Stories of Hope

Real Stories from Real Families

Read these stories of courage from real people’s lives – real families affected by child sexual abuse, who stepped up from tragedy and found hope. No excuses or simplistic solutions here. You’ll come to understand why the “good” and “evil” stereotypes the media uses when describing sexual abuse don’t really apply to most abuse situations. And you will learn why, in some instances, those stereotypes actually delay individuals from recognizing abusive behaviors and taking the necessary steps to get help for everyone involved. You’ll find difficult truths, complex personalities and tough challenges in these stories…courageous people describing how they turned anger and despair into a journey of hope.

To maintain confidentiality, names have been changed when requested by the author.

If you are interested in writing your own Story of Hope, please click here for guidelines and submission info. 

Everyone knows that parenting a teenager is going to be difficult. But thank goodness few parents know the kind of awful night I had when my son was 14 and my neighbor called to tell me that "Jon" had sexually abused her child.

It’s been almost six years now since I found out my second husband, Roger had sexually abused my granddaughters. That is one day in my life that I will never forget. It felt as though the earth dropped out from under my feet.

My daughter came to us one day and said she had to talk to Roger. She said, "Roger, one of my girls told me you touched her privates. Did you?" I looked at him in complete shock, devastated. He admitted not only sexually abusing the one who told, but two other granddaughters as well. Then he locked himself in the back bedroom for two days.

My name is Elaine. Ten years ago, I knew very little about child sexual abuse. I had no personal experience with child sexual abuse. I did not know what the red flag behaviors displayed by many potential abusers were. Like many in our society, I did not realize that most abusers are not "monsters" as I previously had been told. I’ve learned, however, that they are everyday people from all walks of life. They are people that you most likely know and meet everyday and would never think that they would choose to abuse a child.

I'm the kind of sexual abuser you don't ever hear much about: one who is recovering and is living an abuse-free, victim-free life outside any official supervision or court jurisdiction. It's been 34 years since I molested anyone, and I work at it every single day of my life. Many parts of my life for 20 years before that would have made any parent proud of a grown son – college grad, journalist, newspaper owner, coach – but it was part of a mask for my secret life. That secret life was focused on getting close to adolescent boys, gaining their trust and then sexually abusing them.

I have an interesting tale to tell about how I brought my work home earlier this year. My next door neighbor told me she had learned from another neighbor there was a Level 2 and a Level 3 sex offender living in the neighborhood. In Washington, the registration and community notification system uses a three-level system, using an actuarial risk assessment measure. The lowest risk offenders, according to this instrument, are Level 1’s. The highest risks are Level 3’s. Seattle Police had printed up flyers about these two men and given them to the block watch captain.

When I was 12 I didn’t know I couldn’t get pregnant by kissing and fondling. I was scared. I was even more scared because the person who was doing the kissing and fondling was my father. I wanted to make him stop, especially after he went on to touch my two younger sisters in the bedroom we shared, but I thought if I told, it would destroy my family.

My life changed on February 1, 2001 when my wife found some extremely inappropriate pictures I had taken of my daughter's sleeping friend. Some of these pictures showed her unclothed and were sexually explicit in nature. This is why my wife's first reaction was to turn them into the police. It was her courageous act that saved my life. I am now very grateful for what she had to do, but my first reaction was that I was more angry than I had ever been. I hated my wife for what she had done.

We are a blended family of seven. Both my husband and I share custody of our five children from previous marriages. More often than not, we have five independent, energetic, and lively kids running through the house. After a few years of this new marriage, things were going as smoothly as could be expected. The only child who seemed to be experiencing difficulty in adjusting to his new stepfamily was my middle son, Max.