Hey everybody, welcome back to The School of Greatness!
Today, I will be sharing the story of how I was sexually abused as a child and how I’ve healed from this trauma. When I first shared my story on the show, my hope was to not only experience freedom for myself but also create a safe space for other people. However, I know that this subject matter is extremely sensitive and challenging.
Five years ago, I made my first post opening up about my childhood sexual abuse. It was the best thing I could have done. My life became so much better when I started to share my shame. I was able to sleep through the night, I connected to other people, and I was able to give and receive love.
If you’re interested in hearing my story in a little more detail, I’d encourage you to check out Episode #61. In that episode, my good friend Jonathan Fields facilitates the discussion as I share exactly what happened to me and my journey to healing.
Now, I want to help other people experience the same feeling of light, peace, and power that I did when I opened up about my rape.
Today’s episode is more about the effects of trauma. Growing up, my experience affected many aspects of my life. It influenced my relationships, and it created this anger inside me that built up for years before eventually exploding. This episode is about how I healed from that experience, and how you can heal too.
Recently I saw the documentary Leaving Neverland, which tells the stories of some of the boys who were sexually abused by Michael Jackson. It’s heartbreaking, controversial, and relatable for me. Those men talked about how they were manipulated into things they didn’t know were wrong, and about how they kept their abuse a secret for many years.
I didn’t start sharing my story for 25 years, and it was a long 25 years. I remember having nightmares every night and not fully understanding where they came from. As they say, “You are as sick as your secrets.”
In this post, I’m going to focus on my life since I was assaulted. I’ll briefly retell the story of how I was abused, but then I’m going to share how it affected me growing up — I became very reactive and even violent without really understanding why. I’m also going to talk about my experience of telling my story — first with a group at a workshop, then with my family, later with my friends, and finally with the world here on the show.
But if you take away one thing from this episode, I hope it’s this: You can take your power back. Even if you’ve been abused, you don’t have to live in guilt or shame. You can heal from your trauma and live a life of peace, love, and joy. And you can even start today.
One in four women have faced sexual abuse in some way, and that statistic only changes to one in six for men. Too many people are victims of sexual abuse, but we can heal. We don’t have to stay victims. We don’t have to stay afraid. We can set ourselves free. I hope that this episode encourages you and empowers you to do just that.
Before we get into how I healed from trauma, I want to take a moment and share again the story of what happened to me:
I was a happy kid. I grew up as the youngest of four, and I loved my big brother and sisters. I have two happy memories from when I was really little: I remember my first day of kindergarten, when I colored in an outline of Clifford the Big Red Dog, and I remember taking brownies to preschool to share with my classmates for my birthday.
I don’t have any other memories from before. I don’t remember my brother, Chris, playing his violin, my dad throwing me in the air, or my mom holding me as I cried to sleep. I do have one picture of me with my two inspiring and compassionate older sisters, Katherine and Heidi, but I have no memory of it. I wish I could remember more of those things.
I was five years old when he sexually abused me. What I experienced after one school day with the teenage son of my babysitter, I may never forget.
Even when it happened, I didn’t feel like I was attacked or like someone pinned me down and did something horrible against my will. My abuser manipulated me — that’s why I didn’t realize the full impact of what he’d done until I was older. But once I realized what had happened, it started to affect everything.
It was particularly difficult for me as a straight man. My first sexual experience was with a man at five years old, but my first experience with a woman was when I was 13 (it was my first kiss). I remember feeling confused and experiencing different challenges because my abuse shaped the way I thought and my desires.
I was also extremely angry and reactive. I remember in the documentary, Leaving Neverland, a lot of the men talked about how they were depressed for most of their lives, and that truly resonated with me. I remember feeling like I was a fun-loving guy, but I would have moments of deep depression and anger. That reactiveness showed up a lot in sports, and there was one particular day where I got violent with another guy that forced me to turn things around.
To give you some quick background: My life was going well on the outside. I was making a lot of money, building my business, and my dreams were coming true. But on the inside, I just didn’t feel happy or fulfilled. I couldn’t seem to feel a true sense of love for myself, and I didn’t feel like I could truly love another person, no matter how much I wanted to.
At the same time, I often reacted in anger. Any time anything happened that wasn’t exactly the way I wanted it to, I took it as a personal attack. If someone cut me off on the street, it was a personal attack against me and my identity. If someone disagreed with me, it was a personal attack on my knowledge and insights. And if someone beat me in a sports game, it was a personal attack on my athletic abilities.
Because I was under all that emotional stress all the time, I played a lot of pickup basketball because that’s what men do when we’re stressed — we play sports to get our frustration out. But on one particular day, I was really looking for a fight. I remember walking on the court as I imagine someone might walk through a bar — chest sticking out, intentionally bumping into people just so I could say, “What are you gonna do about it?” My mentality was, “How can I pick a fight without hitting someone so that I get off the hook if they hit me?”
On this day, I was playing a game of pickup basketball, and an older guy was guarding me. Things got heated, and it was a pretty physical game, and the guy got mad that I’d fouled him too hard. Maybe I had and maybe I hadn’t, but he head-butted me, and at that moment, all of my anger, rage, and frustration exploded out of me. I lost sight of what I was doing and just unleashed all my pent-up fury on that guy.
Thankfully, nobody ended up with anything worse than a few cuts and bruises, but even I was taken aback by what I’d done. And then my friend came up to me and said something I’ll never forget: He said, “Lewis, I don’t really want to hang out with you anymore. I really don’t like your behavior. I don’t like your attitude. I don’t like how you’re acting, and I don’t want to be around you if this is how you’re going to be.”
Ouch. I knew he was right — I definitely had some things to work through.
For the next couple of weeks, I went into a depression. I didn’t want to talk to anyone. I was trying to get out of my relationship with my girlfriend at the time. I didn’t want to see anyone. I was ashamed of myself for that fight, so I shut myself in my room, binged 80 episodes of Weeds, and refused to go outside or interact with people.
But eventually my friend Matt said, “You got to pick yourself up, man. You got to change, you got to see what’s happening inside your heart and really figure this out.” So I started doing just about everything I could think of. I started seeing a therapist, journaling, and reading more books. I went to Tony Robbins events and to other people’s workshops, and eventually, at a workshop led by my friend, Chris Lee, I had a breakthrough.
The workshop lasted for five days in L.A., and during one of the sessions, Chris opened the floor for anyone to share an emotion or experience they felt was holding them back. I’d already shared a few things. I’d told the group about how my parents’ divorce had affected me and about my brother getting arrested for drugs when I was little. But my heart started pounding anyway.
In my heart, I knew what I needed to do. I knew I had one more secret inside that was eating away at me, and I knew that this was the moment to share it. So, when Chris made a “last call,” I stood up and told all 50 people about how I was abused.
At first, the room went quiet. I remember every detail vividly. As I walked back to my seat in complete silence, I couldn’t make eye contact with anyone there. But when I sat down, I lost all control — I started bawling, more than I had ever done in my life. It was one of those moments where you basically erupt in tears — you can’t control anything, you’re hyperventilating, and basically screaming at the same time. It was like my body was releasing 25 years of trauma and pain in one moment.
But then, the two women sitting on either side of me started crying with me. They weren’t judging me — they wanted to comfort me. They hugged me, and I’ll never forget their kindness.
But after such an emotional moment, I needed some air. I decided to take a walk outside, but then something incredible happened: A few of the men from the workshop came out, looked me in the eyes, and said I was their hero.
I was a little taken aback! I’d been crying harder than I’d ever cried in my life, and here were these adult men expressing admiration and respect. They didn’t think less of me because I’d been vulnerable — they respected me for being willing to share my abuse and show my emotions. All the stereotypes that tell us that men can’t be emotional or vulnerable disappeared, and I truly started to heal.
Here’s the thing: In our society, men are conditioned to believe that it’s not okay to open up. We’re told that we shouldn’t be vulnerable, and we definitely shouldn’t talk about being abused. But as a result, countless men are lifelong victims of emotional, physical, and sexual abuse.
That day, my vulnerability surprised even me. But hearing those men express to me their trust and respect they had for me as a result blew me away. It became a dream of mine to serve other men who have been through this.
It’s been a long, slow process, but ever since that experience at Chris’ leadership workshop, I’ve been sharing my story. At first, I just shared with my family. Every one of them reacted with astounding kindness and love. My sisters and my mom were gentle, accepting, and so, so kind to me. They didn’t judge me, and they never stopped loving me for a moment. They respected me for being vulnerable, and they supported me as I healed.
Then, I slowly began sharing my story with my friends. Each time my lips would quiver, and I would stutter, but every single person was unwavering in their love and support. And finally, five years ago, I did an episode on this podcast where my good friend Jonathan Fields came on the show and facilitated me telling my full story to you all. The next day I woke up with hundreds of emails from men sharing their stories the first time, and that’s when I realized that this is a much bigger issue.
Since then, my life has completely transformed. I even wrote a book called The Mask of Masculinity to help men understand their vulnerability and help women better understand the men in their lives. I’ve even forgiven my abuser and come to a place where I can say I’m grateful for the experience and what it’s taught me.
I no longer tell myself that I’m not good enough. I have finally learned how to receive and celebrate each moment that comes. I’m not perfect, and I still make plenty of mistakes, but I’m finally able to accept myself for everything I am — my past, my experiences, and the man I am today. I set myself free — and you can do the same.
Friend, I’m here today to tell you that fame, money, success, followers, even your health — none of those things mean anything if you don’t have inner peace. If you’re not living a life of peace and freedom, you are still a victim of the abuse and trauma you have experienced. But there is so much hope! You don’t have to live that way.
If you’ve experienced abuse in any way, I want to encourage you to share that with someone you trust. You can reach out to a friend or family member, or, if you feel comfortable, you can even message me on Instagram, @lewishowes. And if you prefer to share your story more anonymously, you can go to 1in6.org, where you can participate in weekly chat-based support groups facilitated by councilors. It’s all anonymous, and they have a 24/7 helpline if you need to talk to someone immediately.
We’ve all gone through traumas. Not all of us experience sexual abuse, but some of us experience physical or emotional abuse or a different form of trauma. But what I’ve learned from my experience is that no matter what challenges we go through, we can make our lives a billion times better by sharing our shame with those we trust.
By telling my story, I took my power back. I forgave myself, I forgave the man who sexually abused me, and I forgave everyone in my past for all the different traumas that I’ve faced. And the more I shared my story, the more healing I experienced. I felt a little better each time I shared my shame with someone new, and ultimately I’ve been able to heal.
I’ve found my inner peace, and I truly believe that you can find yours, too.
I’m so grateful to each and every one of you for listening to my story. I sincerely hope this episode encouraged you and empowered you to set yourself free. If it did, please share it on Instagram. Post a screenshot and tag me, @lewishowes. Remember — you could have a massive impact on someone’s life just by sharing this episode. And if you ever want to reach out to me personally about your story, please know that I’m always here and would be happy to speak with you — email me at the lewishowes.com contact form.
You were born in the image and likeness of love, light, peace, passion, and power. It’s time to take your power back. It’s time to take ownership of your life and everything that’s happened in it. Be the owner of your life, not the victim of your life. No matter what happened in the past and what happens moving forward, when you take ownership in your life, you set yourself free. You get to change the way you see your life, and you get to lead your life from a place of peace, power, and pure love.
Now get out there and do something great!
Lewis: I was 5 years old when he raped me. Now that may sound as a shock to some of you, to know that I was sexually abused. And this entire episode is going to be an episode where I share openly about this experience, about the trauma that it faced. How I learned how to heal from trauma and how all men and women can explore this more, whether this has happened to you or a friend of yours or whether this is happening to someone you don’t even know it’s happening to or happened to. How you can address it and look for the signs for the people you love in your life.
Again, I was 5 years old when he raped me. The only other memories I had before that vivid experience was my first day at kindergarten where I was coloring in an outline of Clifford the big red dog. The other memory that I have was taking brownies to pre-school for classmates on one of my birthdays and what I experienced after one school day with the teenage son of my baby sitter I will never forget. Now, I don’t have any other memories before this of my older brother Chris his violin, my dad throwing me in the air or playing catch with me or my mom holding me as I cry to sleep. I don’t have any other memories and in fact my first sexual experience was with an older man that I didn’t know at 5 years old.
I wish I remember the moments of me playing with my older siblings, I wish I remember the moments where I see a photograph of myself as a young boy with long golden locks and a big smile with huge open heart and loving and playing with everyone. I wish I had those memories but I don’t. You see I love people and I still love people and all I ever wanted to do was have people love me back. And for 25 years I lived in anger, resentment and defensiveness and it showed up big time especially in sports, I was very reactive and I needed to win at all cost, I needed to be right in relationships and other areas of life, and no one knew what happened or why I was that way because I was so ashamed of it. I thought if anyone ever found out about this no one would ever love me. And to say I felt extremely growing up would be an understatement, there were days where I told people I wish I were dead due to the shame that I was feeling and I never understood why this would happened to me. An innocent child who just wanted to love everyone else. Why someone would take this innocent and abused it sexually, emotionally, physically?
And it wasn’t until 25 years after that day that I started opening up about it and facing it was one of the most uncomfortable and emotionally challenging moment I ever had, but it changed my life forever. In this episode I want to talk about what happened and the way I carried for so long and lessons I learned along the way.
Before I dive in I want to thank you. Thank you for listening to this, thank you for being a part of this community whether this is your first episode here on the school of greatness, whether this is your 776. We just crossed a hundred million downloads the other and I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for taking this journey with me, for being a part of this experience with all the people we’ve had to interview the world class leaders, some of the greatest athletes and thinkers and influencers of our time we’ve had on our show, and you’ve been a part of this journey with me. And I’ve always been committed to you the listener. I’ve always been committed to your growth because I’m constantly growing, I’m going through different challenges and adversity in my life and sharing them with you. I’m not perfect in any way and I constantly open up about the mistakes I make, the lessons I learn and how I can improve my personal life and how you can approve as well. So thank you guys so much for being here and I’m get into this in just a second.
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Again a big thank you to our sponsors and for everyone who’s been a part of this journey this is a sensitive topic, this is one that a lot of people get emotional about because it’s some of the darkest trauma that people faced and one of six men have been sexually abused. For me that is scary, 1 in 4 women have faced sexual abused in some way and 1 in 6 men. Now, for me it was a very challenging 25 years, you are as sick as your secrets as what people say. And I remember I wasn’t able to sleep well ever for 25 years holding onto this secret, I would have lots of nightmares all the time and I didn’t know why I was feeling this. And the reason I wanted to talk about this is because I just watched this documentary leaving Neverland, and I watched the special with Oprah who interviewed the man from the documentary and the film maker, and if you haven’t seen leaving Neverland it’s an unbelievable 4 hour docuseries on some of the young boys who were sexually abused by Michael Jackson. And it’s heartbreaking and you know it’s controversial, everything these young boys who are now older men who are talking about through this 4 hours it was like I was nodding my head the entire time, because everything they said I could relate to.
Michael Jackson never forced, it’s not like when you’re sexually abused as a child not like forced in and slam against the wall and tied up, although that’s happened as well I’ve heard people say that as well but typically it’s more manipulation. It’s a manipulation to get you to do something and that was the cased for me. So, I never felt like someone pinned me down and did something horrible against me, against my will. It was a manipulation and later when your brain develops and you’re older and you realized like that was really messed up. You know that was a horrible thing that happened, it starts to play with everything. You know my first sexual experience was with a man when I was 5 years old and I’m a straight person, you know I am straight and my first sexual experience with a woman was when I was 13. I remember just always having different challenges and difficulties, and sexual abused shapes the way you think and desires. My anger and need to prove everyone wrong and as the man talked about they were depressed, the men in the documentary were depressed most of their life. For years they wouldn’t know why there were depressed they just thought this is who they were and I remember saying this to myself “People just aren’t gonna understand me this is just who I am, no one can change me they just have to deal with it.” And I remember being a very loving person for those that know me in my past I was always a fun loving guy, I smiled a lot but I just had like these dark moments really dark depressing moments and always felt alone, always felt like no one could understand. But I never thought it was shaped around he sexual abused that I faced. That was something I stuffed down, that was something that no one could ever learn about because if they knew about this they would, no one would ever love me. You know people truly knew what had happened to me I wouldn’t be a real mean, I would be weak. I felt so ashamed, I felt guilty and insecure all these things and that’s why I said ‘I would keep these secret to my grave.’ And this month marks the 5 year anniversary of me opening up about my sexual abuse, I did an episode it’s the second most downloaded link on my website and the title is “What sharing my childhood rape taught me about being a loving, vulnerable free man.” And when I did this episode 5 years ago, I got hundreds of essays from other men who opened up to me about their sexual abused experienced. And my whole life I thought I was the only one, I had no clue that other men had faced this which made me feel even more less of a person and more insecure and all these different things.
To give you a quick recap everything in my life was going well on the outside, I was making a lot of money, I was going my business, and things were happening my dreams were coming true but on the inside I was never happy and never felt fulfilment. I never felt the true sense of love for myself and I never felt I could truly love another person fully and I didn’t know why. I remember I started having all these breakdowns in my life, I had a breakdown with my business partner and started having lots of arguments. I had a breakdown in my intimate relationship with my girlfriend at the time. I had breakdowns with friendships like everything was breaking down to the point where I just got started to react more and more anything that wasn’t my way I was more and more reactive, if it wasn’t the way I want to look and feel the way I thought it needed to be I would get defensive. It was almost as if everything was personal attack against me in life. If someone cut me off on the street it was a personal attack against me and my identity. If someone would disagree with me it was an attack against my knowledge and insights. If someone beat me in a sports game it was a personal attack on my athletic abilities.
So, I was always under attacked and when you are emotionally and physically under attack all the time its fight or flight. You feel like stressed, overwhelmed, anxious was always in my mind and in my body and I just thought this is who I am. No matter how much personal growth I did and how many books I read, you know Tony Robbins events I went to and all these things I thought they give me more tools to be successful which I was really good at doing and really good at achieving my goals, proving people wrong, being successful all these things were happening but I wasn’t really good at being fulfilled and feeling loved. And when we don’t feel love we don’t feel like we matter, when we don’t feel like we matter we don’t feel enough and bad things starts to happen when we use that script in our mind over and over again. When we’re reading a book with a page in front of us that says ‘You don’t matter, you’re a loser.’ It’s hard to unwind that script internally but externally I would say ‘I’m the man, I’m powerful I can take on anything in my life.’ But true greatness doesn’t come from achieving all external success and results, it comes when you can fulfill your dreams and pursue your dreams with passion and have inner peace at the same time. That’s the peace I was missing inner peace.
So there was a moment where I started reacting a lot, I was playing a lot of pick a basketball to kind of get my frustration out because that’s what men do they play sports to get frustration out. And I was playing a lot of pickup basketball and it was almost like I was picking a fight I was going out, it was like I wanted someone to say something to me. I’ve never been to a bar, I’ve never been a bar fight but maybe men who’ve been to bar can relate to this where it’s like you go and you stick your chest and like walk without moving and you kind of bump into people’s shoulders and you almost like want them to hit you and to be like ‘What are you gonna do?’ That was my mentality, it was like how can I pick a fight without hitting someone so that I get off the hook if they hit me.
There was this one day at a basketball court where you know the perfect storm happened and there was an older guy guarding me, a bigger guy than me and things got heated you know it was a physical pickup basketball game, it came down to the last point for both teams and he got really mad he thought I fouled him too hard, but maybe I did. And he head butted me and it was almost like everything exploded at that moment, he head butted me and I just couldn’t hold back the anger, the rage, the frustration anymore and I just let loose unleashed like the greatest UFC fighter you’ve seen and kind of went unconscious with what I was doing. So much frustrations so many years of hurt, with anger building up inside of me and in no way I am proud of anything that I’ve done in the situation. I’ve only been in 2 fights in my life, 1 was when I was a teenager and 1 when I was 30 and I’m not proud on any of them and I don’t condone that in anyway. But for me what that did for me was a big wake up call. I remember the guy you know I was fine, the guy was fine in the end there was a little bit of some bruising and scarring and some blood on there on the both of us but at the end of the day we were fine. But I remember my friend was there and one of my best friends and he said “Lewis, I don’t really want to hang out with you anymore. I really don’t like your behavior, I don’t like your attitude, I don’t like how you’re acting, and I don’t want to be around you if this is who you are gonna be.” And that was kind of the wakeup call you know, the fights with my business partner and the up and down emotionally with my girlfriend at the time, the stress I was feeling in the fights the physical fights I was getting at the basketball court. But when my best friend said ‘I don’t like the person you’re becoming’ it was a wakeup call for me and I think sometimes we need to go through a big breakdown in order to set ourselves up for a potential breakthrough. We need moments in our life to fall apart in order for us to pick ourselves back up, I didn’t have any awareness any other way I just thought this is who I was, I’m successful and winning in life so no one judged me. But this was that wakeup call, it was that moment where I was. Everything could have gone wrong here, what if something happened in there you know I really hurt this guy or he hurt me and I have everything to lose in this moment. You know what if whatever something happen bad, man I would have lost everything I build because I just got angry and reacted.
I remember for the next couple of weeks I went to a depression, I remember I didn’t want to talk I was like trying to get out of the relationship with my girlfriend, I didn’t want to see anyone, I was ashamed of myself for this fight and I was just like I don’t want to do anything. And for almost 2 weeks I watched 80 episodes of show on Netflix, it was a show called ‘weeds.’ And I literally laid in bed for almost 2 weeks and watched 80+ episodes back to back to back barely ate anything, just said like ‘what is wrong with me?’ I didn’t want to talk to anyone, I didn’t want to leave, I felt angry, and I didn’t think anyone would understand me. The interesting thing is I always felt alone my entire life. So, what happened was my friend Matt said “You got to pick yourself up man, you got to change you got to see what’s happening inside your heart and really figure this out.” And I said “You know what you’re right, I am going to do whatever it takes to figure this out. I started talking to therapist, I started journaling and reading more books. I went to Tony Robbins event and went to other people’s workshops and conferences. There was one event that I went to a 5 day emotional intelligence workshop in Los Angeles called ‘Mastery in transforming training.’ That changed everything for me and I won’t go into the story too much but in the first 2 days of the workshop we really focus on addressing the things from our past, the things from our past that hurt us that affected us from parents, relationships or school or whatever it maybe we addressed them and we started processing to heal to move on. It’s kind of like a group therapy experience. Different exercises and games to reenact these experiences in your life.
Nothing worked for me until one moment where the facilitator of the workshop named Chris Lee, he’s been on this podcast I think 13 or 14 times now. He said to me “Lewis, you just look really angry.” And I’m thinking to myself ‘I’m a fun loving guy’ and he said I look really angry in front of the whole group. I got really mad at him which is kind of funny, and he said “We’ve addressed everything from our past and now we’re moving forward to focus on our future, the life we want to create in our personal lives, our health and career. We’re gonna focus on the vision for our life moving forward but before we focus on our life vision moving forward we must address everything from your past and heal and process, so if there is anything that people have not shared that you want to share now is the moment, otherwise we’re moving forward. And I thought to myself for a second “I talked about my parents being divorced in this workshop, I talked my brother went to prison for a few years selling drugs when I was 8 years old. That memory flash through my mind one of the first memories I had was a moment where a man sexually abused me, and I said ‘why in 25 years have I never shared this with anyone? What am I so afraid of?’ I kind of just got the courage whatever it went maybe because my best friend said ‘I don’t want to hang out with you unless you figure this out’ I just knew that everything in my life was breaking down or falling apart, I was just like there was no other way to go except for through the pain and through the experience. If I don’t say this in this group of 40 to 50 people right now I may never say this to anyone, this will die and stay inside of me for the rest of my life. So, I got the courage I stood up, I walked to the front of the room and I couldn’t look at anyone in the eyes because I was so ashamed of what I was about to say. I just felt like no one would accept me or love me if they truly knew this about me. So, I put my head and tilt it down towards the carpet while the people where in a semi-circle seated on chairs facing me.
I walked through the entire story, I walked through the entire story when I was 5. I was at my babysitter’s and she had a teenage son who’s probably 16 or 17 and he manipulated me, took me to the bathroom and sexually abused me. I won’t get into the details here but I walkthrough detail by detail from what the bathroom looked like, the smell and taste of the experienced. Everything from what I was positioned every detail and I remember talking pretty calmly, but I still couldn’t look up at anyone’s eyes and it wasn’t until I walked over to my chair and sat down that I erupted and started boiling more than I ever cried in my life. I just could not control, it’s one of those like you couldn’t breathe uncontrollable hyperventilating types of cry while I was just screaming at the same time. It was like my body was releasing 25 years of trauma and pain in a moment. And there were 2 women on either side of me who were just hugging me and they were crying, the whole room was in tears. I think people were just in shock to see someone that looked like me, a 6’4 jock looking athlete you know guys guy stand up and share that he was sexually abused.
From my memory I don’t remember any other person that kind of looks like me or you know was this successful business person, a former pro-athlete who has openly talked about being sexually abused. I know Oprah has done different shows and episodes about this, but I never really saw one person open up and kind of just talked about this. And so I felt like no one has ever done it, you know I felt like it just didn’t happened to people. And I remember sprinting out of the room, I was so ashamed of myself I felt guilty and sprinted out of the room and I was like ‘I’m not going back in that room’ I was crying I was outside this conference room, I ran outside to get some fresh air and a couple of minutes past and one of the most beautiful things in my life happened next. One by one the men from the room came out gave me a hug one by one, they look me in their eyes and they said “You are my hero.” They were like “I trust you more than ever now because you were vulnerable and shared, I trust you with my life.” One guy was like “I will follow you anywhere you go” and I was just like ‘what?’ it was crazy. Then something crazier happened a number of the men from this group opened up to me for the first time about their sexual abused story. There were 40, 50, 60 year old men in the room who said “I’ve been married for 30 years, I’ve got 5 kids my wife doesn’t know, this happened to me when I was 11.” And I just said ‘wow, this is a serious problem’ that most men never open up about this, they don’t have one person they feel comfortable sharing with. You know women it happens more frequently for women, 1 in 4 women have faced sexual abused and it’s happened more frequently. The stigma for men is that you can’t talk about this things because they are not allowed to happen.
In general I feel women have more of a safe space to share their trauma, where it’s more acceptable to share with a girlfriend, a family member to go to therapy and talk about this. It’s more acceptable in society, whereas most men at least in the American society were never taught that you are allowed to share your feelings or traumas or past experiences that have affected you in general. Obviously there’s some men that do and are more open and have more loving opportunities to share but most men have been conditioned to society and to other boys that it’s not okay to open up about this.
Again, I was 5 years old and I didn’t know anything. Really my brain wasn’t developed and this was my first sexual experience with a man I didn’t know. Shame, guilt, insecurity, fear, anger, loneliness so much came out for me my entire life and it would fuel me to prove everyone wrong. It was my fuel and in this documentary leaving Neverland they would say again that abused doesn’t have to be this thing where you’re forced and chained up and all these stuff that we think. It can be ways of manipulation and that’s just what happened to me. And I remember after this with all these men coming up to me and hugging me saying “I trust you” and accepting me and saying I love you, it set me free. It gave me a sense of freedom that I never felt before and I remember saying afterwards “I need to keep diving into this, I need to tell my family they need to know.” So, I started telling my family one by one and it terrified me because I didn’t want them to look down on me, but what it did was it brought us closer together. When I opened up about my vulnerabilities they started opening up one by one about things they’ve been through that I never knew. And I said to myself “My family has to love me but there’s no way I could tell my friends.” But I said this feeling is still controlling me, still holding on to me and I don’t want it to have power over me anymore. So I’m gonna do whatever it takes to overcome this fear by diving through the fear, by going into the fear, by experiencing the fear face on full steam ahead and doing whatever it takes so the fear does not cripple me anymore to be reactive and to be angry. So, I started telling friends one by one and I remember the first time I told my friends I was like ‘this was not easy process.’ I would stutter my lips would quiver, I couldn’t look at them in the eyes I would shake I was scared because I wanted to be accepted by my peers my friends. And one by one it got a little easier and I was able to heal and process a little more. And after about 3, 4 or 5 months of this I felt like a lot better, I feel more peace and accepted for who I am and what I’ve been through. People don’t shame me, they’re not out casting me they are accepting me. And some of my friends said “You need to share this publicly on your podcast” because my podcast came out about 6 to 8 months prior and they’re like ‘you should share this publicly’ I was like no, I am not going to ruin my reputation to the world about this, because then no one would love me except for a few people. And I caught myself in that moment on and I said “There’s more work to do, there’s more things I need to dive into.” It became a destiny for me to serve other men who have been through this. That’s why 5 years ago I did this podcast and did this interview with my friend Jonathan Fields, interviewed me and kind of facilitated the conversation. Glenn she kind of guided me on the process to kind of how post it out there publicly, so that it didn’t offend people and all these things. I remember being terrified when I posted but the next day I woke up with hundreds of emails from men sharing their stories the first time. And that’s when I realized that this is a much bigger issue.
Oprah did this special the day after this documentary came out about sexual abused. She said “I’ve done 200+ shows on the topic of sexual abused the last 15, 20 years because it’s one of the most important topics that we need to cover, because of how often it happens to men and women.” And she said this 4 hour documentary told the process more about sexual abused and how it affects individuals in all of their life in 4 hours than she had done in you know 200+ episodes, and she had been doing a great job interviewing the guys who have been sexually abused by Michael Jackson.
I wanted to recap this and just talked about it. You know I wrote a book about called ‘the mask of masculinity’ that was another step for me kind of talking about how men can tap into their vulnerability and tons of women have read it and its help them understand the man in their life, tons of men got it and help them transform as well. The book wasn’t about sexual abuse of anything but I share my story in the book and talked about the different traumas we faced that keep our hearts lock, that make us wear mask to try to fit in and be accepted. So, I thought this was important for me to recap since so many people are talking about this and it’s been 5 years since I did a full episode on this. My life has transformed the last 5 years. Now, again I am not a perfect human being I still make mistakes, I still revert back to frustration and reactiveness at different times and defensiveness and all these things. But the last 5 years was the first time I was able to sleep at night without having nightmares and I fall asleep quickly within 5, 10 minutes. It’s the first time I was able to feel inner peace. It’s the first time I truly feel when I accomplish something that I can receive the moment as opposed to say ‘but I need to go do the next thing right now, it’s still not enough.’ I finally learned how to receive and celebrate the moment and appreciate the moment as oppose to constantly tell myself ‘I’m never good enough.’ And if you’re a man that’s been through sexual abused in any way you can go 1in6.org and they have weekly chat based support group facilitated by councilors, it’s all anonymous, they have a 24/7 help line or chat, they have information that you can learn about, and if you’re a man who experienced sexual abuse you have to remember you’re not alone and they’re here to support you on a path to a happier and healthier life.
I want you to walk around if you’re a man or woman I want you to walk around today and see the men that you walk by and just know that 1 in every 6 men you drive by or walk by, one of them have probably gone through some type of sexual abuse when they were younger. They might be the most successful person in the world, they might be depressed down and out, they might be somewhere in the middle you never know. And that’s why it’s important to always have compassion and love for people. It’s important to never judge too quickly, it’s important to ask questions. Listen to people’s hearts. We’ve all gone through different challenges in our paths, we’ve all gone through different traumas maybe it’s not sexual it’s emotional, physical abused or whatever. We’ve all gone through hardships and challenges and the best way that I’ve learned. What’s worked for me is all I can share and my life is a billion times better when I started to share my shame. When my shame left my body was the moment I started to talk about it, it was the scariest thing I’ve done emotionally but it was the moment that I started to set my own self free. I took my power back, I forgave myself, I forgave the man that sexually abused me. I forgave everyone in my past for all the different traumas that I faced and when I forgave everything, shared my shame and kept sharing personally for me is what I needed to keep sharing it because I still wasn’t set free fully. It still had a grip on me I still was insecure about it, I still quivered when I talked about it. So, for me I wanted to share it more and more to friends and then publicly.
I’m not suggesting you share your shame publicly, I’m not suggesting you need to go to sell your friends your family I don’t think you need to do that, but I think you need to do for yourself whatever you need to do in order to set yourself free. Maybe that’s talking to a therapist you can go to 1in6.org and talk to someone there. For me it doesn’t matter the process of how you do it, it just matters how you set yourself free and you open your heart, because you were born unto a loving and passionate and considerate human being. You were born to love other people and you were born to fall in love with yourself. Not in a cocky egotistical way of like ‘I love myself I’m the best’ but you’re a unique human being created from love. Your soul, spirit and heart is bursting with love. It’s oozing out of you in every core of your body, every cell of your body has love in it and our shame and our guilt and our anger blocks it from receiving love from giving love and from feeling that love. And the way that I found peace my inner peace is accepting myself fully for what I’ve been through, who I am and my experiences. Fully accepting myself, sharing with other and seeing that others accept me too. And even if they didn’t it doesn’t matter, it’s knowing that I accept myself and I’m here for a reason because I matter and so do you. You matter so much, you are so loved whether this has happen to you or not I want you to remember how loved you are, how beautiful you are. You’re a unique human being there’s only one of you that will ever be created in a lifetime and millions of years. There’s only one of you that will ever happen it will never happen again. And I want you to know that you’re here for a reason at this moment in time, this moment for our life you are here for a reason, even if you feel like you don’t know why you’re here and why things have happened to you. There’s a reason it’s your duty to discover that reason, it’s your duty to go through the pain to process the past, to heal because when you finally heal that’s when you can start loving yourself and moving forward in a powerful positive way.
If this episode resonated with you in any way please let me know. Send me a direct message over on Instagram lewishowes over there, you can email me [email protected] and share this with a friend. You know share this with a friend who maybe have gone through this, you don’t need to share publicly with them it’s more of a private subject right now for them. But share this publicly and let your audiences know that if they’ve been through something they should listen to this, they should share this, have a conversation with someone about this I want to know your thoughts about this. Check out the documentary leaving Neverland and the interview with Oprah that she did. I think she has a lot more experience doing this types of episodes, she’s done 200+ of them, I can only share my personal experience and what I’ve done over the last 5 years to process this. Check those out. If your new here please subscribe, I promise they’re not this emotional.
I just know that the outside results and success: Money, fame, followers, health none of those matters if you don’t have inner peace. You know it’s nice but it’s not the complete package and if you want the complete package of life you’ve got to learn to master inner peace and that starts by healing the past and accepting yourself fully for who you are and all the things you’ve been through. If you want to listen to my first time opening up to this publicly I’ll link to that as well, but the title is ‘What sharing my childhood rape taught me about being a loving, vulnerable free man.’ And that it’s one of the most downloaded episodes we have and it’s 5 years ago.
This is a powerful topic very powerful and I want to continue to be a resource for people, I want to continue to talk about this publicly because it’s happening all the time which is unfortunate to young boys and girls and I want to prevent this from happening. I wish no one ever has to go through this and if you’re a parent I wish you never have to go through this as a parent for your children. It’s not a fun experience to have that memory in your mind for your whole life and I want to free people from that pain and that trauma. I accept it, I appreciate it, I’m grateful for it now because it makes me compassionate it makes me care deeply about other human beings feeling loved. And so I look at it as a blessing and I’m so grateful for my experience through sexual abused. If you had asked me 6-7 years ago I would probably said not, but it’s weird that I am now. I think as I am at peace about it I am okay with who I am and I’m grateful to know I wouldn’t be where I am at without being at peace and overcoming that challenge. So you are only as sick as your secrets, make sure to start sharing them and set yourself free my friends. You deserve to be free.
Again, share this with your friends if you enjoyed this please leave a review. Rate this podcast over on Apple podcast and the more ratings and reviews we get the more people found out about our show and I want to be a resource of good for people.
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You are born in the image and likeness of love, light, peace, passion, power. It’s time to reclaim your power back, it’s time to take ownership of your life and everything that’s happened in it. Be the owner of your life not a victim of your life. No matter what happened in the past and what happens moving forward when you take ownership of your life you set yourself free. It doesn’t matter if something was unfair or shouldn’t have happened or horrible experience. There’s a lot of bad things that happened but you get to decide the story to tell, you get to decide what you’re gonna read about the story of your life. You get to change the way you see your life and lead your life from of peace, power, and of pure love. I love you all very much and as always you know what time it is, it’s time to go out there and do something great.
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