This is a guest post by Bruce Hughes, Ph.D. Bruce is the founder of Broken Snares Unlimited, a speaking and writing ministry to those who have been caught in immorality of all kinds, such as pornography or any sin that keeps someone from having the joy God intended. He speaks from personal experience and says he enjoys a new life of freedom after claiming the victory found in Psalm 124:7, “Our soul is escaped as a bird out of the snare of the fowlers: the snare is broken and we are escaped.”
Continued from Part 1
Satan used a particularly common yet deadly snare to trap me starting in my early childhood years.
When I was approximately 4 and 5 years-old, a young man in his late teens sexually abused me numerous times. He never caused me any physical pain and he always bribed me with gum and candy. He did things to me, and I did whatever he wanted. God created us to enjoy and receive pleasure from sexual touch, but I did not know at that tender age that what was happening was wrong. He called me his little buddy and told me not to tell if I wanted to continue to get the candy. I never told.
By the time I was 6 years-old my family had moved and I did not see this man for years. There didn’t seem to be much harm to me as a result of those contacts until I was twelve. I went on a camping trip and was required to sleep in a tent with two older teens. In brief, what happened to me in that tent that night changed the rest of my life. The older teens engaged me in activities much like what had happened when I was a preschooler. At first I willingly participated since I had been told years before that this is what guys do. However, everything turned very bad and I was severely abused and threatened with bodily harm if I ever told. They called me worthless and tormented me over the next two years in school. I heard from a friend that they were telling horrible stories about me to others. I did not dare to defend myself.
After two years the oldest and most aggressive of the two boys graduated, and I felt some relief at school. I was determined to prove, at least to myself, that I was not worthless. I studied harder and got involved in school activities. I became a leader in my class and in the whole senior high school. Over the next several years I continued to be on a mission to prove my worth. In all my jobs I excelled and often received recognition. I even pursued the highest degree I could, a Ph.D., as an effort to fight against the label of “worthless.” I was asked to give the valedictorian address at my doctoral graduation. I mention these things not to brag, but to illustrate the lengths that I would go to prove my worth. But guess what? None of it worked.
All through those years I never felt satisfied that I was good enough. I accepted Christ at age eighteen, and I thought that would solve all my self-worth issues. I believed that God loved me and that as the saying goes, “He don’t create no junk.” I was what people believed to be a model Christian. My wife and I worked as youth leaders for twenty years and I taught the teen Sunday school class during that same time. After that I taught the adult Sunday school class for over fifteen years, and I served as a deacon and trustee in our church. Our sons went to a Christian school and college. One son became a pastor himself. I have a wife that most men would long to have because of her love for the Lord and for our family.
But everything is not what it seems. Satan never let me forget about my sin as a preschooler or a preteen. Yes, even though I might be considered a victim, what I did was sin. I never felt worthy of God’s love. It ate away at me and the fact that I never told anyone made the suffering all the worse. I thought, “If people knew the real Bruce Hughes, they wouldn’t like him very much.”
One night, as I was working on a Sunday school lesson for the adult class, I was researching demonology. Suddenly a series of pop-ups appeared on my screen, and I could not get rid of them. The final one was a picture of child pornography. It showed three boys engaging in sexual activity, much like what had happened to me at age twelve. I was panic stricken. The picture had the name of a website across the bottom. It included the word “buddies.” Just what my first abuser used to call me. I had to turn the computer off to get rid of the images.
A couple of weeks later, late at night, in a very depressed state, I made the mistake of my life. I typed in the name of that web site and hit the enter key. There I discovered that the site had several more images, but more importantly, it was a bulletin board, and anyone could place comments there. I was amazed to find that there were many comments from men who, like me, had been abused. Some were condemning the site while others were condemning those who were victims for visiting the site. I did not place anything on the site, but I did become addicted to going to that site and other pornographic sites that were advertised there.