of my old fears were returning. My response this time around was training in tactical applications of martial arts. We became engaged and moved into our own home together, and even though we moved twice more in a span of a few years, there were still obsessive phone callers until we finally changed to an unlisted number which we maintain currently. In the years prior to our children being born, I sometimes struggled with maintaining fidelity, even after our marriage. Once the kids came along, I was a changed person, but also began experiencing anxiety attacks due to news stories about child abductions and molestations. I suddenly found myself feeling vulnerable again, and never knowing I was dealing with post traumatic stress disorder, began to practice martial arts again in earnest. I became obsessed with monitoring sex offenders in our area, yet simultaneously my past was pulling me in another direction and I began reconnecting with old contacts from my love and sex addicted years. I wanted to make things right but everything was turning out wrong. That’s when I started imploding, followed by being completely shattered by the death of my father and the flood of memories that came with it.
Over the past four years, I’ve successfully been treated through EMDR trauma therapy for the horror of memories and flashbacks that disrupted my daily life. Following the advice of Jill Vermeire, a West Coast therapist who assisted Dr. Drew with the cast of the Sex Rehab reality show, I joined a 12 Step program for recovery from the remnants of my love and sex addictions.
I also sought help through Shelley Lubben and the Pink Cross Foundation. I felt compelled to assist with outreach efforts and connected with Kacey Jordan at the urging of her mother to see if I could help with her own traumatic experiences. I was still struggling too much with my own issues, though, and she didn’t seem ready to open up, so we both moved on.
Seeking further support with the memories of being trafficked and becoming a sex worker, I joined Girls Educational & Mentoring Services, GEMS, where I found a safe place to discuss sensitive topics within Rachel Lloyd’s survivors group. Seeing how much of an impact Rachel was having on the movement against exploitation and trafficking, I began pouring my energies into advocacy.
My life took on a new meaning as I joined forces with other survivors and advocates, and I found my voice was much stronger than I realized when letters I sent to members of federal and state Congress were drawing positive responses and cooperation. Throughout my life, there were times when I was overwhelmed by the sense of abandonment. I still struggle with that and feeling alone at times. Because the past acted as a dark veil over my ability to clearly see truth, I became blind to the unconditional love of Our Heavenly Father. It is deeply disturbing for a child to be treated in such a way by a parent, and my distrust of men led to a distrust of God.
Many people don’t get second chances. I have had more second chances than I can count, and the truth is that is My Father reaching out to me. He always has, through the people who randomly offered kind words, through a stranger who gave me a ride to safety when I ran away from home, through those who assisted in my recovery. Most of all, though, He has given me the chance to experience real love and to demonstrate how real love should be given, through my wife of nearly 20 years, my daughter and my son. My most life changing moment, however, happened when I fell asleep while driving home from work late at night due to inadequate sleep apnea treatment and rolled my vehicle in a ditch. I emerged with nothing more than a concussion. A little more than twenty years ago, I had wished for death. Now my only wishes are to fully appreciate the life I’ve been blessed with alongside my wife and children, and to fight against exploitation and modern slavery in any way I can.
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