WHY THIS IS A MUST-READ:
Be inspired by these individuals who endued the test of bicycling across the nation for a good cause, with the hope that their story will help others.
HAWLEY - Driven by his faith, but determined because of his experiences, Randy Boyd pedaled across the United States in an attempt to Stomp Out Shame this summer.
The native of California, Boyd was sexually abused by a man who would later become his stepfather when he was a child. Boyd told the News Eagle of his journey a day before concluding his ride in Hawley. Over 40 years later, Boyd remembers the first time it happened. Today, Boyd feels there is a bias for males who are sexually abused and so, his travels were an attempt to address the notion that there is a shame for anyone, especially males who have been sexually abused.
When he was young, Boyd’s parents divorced, leaving he and a brother with their “promiscuous” and “alcoholic” mother that Boyd believes cared more about herself than her children he said.
Gradually, Boyd’s father’s involvement in his life diminished and he eventually passed away, while he was still a child. Now, Boyd has questions about everything. His mother, Boyd said wasn’t capable of comforting him when necessary, but his father was his “hero.”
The sexual abuse started when Boyd returned home from school one day and the man, Jack was waiting for him. The whole situation was unusual, but Boyd said he wondered if Jack was going to be his new father figure since he was 12-years-old. Sitting, talking to him, Jack told Boyd how life was going to be hard without his father, but he would be there for him. It was then, that the sexual abuse started and continued for five years.
The first time he was sexually abused, Boyd questioned what had happened since it wasn’t violent and while he left the situation feeling uneasy, he figured he felt different because he didn’t really know Jack. Today though, Boyd said he should’ve listened to his instinct that something wasn’t right.
With his father’s passing and mother’s inability to comfort him, Boyd said he thought perhaps, Jack was showing him a “father’s love” since he was a “broken kid.” Eventually, Boyd’s mom and Jack became born again Christians. Even then, the abuse continued and the psychical abuse “got radical” as he beat Boyd and his mother. When a child is abused, it is then the “spirit is broken” Boyd said. The abuse, is not about the sex, but rather the “power over the person” since “people hurt people.”
There was a point, when Boyd’s pastor told him he knew what was happening, but it was a ‘part of growing up’ and he ‘wasn’t going to be gay’ Boyd recalled. Then, he “sunk in shame” and the abuse got worse. From that conversation, Boyd felt everything happening was his fault. The continual, constant abuse affected Boyd’s self-esteem and self-worth. He barely graduated high school.
Later, he turned to drugs and alcohol, despite knowing they weren’t the answer. Nobody knew of the abuse, in part because in 1975 such discussions weren’t common. The drugs and alcohol though, “grabbed me right away” Boyd said.
The abuse Boyd endured from Jack, went on to affect his relationship with his wife Cathy, and it wasn’t until he joined a men’s group that a lot of his questions were answered. One such answer was why he would crawl up into a ball after the couple made love. It was explained that “saying it feels good, ruins men” Boyd said, since that statement carries shame because one cannot “fight a good feeling.”
Since February 5, 2006 Boyd has been sober and if he were to drink again, he knows he would lose Cathy who stayed with him through his addiction. While addicted, Boyd was emotionally abusive and the family never knew who was going to return home as he was “carrying rage and anger” he said. Those feelings, Boyd thinks are not something people are born with because “everything is learned behavior.”
Men, Boyd believes don’t want to talk about their feelings since it may mean they are “weak.” The reality instead is that, “It takes a truly strong and courageous man to talk about his weaknesses.” A key though, is that the conversation happens in the “right format” Boyd explained.
There was a point when Boyd would use his abuse as a victim card he said, in part because he was unable to talk about what Jack had done to him and being told to “move on” are “death words to survivors” because one must forgive in order to go forward. The reality however, is that Boyd will never forget.
When he was 18, Boyd turned his back on god and for 38 years he “ran with the devil” as he used drugs, drank, chased money and hung with the wrong persons he said. It was February 1, 2006 that Boyd heard god tell him of his final extra chance, since he had already survived accidents and been abusing drugs and alcohol.
Eventually Boyd went to the Betty Ford Clinic and it was there that he received help from counselors that were “wonderful” he said; and it was then, for the first time in his life, his “feelings were validated” and was told it was okay that he was angry at what had happened to him.
For seven years Boyd was in therapy, twice a week because the “scars are deeper” than what can be imagined and the “damage is incomprehensible” he said. A key to getting better is the ability to forgive, but his own forgiveness took years to attain. It was during his fourth year of sobriety that Boyd’s therapist asked him ‘What was it like for Jack growing up?’ He wasn’t pleased with that question. While what Jack did was not okay, however, it explained his behavior Boyd learned.
Before his recent trip, Boyd said there was a lot he had to learn about himself and others as well as reconnecting with the Church. Cathy never gave up on their relationship she said, because she was taught that one must fight for what they have and “don’t give up” even if that meant she was codependent by drinking and drugging with her husband, since it “kept the peace in the house.” Cathy was the first-person Boyd told about being sexually abused and while she didn’t know what it meant exactly, she wanted him to get the help he needed. Through it all, Cathy supported the good and bad because, “I loved him” and she knew there was more to her husband; plus, walking away from a marriage wasn’t an option since she didn’t know that was acceptable she said. This month they’ve been married 34 years.
Boyd who is a life coach, has a degree in psychology and released a book “Healing the Man Within” in 2015. Boyd has created the Courageous Healers Foundation and now, with his ride complete, he would like to build a safe place where people can get the help they need in California. This recent ride was the start of his fundraising efforts to build a center, where there will be an aftercare program for men, women and families.
Riding across the country, at times Boyd said was “exhilarating” but also “hard;” especially in the state of Pennsylvania. With no problems and traffic being cooperative, he felt there were angels around him as he rode. Although Route 6 goes cross country, that is not the way Boyd traveled and as a result, he often discovered small towns and there, he had conversations, which he said was the purpose behind the ride since he was able to then, share his message. Overall the experiences was more than Boyd expected he said.
Eddie Fischer is a friend of Boyd’s, who he met while staying at the Betty Ford Clinic and during this trip, Fischer drove as he rode. Fischer, Boyd said encouraged him and made him laugh when it was needed. Their ride concluded in Pennsylvania because earlier this year Fischer was considering taking over a drug and alcohol ministry in Beach Lake. It didn’t work out. But, Fischer offered to drive because such services he said, is a part of recovery. The trip, was “fantastic” as he watched Boyd and saw his determination.
After concluding his ride in Hawley, Boyd said he became emotional as he was overwhelmed with everything. The last day of his ride was 50 miles from Wilkes-Barre to Hawley and it was a “beautiful ride.”
For families, Cathy said it is critical that they talk to their children about sexual abuse and have a conversation because “there is hope and healing.” Also, though, Boyd said kids need to know they are safe.
For more information about Boyd visit http://www.courageoushealers.org.