We Are The Cure

If you are reading this post, please click on the title of this entry before reading. This will allow you to read the entry and then click “share” it at the end. When you click “share”, a small Facebook icon will appear, and it will allow you to immediately post it to your Facebook profile.  I can already sense your hesitation, trust me. Will people think I was abused if I share this? Will I offend someone? Will I stir up something unnecessarily? Will I invade someone’s privacy? The answer is no. Progress demands boldness. Unlike currently incurable diseases like Cancer, Autism, Parkinson’s, ALS, and Multiple Sclerosis, the Sexual Abuse of Children already has a cure: us. The more we talk, share, and communicate – the more we as a society take a stand against childhood sexual abuse – the faster we will eradicate this disease. So, please, don’t hesitate, embrace boldness and share this story.

I’ve been documenting my recovery from sexual abuse as a child for almost a year now. It hasn’t been easy, but I am slowly making well my body and mind – a challenge that so many of you reading this are familiar with. The statistics are horrifying. One out of every four women in the U.S. knows this challenge. One out of every six men.

Last week, one of these men, Bill Zeller, a brilliant, successful computer science graduate student at Princeton University, put an abrupt end to his challenge. He wrote a 4,000 word letter sharing his darkness of a sexually abusive childhood for the first time, he posted it on Facebook, and then minutes later, he hung himself.  Rather than summarize his story, I have included his letter here. He requested that the letter be disseminated in its entirety, so that others can learn from his story in his succinct and powerful voice.

If you read the letter, it will change you forever. You will understand his darkness and feel some of his pain, if only for a brief minute. You will better understand how hollow life can be for a victim of childhood sexual abuse.

If only Bill would have found a way out of his darkness, he would still be with us. If only there was a way for him to feel less alone, he would still be with us. If only our society freely talked about sexual abuse, not in taboo whispers, but in bold, compassionate, charged proclamations, Bill would still be with us. But, we don’t feel comfortable doing that. We hesitate, and then we play it safe.

I played it safe for over twenty years. It was all I could do at the time. I didn’t have the tools or the surroundings I needed. I didn’t have enough people letting me know that it was alright to have been abused – that it wasn’t my fault. So, my darkness grew and grew as I flaunted a successful personal and professional life. I was maneuvering my way forward, tethered to a disease that nobody wanted to recognize, especially myself.

Strangely, I was incredibly lucky. I had a family who loved me. I had positive role models. I had great friends who loved to laugh with me. I was gifted and I succeeded at everything I put my mind to. But the disease would grab me tight at times. When it did, I would take it out on myself for not being stronger. I had no idea it wasn’t my inadequacy.  Then, without warning, I would go into remission. I would feel better. This cycle continued, with every period of sickness being worse than the last – my insides were shutting down.

In my late twenties, after fifteen years of punishing myself for my past, I started thinking about how to make the pain stop. The use of chemicals was only a temporary escape. I had more and more thoughts of how to pull it off, mostly fleeting, but my most common thought was staging a car accident. This way, I wouldn’t let anyone down. It would simply be a terrible accident. I would finally be able to take a deep breath and relax.

I haven’t written much about the suicidal thoughts I had before I started my recovery. I think because I was afraid I would scare people, or unnecessarily have them worried about my current mental state. But, after reading Bill Zeller’s letter, I realized that I was hiding an important piece of my story – the part that reveals the depth of pain that sexual abuse can instill.  Maybe it was more than that – maybe it was because I don’t like to think that I was in such a shallow state – it’s hard to go back there and feel what I felt. It feels like so long ago.

In the past twelve months I have learned so much about myself, my innocence, and how I deserve to be happy. I have started to feel like “the old Chris” again. It’s awkward, frightening and extraordinary at the same time. If only everyone who is suffering from the affects of childhood sexual abuse could feel what I am feeling.  If only those who gave up could have found someone to share with.

Bill Zeller was one of twenty five million men in the U.S. who are currently fighting the affects of sexual abuse. His story, while tragic and terribly sad, is a portal to the cure. We are the cure. Please share.

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23 responses to “We Are The Cure

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  3. Thank you for sharing Bill Zeller’s letter. I have read it and posted it on Facebook and Twitter. Will do so again.

    • Thanks, Patricia! Chris

      • a variety of legal fotmras and styles .they can include correspondence, briefs, pleadings, motions, and legal memorandums to name a few. these various documents can range from simple to complex, so paralegals must have a diverse scope of writing proficiencies to pen documents in a required

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      • This is the ideal answer. Everyone should read this

  4. I bawled reading his letter. I am glad a misunderstanding on Twitter, eventually led me hear. I have finally read your entire blog, from the first to the current. My mood has taken a nose dive, but its not a bad thing. Reading your posts, has encouraged me, and I hope to email a therapist today, to try to find my own. Ive chickened out many times before, petrified, but everytime I think of chickening out, I think of your blog, and of Zeller’s letter, and I slowly find some small pit of courage to help me. I’m a stranger to you, but just know that you have helped me, given me hope again. Thank you.
    btw – I havent heard anything more on Eva…is she ok, or has she finally found peace? :(

    • Felicia – I’m glad that you’re following along also. I’m sorry that your mood has been affected, but I think I understand what you’re saying about it not necessarily being a bad thing. One thing I’ve continued to realize is that feeling bad things is necessary in order to feel good things when you’re dealing with csa. Don’t get discouraged. When I read Bill Zeller’s letter it had a profound effect on me – initially sadness. That was followed by a sense of responsibility to prevent this from happening so often. I’m very optimistic that we (as survivors and supporters) can level the playing field – breaking down the walls of secrecy, canon law, and all of the ridiculous things that prevent csa survivors from feeling ok to talk. I hope you keep pushing through the bad and finding the good. Take a break when you need to – don’t try to move too fast, in my opinion that only brings unnecessary frustration.

      Thanks for asking about Eva. After a terrible fall due to her condition, her family made the decision to place her in a home. She is not doing well – my wife and I went to see her about ten days ago and I plan to see her again this weekend. She is ready to go and she will be at peace soon.


      • Thank you for your response. Its been a weird roller coaster this week, one minute on the verge of tears, the next feeling “ok”. My head hurts and I’m drained lol.
        I’m sorry to hear about Eva :( I’ll keep her in my thoughts, and you as well of course.

  5. Butterfly

    I am so sorry Bill could not separate himself from his pain. To learn he was not responsible for what happened to him is a key ingredient for mental balance. I was abused as a child, later as a teenager and then as an adult. I do not know how I survived to adulthood, due to my self destructive tendencies. I just have always had fight in me. I cannot stand injustice. Maybe it’s rage, I do not know, but it has kept me alive. Now, as a 46 yr old woman, I am still struggling with the shame. Some days are better then others, but I am still here and hope to be here for many more years.
    Peace and safe hugs to all people reading this who have been abused. You are worthy of love. You matter. You are a survivor. Pull out of your cocoon and open your beautiful wings. You are the most beautiful butterfly… You can soar!

    • Butterfly, you sound like a very strong person. I’m so sorry to hear that you have dealt with so much abuse, but your strength of spirit is powerful. You as worthy of so much – I hope you push yourself to forgive yourself – having someone who is trained in csa (and adult abuse) is very important in my opinion. If you are ready for that, and would like any help finding someone, please let me know. Regardless, keep listining to that strong voice inside of you. Thanks again for your kind words. Chris

  6. Ercan

    I am not from Us. But I can relate to your post my friend. If there is a way, Bill ddin’t feel alone he would have been with us.
    I’m glad to witness your story and others.
    And my name is Ercan.

    • Ercan – thank you for your encouragement and for sharing. We are all stronger the more we stick together. Wherever you’re writing from, I hope you have found someone to talk with to help you navigate the bumpy road to recovery. If there is anything I can do to help, please let me know. As NHL hockey player and survivor Theo Fleury says, which took me a while to understand, “Don’t give up before the miracle”. Chris

  7. Anonymous

    Chris… you are making the world better. Some people go on an individual journey of self discovery, trying to help themselves better fit in this world and understand their place. You’ve made your journey accessible to us all, and you are such an inspiration. I clearly remember camping on the beach with the kids when Mike called to tell me what you’ve endured and to check out your blog. Under a dangling flashlight from the tent, I absorbed your words from my laptop and recognized your courage. I was so inspired. I knew I needed to take action for my own issues of bulemia (there, said it) and alcoholism and took steps within a week. I am in month nine of twice a week therapy, and you are the reason I walked through the door. You have made an incredible difference to me, and by extention our family. I felt compelled to post this publicly instead of my usual “you are inspiring” line. You really are.

    • Rebecca Newton

      and I am not anonymous… I’m Rebecca!

    • Rebecca (my west coast therapy pal) – thank you. Nothing beats relaxing on a vacation only to find a super-fun story like mine!! You have inspired me for the last nine months through email and phone conversation. I hope you realize that. I’m so impressed with your courage/strength. Sharing what you have been through is making someone else feel less uncomfortable. My best to you and Mike and the kids.

  8. Heidi Dudderar

    I am so sorry for all you’ve endured. You are incredibly strong and I am so proud of you for breaking the code of silence. Your story and this blog may turn on the light for parents, caretakers, and protectors of children who are currently locked in the same dark hell.
    I hope you will not be angry if I share one thing I’ve learned from my own experience with my family. After years of being angry about things we just never talked about, one day I closed the door on them and walked away…for awhile. Later, after realizing closing the door hadn’t really solved anything, I knew it was time to let go. Forgiving my parents and seeing them for who they really were (and are) – fallible, imperfect, limited by their own experiences and perspectives – it was the only way to free myself from the bonds of my childhood.
    Having my own kid and being a fallible, imperfect, limited parent has helped me see all this more clearly. I did not experience the unfathomably horrible things you did. My stuff was garden-variety, but I was still left feeling very angry and distrustful and self-destructive. I am praying for you and cheering for you. You are a fighter and you’ll win this battle.
    I’m here if you ever want to talk.

    • Hello Heidi! Whoa, it’s been a long time. Thank you for your kind words and for your perspective. I’m glad you have found solid footing – you have always been a great friend. My best to you and your family. Chris

  9. Kate McKannan

    To my Clennan bridal party partner….I’m wishing you strength during this impossible journey. My heart breaks at the amount of time you’ve struggled with this alone. I’m so glad you decided to reach out and share your story and get some help to find your way. Your courage can only help others.

    • Hey Kate – The last time I saw you I think you were one of the ones watching in horror as I danced to NSYNC at the Clennan reception. Rest assured, my skills have not improved! Thank you for your encouragement. I hope you’re well. Chris

  10. Katie's Mom

    Chris, I am so glad you wrote this, and I am so proud that you had the strength to get help. Being open to other people is therapy for anyone, and getting professional help, well that is what is healing you, Chris. God continues to answer our prayers for you to once again feel and enjoy life.
    Much love to you and your wife.

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