Rape in his youth affects his affection

Ask Amy

Amy Dickinson, Ask Amy Ask Amy

Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.

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DEAR AMY: I am a single, Christian male in my mid-50s. I was molested and raped from the age of 11 to 12 by a man who was a community leader and family friend. Though I have struggled with sometimes disabling depression for as long as I can remember, I realize it is probably a mistake to attribute all of my pain and dysfunction to this unfortunate history. An antidepressant I have taken for 10 years or so has allowed me to function at home and work, but I am still unable to tolerate the physical touch of another. This has presented an obstacle to establishing close relationships, particularly with women. My last therapist recommended a sexual surrogate, which is not an option. Must I resign myself to a solitary life?Damaged Goods

DEAR DAMAGED: I am not a clinician, but a sympathetic observer, and I am so sorry for what you have been through.

Professional help is vital. It is possible that you may have misunderstood the purpose of using a sexual surrogate, or the function of such a surrogate. In your case, it would not be for sex but to gradually introduce being touched by another human being.

Touch is a necessity for emotional and physical health. Most touch is not sexual, and it seems logical you should start with simple, brief and benign experiences involving touch -- having a hand or a foot massage, or having your feet washed at church, for instance. You are not consigned to a solitary life as long as you continue to do the hard work of reaching out for answers. The sexual abuse support group malesurvivor.org is a strong network of survivors for local or online support.

DEAR AMY: You asked for "worst wedding" stories. Here's mine. It involves my best friend. The minister was beyond sloshed during the entire ceremony. We were all so embarrassed for her we haven't mentioned it since.Wedding Hangover