For a Boy Named Gordy
Maryland, fireflies and cicadas
One of the things I remember most about growing up in the Rock Creek area of Maryland are the fireflies which would come out at night and how the kids would anticipate the evenings and look around for the first signs of the green/yellow specks to fill the air. There were also the sound of the cicadas which would buzz through the trees and over the smoke from the cookouts and dim autumn skies as the sun was soon to be extinguished.
My brother and I would collect jars and use a hammer and nail to punch a series of holes in their metal lids. These would would ensure that there was access to air for the bugs we would collect and deposit into the glasses which we filled with branches, grass and leaves dampened with water from the hose. We would make it a mission to collect as many bugs as we could and walk around the house, pretending we were carrying lanterns, phosphorescent from the lightning bugs we carefully plucked out of the air.
In the morning, always, the jars would be empty, except for the vegetation we stuffed inside to create a comfortable experience for the bugs. We would then scour the upstairs bedroom, look under the dresser and bed, search the staircase to see if they had somehow escaped. We were careful to use thinner nails as to not create holes which were too big in hopes that escape was impossible. Regardless of our efforts, in the morning, the fireflies were always absent.
Years later, I decided, that my father probably released them back into the night after we fell asleep. He pretended to know nothing about the situation, and we were too young to argue and respectful enough not to make any accusations.
There would always be more warm, pleasant evenings, when the air above the lawns would be decorated with small balls of light and we could navigate the night with our famished jars.
A smiling blonde haired kid
Gordy was always a little dirty, but a happy kid. He seemed to always be in some sort of predicament however. Once, he cut his feet when he walked on some glass from a bottle someone threw in the street. He never wore shoes and his T shirts were always a little big.
Another time, he tried to pet a squirrel and it bit him. I never knew if he had to go in for shots or not, but I can imagine how traumatic an experience like that might have been for a seven year old back in the day when shots were required for these situations.
His mother was a dark haired hippie who sometimes wore colorful handkerchiefs on her head. His father rode a motorcycle and had a beard and seemed to laugh a lot in a chuckle that was covered with smoke and the stench of beer.
His dog named Pup Pup walked with a limp because it had a bad leg which it was probably born with.
I was sitting on my porch with a girl from across the street named Kay when he walked up. He looked in our direction and stopped outside the fence by the path in the front yard. He stood there for a moment and looked in our direction. Everything became quiet.
"Come here please," he said to me.
I stood up and walked out towards the gate and opened it. There was a tree with a tire swing in the yard. The neighbor across the street had steps that led up to a mailbox. Sometimes I would walk up those steps to the mailbox and lift the flag to trick the mailman.
"What do you need Gordy?" I asked.
He looked at me directly and I saw a stick in his hand. His dirty blonde hair was long and covered his ears. He had a high pitched voice and white teeth that were always visible as if he had difficulty closing his lips.
He picked up the stick and moved it across the dirt.
"I dare you to cross this line," he said.
I paused and looked up at him and moved forward towards him. He stepped back.
I had crossed the line.
He looked at me directly but stepped back. He seemed to tremble slightly but was still defiant. He moved the stick across the dirt and repeated his statement.
I moved forward and he stepped back. He looked up at me and to this day I still remember his eyes and how something seemed to slip away from them.
He moved the stick again. "You can't cross this one," he said to me. His voice had faltered a bit, almost as if he were on the verge of tears.
I was a bit amused with his game and thought this was fun. I moved forward.
Before I could look up at him, I saw a flash of him lunging toward me. I felt some weight on my cheek and his left hand was on my neck and his right was holding my head. He brought his teeth up to my right cheek and bit down.
A Boy Who Knew Things He Shouldn't
I remember the beating his mother gave him, chasing him into the car and cursing at him. My own mother had come out to investigate the noise and went to talk to her. At the time, I felt like the victim of an out of control kid who happened to be my age and lived in my neighborhood.
I remember some other things about this young boy, who always looked a little dirty and never wore shoes. The time he cut his foot on glass and was bleeding and my fathered carried him home because he couldn't walk.
The time he tried to pet a squirrel and was bitten. I shutter to think the pain he must have endured from the inevitable rabies shots he had to go through.
I remember hearing about how some of the older girls in the neighborhood took his clothes from him and he had to walk home naked crying. One of the perpetrators told me this story through laughter.
I remember how he used to squirt water guns at beehives and one of the bees flying from the hive and landing on me and the sting I received.
Today he probably would have been labeled ADHD, but I don't even know if he attended school or not.
Mostly though, what I remember about him is that we would play the typical cops and robbers games kids played.
One day though, he wanted to tell me something important.
"I know what French kissing is," he said.
"What?" The only thing I knew about French is that there were this fries which were delicious. And that there was a place in France where the naked ladies danced, or so the story went.
He grabbed my arm and put it to his mouth and started to lick me. I pulled away.
"My father taught me this," he said.
Then he proceeded to walk over to the bushes and pulled down his pants and laid flat on the ground. "My dad also told me about f***ing. This is how you do it." He laid flat on the ground and said that I was supposed to climb on top of him. I didn't do it and at that age - I was probably 7 years old - didn't really recognize it for what it was.
Male Victims and the Criminal Element
Depending upon the source you seek, statistics linking childhood sexual trauma among boys with later incarceration vary greatly. Some rates are as low as 12% while others indicate that as many as 68% of men in prison have had some sort of serious trauma in their childhood.
It is clear that not all sex offenders were abused as children and that many men who end up in the justice system report no trauma at all.
However, when speaking with many inmates directly, particularly habitual offenders, many will reveal uncomfortable childhood histories.
What is clear though, is that abuse regardless of gender, often results in future antisocial behavior. Males however, often have fewer resources available to them than do females. There is a violence against women act which is gender specific. The idea that men can be victims isn't implicitly stated the way it is with females. In addition, many men may feel emasculated by the abuse - particularly if the offender was male - and may be unwilling to report it.
Even if the victim attempts to report it, the cries will fall on deaf ears. Most of the resources or agencies available cater to female victims. Often as well, most of the professionals involved in sexual abuse clinics are female and there opportunity for gender bias is practiced.
I am in no way trying to imply that female victims have it easier or diminish women victims. I am simply stating that the available resources, statistics and agencies that help men is limited.
Inmates Who Have Reported Abuse (in State Facilities)
Type of Abuse
Some Effects Men May Experience
According to the Rape Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) men may experience confusion because of natural responses - such as ejaculation - during the assault. The response which is usually associated with pleasure should not be interpreted as a sign that the experience was invited or desirable.
In addition, there are several other experiences reported by victims which include:
- Anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, flashbacks, and eating disorders
- Avoiding people or places that remind you of the assault or abuse
- Concerns or questions about sexual orientation
- Fear of the worst happening and having a sense of a shortened future
- Feeling like "less of a man" or that you no longer have control over your own body
- Feeling on-edge, being unable to relax, and having difficulty sleeping
- Sense of blame or shame over not being able to stop the assault or abuse, especially if you experienced an erection or ejaculation
- Withdrawal from relationships or friendships and an increased sense of isolation
- Worrying about disclosing for fear of judgment or disbelief
Here is the RAINN report
- Sexual Assault of Men and Boys | RAINN
Men and boys who have been sexually assaulted or abused may also face some additional challenges because of social attitudes and stereotypes about men and masculinity.
Every once in awhile I think of Gordy and the pain he must have been going through. When he was telling me not to cross the lines, he was having barriers violated and trying to reach out. It hurts and troubles me to this day to think about the conditions he must have had to put up with. His biker father who was always loud and vulgar; a mother that probably wanted to help but may have been stranded in an unpleasant situation herself.
I think about how he was ostracized by the neighborhood kids - who probably didn't know any better themselves. His one friend, the dog Pup-Pup who was crippled.
I always wonder how he turned out and if managed to make it through his tumultuous early years. He knew a lot more than kids his age should have known and the information that plagued his psyche was toxic .
I say a prayer for him sometimes. I wish I would never have crossed those lines he drew in the dirt and known how to be a better friend.
I think of the fireflies and of those summers in Maryland and cicadas and the trees and grasses and the humid seasons when the dim lights from the evening sun would peak through the leaves and the jars we would carry as we waited for night.
Bunny's Story: One woman's true story of a descent into prostitution
- Bunny's Story: Trauma and a Young Woman's Shattered Life
Bunny lives in a hotel in California's Central Valley. Her story is one of abuse and turmoil. A young woman devastated by drugs who survivals doing what she must. The lives of childhood victims are not pleasant ones. She became a foster child and the
If you or anyone you know needs help dealing with abuse, there is are people who can help:
National Sexual Violence Resource Center (877) 739-3895
Help for Men who are being abused:
1250 6th St., Suite 400
Santa Monica, CA 90401
Male Survivor: https://malesurvivor.org/index.php
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
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© 2019 Liam Cooper