“It took me 27 years to open up to my wife about it. I thought I was supposed to bury it and not talk about it,” said James Case. “I thought, ‘that doesn’t happen to guys and definitely not to me.’
“Around nine years old, I was staying with friends overnight. Two guys took advantage of me and sexually abused me. This went on for a year before it stopped, and I never saw them again. Because I was in such a small town, I never talked about it. I didn’t want to admit to anyone what had happened to me.
“As I got older, I became very rebellious. I kept what happened to me as a child buried very deeply. I wanted to prove my manhood. Drugs and alcohol became big parts of my life, and I continued into college with a promiscuous lifestyle. I wanted to be defined by my masculinity, and my knowledge of Christ growing up took a backseat in my priorities. I didn’t have a personal relationship with Him.
“After college, I continued the same patterns and still used drugs to numb the pain. I wanted to mask the hurt that was deep inside. I even tried to join the Navy because I thought it was a ‘strong’ thing to do.
“It was around that same time that I ended up meeting and marrying my wife. Our relationship went well for a period, but then I started again trying to identify myself as a man and seeking affirmation and attention outside of my marriage. Interactions with other women started out over text messaging and then eventually evolved into a physical relationship.
“One day, my wife accidentally found inappropriate pictures on my phone and learned about my infidelity. At first, I only confessed to text exchanges. But through much prayer, my wife felt like there was more to my story than I was sharing and asked me more questions. I knew I had to be honest and tell her the truth. My confession included more infidelity than she expected.
“At the time, we were both serving in re|engage. After my confession we went through re|engage again as participants instead of as leaders. It was so humbling. You can only imagine the damage my behavior caused. Not to mention the pain and broken trust I caused within my community group, whom I lied to as well.
“When I participated in MENd, Watermark’s ministry for men who have been sexually abused, I grew in my relationship with the Lord. I learned to be open and reach out for help because others have been there, too. Sharing my experience and learning how to apply biblical truth in my life made my abuse less powerful. My past didn’t define me, and I wasn’t trying to redefine myself either. In John 14:6, Jesus says, ‘I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but by me.’ I relied on that Scripture a lot.
“Now, as a volunteer in MENd, I try to lead with compassion and understanding. God is able to use me to be there for other men who are now dealing with a similar situation. I know God is with me. I lose sight of that sometimes. But the fact that He is never away from me helps me second guess some of the bad decisions I want to make. There are decisions I make that are wrong and go against Him because I am a sinner, but He is still there guiding and correcting me.
“I learned that all the drugs, alcohol, and promiscuity had a starting point. It was very clear that my abuse was the cause of a lot of the sinful decisions in my life. I was so fearful of being looked at as less than my male peers because of the reality of my experience. But I had to take responsibility for my actions. Having a partner who is focused on Christ and works hard for a Christ-centered marriage was and still is humbling. The times I am full of pride and think that we rebuilt our marriage, my wife is gentle in reminding me that if Jesus hadn’t been in our lives, things would’ve turned out very differently.
“It took me 27 years to tell somebody I had been abused. Statistics say the number of men who have been sexually abused is high (one in six), but the number of reports is extremely low. Men don’t want to say anything because it feels like an attack on our masculinity. Men are taught to be brutish and tough, but my relationship with Christ and knowledge of the Bible has shown me that I don’t have to be aggressive or a fighter to keep myself safe. I should be a man of prayer, passion, and compassion. I must pursue the Lord. Being a man means letting the Lord guide you and define you.”