I shut the incidents from my memory: Raphael's story
Updated: Sep 1
I was sexually molested as a kid.
Growing up, I shut the incidents out of my memory. In my mind, I moved on.
I had no idea how much pain I was in. And as a teen, I covered that pain with alcohol and drugs.
I was a party animal. I could drink more alcohol than anyone, I could get higher than everyone. I took some crazy risks.
I was screaming inside.
I always took things way too far. I broke some bones, and I blacked out often.
And then there was the other stuff. Stuff that I knew I would take to my grave. Porn. Lots of it. All day and night.
Prostitutes. Whenever I could. Thousands of dollars wasted for moments of pleasure turned quickly to disgust and self-loathing.
No one knew about my sex addiction. Everyone knew about my substance abuse, and I visited clinics and addiction centres to try and deal with those issues.
Somehow, I graduating University and got a decent job. I was able to keep it all together until my addictions overtook my life and I got fired.
That's when I came to Chabad Lifeline.
I still remember the screening. The questions on the paper I was asked to fill in.
They asked me about my sexual behaviours. I remember my outrage. This is personal! How dare they ask me about my private habits? So I minimized my pornography use and made no mention of paying for sex.
Looking back, I don't think I fooled their intake team.
Chabad Lifeline helped. My Addictions Counsellor began subtly alluding to my sexual life, and after several months I finally opened up about my activity. It was the first time I had ever spoken so openly about my greatest shame.
Admitting to the porn and prostitutes was cathartic. I walked out that day with two things: an appointment with Jennifer (Kotry, Chabad Lifeline's Certified Sex Addiction and Trauma Therapist) and a tremendous feeling of relief.
Jennifer helped me recognize that my primary addiction was sex. I was covering up my behavioural addiction with substance abuse. Thanks to her (and the groups and other staff at Chabad Lifeline), I was eventually able to open up about my molestation. I was able to get to the root of my pain. To the trauma at the heart of my addiction.
I think that none of this would have been possible had Chabad Lifeline not made me feel that discomfort at having to disclose more than what I initially came in for.
I thought I was coming in to talk about drugs and alcohol, but that intake questionnaire threw me off balance and ultimately started the path to my real, lasting (knock on wood) sobriety (over eight years!).
My life has changed since I stepped into Chabad Lifeline. I'm a productive member of society, and I've settled down.
Now I am able to wholeheartedly repay Chabad Lifeline for their kindness and their professionalism in helping me rebuild my life.
I support Chabad Lifeline’s yearly raffle by buying tickets. This year because of the additional demands for interventions placed on Chabad Lifeline by the novel coronavirus, funding the raffle is more critical than ever.
Please consider buying raffle tickets this year in support of this crucial and essential service: helping people overcome addiction and reclaim control over their lives. The draw is on September 10th, in a little over a week.
You can get your tickets here: lifelineraffle.com.