the tao of jaklumen

the path of the sage must become the path of the hero

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For the people, by the people: Joe Cheray

A quick disclaimer

Generally speaking, I avoid talking about certain subjects– particularly politics, religion, money, and sex.  People can get very personally invested in such topics.  But I would like to make an exception this time.

A friend I met on Twitter would like to run to represent Kansas Congressional District 2, U.S. House of Representatives.  She needs some help with seed money, and I’ll tell you why, dear readers, why I am voicing my support.

A voice for the “average” Joe

I decided to run because I feel that the average person like myself is not being represented not only in Kansas but nationally as well. I am the average Kansan..

..I know what it is like to rise above circumstances. Those circumstances have shaped me into who I am today – a strong individual who can take my experiences and use them to help others who are not able to help themselves.

quote taken from Joe Cheray: Help me in my run for Kansas US House of Rep CD 2, at YouCaring – Compassionate Crowdfunding

Joe Cheray – A voice for the average Joe.  I think that could be a good campaign slogan.  Yet I think it’s important I emphasize that Joe has responded exceptionally to what a so-called “average” person can face.  Domestic violence, childhood sexual abuse, poverty, absentee parents, and broken family upbringing can face anyone; these issues know no gender, race, creed, or cultural background.  I have had the great privilege to get to know Joe through Twitter support chats addressing these issues, because I have experienced some of these issues myself.  I understand that she is very frustrated with how these issues are being addressed in her state.

At the same time, however, she knows some of my frustrations.  I’m not from Kansas, but instead, I live in Washington state.  Again, though, I know these issues still affect anyone, both in rural and urban cities.  I can tell you of friends that experienced these things that live in cities like Tacoma, but also friends that once lived in Yakima, where Cimmy was born and raised, and where I lived with her for a time.

I have grown up in rural, small town Kansas. I have also lived in some of the bigger cities in Kansas. So I understand the challenges that rural Kansans face as well as those that live in the cities I have lived in.

Again, I’m certain that Joe will say the same- that so many challenges do not come based on where you live or how well off the people who raised you were.

My funds are tight- 3 out of 4 of the people in my family are on disability, and yes, that means I have a child with special needs as well.  Please help me get the word out; I would like to see a friend have a chance to make a difference in our national government.  Regardless of whether the campaign run is successful, or not, I think Joe and her effort deserves all the help she can get.  Thanks.

See also The hidden story behind Candle in the Window

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A Survivor’s Journey: The Challenge of Triggers & the Media

Words are not coming easily to me right now.  This is a really difficult subject.  But I know it’s important, so I give you dear readers my thoughts on how media reporting can be very insensitive to abuse survivors, particularly for those still recovering from sexual abuse.

A change of topic

This week the topic for #CSAQT, #sexabusechat, and the Google Hangout on Air for Trauma Recovery University was going to be about procrastination.  That topic has been pushed back a week, and the topic now is “How to cope with news, the media and triggering stories”.

Image credit: It’s WordPress content, which I think is always a bonus

(Given this acknowledgement, please note that trigger warnings start now.)

I panicked a bit at this abrupt change.  I perceived that the impetus for this change was that a number of people in the U.S.-based chat (#sexabusechat) were reeling from the news stories about Josh Duggar.  I think the article for him on Wikipedia summed it up best:

In May 2015 it became public that when Duggar was between the ages of 14 and 15 years old, he molested five girls, some of whom were his sisters.

I was reassured by Bobbi Parish that topic focus would remain neutral, and that discussion of specific news stories would be stopped, in order to avoid further triggers for participants.

Image credit:

Now, I have thoughts of my own in regards to patriarchial blowhards having their dirty laundry revealed, which I’ll get to later.  What triggered me very hard recently was news stories about women sexually assaulting teenage boys– the likes of Mary Kay LeTourneau, Debi LaFave, Linda Lusk, and Shelley Dufresne– and the media revisiting many of their lives, often with a perspective that I find whitewashed.

I also noted that many Twitter users in the UK, including those attending #CSAQT had their own news stories that they found re-traumatizing and difficult to swallow, including investigations of government officials and entertainment figures, including Jim Saville, Rolf Harris, and in particular of late, Greville Janner.

Please bear with me, dear readers.  It is a real challenge for me to articulate my feelings on so much of this, in a way that is not ugly or accusatory.  There are so many thoughts, feelings, and experiences I’ve had– many of them that actually shaped my understanding about my abuse, my recovery, and how so many friends and family around me experienced such as well; sometimes as victims, and sometimes as perpetrators.

Accusations and learning the real nature of rape

Cycle of DV, but it seems to apply here. Image credit:

.In early 1993, I was trying to piece myself back together.  I had been accused of raping my girlfriend at the time, by one of her roommates.  Now I knew that The Roommate was a survivor of incest, because The Girlfriend told me so.  She also had warned me that her roommate was convinced that I would rape her, and we were caught in a compromising position that The Roommate was certain was proof.  She demanded that The Girlfriend call police, which she did, although she didn’t press charges.  What did me in, so to speak, was that I trusted too many of my peers, trying to assuage my pain, and the rumor mill went into overdrive, which led to my church bishop at the school (this was an LDS-affiliated junior college) withdrawing his endorsement, and my ultimate expulsion.  The rumor mill had already been shaming me for my emerging sexuality with women; I have no idea if they were fully aware of my emerging sexuality with men.  (That would come two schools later.)

I didn’t understand everything The Girlfriend told me, but a lot of it started falling into place talking with my youngest sister.  One story she shared was about one of her friends.  She disapproved of her promiscuous choices, but she was sure much of it stemmed from the fact that her friends’ father had been molesting her friend, and that she therefore was confusing sexual activity with affection.  It dawned on me then that much of what The Girlfriend was telling me was indicative that her father had molested her, and I told my sister as much.  It certainly explained the attitudes she described about her father criticizing her clothing and her beauty– and that her roommates were accordingly protective of her.

Another story that my sister told me around the same time was that a friend of hers had been molested by her brother.  She was very upset because there was such a heavy emphasis on her friend “forgiving” her brother, and that said brother was being allowed to serve a mission for our church.  She very much felt that such a serious wrong had not been properly addressed.

At that time of my accusations, I felt that I was guilty.  This wasn’t the very first time I explored intimacy with a girl, but it was the first time it was explicitly sexual, including heavy petting.  But I was repressed enough that I didn’t really know how certain things worked.  At the time, I didn’t know what mutual masturbation was.  All I knew was, “If I have done this to her, why do I feel like I’m dying inside when she does it to me?”  Now, years later, my sister and I further discussed attitudes in our church culture.  She described to me an attitude of “boys just can’t help themselves”, with a heavy emphasis of vigilance handed to the girls.  I told her that I experienced heavy shame as a young man by contrast, that I was deeply shamed for my sexual curiosity.

Now I say I felt guilty because I believed The Roommate’s accusations.  About a year later in 1994, I started reaching out on the Internet, and shared my story with a rape survivor.  My worldview began to change when she told me I was definitely NOT guilty.

The darkness of child abuse

It was almost another 10 years before I really started coming to grips with my mother abusing me- the sexual abuse at age 6, and the many, many years of emotional abuse.

It would be well over a half decade before I realized even more implications.

Please note, dear readers, that the next part I talk about I describe sparsely, because it’s not my story to tell.  But I can certainly empathize a bit with my UK friends.

A few years ago, one of my in-laws was investigated by the FBI, as child porn was discovered on their computer.  Please, dear readers, I ask that you suspend harsh judgment.  I’ve had to make some very hard decisions, along with my wife Cimmorene, on how photos of our children are to be shared on the Internet, and I feel that it has been harder, based on the implications of this issue.  I do not feel danger from this relative (I feel that they have addressed this to the extent that they do not pose a threat), but, I am concerned about other users.  I also have a very difficult time accepting nudity of young boys as art– I very firmly believe that even that should be avoided.  But I can’t force this relative not to view certain media; I can only make rules about photos of my children.  Please understand that I am much more concerned about the company of users said relative keeps, rather than the relative in particular.

I’ve written about fears of pedophilic predators threatening my family on the Internet before.  I won’t link to them at this time.

What bothers me about media portrayals

I think the common thread that I will eventually discuss with others in chat is that the media, as I said before, are not reporting matters of sexual abuse in a way that is sensitive to survivors.

For example, what bothered me about media stories concerning women like Mary Kay LeTourneau and Linda Lusk was that certain media outlets, in my opinion, were whitewashing their stories.  In particular, ABC News and the news show 20/20 revisited Mary Kay LeTourneau recently.  I, Bobbi, and others I know were very upset that Barbara Walters referred to the sexual abuse as “an affair”.

Bobbi summarized her thoughts in Mary Kay LeTourneau is Not a Lover, She’s a Rapist.  To summarize what I said in response (as it appeared on the Good Men Project):

MKLT presented her story as love, not rape.  So many years later, it almost seemed like Barbara Walters and 20/20 chose to believe that narrative– “See, she was right.  It was about love all along.”

But it’s still rape, although it would seem that that when women sexually assault men, their motives and perspective are rather different than that of male perpetrators.  Yet it’s still about power and control, not reciprocal intimacy.

And yes, I do feel like the media all too often serves it up like titillating porn.  There seems to be a double standard here.  If Mike LaFave is right– that women like his ex-wife Debi do it to reassure themselves of their youth and beauty– then the news stories reinforce that idea.  The stories that seem to get the most press show photos of female offenders with well-applied makeup and aesthetically good looks.  Sometimes, they are even smiling.

A selfie by Shelley Dufresne, allegedly from her Instagram account, and believed to be in response to her light court sentence. Probably not wise when under the spotlight of public opinion. Image credit:

The final analysis

But as I think really hard about it, one thing seems to be consistent.  Whether the media reports on men or women committing sexual crimes, they seem to reinforce old gender stereotypes.  The male perpetrators are handling the situation, and the female perpetrators are still young and beautiful.  If the male perpetrators are not handling the situation, well, they are old, and their mental health is failing.

For the news sites that still allow commenting, some of the worst stereotypes come out in the comments as well.  Such comments I remember on teacher sex crimes went something like this:

  • “The kid probably initiated it, not the teacher!”
  • “I doubt that boy feels victimized.  He likely feels lucky!”  (Usually, the news story said that that school officials became aware of the incident, because victims were ‘bragging’ to other students.)

Most comments I’ve seen generally don’t condone such ideas, but, I’ve seen at least a few perpetrate such prejudice.

I’m not sure what the ultimate solution is.  Hopefully, I will get some insight in the next couple of days, from chatmates and other Twitter friends.  I suspect that possible solutions will include setting limits and boundaries as to media consumption, and to strategically determine the best times, places, and circumstances to speak out.  It’s possible that some may say that the writing process is one way to do that, as well as a means of coping in healthy ways.


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Compassion for the Bullied

So, a 1000 Voices for Compassion marches on.  I’m late as usual– the 20th was my wife Cimmorene’s (@wavemistress) birthday, and I simply did not have time, or rather, the energy, to line up a post that quickly.

I’m going to broach a more sensitive subject than just the idea of simply bullying.  It’s bullying of a sexual nature– better known as slut shaming.956ed-sexualabuse5

I don’t expect any of you dear readers to understand that it happened to me.  I don’t even expect any of you to understand that it can happen to men.  Not even Wikipedia editors seem to acknowledge such very much at all.  But if you figure you’ll do your best anyways, and consider yourselves sufficiently warned of possible triggers, than I invite you to read on.

The tough stuff starts here

Work In Progress v. 2I’ve been busier on Twitter lately, because, to be quite blunt, I have a support network there, and they haven’t recoiled in horror when I’ve shared my story, the way some bloggers have.  They’ve lived the grit and the shit of childhood sexual abuse, and although I’d say a lot of them have had it far worse than I did, they welcome me regardless.  Because of the great stigma men face with this issue, I am overwhelmingly outnumbered by women, but there are a few men, and a few amongst that small section that are quite actively championing the cause of survivorship and trauma recovery.

A supportive Twitter chat friend introduces me to the UnSlut Project

Image credit: Emily Lindin and The UnSlut Project, by way of Tumblr. Link image for source

If you’re not familiar with the UnSlut Project, I invite you to go check out the website really quick, and then come back here.  I think the context is important.

A friend from #sexabusechat (Stewart- @gottogetoutof) does all he can to get word out about resources for sexual abuse survivors.  One day he retweeted some Tweets from Emily Lindin and the UnSlut Project.  I was intrigued and decided to check it out.

Once I learned what the issue was about, I felt an impression that I should share my story.  I was reluctant to at first; much like a lot of domestic violence and abuse in general, the issue has been framed as women as the targets/victims, and men as the aggressors/abusers.  Even if men are targeted– fairly rarely is it said that a woman perpetrated the abuse.  Then I got a DM from Emily asking for financial support (since part of the project is a documentary film).  I thought the message was automated at first, but she very sweetly and congenially reassured me that it wasn’t.  I asked her if I might share my story, and she enthusiastically agreed.

My sexual bullying story starts here

I tried to keep things short.  I’m prone to tangents and ramblings.  I didn’t talk about all the instances that women were quite cruel to me in a sexual way.  But I will simply add that I was always bothered– whether it was in childhood or as an adult, in college.  One story is just too embarrassing to share so openly, right now.  So here’s the message I sent to the site, in (most) of its ugly glory:

Dear Emily,

I’m writing with the hopes that when people read my story, they realize that this is not a gender-based issue. It’s not an issue where only men are the aggressors, and women are the targets. Sexual bullying and slut shaming can happen to anyone.

During the middle of my college/university experience a little over twenty years ago, I somehow caught the attention of a sorority girl in one of my classes at a small private college. I was still socially awkward at that time, and her rather energetic nature and interest made me a little nervous. I blurted out, “don’t have an orgasm, now!” after a nerve-wracking conversation one day, which I realize now was totally inappropriate.

But I was totally unprepared for the onslaught of revenge from her sorority sisters. I was harassed repeatedly by e-mail, telephone, and even in person. This continued even when the campus police got involved. It didn’t stop until I left the school.

Thankfully, that experience didn’t follow me to university, but, I remember walking across the street when a convertible pulled up and a young woman leaned out and said, “Yeah, baby. Shake it!” For some reason, that triggered memories of being mercilessly teased in middle school by boys that thought I wiggled my buttocks too much when I walked. Even though I doubt her comment was homophobic like theirs were, I still felt like an objectified piece of meat.

I know that men in our society are encouraged to welcome sexual attention. Yet how can it be welcomed when it’s unwanted and degrading? I think most guys know the difference, and no amount of swagger (or retaliatory insult) covers up the hurt. It’s not cool, and it’s not “studly”. It’s abusive.

A quick thanks to my friends at the No More Shame Project/Trauma Recovery University, who’ve given me courage to heal from childhood abuse, including sexual abuse. Survivors can be vulnerable to this sort of bullying. Please use my real name; I’ve come far enough that I don’t need to be ashamed anymore.


I don’t think the story has been added to the site, yet.  I can say it’s a rare one– most of the stories are from women, and one gay guy last I checked.  It frustrates me that society filters this issue by way of gender and sexuality.  Granted, I’m actually bisexual by way of orientation, but, I still don’t think that it directly has anything to do with it– women are capable of sexually bullying a man, just as they are capable of raping a man.  Attitudes and definitions may not have caught up, but, that’s my experience.

Some final thoughts

I don’t expect you to understand, or agree, right way.  I do not expect accolades to my bravery or courage in speaking out.  I do not expect many comments on this post, at all, even negative ones, although I fear someone will come along and reply with smack talk.  I’m not looking for praise, high regards, or any of that.

I’m simply tired of the bullshit and the lagging attitudes, so I’m saying my truth.  It is what it is.

See also Compassion for the Sensitive



The Analogy of the Splinter

as seen at the #NoMoreShame Project, but with added images and captions

I like to think of my recovery like removing a splinter, or a thorn.  A few years ago, my wife and I had to remove a splinter of a ice pop stick from under our daughter’s toe.  We had to hold her down, because it hurt so bad and it was wedged so far in.  But after we got it out, she hugged us, saying “Thank you, thank you” over and over.

The only difference I would point out, however, is that the splinters of my abuse have been numerous and many over a long period of time.  Still, they have to come out, or I feel they’ll continue to give me pain.

I was six when my innocence was brutally crushed.  My parents thought that it was a good idea to educate me about sex by showing their nakedness to me, each in turn, during shower time.  Whole heaps of sexuality was just dumped into my lap and I had no understanding what any of it meant.  My father didn’t do or say much, but my mother decided to point out her body parts more directly to me. I didn’t understand why my hand was getting slapped; I had no comprehension about why those parts were related to sex.

Of course, I never understood the emotional abuse, either, why she grew so cold, so critical, so unrelentingly negative. My father simply beat me.  While I was terrified of my father during those early years, interacting with my mother was more like a slow burn– I remember her being warm and comforting, but now I was being stung and demolished inside.

I had no voice.  I’ve always loved periodicals, so I remember reading a public service ad about emotional abuse.  It pointed out that some scars weren’t visible, and showed a young girl with a haunting look in her eyes.  I looked into them and saw myself, but I was too terrified to say anything to anyone.  Who would believe me?

Child abuse verbal abuse hurts too photo f_5adce75f99c5.jpg

This isn’t the ad I was referring to, but this is all I could find.

I felt so vulnerable.  I was teased and picked on in school, especially when I moved away with my family from a small farming community to an larger town.  Middle school– that time that kids experience puberty– was pure hellfire.  Some of my secondary school teachers in middle and high school suspected something was wrong, but I had no idea why I was talking with other students that dealt with alcohol and drug abuse.  I did start to feel suicidal, however.

A bitter image, but this is actually how I half-heartedly attempted suicide in the 8th grade.

Not only did I have a poor grasp of social boundaries, I had no idea how to cope with all the sexuality I’d been exposed to in childhood.  I got hooked on porn pretty quick.  Romantic relationships were terrifying.  It seemed like I got in over my head physically and I couldn’t say no– it was too easy to just let the other person decide the level of intimacy.  I was accused of rape my freshman year of college by a roommate of a girl I was dating at the time– the first time I’d been in a serious relationship.  Not all relationships were romantic, either– some were just about sex, with men as well as women.  I always got way more than I bargained for.  I didn’t feel lucky.  I felt out of control.

No surprise that the woman I married had issues with childhood abuse, too, but she was a lot more patient and caring than so many others I’d been with.  Now, I had to shoulder the pain she was feeling, but she helped me pick through the pieces.  She stuck with me even when I was revictimized again a few times– being stalked, harrassed, and otherwise virtually assaulted in a sexual way online.

I thought it couldn’t happen to me, but a young woman engaged to be married decided I was some easy sexual thrills.

It’s been SO hard to come forward.  I think it’s harder for guys.  No one shames a Daddy’s girl, but “Momma’s Boy” is definitely an insult to men.  Sometimes, when I shared my story, people understood.  Other times– they were terrified.  It’s been really difficult to find a safe place to talk and be completely understood, so I am very grateful to come to the No More Shame Project and be able to speak freely.

Just like the splinter, it has to all come out.  And with the help of some marvelous people here, I’m getting closer.