The "R" word?? Hate it. I've been in therapy for two years and it was one of the most difficult obstacles to overcome. I preferred "assault". It didn't sound as harsh.

Th "R" word couldn't apply to me. That word was reserved for a woman, or maybe for someone weaker. I was never weak, always strong, or at least I thought I was. At least physically. Turns out that being strong didn't mean macho, or any of that. I was the weak one for not admitting to myself what happened.

For too long I also shut down. I distanced myself from everybody, at least emotionally. On the outside I was a friendly, happy, athletic guy. Inside was a mess. I shut down emotions, true colors, hurt feelings, and all that. I could talk weather, politics, sports, and any other safe topic. But I could never talk about the way I felt about anything. And I could certainly never talk about me. And it all goes back to the assault, the "R" word.

I think as adults, we somehow feel much more responsible for what happened to us. If we are assaulted as children (and unfortunately I had that happen too), there is a certain degree of innocence we have, and there is so much more out of our control. As an adult I felt more at fault for what happened than I did as a child.

I remember my teachers, coaches, all adults drilling into my head that, "You are responsible for everything you do." "You are accountable for all your actions." And so when I was assaulted, what did I think? Who was responsible? ME. And it took me a long time, and a lot of hurt feelings and wasted withdrawals from my real self to figure it out.

No, it wasn't my fault. I am responsible for the things I do, but not for the things done TO ME. Once you get that, the road gets a little easier. Never, ever blame yourself.