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We Were There: 1in6 Thursdays on the Joyful Heart Foundation Blog

“You’re a special kid.” I still remember those words spoken to me when I was six or seven years old. He showed me that I was someone he cared about by inviting me into his room, giving me small gifts, holding me on his lap, hugging me, and saying all the words any unloved kid yearns to hear.

And I believed him. Then.

I believed him because I needed to be special to someone—anyone.

Our perpetrators showed interest in us and paid attention to us. They lured us by making us feel loved, wanted, special.

When I tell my story in a public gathering, many of those present nod as if to say, “Yes, I was that kid.” Occasionally a man tears up because he painfully remembers.

Our perpetrators showed interest in us and paid attention to us. They lured us by making us feel loved, wanted, special.

They deceived us.

We weren’t special.

We were simply available.

If we hadn’t become their victims, some other child would have. And most likely we weren’t the first or the last child who heard those words from our perpetrators. The statistic I’ve read in several places says that some pedophiles abuse many kids in their lifetime.

No, we were simply there.

And we were vulnerable.

Those who sexually assaulted us didn’t see us with eyes of love and compassion. We weren’t truly individuals to them but targets of their compulsive desires. Despite their use of words like “You’re special” or “I love you,” they lied.

For some of us, it’s painful to admit that we were anything but extraordinary. We needed to feel exceptional to someone—perhaps anyone. We trusted them because they sensed our deeply felt needs, perhaps even more than we were aware.

But now we’re healing and we need to be able to say to ourselves, “They lied. I wasn’t special to them.”

As we move forward, that’s an important fact to admit to ourselves. It also helps us realize they took advantage of our innocence. But there are people in our lives to whom we can be special and important. And once some friend or lover makes us feel that way, we know the difference.

Cecil Murphey ImageCecil Murphey wrote, When a Man You Love Was Abused and Not Quite Healed with survivor Gary Roe. Murphey is the author or coauthor of 137 books including international best sellers, 90 Minutes in Heaven and Gifted Hands: the Ben Carson Story. His latest book is Stolen: The True Story of a Sex Trafficking Survivor, written with Katariina Rosenblatt. His twice-weekly blog is

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