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Sex abuse and the hidden wound

Patrick McDonald was molested by his Scoutmaster.  The grown-ups who were supposed to be looking out for him turned the other way, in part, he figures, because the Scoutmaster was charismatic and beloved by all. He writes:

Think about how it might feel to have every bit of self-esteem and self-confidence ripped away from you, to be torn down from a person to a piece of meat. Why do you think so many victims of sexual abuse attempt or commit suicide, or abuse drugs or alcohol? We want to escape the pain, fear, and despair that we can’t seem to ever completely shed. My abuser never spent a day in jail; I wasn’t strong enough to speak up, and by the time I did, the statute of limitations had passed. I grieve for Sandusky’s victims, if he’s indeed guilty, and breathe a heavy sigh of relief at his arrest.

I know this man who was a vulnerable boy. Absent father. A man in the neighborhood, the kind of fellow everybody looked up to and trusted without question, befriended him. Took him places. Bought him things. Isn’t it nice that N. is taking an interest in that poor kid? 

He was raping that kid. Did it for years. Took pictures, making the boy blackmailable. The adults who should have been looking out for him didn’t bother. Finally, after he became a legal adult, the kid broke down, and told another man in the community what was happening. That man called the district attorney straightaway. Today, thank God, the abuser is in prison.

So is his victim, in a way. He’s an alcoholic — recovering now, after several serious run-ins with the law. I don’t know that he will ever have a normal life. I hope he will. But the wound is very deep. I don’t know who this man hates more: his abuser, or himself.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. A veteran of three decades of magazine and newspaper journalism, he has also written three New York Times bestsellers—Live Not By Lies, The Benedict Option, and The Little Way of Ruthie Lemingas well as Crunchy Cons and How Dante Can Save Your Life. Dreher lives in Baton Rouge, La.

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