• Katie Marie Strong

It wasn't my fault.

Updated: Sep 13, 2019

- Rob Kraushaar

"... while my little body laid there frozen and terrified."

My name is Rob and it took me 27 years to admit out loud that I was sexually abused as a child. I buried that shit down so far away from anyone, but it stayed close to the person that it affected the most. Me. I’ve heard of people repressing trauma and memories to the point that they don’t remember them happening at all, but this wasn’t the case with me. It’s always been in the forefront of my mind and at the helm of most of my torture and self-hatred growing up. I remember bits and pieces of being abused from the time I was 8 until maybe 10. The exact timeline remains a blur, but the pain only blurred my chances of allowing myself to be happy.

What I do remember is being told to go and play with a neighbour by my mom. He was older than me, but he didn’t have any friends, so I was chosen. That’s not to say I had many friends either, so I was happy to have a place to play. At first, the fact that he had cool video games and things that I didn’t have was more than enough of a reason to keep me going there. It started so innocently, just games and joking around. It then moved to him touching me while my little body laid there frozen and terrified. I can remember fragments of threats from him about what would happen if I ever told anyone. It’s hard for me to piece together the thoughts and memories I have of everything that happened. I’ve managed to piece together that the abuse is what caused my mind and body to spiral into a drug fuelled, suicidal train wreck from the age of 15 until just before I turned 34. I tried committing suicide numerous times from the time I was 18 until my early 20’s. It never worked out……no matter how hard I tried. I fucking hated myself. Most days, despite seeming happy and laughing on the outside, I was a tortured soul that no amount of drugs or booze was ever able to numb.

I get that there’s no excuse for wasting my life away with drugs and drinking but abuse was MY excuse. Seems like something I should have made into a t-shirt for those days when I still feel shitty about it all. Those are a lot of days but not as many as it was before. I’m thankful for that.

I grew up Catholic and like most young Catholic boys, I was convinced that even touching yourself, unless you were taking a piss, was a form of masturbation. Masturbation led to hell. My 8-year-old mind couldn’t comprehend that I hadn’t done anything wrong and that it wasn’t my fault. I let those thoughts turn my life into a fucking disaster.

There still seems to be a bit of a stigma surrounding men admitting they were sexually abused. As if somehow admitting it makes us less manly or that it means we’re weak. You’re damn rights I was weak. I was 8 years old. My heart and brain can’t recall exactly what I went through at the time specifically. Whether that’s from repressing it or because I haven’t allowed myself the proper channels towards healing. I’m not sure exactly.

There’s a lot of things that being sexually abused brought into my life. The fact that I was scared to go to sleep when I was younger for the fear of dreaming about what was happening in real life. There’s the fact that I pissed the bed until I was probably 14. No one could figure out what was the reason it was happening. No amount of Chinese herbal remedies that my mom gave me and tried on me would stop me from wetting the bed. I remember her making me drink these disgusting root teas and, in my mind, I just wanted to cry out and beg her to not stop loving me because of what happened. To this day I have a hard time with hands on my neck or near my face. I felt it was all my fault so deeply, even at that young age. As I got older, I took on the belief that it’s because I was a “pussy” or that people would think I was a “fag”. These were all things I had heard about homosexuality growing up and I was terrified to say anything to anyone. These thoughts ripped my insides apart and nearly destroyed me.

I was never really open to sharing my story until after my wife died. She was sexually abused too, and she was the only person I ever opened up to about it. I promised her before she died that I would do whatever it took to get my shit figured out and give our kids a wonderful life. I’ve followed through on that promise to her. And most importantly to myself. I still struggle almost daily with memories and feelings of what happened. I struggle with paranoid thoughts of it happening to my kids too. I’ve recently decided to go to counselling to help me understand myself better after everything that has happened. I’d like to say that things get easier but I’m not sure that they do. They just get different.

I have many things that I could say get me through each day now. I have my kids, a degree in Social Work that I’m chasing down, a tattoo career that keeps getting better and better and a partner who understands that I’m a broken but salvageable mess at the best of times. She encourages me to do things like this blog instead of keeping everything inside. I have a solid support system and I look to God for answers that I don’t have, that gets me through. Find whatever healthy avenue works for you to heal and keep getting up in the morning. I’m a firm believer that if I just make it through the night, tomorrow is a new day.

I hope this story helps someone out there to talk about what they went through. I take some comfort in thing that it will.

- Rob Kraushaar

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