October 1998

Veils Of Shame

You can run from anything except yourself.

In the fifteen columns that I have contributed to Oasis, I have revealed many things about myself and yet I have remained as elusive as can be. You all know me but you really don't, and I probably shocked a few people last time with my music and sports interests, but my only goal is to be myself and not allow the limitations of the gay society to stifle me. A lofty goal, huh?

However, I carry around a deep secret that was waiting the right time to be revealed, and the time is now: My brother and I were sexually abused when we were younger.

When my grandparents (and parents) emigrated to the United States in the '70's they basically had just each other to rely on along with a few friends that came here along with them. As they adjusted to life here they made some friends, found jobs, and strived to better themselves. One of their first friends was a police detective that I'll call Bob, and he became a sponsor for them, and even served as best man at my parent's wedding. When I was a few years old he suffered a injury that prevented him from working and he went on permanent disability, and as a favor to my parents he became a babysitter to Chris and I, since both of them worked full time. I can't say that I have many memories of him babysitting us, but I'll never forget the day the abuse started.

One rainy day during the summer of 1990 we were over at his house watching TV and he told us to go down into the basement with him. I had no idea what we were going to do, but after that day we dreaded that basement.

Once we were down there he told us to take off our clothes, and when we wouldn't do it he took off his belt and threatened to use it on us, so we did as he told us. As soon as we were naked he pulled out his camera and started telling us to pose certain ways, and he took picture after picture of us. When he ran out of film he had us bend over and then he hit us each once with his belt and said that if we told anyone about the pictures that he'd beat us until we were dead. Words don't exist to describe how scared and ashamed we were that day.

After that, going to Bob's house was a nightmare. We never knew what would happen to us next, but it seemed that he'd be real nice to us for a while and then there'd be another photo session, followed by more niceness. It stopped when we started going to school, but during Christmas break our parents went away for a weekend and we stayed with Bob again, and it started again. This time Bob had a camcorder and he wanted to make some movies, but not the normal kind. That was the first time he forced me to have sex with my brother, and it was not the last.

As we got older the things he had us do together became more graphic, and Bob resorted to various types of torture to make us comply with his demands, including burning our rectums and urethras several times. We went along with what he wanted very reluctantly, and always with his threats controlling us. He would beat us if we refused to smile during the photo sessions, and when he was done taking the lewd pictures he'd remind us that our parents would be deported if we told anyone. Our silence remained.

When I was ten and my brother eight, the abuse suddenly ended when Bob moved to California...there was never any explanation for his move except that he had great job offer that he couldn't turn down. It didn't matter to us why he left, all that mattered was that he was gone from our lives. By then the emotional and physical scars had taken their toll on us, and once he was gone we tried to put our lives back together as best we could.

The memories remained.

We hid the fact that we had been abused for several more years, but all along we showed signs that something traumatic had happened, yet our parents never questioned us. We both did everything possible not to let them photograph us, and for years Chris had severe nightmares and trouble sleeping, but all of this was written off as just minor problems that kids go through.

When I was twelve we learned that Bob had died in California after a short illness and that his body was being returned for burial in our hometown, and that reopened our wounds. I'm not ashamed to say that we were glad that he had died, in fact it gave us some comfort that he couldn't hurt us any longer. We had to go through the agony of hearing everyone say such nice things about him during the calling hours, and the fact that he was given a hero's funeral hurt even more. He sure wasn't a hero to us!

Our parents didn't learn about the abuse we had suffered until a year later when they found us behind the garage covered with blood from our slit wrists, and even as we told them about what Bob had done to us there was nothing but disbelief from them. It wasn't until we were examined by our pediatrician, who confirmed that our urethras had been burned. Our parents were devastated when they realized that we had been telling the truth all along, and even hurt more because they couldn't prosecute Bob.

Chris and I were immediately placed into therapy, which we are still going through to this day, but I'm not certain if we will ever get over what has been done to us. As my friend and fellow columnist Trevor once told me, you just have to live from minute to minute.

You know what?

He's right.

* * *

Of all my columns, this has been the most difficult one of all to write. I probably wouldn't have even written this is if it hadn't been for the suicide of another sexually abused boy named Mark that I had befriended a few months ago. Like so many sexually abused kids, he constantly wore a veil of shame that ultimately became an unbearable burden.

Like him, Chris and I felt that we could no longer go on living with the shame we felt, but fortunately we lived to tell our tale. If I have any purpose in telling the public of our pain it's to try and prevent anyone else from killing themselves. I won't tell anyone that it's easy to get over this, or that you can even get over it, but you can't ever give up!

This column is for every sexually abused kid out there.

You are not alone.


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