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Tom Arnold Reveals Sexual Abuse

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One in six boys under 18 are sexually molested ... here's how to help and protect your family.

49-year-old actor Tom Arnold's newest role as a sexual molester in his new movie "Gardens of the Night" hits close to home. He says it's his attempt to finally put his own past as a sexually abused child behind him.

Arnold says that from ages four to seven, while growing up in Ottumwa, Iowa, he was sexually abused by a 19-year-old male babysitter. "[The abuse] started shortly before I turned four," he tells People. "This guy would babysit me three or four times a week. He wanted me to play a game, and he wanted me to learn it so I could play it every time. I knew it was weird and I was scared, but I didn't know what sex was."

What can you do if your husband reveals he was sexually abused? What's the best way to handle it? Momlogic spoke with Mark Douglass, a sexual abuse survivor and author of
Flashbacks of Abuse: How a Machine Gun Toting Sociopath Freed Me From the Chains of My Childhood for his perspective.

Don't blame the victim - One common question people ask is "Why didn't you tell someone or break away?" But that's applying the adult model to a kid's brain, which just isn't fair. Molesters are master manipulators and know how to keep kids quiet. My abuser told me that for $300, he could have me killed and no one would ever find out. He also used a cattle prod on me from time to time.

Try to ease his fears - Men who finally admit their abuse are worried they're going to be branded as gay or as weak. Just because he was abused by a man does not mean he is a homosexual.

Remember that this doesn't mean he'll be an abuser, too - 98% of men who were molested never abuse anyone else. But men who were sexually abused are often terrified they will be branded as a molester, or that their kids might be taken away.

Don't be offended he hid this from you - Most men who were abused never tell. It's a secret they live with their whole lives. I speak around the country about my experiences so that other men can come out of the closet and admit they were abused, and go on to live happy and fulfilling lives.

Encourage him to get therapy - The right therapist can help him explore those hidden, painful feelings and make him realize none of this was his fault, and he is in no way to blame.

Unfortunately, one in six boys under the age of 18 in this country will be the victims of sexual abuse. According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, here are five signs moms should watch out for...

* unusual interest in or avoidance of all things of a sexual nature
* sleep problems or nightmares
* depression or withdrawal from friends or family
* refusal to go to school
* statements that their bodies are dirty or damaged, or fear that there is something wrong with them in the genital area

If your child is displaying any of these signs, talk to a counselor or pediatrician immediately.

Were you or your child the victim of sexual abuse? Share your story below.

next: Melissa Etheridge Responds to Gay Marriage Ban
19 comments so far | Post a comment now
Anonymous November 6, 2008, 6:19 PM

what an incredibly sad story.

LIBRA November 7, 2008, 9:04 AM


Anonymous November 7, 2008, 9:16 AM

Thank You Tom Arnold for coming out into the limelight to tell your story. This is something that will not go away. There are a lot of really SICK people out in this world. People need to be aware of the dangers that sometimes are right in their own homes and can damage our children for the rest of their lives.

Diane King November 7, 2008, 11:00 AM

My name is Diane King and I am a single mother. I left my job with a professional sports team to help kids understand safety after a predator in my neighborhood (literally in my neighborhood) lured away 5 victims—all upper elementary and middle school aged kids and sexually molested them. He was on the news every night and I was gripped with fear that my son could be his next vicitim if he wasn’t caught. When I realized how few story books are available for kids, I wrote one! It’s called MR STRANGER AND THE LOST PUPPY. I now go to schools and teach children who a stranger is, let them know that the person who wants to hurt them isn’t always a stranger and most importantly, I encourage them to speak up if someone is hurting them or if an adult (or anyone) is saying things to them that someone should never say to a child or makes them uncomfortable. If we talk about it in the classrooms and kids read the book at home with their parents, it makes it that much easier for a child to speak up BEFORE abuse can occur! I truly admire Tom for speaking out about his tragedy and I hope that with celebrities speaking out, it will encourage those who have been victimized to do the same!

Svava Brooks November 21, 2008, 5:21 PM

Thank you Tom - for your courage to speak up. You have helped way more people by doing so yourself rather than telling others to do so. You are a role model! As a survivor of child sexual abuse and now a prevention educator, people learn more about the issue and how to prevent it when I share my personal story of abuse than anything else. People have a hard time believing that things like these go on…but they do. 1 in every 4 girls and 1 in every 6 boys, are abused sexually before the age of 18 and over 90% of them know their perpetrator. It is time to speak up! If you are reading this and have not found support to heal your abuse or trauma, please do so, it is never too late and you are worth it! speak4change!

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