I have vague recollections of being molested when I was a kid by a neighbor boy who was about ten years older than me. I’ll call him John to protect his identity. Our moms were close friends. I was a teenager when his mom died, and there was a drinking party in her honor that they called a wake. At the party I saw John, who I had not seen in years. I felt dread at seeing him, and tried to avoid him. He cornered me on a flight of stars and fingered my anus through my basketball shorts. I was uncomfortable, but not surprised, and I was able to get away from him.
I knew he was a creep, but I did not have memories of him doing anything specific to me as a kid. I only remembered having an unease about being alone with him, more like an animal instinct than a memory. I thought that maybe the instinct was based on a suppressed memory.
John was a sexual deviant. I was a virgin Mormon, and did not kiss a girl until after my mission when I was 21 years old. He had sex with men and women, including another friend of mine when we were teenagers. But I did not clearly remember him doing anything to me, other than fingering my anus through basketball shorts at his mother’s wake. Even that memory is vague now. I cannot even remember where it happened, other than it was his mom’s wake, so someone could probably name the place, and maybe we could find those stairs.
I accused John publicly of molesting me. At an open-mic comedy event a few years ago I named him in a joke about how I was not molested enough for it to count. People in the audience knew him and some of them talked to me after the show about avenging me. Fortunately, none of them followed through. I do not think John’s life should be ruined based on my faulty memories. I also think it is fortunate that I never posted anything about him online, where the damage could have spread more and been more permanent.
I had personal incentives for blaming him. I brought baggage into my marriage that strained our sexual experience for several years. I did not tell my wife honestly and up front that I looked at pornography. Our sexual frustrations probably stemmed from this, but when I brought up that I was molested, my wife melted and forgave me for my sexual unavailability, and saw me as someone who needed help. Being a victim diverted blame for my own shortcomings.
It felt good to blame someone else for my problems, and I really had convinced myself that my problems stemmed from my experience of being molested. John may have messed me up a bit, but it was probably mostly the pornography. Our emotions and our memories are messy. But my life is my own, and blaming others could not heal me. Repentance was the key.
A critical event that forced me to take personal responsibility came when my wife had asked for a priesthood blessing, where I was to lay my hands upon her head, and ask Christ to bless her. I could not do it. The words of blessing did not come. I knew I had to confess my sins to her. A marriage built on honesty can endure anything. A marriage based on lies is doomed. I came clean, and feared that she would divorce me. But instead she forgave me, and gained respect for me, because I confessed without having been caught.
Repentance is a continual effort to understand yourself, and improve your thoughts, actions, and habits. I was able to improve the sexual experience in my marriage by giving up porn and masturbation entirely. Porn probably did more damage to my sexual psyche than molestation.
If my memories were more clear, and I thought John was a pedophile, I would take steps to protect future victims. But I think he was merely an aggressive sexual deviant. I am a grown man, and it is long past time to move on.
I understand the #metoo movement. I understand the desire to prevent creeps from harming others. I understand the desire to seek revenge. I understand the incentives to blame others for our emotional baggage and relationship failures. But it is the pure love of Christ that can heal us, help us to repent, and help us to forgive others for harming us.