Jim's Story of Self-Reporting
I am the proud father of six fantastic children. I am also a recovering child sexual abuser who molested three of my children and two of their childhood friends. Many people flinch at hearing aspects of my life; some who know me want to deny that I could have abused anyone; some have difficulty dealing with my having been a victim.
I am not using my own victimization as an excuse, but it does help to give a context on how I chose to sexually abuse. I sexually abused for many years until my eldest daughter courageously went to a close family friend and told him about the sexual abuse. He approached me. I admitted that I had sexually abused the kids, and then picked up the phone and told my wife.
I reported the sexual abuse myself; I was indicted, tried and sent to jail. I worked to uncover my own victimization and my history of abusing children. Upon release, I chose to continue intensive treatment to learn how to recognize the danger signals that preceded my acting out. In treatment I worked on redirecting my actions, on reexamining the consequence of my behaviors and on understanding the suffering and trauma my children had been through.
When I was two or three years old, my father started to sexually abuse me. The abuse was kept secret; this silence caused great pain and confusion.
As I grew older, I became preoccupied with sex and intoxicants. I sought advice and was told that it would be better not to talk about it, better not to get everyone upset, to forget about it, and to get on with my life.
I was confused, angry and lonely. It was from this place of uneasiness and chaos that I began to abuse my own teenage daughters. Even though I knew what I was doing was wrong, I could neither stop myself nor could I admit to what was happening. I felt that nothing could be done and that there was no way to talk about this; it seemed that my survival depended on keeping this painful secret.
But once my daughter had spoken up, I knew I did not want to hurt her or the others anymore. I admitted what I had done to my family and to our family therapist and I also learned that child sexual abuse is a mandated reportable crime. I knew that I did not want my daughter to have to go through the reporting process so I went to our District Attorney's office and turned myself in. The DA said I shouldn't be telling him all this, and that I should get a lawyer first. I said that the lawyer would tell me to say nothing and that it would put me in an adversarial position with my family. The DA then said that I should go away for an hour, and come back, and if I still wanted to tell him he'd listen. After an hour I came back and told him what happened.
At this point in my life, I contemplated suicide to end the painful realization of the terrible harm I had inflicted on my loved ones. I felt that ending my life was a way to guarantee that I would never again have a chance to sexually abuse. It was my children, however, that reminded me that suicide would make a painful situation worse. From their love and support, I found the strength to dedicate myself to becoming a safe, healthy and constructive human being.
I was indicted, tried and sent to jail. I worked to uncover my own victimization and my history of abusing children. Upon release, I chose to continue intensive treatment to learn how to recognize the danger signals that preceded my acting out. In treatment I worked on redirecting my actions, on reexamining the consequence of my behaviors and on understanding the suffering and trauma my children had been through.
Entering into society again was very difficult. I had lost my business, my friends and was now divorced. After leaving jail, I sent out 86 job applications before I found my first position (as a night manager at a fast food restaurant). I was happy to find any work and to be honest about where I was in my recovery and treatment.
I am still very ashamed of the horrific offenses I committed; I am angry with myself for what I have done and for the pain my actions have caused. It terrifies me to recognize the ability child sexual abuse has to ruin so many lives. Today I am beginning to feel the pieces of my life come back together. With help from individuals that I have worked with in therapy, from professionals, from family and friends, and from organizations like Stop It Now!, my life has taken a positive turn in a new direction.