On the way back to Dallas we made a pit stop in Austin, TX to listen to a presentation by Tim and Robyn Harrington. They are doing what is known as the “Wide Wonder Life Tour.” Tim and his wife Robyn are on a mission much like the Courageous Healers Foundation Ride Across America ride I did in the summer of 2017 raising awareness and breaking the stigma of sexual abuse of men. Tim and his wife actually sold their home, bought an old school bus and had it converted into a nice motor home. For one-year Tim, his wife, daughters, and their dog will be traveling across the United States raising awareness and breaking the stigma of mental illness – www.widewonder.life. Needless to say, their mission and the Courageous Healers mission go hand and hand. In fact, abuse is one of the major underlying causes of mental illness.
Tim and Robyn’s presentation was very informative and the secrets and stigma associated with mental illness runs parallel with the secrets and stigma of sexual abuse of men. The conversation I had with Tim after his presentation only validated this statement. After leaving the presentation we were back on the road to Dallas. Stitch and I engaged in a conversation about how mental health and abuse go hand in hand. This conversation led into a conversation about my mother and stepfather. Were they dealing with an undiagnosed mental disorder?
Now before I go any further, I want to explain something. These questions are not coming up because I’m feeling like a victim. These questions are arising because I want to know what drives perpetrators. I want to be able to better inform those that ask me that question. At the last two conferences I attended, people had a lot of questions, most I could answer, a few I could not. It’s amazing how receptive people are towards the foundation and what I am doing. None of them even know there is help for men and ate up all the information I could feed them.
After hearing Tim’s presentation and talking with Stitch, I was able to process my thoughts in a positive way. Does it upset me? Yes! However, that’s okay as it is part of the healing process. Yes, I have fully forgiven both my mother and stepfather, but that does not mean I still don’t have things to process. Like the Big Book of Alcoholic Anonymous says – “More will be revealed.” Thus, If you are one that says, “you need to forget about it and move on with your life,” to you I say please educate yourself before you do more damage to a survivor with your ill guided but well intentioned words. You can learn a lot about what survivors needs by reading my book Healing The Wounded Child Within. Healing from abuse is a life long journey, the scars are deeper than you could ever imagine, and the damage is incomprehensible.
As far as my stepfather, by the standards set forth in the DSM-5, he was a sociopath. For an explanation on what a sociopath is click on this link - https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/sociopath#diagnosis-and-symptom. He was so methodical and precise in the planning of his abuse of me. I know today that he also molested at least one of his grandsons as well as several other boys and girls. I found myself questioning how it is that anyone could be so ruthless and cruel. In my case had every detail laid out perfectly and only had to wait for one thing, the death of my father. He was the model perpetrator and knew exactly what he was doing from the start. He started dating my mother one year after my father and her divorced. She was a perfect candidate for a perpetrator; a single mother with two boys.
He inserted himself into our life’s perfectly. In no time, he was living with us. He also had a house in Laguna Beach that we would go stay at on the occasional weekend. There were weekends that he would take me there by myself, and honestly, I cannot remember some of the events that happened on those weekends, and really, I don’t need to. He would take us out to dinner, to the beach, and on many occasions to Apple Valley where my stepbrother lived. He was always telling us how he knew Roy Rogers and bowled with him. Every time we went to Apple Valley, he told us we were going to Roy Rogers house to meet him, that never happened. My stepfather was an alcoholic and was always making promises he never kept. Nonetheless, he had earned our trust.
After a long battle with cancer, on January 12, 1969 my father passed away, just what my stepfather was waiting for. You see, we were only told that dad was sick and that he would be better soon. However, my mother and stepfather new the truth, he in fact was dying of cancer. It was the perfect storm for a perpetrator, for a sociopath. Perpetrators will groom their victims for a period of up to five years and my perpetrators time was nearing. My stepfather waited patiently as he let the funeral pass and things get settle back down to a somewhat normal homeostasis. He knew as a twelve-year boy I needed a father’s love and a father figure. He used that knowledge to his advantage. One month or so after my father passed away, I walked in my house after school and there set the man that was soon to be my stepfather. I assumed he was there to play catch with me, however he had different plans.
As I walked in the door he stood up, walked me into my bedroom, sat me down on the edge of my bed, put his arm around my shoulder and said these words to me; Randy I know how hard it will be for you not having a father in your life to look up to. I want you to know that I will always be here for you. As he was talking to me his arm came off of my shoulder and his hand slid down to my crotch and what would be a six-year period of abuse began. As he walked me out of my room, he looked at me and said; Now don’t tell anybody what we did today, it will just be our little secret. There I was a twelve-year old boy who just lost his father and needed a father’s love and a father figure. What was I supposed do? If I told I believed another father figure would be taken from me. After all what he was doing to me was what a father did to show his love, correct? So, you can see how many emotions were being played on by the man that was to become my stepfather, the man that was to show me fatherly love, teach and protect me.
I am not writing this to exploit my stepfather or mother who was not a whole better. I am writing this to bring into light the coyness and ways perpetrators work. After hearing the presentation by Tim and Robyn, a lot of things were brought to light. As Stitch and I conversed about it, it was made very clear to me how perpetrators work. For the most part perpetrators are perceived as kind and generous people who can do no wrong to those that trust them. They are fathers, uncles, stepfathers, teachers, pastors, priest, baseball coaches, and community leaders. 93% of perpetrators are family members or friends. 80% are heterosexual males, married with their own children. The National Center for Victims of crime states that 40%-80% of juvenile sex offenders have themselves been victims of sexual abuse. Most if not all perpetrators are very deceptive, and their plan is perfectly laid out and executed once put into action.
As Stitch and I were talking about this subject, I began to realize how perpetrators are more than likely suffering from one form of mental illness or another. Is this an excuse for their actions? Does this excuse them from the consequences of their crime? Does this make what they are doing okay? Absolutely not! But for me, it gives me a better understanding of why they do what they do and how they do it so callused. They have no regard for their victims’ feelings or more importantly for their victim’s life. In reality this put a whole new light on the statement – Hurt People, Hurt People. Most, if not all perpetrators have been molested themselves and are living in a world of excruciating emotional pain as well as having a mental illness.
It does absolutely no good to hang onto the resentments and hate that one is harboring towards their perpetrators. It is time to accept all that as happened to you instead of fighting it. Remember that acceptance does not mean approval. Start moving towards forgiveness and praying that your perpetrator gets the healing that you yourself want. Your perpetrator is hurting just like you are and perhaps even worse. For myself, when I became empathetic and started seeing life thru my stepfathers’ eyes, it became really easy to forgive him, which I have. Now that I have become aware of this mental health piece, I can be even more empathetic towards my stepfather and other perpetrators.
In closing I want to say this, forgiveness does not mean that what was done to you was okay. Forgiveness does not mean that the person who has caused the harm is released from the consequences of their behavior. Forgiveness does not mean that you have to let that person back in your life or reconcile with them. Forgiveness is for you. It releases you from the prison that you are keeping yourself trapped in. When I arrived at the place where I finally forgave my mother and stepfather, I have and continue to experience a freedom and happiness I never thought possible. I hope this blog has given you some more insight to what our perpetrators must go through. I am not condoning in any way the actions and behaviors of those that sexually abuse children. My only hope is that you can find it in your heart to start working towards forgiveness. I promise you it will set you free and fill your life with a happiness you never thought possible. It did for me.
Matthew 6:14-15 (NIV) says –
For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
You can read more on what forgiveness is and is not in Chapter 12 of my book – Healing The Man Within – available on Amazon
To learn more about my coaching services visit www.changeyourlifestorynow.com