© 2018 by Kate Ryan.

What happened to me was way back in '79. 

It's actually two-fold. 

 

I lived in Massachusetts.

A friend of mine—that I thought was my friend—he was a year older than me.

He attacked me one day when I was at his house. 

I had no clue what he was doing. 

 

I think it set the tone for how I became.

I kind of withdrew.

We moved not long after to Phoenix. 

I really didn't have any friends. 

I was 12, which is really a tough age to begin with to move.

 

I got a job as a paperboy.

And I got lured by a classic pedophile into his apartment. 

 

*

 

I don't know if you know John Wayne Gasy?

He kind of used those kind of tactics. 

He wasn't violent like that—Gasy murdered all these boys. 

But he used those same kind of tactics. 

He set me up with a better job to make more money.

He would buy me stuff. 

He made you feel like he was your buddy, you know?

He introduced me to drugs.

 

And then he got himself between me and the door. 

And he pulled his stuff.

And I just froze. 

I was very confused.

 

This went on for about three months, I would say.

 

Then one night he got really aggressive.

He was trying to force me to do things. 

And I got really scared.   

After that I wouldn't see him.

 

And he apparently took off to California. 

I tried to live my life like a normal kid, which was impossible. 

It was absolutely impossible. 

 

I was raised Catholic.

I got super ultra-religious.

I thought I had done something wrong, that I had to atone. 

 

*

 

I met a girl who was four years older than me.

She had all the control. 

Any sort of radar that I had for screwed up people was completely out the window. 

 

During the relationship with this girl, the pedophile got arrested. 

For having stolen property or something. 

The DA's office knew who I was, because they were surveillancing him.

They said they knew of 80 or 90 different victims of this guy.

 

I went to the court.

He saw me there and he probably figured, “Well, I'd better plead guilty, because otherwise these other charges are going to come up against me.”

So he pled and he went to jail. 

 

*

 

I thought, “Ok, I can go on with my life. He went to jail.”

The relationship with the girl fell apart obviously.

Thank god. 

I got more heavily into drugs. 

I got sick physically. 

I had a tumor in my back. 

 

I always relate to that Woody Allen line where he says, "I can't feel anger.  I grow a tumor instead." 

That was truth for me. 

I couldn't really feel. 

Mostly I smoked pot. 

 

I started recovering from that when I was 19. 

But I had to keep smoking pot. 

My addiction went through the roof. 

He got out of jail on parole. 

And, go figure, two times I saw him. 

One time in the street in the car next to me. 

He's waving to me like, "Hey!" 

Like I'm his best friend.

The other time, I go into a Radio Shack with a radio—I was trying to get it fixed.

And I walked up directly to him. 

I didn't know it was him. 

He said "Can't really help you with that." 

So I said, “Alright, no problem.” 

I leave, and I hear the door close behind me. 

And he calls my name.

And he's like, "I'm so glad to see you!”

And I'm like, “Yeah, I gotta go.” 

 

*

 

He started molesting other boys. 

14-year-old boys, 13-year-old boys.

 

By this time, I'm 23.

I got my girlfriend.

I'm smoking so much pot it's unbelievable.

I just got my associate's degree, so I’m feeling pretty good about that. 

 

We get home to Phoenix and there was a message.

I was the DA's office. 

The way that I remember it, they knew of me from the surveillance.

They were watching these kids like a revolving door coming in and out of this guy's apartment. 

 

And they're like, “The guy got caught doing what he was doing with three different victims. 

Can you come and talk to us?” 

And I'm like, “He went to jail.  This has nothing to do with me.

So why do you need me to testify?”

“Well, it's because they want to show the pattern of behavior.”

So I said, “Ok, I can do that.  But you need to know that I'm an addict.” 

And he's like, “Just make sure you don't smoke pot when you come.” 

So I'm shaking my head, but I just knew inside that wasn't possible. 

 

It was walking to my car from the DA's office. 

I had this total understanding or awareness.

I understood why I had been using and I couldn't stop using all those years. 

I was trying to kill the pain of what happened to me because of him. 

 

*

 

I testified against him. 

He went to jail for like 120 years. 

He got 40 years per kid.

And he died in prison.

I had PTSD.

I had dissociative problems. 

It was like I had to learn how to feel again. 

 

Thank God a buddy of mine just got clean a couple of months before me. 

His mom was in AA 16 years. 

I asked her to sponsor me.

She was like another mom.   

I started going to meetings. 

And I haven't smoked pot or drank ever since. 

It'll be 30 years in July.

 

In a lot of ways, the AA program really helped me in dealing with the sexual abuse. 

But it's hard at the same time, because people don't want to hear that shit. 

They want to hear about drinking and doing drugs and all that. 

It's hard for me.

It's so intertwined with why I got high that I have to share it. 

The typical response is, "That doesn't belong here. 

That should be somewhere else or outside the meeting." 

It doesn't really stop me, but I have to work my way up to say something.

 

*

 

It took a long time when I started recovering to understand who was appropriate and who wasn't appropriate. 

That took a long time. 

Like how sharks have sonar or radar.

You have to just kind of know. 

You have to have a 6th sense about other people that feel right.

 

I met a girl, married her. 

It didn't work out with her.

I became friends with a woman I worked with. 

She was married, and I was married. 

We were just friends. 

And then I got divorced.

And her story's like a whole other epic saga. 

But that ended. 

And then we ended up together. 

And we have a 15-year-old daughter who we adopted. 

The hardest part of recovery from sexual abuse—at least for me, and I don't think I'm alone—is that there's no end to it. 

The first time the guy went to jail, I figured it was all done. 

I still was like that even after I got sober for several years. 

I figured, “If I do what they tell me to do, if I do the 12 steps, I'll get all better.” 

But it just doesn't work that way. 

 

About 5 years ago, I realized that I was really dealing with a lot of anxiety and panic. 

It could be as little as the car breaking down or a client is not happy with the job that we did.

I go into panic, and it's like I can't catch my breath.

 

And I was doing that for years. 

I was sober.

I was like "I'm a regular guy now." 

I walk and talk and I look like a regular guy to everyone else on the street.

But I'm really not. 

On a feelings level, I feel like I'm apart.

 

I read something that Kurt Cobain said one time. 

When he was a boy, like 5-6 years old, he literally thought he was an alien that was dropped on earth and then these humans took him in. 

And I totally identify with that, not so much when I was a kid.

I feel like that more now sometimes. 

I don't fit, you know?

 

*

 

It still wields its ugly head in the form of triggers. 

It's mostly in the news, when you see people that are raped, and it affects you. 

But sometimes I can be watching a movie. 

I'll think of little things from a movie, and it will bring me back to those kinds of moments. 

Usually memories that I don't think about. 

I can't even tell you what happened. 

I can't even tell myself what happened. 

 

I have an ex-neighbor who as a Vietnam vet. 

He says that he remembers two things from Vietnam: the day that he went in and the day that he left. 

The stuff that he must have seen. 

But he doesn't remember anything. 

Some people say, “Well, that's good.” 

But he doesn't think that way. 

 

Sometimes I don't want to remember the things that happened. 

But then at the same time I have to feel. 

 

I had to learn how to breathe.

I had to learn how to meditate. 

I do a constant meditation every day.

Doing it once a day isn't enough for me. 

I don't know if it's the addict in me. 

 

I started boxing in my mid-forties. 

I broke a collarbone, and I wanted to rehab it.

I was fighting competitively for a while.

I still spar all the time with guys. 

And I'm 53. 

Things that I missed out on came back.

 

*

 

To see everything happening with #MeToo right now, it's almost like a prayer come true.

And then on the other hand it's hard.

Because you see how many people are affected and how much more needs to be done.

I've been just kind of watching it from afar, kind of observing. 

 

The thing about #MeToo—they're in for years of recovery. 

Decades. 

It feels really good to confront your attackers.

It does. 

I had to testify in court. 

So I had to deal with it. 

The thing about it is it doesn't just go away. 

They're going to have to deal with how they are and, “What now?”

Afterwards. 

 

*

 

It's part of my life. 

Any time I can be there for others, I make myself available.

It's got to be similar to how war veterans feel and want to be there for each other. 

You want that.

 

I also want the public, in general, to understand it and not ask, "Well, what did you do?" 

There's so much that people can learn and stop asking questions that make you feel you had something to do with it.

Because it's just not like that.

 

A gun is probably the most overt type of violence.

But, to me, sexual violence is probably the most covert.

People don't understand.

An act that's supposed to be pleasurable…

It's hard for people to see what it really is. 

-Andrew