Letter to Young Men

My name is Nate Postlethwait and I am a survivor of sexual abuse. As a child, I was first exposed to pornography at a young age, and shortly after that experience was sexually abused my an older female neighbor. I thought I had created the set up for the interaction between myself and my neighbor, and somehow believed it was my fault. I also believed that the way I felt inside (damaged, uncomfortable, anxious) was my fault for participating in the acts.

Years later, during puberty, I was molested by a 36 year old man. This abuse compounded a deep desire to be close to my father, and confused about my sexuality. The abuse went on for two years. It took me many years to understand the impacts of sexual abuse, and how it rewired much of me. Here are the most important things I want YOU, male survivors, to understand:

-It is extremely important to call sexual abuse, sexual abuse. As young boys, our hormones are going wild, and while there may be stimulation, or any type of physical pleasure during the abuse, it was NOT your fault or decision to have a predator pursue you. People who abuse have studied your environment, and have a keen awareness of what to say to you, to blend in to your life, and then take advantage of you (ie: It was obvious I did not have a connection with my father, and longed for that. My abuser preyed on that, and began our relationship by saying how much he admired me, and wanted to spend time with me to get to know me. He was filling in the void of my father, and playing on my vulnerabilities.)

-It is common to believe that as a boy/young man, you were in control and could have stopped it. Again, predators know what they are doing, and the moment they have a plan in place, they are using their role as someone older, to craft and skill you thinking you invited their abuse into your life.

-It is common to be very angry, anxious, and confused if you are carrying these secrets of abuse. You were NOT meant to be touched, caressed, or experience any sexual behavior from this abuser. Under no circumstances are you able to understand what has just been done to you, and under no circumstances was it your fault.

-Because your body and sexuality are meant to be explored in healthy and pure ways (non-predatory), it is a very confusing task to understand what happens as you get older, your body changes, and your sexuality is shifting. The abuse done to you, does not, in any way represent your sexuality, or your future in relationships. Because sexual abuse is such a horrific act, it plays into your natural desire to be close, sexual and intimate with someone. The two are very separate categories, and the abuse was a betrayal, masking itself as your desires to be close to someone.

I waited until I was 31 years old to call my sexual abuse what it was. I believed that I somehow gave permission to this man and because there was arousal, it marked me in a way, that I began to take responsibility. The shame that comes from sexual abuse is intense and powerful. The sooner you reach out for help, or even begin to question the anger, anxiety, confusion, or shame, the less time it has to be a part of your future. It has been hard work to address these issues, but after time in therapy, I was able to go back to the issues at hand, and am now a much more whole, happy man. I also recognize, that our culture is not educated on male sexual abuse as it should be, and now spend my time educating others on what it means to be healthy and whole while overcoming the abuse.

Never doubt, that many, many others have experienced what you have. Currently 1 in every 6 males is sexually abused by the age 18. The sooner we can speak up, and then heal, the sooner we can educate others, and shrink that number down, and then down again.

Please fight this fight, and never settle with how your abuse makes you feel. You have the freedom to pursue a life without the harm done to you, and that life is full of strength, integrity and joy…

Your Advocate,

Nate Postlethwait