For 1 in 16 US women, first sexual intercourse experience was rape, study says.

As a survivor, I find this is extremely troubling, to be sure. But I also wish they had gathered statistics on male CSA. My first sexual experience was being raped by a trusted family friend and doctor at the age of fourteen. Somehow, in my mind, I had worked it out that this experience didn’t really count as my first sexual encounter, because it was non-consensual. Isn’t it amazing how the mind processes trauma?

Rob Maniscalco, survivor
Me, around the time of the incident

We need to find patience as we relate to survivors, all survivors, keeping in mind we may never know what another person has survived and the difficulties they may be having.

I find it helpful, when someone who knows me very well, gently calls me out, if my judgment goes a little askew, somewhat jaded as I am at times, because of the lingering effects of trauma. When a child’s innocence is taken in this way, it changes a person. I have worked hard as a survivor to recognize triggers and interruptions in my best judgment. But I can tell you, my world view has definitely been influenced by my experience. I’d like to think my perspective is valuable and worthwhile.

The Skeptic survivor
The Skeptic

I’ve been in and out of therapy all my adult life, struggling with PTSD and anxiety. Most recently, I did Exposure Therapy for about a year through the National Crime Victim Center, ending last spring. It helped. But in a way, because it made me more aware of the triggers, it has actually made things a little trickier. I’m better at lessening my emotional responses (SUDS) but still have a ways to go in processing and being okay with my trauma. I’m so grateful for a loving wife and kids who have learned to roll with and even enjoy my little episodes. People can be so kind. And if we can’t have a little fun with something like this, then what a dire mess our lives would be.

For example, my wife whispered something the other day, nothing weird or dark. She was just being playful. I was suddenly triggered by the memory of the man who sexually assaulted me when I was 14. There was a similar tone or rhythm; I’m not sure what it was. We laughed about it and discovered something new about our relationship; it was a gift. But I’m still triggered by a million little things. I hate that something that happened so long ago still has such power in my life. And yet, I have to embrace that it is part of who I am.

Those who have read my book, which includes my survivor story, always get a lot out of it. The message is clear: CSA is an epidemic and it could happen to you and/or your kids if you remain in the dark. This book was intended to turn on the light. All humans are precious and redemption is possible for everyone.

Victims are created from the ashes of neglect, dis-empowerment, and ignorance. Survivors are created by courage and faith.

Fishfly Cover Survivor
Fishfly Cover

Yeah, to be honest, I’m more than a little sad that more people haven’t read my book on the subject, The Fishfly. I didn’t really have it in me to get rejected by a hundred publishers until I stumbled on The One. So I self-published. And it is available in paperback for $10, signed and dedicated by the author.

You can also join my group on FB, which is where I focus my CSA survivor/prevention advocacy.

I just think now, more than ever, this story and others like it, need to be told, so we might have a deeper empathy for the other. I think you will enjoy the sardonic humor and spiraling pace.

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