Hi there! Now that my book's second edition (Father's Touch) is published, I can share with you Mike Lew's foreward that he wrote for me. Mike Lew wrote the first book in the world for male suvivors of sexual abuse, Victims No Longer.
Foreward by Mike Lew
You may not feel comfortable listening to Donald D?Haene. Outspoken, courageous, and brutally honest, he doesn?t let you off with comforting platitudes. He holds the reader to the same standard he applies to himself: only the whole truth will do. From its lyrical beginning through to the end, Father?s Touch is the definition of "painfully honest." This is a work of rare power.
Since writing my first book (Victims No Longer: Men Recovering from Incest and other Sexual Child Abuse) in the 1980s, I have read (and listened) to a great many life stories of male survivors?and have been asked to read many more. These histories have much in common: they are all expressions of courage, power, and creativity; they all represent the narrator?s commitment to overcoming the pain of boyhood sexual trauma, and ultimately to triumph over its effects.
What makes this one different? Why did I agree to write a foreword to this particular memoir? My reasons are as various as survivors? motivations to begin their journeys of recovery. In Father?s Touch, Donald D?Haene writes of his conscious decision to accept nothing less than complete recovery. He is determined to overcome denial (his and that of others) and face?indeed, insist upon?speaking the Truth. He chronicles the trials and triumphs of a young man who is actively working toward understanding and healing?for himself, for his family, and for the wider world.
Most of all, IT IS REAL. You will have no doubt that you are experiencing the voice of a real person, with all his human strengths, doubts, and glorious imperfections. This is the voice of a hero.
Father?s Touch is an intimate book. I use this term consciously and respectfully. The struggle to understand and achieve healthy intimacy (in all its forms) is central to a survivor?s recovery quest. As you read this book you will come to know and admire many facets of Donald D?Haene. You will meet Donald as an innocent?a boy victim. And you will accompany him on his heroic journey to being the victor he is today. Intimacy is evident throughout this book: It is found in the author?s generous invitation to share the experiences of a frightened, confused young boy, and in the immediacy of his terrifying flashbacks. Some parts of this narrative are particularly chilling, notably the author?s use of quotes from the father?s own writings. These offer us rare glimpses into the self-deluding, self-justifying, devious, selfish mind of a child abuser. The diary entries are hard to read, hard to stomach, and likely to elicit strong emotions in the reader. Their inclusion is further evidence of Donald D?Haene?s courage.
Father?s Touch does not ignore the larger picture. The book makes it clear that the issue of incestuous abuse is not confined to the immediate family. The author describes in detail widespread denial of the problem (and often active opposition to dealing with it) on the part of the wider community: extended family, friends, neighbors, churches, schools, police, and legal system. This understanding is especially timely in light of recent revelations of widespread sexual child abuse by clergy and within religious communities (and other institutions)?including recent disclosures involving Jehovah?s Witnesses in Australia. The reader is shown how absolute authority (religious, familial, or institutional) fosters isolation and vulnerability to victimization. Donald demonstrates the ways that messages?misinformation and lies?are delivered. He shows us how silence and distrust are installed by abusers and reinforced by others.
We learn how profoundly an abused child wants to have a normal family?and the lengths to which he (or she) will go to maintain that illusion. We see bravery in his protectiveness toward the non-offending, but non-protective parent, and even his sad, courageous attempts to protect the abuser.
Reading this book we learn how families are split by abuse?and how abusers isolate individual family members?not only from the outside community, but from one another. Yet we also witness the capacity of children to exhibit courage, strength, and creativity in their attempts to protect themselves and their siblings. What can be more heart-rending than the thought of a young child choosing to continue to suffer abuse in a vain attempt to provide safety for a younger sister or brother? Donald D?Haene teaches us much more than we may wish to know: ?We learn of how, to survive the abuse, the child learns to compartmentalize ("split") his personality. ?We are exposed to shocking evidence of the imposition of warped adult sexuality, disrupting normal development of the child victim?s sexuality. ?We are offered insight into the conflicts experienced by the child victim, as we read of the lies told by the abuser?lies told to the child, to the community, and to himself. And we understand that the child, in his attempt to make sense of a confusing, frightening environment, learns the lies as the only available information. ?We see how the manipulations of the perpetrator enlist the child in his own victimization, bringing him to see himself as responsible for what is being done to him. ?And we find that some behaviors that appear to be odd or self-defeating are in reality effective survival strategies discovered by a young person with few external resources.
The child victim is not the only one who attempts to normalize sexual abuse. Think of how many times all of us have referred to sexual child abuse as something that "happens to" a child?happens to?as if abuse of children were simply a part of the natural order?like a sunrise or rainstorm. No, sexual victimization of children doesn?t simply happen to them. It is done to them?by brutal, selfish adults who care more for control, power, and their perverse pleasure than for the needs and safety of a vulnerable child. If you have any doubt of this reality, read this book.
A word of encouragement: Although you will be upset and saddened by much that is contained in this book, you will also be uplifted. Donald D?Haene is no longer a victim ?hasn?t been for a long time. He is a victor, gloriously thriving. And Father?s Touch is not a work of sadness and negativity. Donald?s journey progresses from his childhood world of pain and confusion through his path of healing to his healthy, integrated adult life?generously and triumphantly he takes the reader with him.
Donald D?Haene?s recovery moves him from the all-or-nothing thinking engendered by both sexual child abuse and fundamentalist theology to healthy confidence that he can evaluate and respond to life?s situations on their own merits. He grows from attempting to maintain rigid, fear-based control to being truly in charge of his life. He is well and truly on the path of victory.
We may not be comfortable with what Donald D?Haene has to say, but we need to hear his words. Father?s Touch is an important book, and Donald D?Haene is someone we need to know. As you read his words, you will find that he is someone it is good to know.
Mike Lew is the author of Victims No Longer, the first book written for male survivors of sexual child abuse (recently released in a revised and updated Second Edition), and Leaping upon the Mountains: Men Proclaiming Victory over Sexual Child Abuse. A therapist in private practice in Brookline, Massachusetts, Mike Lew conducts recovery workshops and professional trainings worldwide. His Web site is victimsnolonger.org
© Mike Lew, 2004 All rights reserved