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What Sharing My Childhood Rape Taught Me About Being a Loving, Vulnerable, Free Man

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familyI was 5 years old when he raped me.

The only other memories I had before that vivid experience was my first day at Kindergarden where I colored in an outline of Clifford The Big Red Dog.

The other was taking brownies to pre school for classmates on my birthday.

However, what I experienced after one school day with the teenage son of my babysitter, I may never forget.

I don’t have any other memories before this of my older brother Chris playing his violin, my dad throwing me in the air, or my mom holding me as I cry to sleep.

This picture with my two inspiring and compassionate older sisters Katherine and Heidi, is not a memory either.

I wish I remembered that moment.

Then 2 or 3 years old.  Long flowing golden locks and a smile as wide as the ocean.  Trusting everything and everyone with my huge open heart.

I loved people.

All I ever wanted was people and the world to love me back.

For 25 years I lived in anger, resentment and defensiveness.

And it showed up big time, especially in sports.

No one knew what happened or why I was that way because I was so ashamed of it and though if anyone knew they wouldn’t love me.

To say I felt lonely growing up would be an understatement.  There were many days I told people I wish I were dead due to the shame I felt.

I never understood why this would happen to me, an innocent child who just wanted to love everyone.

Why would someone take this innocence and abuse it emotionally and physically?

It wasn’t until 25 years after that day I started to open up about it.

Facing it was one of the most uncomfortable and emotionally challenging moments I’ve ever had… but it changed my life forever.

In this episode I dive into what happened, the weight I carried for so long and the lessons I learned along the way.

##

I’m so grateful for every experience in my life, including this one, for the lessons it has taught me.  I want to thank my dear friend Jonathan Fields for guiding me during this interview and creating a space for me to share so openly.  You are a generous soul and a healer of hearts.

My friend Chris Lee, who created the opportunity for me to face this in the first place.  Thank you for the dedicated work you continue to do.  You and your humble service are a gift to this world.

Glennon Melton.  You are a graceful angel.  Thank you for your encouragement to share this openly and freely.

My family and close friends I shared this with personally.  Your tender love and acceptance when I finally shared with you allowed me to feel safe again with my child like innocence.  You mean the world to me.

I want the comments section below to be a safe place for you to share openly and free of judgment.  Do you know someone who has experienced sexual abuse or have you experienced this yourself?  What have you done to go through a healing process?  Or are you still holding onto something that isn’t serving you?

I’m here to listen, love and accept you no matter what. If you prefer to share anonymously or message me privately I’m here as well.

I don’t claim to be an expert in this matter, but I do know it’s worth a lot to share your experience with someone to allow healing to occur.  There is also a great charity that has a free support line to do this as well at RAINN.org along with other information and statistics on rape and sexual abuse (as it’s way more common than you think).  And one that is just for men at 1in6.org.

I also recommend listening to Dr. Guy Winch and his talk about healing emotional injuries.

Thank you for allowing me to share publicly with you my story.  I’m so grateful even if you took a moment to read any part of this post.

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167 comments
Gloria Beckford
Gloria Beckford

Thanks for shearing Lewis, I know you had to dig deep inside to bring that to the surface...

JuliaSkinner
JuliaSkinner

This has been sitting on my list for while and I happened to listen to it the day my Mum disowned me and my sister on FB. It gave me a little reality check and kept me out of the abyss :) I think it is important to share these stories to give other the space to do so, you are very brave, thank you for sharing.

yjones2319
yjones2319

I did confirm that you were a real life person, Lewis Howes.  I am apologizing for doubting Livefyre but I had to confirm that you were real.  It was terribly difficult to share this on the internet for everyone to read.  It is comforting to me that no one knows me personally.  I have to get my act together on get on with my life now.  My past in in the past and my future is going to be better than I ever imagined.  I just feel inspired and so undeniably humble at this moment.  I just can't explain to you what this feels like for me.  Again, I am rambling.  Just simply Thanks.  I have to accomplish my goals and turn my dreams into reality so you may not hear from me for a little while. Wow, I know what the name of your company means now? I get it.  Live Free!!!   Livefyre!!!  See ya around Lewis. 


yjones2319
yjones2319

Lewis, I just think you are the most generous open person I know.  I have never met anyone like you. I just respect you so much!  Thank you Lewis! By the way, you may or may not find this in some way fate that you and I met but one of my Uncle's name is Louis.  He just spells it differently than you do.  I like you Lewis.  I just really like you!!! I am so humbled by your generosity and just thank you for giving me so much.  You did not have to do anything that you did and by giving me access to Livefrye is just one of the nicest things you could do.  I don't know what else to say except... You are making a difference in my life and I am just so overwhelmed with your awesomeness!!!!! 

mbryan12
mbryan12

Your bravery in sharing this painful episode in your life is a part of taking your power back while allowing others to open up and address their own pain of abuse in all form. Thank you for being transparent and loving others so much that you are willing to let us in. If only this type of thing did not exist in our world and wouldn't happen to any child, but sadly it does. My prayers, thoughts of healing, love and peace to you and all of us that have gone down this very painful journey. Namaste and God Bless.

zurinayeem
zurinayeem

Thank you so much for sharing your story, Lewis. I was so moved and in tears when I listened to this podcast.


You inspired me to address my own story of being sexually assaulted in undergrad. I didn't tell anyone because I assumed no one would believe me at all back then (and the few people I did tell didn't believe me at all).


I feel a lot stronger knowing that I'm starting the process of healing and I wanted to thank you for sharing your story and oddly enough, giving me the strength to share and heal from my own assault.

KristyLabardee
KristyLabardee

Lewis, thank you so much for sharing your story. As a therapist, I have worked with so many adolescent and adult males who have experienced sexual abuse. They feel so alone in their lives and have little to no support available to them because of their fear of sharing their experience. I know how difficult this must have been for you to share, but I hope you know how many lives you will be healing by opening up. I truly thank you. 

pasian1994
pasian1994

Lewis, 

Thank you for sharing the story of your childhood rap, but more importantly for exposing a deep part of yourself that you were so ashamed of. I am not a victim of rape, nor do i know anyone who is, but i understand what it is like carrying a secret that makes you feel weak. My secret is that i am an overeater. It is a habit that i have been battling with for 5 years, and i am desperate to stop. I wish it was as easy as "just stop eating". But to me it is about so much then the food. It is about my feelings and coping with them with food. Before i began overeating i was anorexic, then bulimic. I am 19 years old, and the hatred for my body started when i was 12. I am not over weight, which makes me even more embarrassed that i have a binge eating problem that i can not controll. No one knows, and i am too ashamed to tell anyone, because it makes me feel weak and disgusting. Even though i do not have the courage to tell anyone yet, i am trying my best to handle my problem by listening to your podcast, and trying different techniques such as journalling. Thank you for encouraging your followers to share their secrets like you have shared your. maybe this is the first step...who knows. 

SusanJayne
SusanJayne

Thank you so much  for sharing this and I truly hope you read this comment.  Almost a year ago May 17 my oldest Nephew died of a heroin overdose.  He had recently revealed his father had repeatedly raped him from 10 to 16.  He in turn raped his younger brother.  He also became an addict but has been in rehab for 6 months.  If we'd only known .... this will help me with my younger nephew.

vsalley
vsalley

Very poignant statement “people think they know you”

Lewis you are healing so many little boys and girls that do not have a voice.  Thank you for sharing these emotions with us your audience.

You are this warm, kind & loving person and it is an image that kids who have dealt with this (who are dealing with this) need to see.  Opening up frees you - heals you and allows you to help heal others.


Patti Fish
Patti Fish

Your courage is beautiful and inspiring. A shining example of humanity at its best. A heartfelt thank you.

crystalclear
crystalclear

Your honesty and your willingness to open and share your experience has moved me to acknowledge and perhaps open up and learn to deal with the emotional scars that I have developed from a gang rape over 30 years ago by friends no less! This has been deeply buried in my subconscious for 20 of those years but have been ashamed and afraid to dwell on it.  No matter how long ago it was, it is still an emotional trauma that deeply affects my present state. Your healing gives me confidence that I too can travel the road to recovery.  

Thank you for your strength and your willingness to share such a personal experience.

brian198
brian198

Lewis,

 I understand the process. I went through it just a few years ago. I have since written a book about my childhood. Also I am in a documentary about surviving childhood abuse and sexual assault.. I would like to let you know that if at anytime you need to talk about our adopted pasts my email is always open to you. Please know that I understand the fears and sometimes panic about revealing this inner most secret.

TM Brian Cardoza

OVC Consultant and R.A.I.N.N. speaker

briancardoza198@hotmail.com

SocialSavvyGeek
SocialSavvyGeek

You're very brave to share publicly. Unfortunately, rape is much more common than people know and there is a resistance to talking about it because many people take the side of the perpetrator and want the victim to just shut up about it; it's not a comfortable topic for friends and family on either side of the event(s). I am not ashamed of what happened and have no problem discussing it if the topic is raised, but I don't often bring it up. 

I am the survivor of repeated childhood rape perpetrated by my teenage babysitter, whose family was very close to ours, and occasionally also by a specific one of his friends. It went on for about  5 years before anyone caught on. I didn't tell for two reasons: 1. I was given a choice - me (age 5 when it started) or my younger sister. I chose me every single time. Then I was convinced that I chose it and allowed it, so I was therefore just as guilty as he. and 2. He threatened to kill my entire family while they slept, including the family pets, if I told anyone. I didn't even consider telling. My parents were wonderful and loved me very much, but since I was a very happy child and completely ignored this situation whenever it wasn't actively occurring, they had absolutely no idea. The worst part is that I know it wasn't just me. He got to nearly every one of my age-mates in the neighborhood. 

Want to guess what happened when he was found out? He got grounded for a month and lost his stereo privileges. I'm still best friends with his sister and another friend from that neighborhood, both of whom were also victimized, but we never speak of that. Honestly, it's seldom on my mind. I think of it now because the topic was raised, but I have long since moved on with my life. Once I was old enough to recognize that none of what happened was in any way my fault... I let it go. The only thing that I would have to say to him face to face, should we meet in the future is "I forgive you," not for his sake, but for mine. 

The experience helped to shape my view of the world and in some ways that will always be with me. For example, I never, ever allow male baby-sitters for my daughter and that may not be "fair," but based on my past I feel that I am justified in my decision and I am comfortable with it. I also speak up immediately if something doesn't sit right with me, as an adult, and I have a confidence in myself grew out how I handled myself as a child. It may not have been the "right" way to do things, but I saved my sister from a monster and to this day I am glad.

JulieFriend
JulieFriend

Lewis, I wish I could turn back time and save that little boy, as well as saving all of the little boys and girls who continue to suffer similar atrocities today. I suffered abuse and witnessed abuse by a stepmother to my siblings as well. Your words, your generous, light filled soul are the path to healing self and countless others. I salute you, I cried for you, and I know you will make a difference in this world and turn the suffering to shared wisdom. I admire you and thank you for sharing.

Julie

Chris_Richter
Chris_Richter

You a true leader man.  I have 2 people close to me that experienced the same, one has worked through it and one hasn't. I personally had a church figure attempt some similar things with me after working his way into our family, very dark, but I was old enough to avoid the situation and turn him in to prevent him hurting younger people. Sharing that story is a massive contribution of hope to so many hearts, thank you.

Josephsensei
Josephsensei

Thanks for your courage, Lewis. It wasn't until I was 42 that I was finally able to talk about my molestation in the Seattle Public Library and my multiple molestations at home.

Joseph :)

JavierCarpio
JavierCarpio

What´s my definition of greatness? With no doubts Greatness = Lewis Howes. 


You are a human being admired by many, not only because of how successful you are in the business arena but mainly because of what you have done --and continue doing-- for other human beings. I am sure this was a very painful experience on your side, I cannot imagine, ... but be sure that your courage to share it openly will enlighten many souls and let them know that there is still a good life after experiences like this one. 


Lots of blessings Lewis, you have a great soul ... please keep showing us what it means to be great.


Javier

melis_wilson
melis_wilson

Lewis, my heart broke for you when I heard this. I was a victim of bullying when I was young and it has shaped me into the person I am today. I believe that all survivors of traumatic experiences share common long-term effects. As I was listening to you talk about how you felt as a result of what happened and how it affected you, I found myself knowing exactly what you were talking about. I experienced shame from what I went through and it took me a long time to tell anyone about the bullying. I lost my trust in everyone and became very angry which made me very defensive and reactive in other situations. I'm about your age now and it's taken me all this time to get to a place where I feel like I have a handle on what happened to me rather than it having a handle on me. I just created a website to help other victims of bullying who are still dealing with the effects of it later in life. I find myself feeling obligated to help those who are going through what I went through and my guess is that you've been using your podcast to help others become their best self because of what you went through. Looking back I think this is why your podcast has resonated with me so much. I can't thank you enough for what you do and for how sorry I am for what happened to you.  


Keep inspiring others to be great!


Melissa

yjones2319
yjones2319

I want and need so much more information and definitely sharing does give me a sense of freedom.   Thank you Livefrye for giving me access to a whole bunch of information that I know is going to change my life forever.  Happy Easter to you and your family. 

yjones2319
yjones2319

I don't know Lewis, this is so overwhelming to vocalize... need some time to let it sink in... Thanks for sharing going take a couple of days to marinate on all of it... The pain and suffering that was inflicted on someone that I love so much it is hard to absorb all of this right now... Difficult... I am trying.


kylemauch
kylemauch

Lewis, wow... such a courageous story to share. I've always had a very high level of respect for you as you're somebody I look up to greatly... but this is an act of courage that is so sensitive, so tough, but can be so life changing for I'm sure yourself, but also many many others. This is something that unless you've been there, I believe that it is probably something nobody else can ever truly understand what it's like to deal with. 


Sharing your story will hopefully help others gain the confidence to stand up to their abusers and let people know so that something can be done. With your following and influence, you can truly make a massive difference in helping others who face similar situations stand up and take action. I hope you don't stop with this podcast, but become somewhat of an activist in taking a stance against sexual abuse to help people feel less alone. People need a voice like yours that they can relate with and trust. Great job Lewis. You continue to inspire both the uninspired and the inspired.

Rick59
Rick59

Lewis, I listen to your podcast religiously.  This was simply amazing.  I work in a faith-based organization that has had more than its share of destroyed lives due to predators making their way in the front door.  We work daily to prevent it from ever happening again.  Unfortunately, we have to deal with the people who were violated - sometimes 30 years ago.  My board sometimes gets frustrated in not knowing what to do, how to respond or how to help.  I am sending this link to each member and I will BEG for them to listen to your story.  I know healing ultimately has to come from within, but there IS SO MUCH we can do to help when a victim reaches out with their story.  Thank you so much for sharing.  I am so very sorry this happened to you.  Thank you though for using this horrible event as a stepping stone to "greatness."  You are my hero!

jaa1982
jaa1982

This was amazing, so brave. I had a similar set of experiences when I was 7 with a neighbor, I buried the memories for 24 years. Only recently have I started to address it in therapy, after a complete emotional breakdown from carrying this for so long. Shame has been deep, and affected relationships in much the same way you describe...for me, I've just been emotionally unavailable past a certain point. Girlfriends have asked me why, and I never had an answer. I've been successful in life/business but always felt empty. Therapy has helped, EMDR more so, the bravery you've shown in this episode was like a gift from God. Thank you Lewis

MalDuane
MalDuane

By facing your past experience and be able to reveal so openly the pain it caused you has given you your freedom to live with such power and passion today!!

Matt Gough
Matt Gough

Thank you. It took me a long time to start talking too but with people like you speaking out, more people will step forward to get help sooner. You've let a lot of people know they aren't alone.

yjones2319
yjones2319

Yeah, I am sorry that my mom went through this and my little sister too.  I am so overwhelmed with talking to you about this.  I just am so sorry for anyone that has had to live on and experience this through no fault of their own.  I use to be so angry at God but now I have to forgive because it is the only way for me to move on with my life.  Thank you for opening up to me and I am deepened saddened by your experience as well.  The best thing you ever did was have "Hope"  Hope that you will heal and hope that you can love and receive love.  It is hard but you know what when I just accept the things that I had no control over it makes it easier.  The truly bad thing is that just this year I had to pull back from my mom because I could not be around to help her anymore... Hey "love you man" for just putting it out there... Take care of yourself and always be true to you and that little boy who should had never gone through this in the first place... It is all good in my neighborhood... Be Safe and Wise. 

nooneandeveryone
nooneandeveryone

An uncle of mine touched me inappropriately. He didn't get very far. Somehow I was able to say no. He wasn't trying to rape me. He was touching me, cajoling me and bribing me with candy to let do things. He didn't get very far. But sometimes because of this I felt people in my family didn't take it seriously. That and because this uncle was 'slow' because of being hit with polio as a child. I don't think that is an excuse. He knew it was wrong or else why was he asking me to hide it? Also, it gave me flashbacks. I started remembering other things, other times. He had tried before. He had open mouth kissed me. But I was so young I thought it was all a game. It wasn't until I understood and said no that I realized this. That he had tried before. And you know what? I still think people in my family don't take it seriously. I remember when I reacted once, I was basically told not to overdue it, in a way. Like, yeah, it wasn't great but come on, it wasn't that bad. I felt so invalidated. 


Ugh. I hate this subject. I am glad I was able to say no and tell someone and he didn't get as far as he wanted. It still haunts me sometimes. I can't be near him.


I am so sorry you went through what you went through.

yjones2319
yjones2319

My mother was raped, my little sister was sexually abused, another good friend of my was raped and another friend of mine was sexually abused. I know what it is like to be the oldest daughter of a mother who was forever damaged and broken. My mother has never gotten of the day she was raped and I just suffered so much because of what another person did to her. Thank you for sharing this personal story.

Hermes132
Hermes132

I share a similar perceived identity, "jock/tough/straight/badass" etc. A few years ago I got blackout drunk and came to as a guy was taking advantage of me in a vulgar way. I have nothing but love for homosexuals and all living things in general, but this is something I was %100 not interested in trying. I remember the feeling like it was yesterday. Smothered with shame, questioning my sexuality, feeling as if it was my plan, playing mind games saying my subconscious probably wanted it, knowing that I couldn't share this secret in any relationship that I had/have. I felt like a ghost that day, like somebody had altered my identity against my will. I've been pushing the experience to the depths of my consciousness for a few years now. But your open conversation helped me reframe/rehash it. I now empathize on a deep level with homosexuals in their war against the prison, the very stigma I fear, can put them in. I want to say thank you for helping me look on this experience in a different light. To help me help myself not use this experience as a defining factor or against myself. Your vulnerability is beast mode. May our perceptions expand beyond the smallness of our fearfully conditioned minds.

NikolettToth
NikolettToth

Thank you so much for sharing your story. It truly resembles vulnerability and it is extremely inspiring and moving.

Keep sharing! 


Michelle Phillips Fay
Michelle Phillips Fay

Peace be with you. I thought I knew what strength looked like, but today you've given it a new face. Be well. Live happy. Fly free.

Ames216
Ames216

Thank you for sharing your story. My husband was repeatedly raped as a second grader by a teenage neighbor. Listening to your story, really helped me better understand him.

Anna Eggleston
Anna Eggleston

i love how you can inspire and encourage those that have been through hell...........realize they can grow, learn and thrive beyond the evil. blessings.

yjones2319
yjones2319

@brian198  


Lewis, I was wondering if I would be able to email Brian? I heard him speak and I like what he had to say.  May anyone email Brian Cardoza or was the above email information just for you Lewis? 

LewisHowes
LewisHowes moderator

@brian198  thanks so much Brian I appreciate you for sharing and for the work you are doing to support others who have had similar experiences! 

conniesowens
conniesowens

@JulieFriend  RAINN is sharing APRIL is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, there are ways we can support each other and help to educate others the signs and symptoms of abuse.  Sadly it is generational, we pass it on to our children.  I pray all of us take our experience and learn to share it with others.  Blessings. 

DoniaLilly
DoniaLilly

I'd like to clearly state that I believe we need to help others who can't help themselves, and if more people knew exactly what rape and abuse IS (because amazingly, most people in our country don't, or we wouldn't have cases like Cherise Morales, Steubenville, and Dartmouth!) then it would be happening less and less.

LewisHowes
LewisHowes moderator

@Rick59  thank you Rick, and thanks for sharing this with those who can use the support! 

LewisHowes
LewisHowes moderator

@jaa1982  I'm happy to hear you have been opening up and starting to heal this.. allow yourself to feel whatever it is you wish to feel as it's a process that may be painful at times (at least from my experience).

LewisHowes
LewisHowes moderator

@nooneandeveryone  thank you for sharing, the more we bring this forth the better chance we have of educating people so it doesn't happen in the future.

LewisHowes
LewisHowes moderator

@Ames216  give him your non judgmental love... he will feel safe when you do.

brian198
brian198

@LewisHowes @brian198 There are many challenges that are always in front of us as humans we just have a few more. So much of what we went through was because someone else took our choices from us. We do have a choice though and that choice is how we handle it. I have chosen to speak publicly and written and  movie and every time I open my mouth I fear someone in the crowd heckling me or not believing me. So believe I know that tension you may be going through the first time is hard. But Lewis think of it this way talking about it is like getting rid of the anger one word at a time. I liken it to kind of like losing a pinky finger you  know that you would be fine without it but just imagine a life without it. I hope your podcast continues to produce your ability to heal. Anytime you need to talk with a stranger who knows what you have gone through don't hesitate.

TM Brian Cardoza

OVC Consultant R.A.I.N.N speaker

Trackbacks

  1. […] Howes made a huge step when he wrote about being raped as a child. It must have been an enormous work to digest and […]

  2. […] Howes made a huge step when he wrote about being raped as a child. It must have been an enormous work to digest and […]

  3. […] a long process. I finally told my parents just a few months ago. Thank you Lewis Howes for opening up and being authentic. You’ve inspired me to write this, and I hope many more men […]

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