…the parched land shall become a pool, and the thirsty lands springs of water…(Isaiah 35:7)

Don’t Tell Me to Shut Up

By Rex Goode


Warning: If you are triggered or otherwise bothered by frank discussions about childhood sexual abuse, pass this post by.


Nothing annoys me more than being told I can’t talk. Being talked over or any other form of suppressing my self-expression has the same negative effect on me. I recently cam to understand not only where this comes from but why it is still bothers me so much.

It began when I was three years old when I was first sexually abused by an older male. At that time, and in my family’s culture, talking back to an adult was strictly forbidden. Adults in the family were to never be questioned as to the things they did. If an adult did it or said it, it was right.

This attitude was not unique to my family. I’ve seen it in other families, even now in the twenty-first century. At the time the older adult male exposed himself to me, as a prelude to other things, I knew in my young mind that to question the behavior was unacceptable. I could neither object in the moment nor complain about it later.

I was taken out of that environment around the age of four and away from that particular abuser. It was the proverbial journey out of the frying pan and into the fire. Another male in a completely different branch of my family began to molest me at the age of six. He was not an adult, so the message that I was not to talk about it had to be delivered more directly.

This shutting up message was delivered in different ways. I was told that the things he coerced me to do were because I wanted to do them. They were my fault. My mother would be disgusted by me. I was warned that if I did tell anyone that I would be harmed, or even worse, my mother would be harmed.

The warnings were punctuated by enough physical abuse to drive home the point that my abuser could carry out his threats if he chose to. The main message of all of it was, “Shut up or die.”

As my kids were growing up, I was determined that they would be able to speak up if something an adult did bothered them. I remember when one Primary leader complained that my youngest son was too mouthy.

While I didn’t condone wanton disrespect of teachers, I have long felt that healthy adults can take a little bit of criticism from children. I certainly didn’t want my children to feel they had to cooperate with everything adults wanted them to do or keep secrets about the things adults have done.

When I moved to Ohio a few years ago, shortly after publicly acknowledging my struggle with same-sex attraction, I had a rocky start with local leaders. Once they got a better sense of who I was and my commitment to the gospel and Church, I gained their trust.

Not only were they willing for me to talk about same-sex attraction and child abuse, they asked me to do firesides about these things in the stake. With the assistance of the same-sex attraction support group advisors, we did two firesides, one in my ward.

Then, when my mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, I moved my family back to Oregon so I could be near her in her final months. Some men I had come to know in the Portland area who struggled with same-sex attraction asked me to help them start a support group here.

As part of the effort to get that group going, which is now going and quite successful, I was asked by various local leaders to keep a low profile regarding my same-sex attraction. I’ve struggled these last ten years with that counsel. It has been very difficult for me.

I’m only now starting to recognize that this advice to not talk too much about my struggle with same-sex attraction and my survivorship from childhood sexual abuse feels bad to me because it so closely mimmicks the demands of my abusers to keep quiet and not talk about it.

I fully recognize that it isn’t fair to people to compare those who think I shouldn’t be so open about my struggles to my abusers. The former is a mere opinion while the latter is pure evil. I’m only talking here about how it feels to a man who was once silenced by a predator’s threats to be silenced now.

Obviously, I’m not all that silenced. This blog can be read by anyone. Maybe that makes me rebellious or something. Locally, I don’t talk about these things. It’s a big adjustment for me. Nine years after I moved back here, it still seems more healthy to me to be open than to be closed. I tried the “closed” thing and it led only to trouble.

So, disagree with me if you like, but don’t waste your time telling me I ought to shut up. I rejected that message years ago.

1 person likes this post.

One Response to “Don’t Tell Me to Shut Up”

  1. Deanna said:

    I so agree with you. It irritates me to be told not to tell people that I am a sex addict. I hate dodging questions about why I haven’t been to the temple. I hate dodging why I wasn’t at the Relief Society activity because I was at an ARP meeting. I’d rather just tell everyone and let them react however they choose to react.

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