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Q&A: Joel Johnson, Tech Blogger & Sexual-Abuse Survivor

March 2nd, 2010  |  by  |  Published in Uncategorized  |  30 Comments

One of the things that amazed me about your piece is how free of overt anger it is. Are you not angry?
4:12 PM
I’m still angry at times. But the further I’ve gotten away from my family, both emotionally and physically, the more my anger turned into plain old worry and fear and pain. I felt like in the story it was important to be honest, but clear.
Worry?
Worry about my brother, anyone else who might be at risk. And worry about my mother and what her years of denial have done to her. Worry that putting this in public might make things worse for everyone and not help. That’s part of the reason it took me years to decide to speak about this openly.
What finally made the decision for you? Timmy’s death or something more than that?
4:18 PM
It’s hard to say for certain. I do know that a confluence of things in my life has gotten me thinking about mortality and regret; I do specifically recall thinking, “If I die tomorrow without talking about this, I will feel like I’ve failed.”
It’s impressive that you could convey a sense of Glen as both a monster and your best friend. Was that your intent—to humanize him—or was that just a byproduct of being honest?
In other words, did you see him that way before you wrote him that way?
It’s just the way it is. While I think Glen is mentally ill, I don’t like to believe that people are monsters. That humans can do such terrible things, that we all have the potential for being so fucked up…I guess I’d agree that it “humanizes” him, but not in the sense that it softens my perception of him. …
That said, at this point, I don’t have much compassion left for him. He clearly is so broken that he either doesn’t see the repercussions his action have on those around him or he simply doesn’t care. He can be human and still reprehensible.
Are you expecting any legal repercussions to what you’ve written?
In what way?
I’m not sure—but the things you’re describing are criminal acts. Has the statute of limitations expired? Will this affect Glen’s professional life? Are there potential adverse effects for you?
Well, one thing that’s come to my attention is that charges were apparently filed. I got that part wrong. The difference was that without my testimony, the state accepted a plea bargain that kept him out of prison. …
4:33 PM
So I don’t think there’s anything else that might directly affect Glen or Mary Beth legally. I don’t even know how much I care about that. My hope was never that he’d go to prison (although in retrospect that probably would have been better at the time), but that the situation would be dealt with openly and with full acknowledgement of the potential danger that others around him may be in. Clearly they’ve gone through great lengths to “put it behind them”, but in a way that I feel completely glosses over his lack of any true remorse or ownership of his responsibilities to the community. …
As for me, I’m not worried about any legal whatevers. The only side-effects of telling the truth for me are the personal ramifications.
Now, the piece is called “Why I’m Funny,” but you don’t make the connection explicit. What is your sense of humor, and how does this explain where it came from? Or did you mean “funny” in a different way?
4:40 PM
It’s the same old story as a lot of people with good senses of humor: mine developed in part as a way for me to deal with all the trauma at home. I’ve always been socially awkward, though, so I wouldn’t say that being abused was the singular genesis of my propensity to make dick jokes. …
But I definitely meant “funny as in weird” as the subtext.
You’re famously a gadget guy, and a lot of your early experience with gadgets and videogames came from Glen showing you how to shoplift them. Not sure what question I’m supposed to ask. Maybe “Is it strange that your realm of expertise owes something to your abuser?”
4:45 PM
I’ve been steeped in computers and technology for as long as I can remember. My grandfather was a programmer and tinkerer. I think having so many gadgets around due to our thievery certainly contributed to my fascination — or at least familiarity — with technology, but I suspect it would have happened even if Glen had never been in the picture.
Which sort of brings up your biological father, who appears only briefly in the story. When you were young, did you ever fantasize he’d show up and put Glen out of the picture? What’s your relationship with him like now?
4:50 PM
You know, I’ve thought about that. Why I never told him. As silly as it sounds, I think it was that I didn’t want to move to Florida and leave my friends behind. I made a lot of decisions then that were short-sighted, but when you’re in a situation like that during your teen years, it’s hard to think of the bigger picture. I was just as busy worrying about girls and getting a job and wanting a car as any other stupid kid. …
4:55 PM
My relationship with my father is sort of goofy, but not because of anything that happened in relationship to the abuse. He’s just a kooky guy who is torqued differently than me. But we spend a fair amount of time together — drinking and scuba diving mostly — and talk on the phone here and there. I’m not going to be buying him a World’s Best Dad coffee mug anytime soon, but that’s just because we’re more friends than father-and-son. I know that had he known what was going on he would have done whatever he needed to do to help me. I know he feels a lot of guilt about what happened, but I don’t see the point in holding him responsible for something that he had no knowledge of.
Fair enough.
Now, one of the obvious questions here would be the standard “What should kids in such situations do?” But this is a blog for dads, so: What should a father do if he realizes he’s becoming Glen?
If you are abusing your children: leave and seek counseling. Alone. You’re too broken to have a family. You don’t get to have them around for support while you try to fix your brain and your life. I mean, come on. …
But I doubt very many fathers that abuse their children really second-guess their behavior. They probably are living in such a delusion of privilege that their ego doesn’t even let them consider that their failings might take self-sacrifice to fix. …
5:08 PM
So — no offense — but it’s a weird question. I just have a hard time conceiving of a person that would abuse their children having the humility to turn themselves in. But I’m not an expert. I just know what I’ve experienced. And in my case I have seen a man who has a sickness hurt ruin his family because of his selfishness, who, even when forced to face it head on. The conniving that he used to protect his sickness didn’t go away, because his own psychological issues were never addressed. He was instead forgiven by his church and his wife and, as far as I know from both personal experience and observation, went right back to his own selfish behavior. …
It’s hard for me to square, because I personally believe in redemption. I think the attitude espoused by our society’s perception of crime and criminality is disgusting and shames us all. But if you’re a father who abuses his kids sexually, physically, or psychologically? I hope you find peace — but you’ve given up your moral right to be a father.
Final question: Are you planning/hoping for kids of your own?
Oh god.
I’m certainly not planning anything right now. I just got out of a relationship with a woman whom I hoped would become my wife. …
I do feel like I want kids at times — especially when I get to spend time with my sister’s kids, who just fill me with light, even when they’re being precocious bastards — but I’m also not broken hearted that I don’t have any yet, either. …
Being abused can make you really uncomfortable around kids, though. You hear people talk about the cycle of abuse, that most abusers were themselves abused, and you pause before giving a kid a bath or changing a diaper and have to check yourself: Is this weird? Am I doing something wrong? Am I feeling something wrong? …
5:22 PM
But, you know, I’m 32-years-old and haven’t abused any children, so I think I’m probably in the clear. (And for the record: No, I don’t feel any inclination to do so.) As I continue to explore and unpack my own guilt and shame about sex in general, I’m increasingly able to work through what I suspect is the self-loathing about sex that, in abusers, can only manifest by expressing their sexual needs on the powerless.

joeljohnsonIf you know the name Joel Johnson, it’s likely because he invented the gadget blog. From his reign as editor-in-chief of Gizmodo to his stint as BoingBoing’s gizmo-and-videogame guru, he’s brought humor and passion to a corner of the blogosphere only too happy to rehash press releases and drown in its own geek-drool.

But last week, Joel leapt genres and made a revelation that shocked many of his friends and fans: For many years during his childhood in Missouri, he was being sexually abused by his stepfather, Glen. In a piece he called “Why I’m Funny” and posted on his Website, joeljohnson.com, he recounted in surprisingly even tones the mind games, manipulations and lies that pretty much wrecked his family. Dadwagon recently spoke with him about dealing with the past and trying to figure out the future.

One of the things that amazed me about your piece is how free of overt anger it is. Are you not angry?

I’m still angry at times. But the further I’ve gotten away from my family, both emotionally and physically, the more my anger turned into plain old worry and fear and pain. I felt like in the story it was important to be honest, but clear.

Worry?

Worry about my brother, anyone else who might be at risk. And worry about my mother and what her years of denial have done to her. Worry that putting this in public might make things worse for everyone and not help. That’s part of the reason it took me years to decide to speak about this openly.

What finally made the decision for you? Was it the death of Timmy [a relative who had a long-term relationship with Glen] or something more than that?

It’s hard to say for certain. I do know that a confluence of things in my life has gotten me thinking about mortality and regret; I do specifically recall thinking, “If I die tomorrow without talking about this, I will feel like I’ve failed.”

It’s impressive that you could convey a sense of Glen as both a monster and your best friend. Was that your intent—to humanize him—or was that just a byproduct of being honest? In other words, did you see him that way before you wrote him that way?

It’s just the way it is. While I think Glen is mentally ill, I don’t like to believe that people are monsters. That humans can do such terrible things, that we all have the potential for being so fucked up… I guess I’d agree that it “humanizes” him, but not in the sense that it softens my perception of him.

That said, at this point, I don’t have much compassion left for him. He clearly is so broken that he either doesn’t see the repercussions his action have on those around him or he simply doesn’t care. He can be human and still reprehensible.

Are you expecting any legal repercussions to what you’ve written?

In what way?

I’m not sure—but the things you’re describing are criminal acts. Has the statute of limitations expired? Will this affect Glen’s professional life? Are there potential adverse effects for you?

Well, one thing that’s come to my attention is that charges were apparently filed. I got that part wrong. The difference was that without my testimony, the state accepted a plea bargain that kept him out of prison.

So I don’t think there’s anything else that might directly affect Glen or Mary Beth [my mother] legally. I don’t even know how much I care about that. My hope was never that he’d go to prison (although in retrospect that probably would have been better at the time), but that the situation would be dealt with openly and with full acknowledgement of the potential danger that others around him may be in. Clearly they’ve gone through great lengths to “put it behind them”, but in a way that I feel completely glosses over his lack of any true remorse or ownership of his responsibilities to the community.

As for me, I’m not worried about any legal whatevers. The only side-effects of telling the truth for me are the personal ramifications.

Now, the piece is called “Why I’m Funny,” but you don’t make the connection explicit. What is your sense of humor, and how does this explain where it came from? Or did you mean “funny” in a different way?

It’s the same old story as a lot of people with good senses of humor: mine developed in part as a way for me to deal with all the trauma at home. I’ve always been socially awkward, though, so I wouldn’t say that being abused was the singular genesis of my propensity to make dick jokes.

But I definitely meant “funny as in weird” as the subtext.

You’re famously a gadget guy, and a lot of your early experience with gadgets and videogames came from Glen showing you how to shoplift them. Not sure what question I’m supposed to ask. Maybe “Is it strange that your realm of expertise owes something to your abuser?”

I’ve been steeped in computers and technology for as long as I can remember. My grandfather was a programmer and tinkerer. I think having so many gadgets around due to our thievery certainly contributed to my fascination — or at least familiarity — with technology, but I suspect it would have happened even if Glen had never been in the picture.

Which sort of brings up your biological father, who appears only briefly in the story. When you were young, did you ever fantasize he’d show up and put Glen out of the picture? What’s your relationship with him like now?

You know, I’ve thought about that. Why I never told him. As silly as it sounds, I think it was that I didn’t want to move to Florida and leave my friends behind. I made a lot of decisions then that were short-sighted, but when you’re in a situation like that during your teen years, it’s hard to think of the bigger picture. I was just as busy worrying about girls and getting a job and wanting a car as any other stupid kid.

My relationship with my father is sort of goofy, but not because of anything that happened in relationship to the abuse. He’s just a kooky guy who is torqued differently than me. But we spend a fair amount of time together — drinking and scuba diving mostly — and talk on the phone here and there. I’m not going to be buying him a World’s Best Dad coffee mug anytime soon, but that’s just because we’re more friends than father-and-son. I know that had he known what was going on he would have done whatever he needed to do to help me. I know he feels a lot of guilt about what happened, but I don’t see the point in holding him responsible for something that he had no knowledge of.

Fair enough. Now, one of the obvious questions here would be the standard “What should kids in such situations do?” But this is a blog for dads, so: What should a father do if he realizes he’s becoming Glen?

If you are abusing your children: leave and seek counseling. Alone. You’re too broken to have a family. You don’t get to have them around for support while you try to fix your brain and your life. I mean, come on.

But I doubt very many fathers that abuse their children really second-guess their behavior. They probably are living in such a delusion of privilege that their ego doesn’t even let them consider that their failings might take self-sacrifice to fix.

So — no offense — but it’s a weird question. I just have a hard time conceiving of a person that would abuse their children having the humility to turn themselves in. But I’m not an expert. I just know what I’ve experienced. And in my case I have seen a man who has a sickness hurt ruin his family because of his selfishness, who, even when forced to face it head on. The conniving that he used to protect his sickness didn’t go away, because his own psychological issues were never addressed. He was instead forgiven by his church and his wife and, as far as I know from both personal experience and observation, went right back to his own selfish behavior.

It’s hard for me to square, because I personally believe in redemption. I think the attitude espoused by our society’s perception of crime and criminality is disgusting and shames us all. But if you’re a father who abuses his kids sexually, physically, or psychologically? I hope you find peace — but you’ve given up your moral right to be a father.

Final question: Are you planning/hoping for kids of your own?

Oh god.

I’m certainly not planning anything right now. I just got out of a relationship with a woman whom I hoped would become my wife.

I do feel like I want kids at times — especially when I get to spend time with my sister’s kids, who just fill me with light, even when they’re being precocious bastards — but I’m also not broken hearted that I don’t have any yet, either.

Being abused can make you really uncomfortable around kids, though. You hear people talk about the cycle of abuse, that most abusers were themselves abused, and you pause before giving a kid a bath or changing a diaper and have to check yourself: Is this weird? Am I doing something wrong? Am I feeling something wrong?

But, you know, I’m 32-years-old and haven’t abused any children, so I think I’m probably in the clear. (And for the record: No, I don’t feel any inclination to do so.) As I continue to explore and unpack my own guilt and shame about sex in general, I’m increasingly able to work through what I suspect is the self-loathing about sex that, in abusers, can only manifest by expressing their sexual needs on the powerless.


Responses

  1. karen says:

    March 2nd, 2010at 2:15 pm(#)

    I’m grateful to live on the same planet as you, Joel.

  2. George Burley says:

    March 2nd, 2010at 6:14 pm(#)

    You should want him prosecuted for what he has done for no other reason than to protect others from falling victim to this sicko.

    Writing a blog post about it isn’t going to deter people that most likely have not read your blog post. The children that he is exposed to on a daily basis as he goes about his life who’s parents have no clue what he is capable of.

    If for no other reason than to protect other children he deserves to be prosecuted.

    Quite frankly if my child was abused by this man after you didn’t push for prosecuting him for what he did to you… I would have a tremendous amount of anger for not only the abuser… but the the victim who allowed the abuser to continue abusing others.

  3. Cindy says:

    March 2nd, 2010at 6:25 pm(#)

    Thank you for sharing Joel. My brother was abused by his (our) biological father and he never has spoken of it. It destroyed him, and our father, who abused many, continues to live a life of denial, and continues to abuse. This despite me having testified against him for his abuse against me, with a resulting jail sentence.

    Many men/boys do not speak out as girls are most often seen as typical victims, and I applaud your courage. Thank you.

  4. Rick says:

    March 3rd, 2010at 12:42 am(#)

    Thank you Joel. Please consider Male Survivor, the country’s pre-eminent organization for adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse. They are always looking for well-adjusted and upstanding spokespeople. Your piece is absolutely inspiring and, best of all, I think it de-mystifies the stigma of having been a, gasp, capital S capital A sexual abuse victim. Hats off. Much love.

  5. Stuart says:

    March 5th, 2010at 9:24 pm(#)

    Joel,

    What courage.

    I feel that it is your continuing exposition of your feelings and thoughts which will grant you, or anyone who is an abuse survivor the best path forward…this is a tragedy every which way imaginable. People talk about killing other people more easily than they speak of sexual abuse.

    You are one strong human being.

    Warm regards,

    - Stuart

  6. Anna J. says:

    March 5th, 2010at 9:54 pm(#)

    George Burley, I haven’t felt as disgusted with anyone in years as I am disgusted with you right now. When you are a teenager being pressured by your family and role models to move on and accept your abuser, you are NOT thinking about the future, and it is NOT your responsibility to cover for adults’ failures. Mr. Johnson was a child when he reported the abuse.

    There’s a very apt metaphor for living with abuse: living in the path of the storm. When there’s a tornado heading your way, you aren’t thinking of what’s going to happen years from now. You’re thinking about surviving here and now.

    Yes, Glen should be in jail or a psych ward. But to imply that young survivors are responsible for their abusers’ later actions is disgusting and reprehensible. They’ve already been through enough.

  7. Greg Shilling says:

    March 5th, 2010at 10:18 pm(#)

    @George Burley
    In one of the analects of Confucius (and forgive me, I’m paraphrasing from memory), Confucius visits an unfamiliar district. A local official, wishing to impress Confucius, tells him that all the people here are very moral. The official says, “Our people have a such a strong sense of right and wrong that if a citizen should discover that his father has stolen, that citizen would immediately report the crime. Our citizens are very moral indeed!”
    Confucius replies, “Where I come from we define ‘moral’ very differently.”

    My point is this: it is no easy thing when loyalty to civil laws comes in conflict with the more primal feelings of loyalty to family.

    No one would argue that Glen’s actions were anything but reprehensible. But the complicity of his own family? That’s a much more ornery target for assigning guilt. The bonds that exist between members of the same family are never simple. Bonds of love, gratitude and trust exist side by side with the equally tenacious bonds of resentment, indebtedness, and our own feelings of guilt.

    To condemn Glen for his actions is certainly justified. But to condemn Joel for not prosecuting his stepfather to the fullest extent of the law…well that’s harder to defend.

  8. Matthew says:

    March 6th, 2010at 12:18 am(#)

    My mother also spent years denying the abuse perpetrated by my stepfather and then when it was unavoidable spent years accepting it always trying to make the marriage work. While I was of course furious with him, at the end of the day it is really my mother that I blame. Until he was in our house he was simply one of the many nut-jobs in the world, but Susan was my (our) only protector. Her need for the companionship of a man was so strong that it would outweigh even the most horrendous situations including arrests, broken bones and faces, vaginal and anal sutures.

    Clearly my nor your situations, Joel are unique. And I think our experiences are of the more obvious nature, but I think so many more, or maybe most, youth are also experiencing parents and connected adults who are ignoring their deepest needs because of neurotic attachments to relationships, money, the internet, prestige, etc. I feel that the American family no longer has much importance for many or most. That institutions may do as good of a job at raising kids as most parents. This is despicable.

    Addictions abound. Compulsiveness runs rampant. Therefore ignorance and avoidance of injustices seem to be defining our culture. Family is dead. And with the state of the environment as it is today, the rest of us are not far behind.

    I remember that complacency and addiction are red flags for me. Do not give in, Matthew, as you may do something unthinkable to someone without ever realizing the severity of the impact. So I remain a vigilant vagabond traveling and interacting with many sorts of folks and remain ready to give up any comforts in the interest of staying awake and emotionally authentic. Despair strikes hard some days, but a deep self-respect remains intact

    Thank you Joel. You’ve moved me and reminded me that I am not totally alone. I dream of a world filled with authentic people like you. And the tears on my face remind me that am alive

    -Matthew

    P.S. thanks for your gadgets – you’ve kept me informed and entertained for some time now. you’re a gem.

  9. Marty in Boise says:

    March 6th, 2010at 1:24 am(#)

    George Burley, thank you for having the courage to speak up in an internet comment thread against the threat posed to society by adolescent victims of sexual abuse who fail to meet your high ethical standards. Truly, you are a shining example to us all.

  10. Messedup says:

    March 6th, 2010at 2:10 am(#)

    Been there, survived that. Unfortunately I didn’t realize how messed up I was when I hit my 20′s. The idea that people who are abused go on to abuse others is very true. I never hurt children, I caused a lot of grief for people who got close to me, physically and mentally.

    It wasn’t until I reached my mid 30′s before I realized how much damage I was doing, how I was hurting people I cared about. Yeah, I did care about them, even as I was doing some messed up things, I really thought that’s how it’s done, that everyone does it that way, that’s what I learned growing up.

    One of the comments mentions jail as a deterent. Won’t work. If you don’t realize how messed up you are, how you’re hurting others, then the idea of punishment for what you think is normal and how the world works, just won’t deter anyone.

  11. Patrick says:

    March 6th, 2010at 8:09 am(#)

    Good on you, Joel.

    I have spent 25+ years working with child abuse survivors and their families, in counselling of abuse survivors (adults and children) and in the investigation of child abuse. I have a Masters (Hons) degree which focused on issues around child abuse, both historically and contemporarily.

    It is from this position that I want to attempt to allay some concerns you may have and maybe to settle the minds of others with similar concerns.

    The ‘common’ understanding about male sexual abuse survivors becoming offenders is based on research from the 1960s conducted in gaols.

    The number of offenders in gaol who claimed to themselves have been sexually abused as a child is quite high. However, the cohort (that is, those in gaol convicted of the child sexual assault offences) from which the research is drawn is not statistically valid for a number of reasons, including:

    1. Many offenders make such claims. It has been argued this is a ploy to help reduce the severity of their sentence. Other than taking their claims at face value, their has been little to no research to validate the claims. Naturally such research is hard to conduct.

    2. Those caught, convicted and gaoled are a very small number of the abusers who exist and as such are not representative of the population of males who are sexually assaulted as children.

    Though there is a ‘common sense’ belief that is often expressed as ‘victims’ becoming ‘offenders’ is understandable and while it is true that some males (and females) who have been sexually abused as children become adult offenders) the proportion is infinitesimally small relative to those who have been abused. Additionally there are a considerable number of other factors correlating with this outcome which do not commonly exist in people’s lives.

    What is more commonly shown is that survivors are more overtly driven to ensure that children are safe around them, act to ensure children and other adults are not sexually threatened by them.

    I hope this is information is of some help to you

    Finally I want to say congratulations on being brave enough to be so public about your experiences.

  12. depresso says:

    March 6th, 2010at 8:32 am(#)

    It’s a common excuse to blame being abused for perpetrating abuse and it’s just that; an excuse. Of course abusers don’t want to take responsibility for their actions. They’d have to admit they were doing something wrong and they were doing it because they chose to, if they did.

    Statistics, which obviously hindered by the fact that people don’t always disclose (which is fine – it’s entirely up to the survivors of abuse how they choose to handle their experience) back it up. While Joel is male, and the majority of abusers are male, the majority of victims are female. The so-called cycle of abuse wouldn’t even complete one turn if it were true.

  13. Just a reader says:

    March 6th, 2010at 8:51 am(#)

    For 2 years I was in a physically-, sexually-, and mentally-abusive relationship with a man who was abused by his stepfather while his mother kept her mouth shut. He acknowledged his behavior stemmed from his childhood trauma but didn’t seek help for himself (or us). He made it his convenient excuse. His house was a complete mess, a trash dump. Like his mind. A monster.

    I feel for Joel Johnson and his honesty.

    I wish my ex could have been more human.

  14. ER says:

    March 6th, 2010at 10:38 am(#)

    Joel:

    Thank you so much for writing with such honesty about your experiences. You really convey the sense of confusion, conflict and secrecy of your situation and I think it speaks to many abuse cases. I firmly believe that the secrecy and the conflicting emotions are a large contributor to the veil of abuse as it happens. If people talk about abuse experiences and all the messy feelings it brings up, it educates the public and keeps society safer. You have really done a service by speaking up and getting your story out there. I congratulate you for stepping up and doing the right thing, you are a courageous man. I’m so sorry you went through what you did, you didn’t deserve it. I feel privileged to learn of your story and you have my support and respect.

    Emily

  15. Michelle says:

    March 6th, 2010at 2:49 pm(#)

    Joel,

    If only there were more people in the world who are as funny as you! You are such a stand-up, aware, honorable, amazing person. I wish you peace and joy and lots of good love.

  16. Dree says:

    March 6th, 2010at 6:45 pm(#)

    Being abused can make you really uncomfortable around kids, though. You hear people talk about the cycle of abuse, that most abusers were themselves abused, and you pause before giving a kid a bath or changing a diaper and have to check yourself: Is this weird? Am I doing something wrong? Am I feeling something wrong?

    That, to me (not an abuse survivor), seems like one of the worst, nastiest “gifts” left behind by an abuser. The idea that you, yourself, might continue what was perpetrated. That bastard. Robbing you of the confidence to believe that you’re OK with kids (not “funny”) because of what he did. I’m inclined to believe Patrick based on the example set by my closest friend, a survivor who has a desperate devotion to kids and their civil rights. Our current system should have more options for children who are victims.

  17. Anonymia says:

    March 6th, 2010at 7:29 pm(#)

    Being abused can make you really uncomfortable around kids, though. You hear people talk about the cycle of abuse, that most abusers were themselves abused, and you pause before giving a kid a bath or changing a diaper and have to check yourself: Is this weird? Am I doing something wrong? Am I feeling something wrong?

    This paragraph…wow. In the back of my head, this is always there. This is one of the reasons why I still haven’t spoken about my own abuse. That, and the fact that part of me doesn’t even think it was abuse, and keeps trying to convince myself that it wasn’t, and that I’m OK.

    I have a child now, and I plan on having more, and no, I have never felt any inclination. But I am always checking myself. It’s like the experience made it so that no physical contact with anyone, ever, not even a brush against a stranger, nothing, is ever meaningless, always in the back of my mind is some hypersexualized interpretation.

    Sorry if this made no sense. That paragraph just floored me and I was caught completely off guard by how close it hit to home.

    I’m going back to my life now. Joel, thank you for sharing your story and thank you for this interview. You are braver than many including myself.

  18. BanjoDavid says:

    March 6th, 2010at 9:07 pm(#)

    I am sorry for your tough young life. For me, it was my Uncle Frank who was the family dirtbag. He sexually abuse me, my brother,at least 2 of my cousins, and probably his adopted son Craig, who was murdered in a bar fight.

    Frank was a good Catholic.

    Child raper, asshole bigot, anti-intellectual jerk.

    I went to his funeral 5 years ago. I threw a picture of me and my parents into the grave as they were shoveling dirt on him, to keep an eye on him.

    Hang in there. You can get past it. It will stop being so big in your mind, and you can find comfort and peace. But, it didn’t go away for me, though. You might be triggered by stories like this in the future, the way your story triggered me.
    Love
    David

  19. Fiona Mi says:

    March 7th, 2010at 1:59 am(#)

    This article feels groundbreaking for me. I had put Joel Johnson on a pedestal as a celebrity who was unapproachable because he has so many fans he has to protect himself. And then this just shoots through what I perceived as so many layers between me and him, to a level so revealing that I would feel privileged to have heard so much from my last long term lover.

    Joel I feel fucked wide open with your love for the world of humanity, and want to echo the previous comment that reading this makes me happy to live on the same planet with you.

  20. Kent Boyer says:

    March 7th, 2010at 4:35 am(#)

    Hey Joel – while not a victim of sexual abuse, I do know something about the deleterious effects of life-long secrets and how holding secrets becomes an all-consuming cancer. By speaking transparently about your experience, you have begun to free yourself from the only power a secret like this can have. Continued respect and admiration for your honesty and your journey my friend. I, for one, would be honored to have a son like you.

  21. Anon says:

    April 5th, 2010at 12:51 am(#)

    I have been friends with Joel for awhile now (going on four years or so), and he is somebody who has always impressed me with his wit, intellect and (especially) his willingness to stand up to powerful interests (to understand what I mean, Google for the video of his unaired appearance on AT&T’s tech TV. It’s incredible.).

    What Joel did may seem like it took an extreme mustering of courage, but it is entirely within Joel’s character. Quite frankly, I am convinced that this type of courage runs deep within him in a way that I both respect and envy. If there were more Joels in the world to cry “Bullshit”, the terrible forces in the world would have a much more difficult time getting things done.

    Anyway, Joel is a great guy and a great friend, and somebody deserving of our respect and love. It’s terrifying and often swept under the rug, but this sort of things happens more than anybody would like to admit. I just hope that public discussion of Joel’s experiences allows some child, somewhere to get help or get out.

  22. Shannon Best says:

    April 23rd, 2010at 10:30 am(#)

    Thank you Joel. You are a survivor and a hero in my book.
    -Shannon in Austin

Trackbacks

    parenting-news-snacking-gary-busey-on-fatherhood-obesity-and-bpa-strikes-again | 02 | 03 | 2010 | blog
  1. Matt is raising a LUSH! | DADWAGON
  2. Survivors News and Reviews » Blog Archive » Interview with Joel Johnson, Tech Blogger and CSA Survivor
  3. An interview with Joel Johnson on why he’s funny | Easybranches.com™
  4. An interview with Joel Johnson on why he’s funny | Technology Magazine
  5. A Week on the Wagon: Punching Bag Edition | DADWAGON
  6. Joel Johnson’s brave, too | dv8-designs
  7. Joel Johnson’s brave, too | The World Matters

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