Survivor of male-on-male sexual abuse fights predatory instincts
The scream died on his lips.
While pleas formed in his mind, the boy's fear prevented him from producing the appeals that would have alerted the adults in the nearby house.
Lips pressed on his lips. A heavy weight crushed him.
And then came a blow to the back of the head, pushing him into a painful darkness and plunging him into a fretful sleep.
For more than 34 years, the traumatized boy slept, many of those years buried down deep inside the man. Now, three decades later, his spirit is awake and speaking out.
Not a pervert
He was here, again, on the bench.
As Jerry Moser watched the boys play in the park, fantasies emerged.
They excited his senses while they ripped at his soul. Willing himself to believe the words, Moser repeated them again and again, "I am not a pervert. I am not a rapist."
Instead, he declared himself something worse, though he has never molested a boy.
"I labeled myself a monster," he said.
A door opened
Earlier this spring, two personalities met for the first time.
Adult Jerry brought his boyhood self to the relationship. The Guttenberg, Iowa , police officer had been kicked off the force for alleged sexual harassment. His marriage floundered in the aftermath. Suicidal thoughts tormented him, and he sought medical attention to avoid destruction at his own hand.
The boy Jerry offered clarity. For three decades, his experiences had been repressed by his adult version, and the time for understanding had come.
When asked by his wife, "Were you ever abused?," Moser fell to his knees and wept.
"It was like a door opened, and his memories came out," said his wife, Jackie Moser. "I saw this big, strong man who wore a mask all these years drop down and sob."
All in my head
Iowa law defines sexual abuse as a sex act forcefully committed or committed against a person's will. However, Moser, 45, has a different definition.
"It's hell," he said. "I didn't know who I was because of it. I had no confidence. I had no self-esteem. A lot
of stress. Years of depression. But through all those years, I hid it. I hid it all in my head."
When Moser was 11, an older boy from Chicago visited nearby relatives. The 16-year- old took an interest in the withdrawn boy with few friends. During a camping outing, Moser says he was raped by the older teen, who hit his victim on the back of the head and threatened to "beat the crap out of him" if he told.
More than 70 percent of sexual-assault victims know their abuser, according to the U.S. Bureau of Justice, and those victims are five times more likely to be raped again.
Moser seemed to embody these statistics; five years later, at the age of 16, he had sex with a woman more than twice his age. The incident qualifies as statutory rape.
"She didn't make me do anything, but it was still wrong," Moser said.
Nothing seemed right from that moment on, although Moser struggled to understand why.
He repressed his memories, and he experienced daily pain. Doctors term the condition post-traumatic stress disorder. The diagnosis is most typically associated with war veterans or survivors of horrific accidents, like a train wreck or plane crash. Yet a third of rape victims suffer the same symptoms, according to the National Victim Center.
Depression, grief, anxiety, flashbacks and aggressiveness plagued Moser, although he did not know the source of his pain.
At least 10 percent of sexually abused children experience complete amnesia after their incident, says the Journal of Traumatic Stress, and Moser said he fell into that category by completely blocking his experience from his consciousness.
How many different masks?
Sex came easily.
Moser said he sought "experienced" women, but time after time he found himself unsatisfied.
While he actively pursued females, he said he craved young men or boys. Yet he insists he never caved to those desires.
"It's going to make me sound like a pervert, but when I was with these women, I would stimulate my mind with sexual thoughts about being forceful with men and boys," he said. "Sexually, I didn't know who I was."
Moser's preferences are common, according to the study, "The Sexually Abused Male: Prevalence, Impact and Treatment." Men often "act out" their trauma, while women hold in their pain. In Moser's case, his counselors say he attempted to connect with his own abusers by searching for what attracted rapists to young boys.
"I felt it was wrong," Moser said. "I wanted that picture-perfect life with a wife and kids, but when you're sitting in a park and watching young boys play and fantasizing about them ... I literally had myself convinced that if I didn't act out with women that I would act out with a boy. So I figured out how to have sex with women who were willing."
For a while, his role-playing served its purpose.
"It controlled the fight," he said. "It kept it under wraps. But at the same time, you're wearing how many different masks?"
Wanted it to happen
Moser is not a tall man, but he commands attention.
His 10 years in the army give him a silent strength, and his years of involvement in football and baseball still show. He served in law enforcement for some time, and he wears a hunting hat.
But he says his tough exterior only shielded his emotions.
For decades, the man many viewed as fun-loving and macho was haunted by questions about his sexuality.
"I thought I was gay," he said. "Somewhere deep inside me, I thought that since I allowed this to happen, I must have wanted it to happen, and that meant I was meant to be gay."
Society lends to the stigma, Moser said. While one in three girls is sexually abused by the age of 18, one
in six boys is molested in comparison, according to the Handbook on Sexual Abuse of Children. The
unbalanced numbers allow acceptance for one, but not the other, says the Journal of the American Medical Association.
"It's not deemed acceptable for a man to come forward and say he was raped,"Moser said. "If a woman
came forward and said she was molested by an older woman, nobody would ask, 'Are you a lesbian?' But if a man says that, the first question they get is,'Well, are you gay?'"
For the first time
With each new woman, Moser said he prayed the fantasies about boys would dissolve.
Then he met her.
When Jackie entered Jerry Moser's life, he pushed aside his other desires and focused on his true wants - a loving marriage and a growing family.
"I felt true love for this woman," he said. "For the first time I thought, 'I will not act out with her.' I thought being married to her would make it all go away."
His resolve wavered, and the fantasies returned, accompanied by severe depression, which was to be expected, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association, which says that abused men are four times more likely to suffer from severe mental disorders.
To cure his despair, Moser said he sought sex outside his marriage - another common trait among men sexually abused as children, the National Victim Center says.
"I had no respect for anybody," Moser said. "Not for the women. Not for my wife. Not for myself."
Raped all over again
This year, an affair with a local woman sparked a controversy that shook Moser, his family and the community of Guttenberg.
A Guttenberg woman claimed that Moser, a police officer, used his position of authority to demand sex. Moser lost his job and his benefits. His wife discovered the affair and learned of the others. Newspapers printed the story, and television stations aired his picture.
"I felt like I was being raped all over again," Moser said.
Although 35 percent of sexually abused men become predators themselves, according to the U.S. Bureau of Justice, Moser asserts he is not in their numbers.
"All the women I was with were willing," he said.
The Guttenberg Police Department dropped the charges surrounding Moser and released a statement apologizing for the "untrue" statements it made about its former employee. Moser subsequently received a $16,000 settlement.
Although he said he did not sexually abuse anyone, Moser realizes he left victims in his wake all the
"It's still painful," said his wife, Jackie. "I have to grieve the loss of everything I thought was intact with
our marriage. It was the most traumatic thing I have ever been through."
Counselors diagnosed Jackie with post-traumatic stress disorder as well.
"It does a number"
Months have passed since Jackie, a sexual-abuse advocate by profession, helped her husband recall his
traumatic childhood incidents. But despite her understanding, the couple remains in counseling to salvage their marriage.
"It does a number on you,"she said. "And it certainly does a number on your trust, and it doesn't just come back overnight because you find out he was sexually abused. It helps, but it doesn't take the pain away."
For her part, Jackie mourns overlooking signs of abuse.
"It tears me up to think of all the things going on inside of him, and I walked around without a clue," she said. "I would get these calls at night, and it would be a female sexual-assault victim at a hospital, and she needed help, and I would go, and here was my husband, lying next to me, going through the same pain."
"Don't have the fight"
About 40 percent of sexual-abuse victims wait until adulthood to seek therapy, according to the Journal
of Interpersonal Violence.
Moser started counseling days after recalling his childhood trauma, and with support from medical professionals and his wife, he foresees a future without fear.
"I have to start with myself," he said. "And then I have to reach out to others."
He and Jackie are considering publicly speaking about abuse and how it affects relationships.
"We've went through some tough times" Moser said. "But I feel that what we're creating is a marriage that is more clear and more solid."
He says there are signs of healing, not the least of which is the disappearance of his fantasies about boys.
"I don't have the fight in my head anymore," he said.
And that proves to him something he initially disbelieved.
"There is always hope," he said.