This man held in the sexual abuse he experienced as child for most of his adult life. Three years ago, he shared it with the world, and is undertaking a long journey to help other survivors like him.
Christian Griffith’s mother was an alcoholic and a drug addict, but that was just the beginning of his problems at home.
Griffith’s mother started sexually abusing him when he was 13. Horrifically, the abuse wouldn’t end there.
After Griffith’s mother had abused him, a couple of men started to sexually abuse Griffith as well. Even after the physical abuse stopped, the emotional torture continued.
Griffith’s mother would do things like leave sexually explicit literature conspicuously around the house, mentally tormenting him too.
The abuse Griffith experienced would affect his mindset and behavior in his adult life.
“It pretty much shaped my entire life, especially the mother stuff, created 30 years of dysfunctional relationships.”
The abuse he experienced with his mother combined with the abuse he suffered at the hands of men was confusing for Griffith.
“I didn’t want anyone to know. So what do you do when you don’t want men, or anyone, to ever think you might have any kind of homosexual nature to you? Well, you go hyper in the other direction, so that’s what I did.”
Griffith wanted to pretend the abuse never happened. In order to cope, he started engaging in unhealthy behavior.
“You do whatever you can to cope with it, and that’s what I did.”
“But unfortunately, the coping mechanisms that I developed were never healthy,” Griffith explained to Humanity.
As a young adult, Griffith tried to sleep with as many women as possible. He became manipulative and disrespectful toward women.
He also received some positive reinforcement from his bosses and work colleagues, who regarded him as charismatic with women and as a good wingman.
At the time, Griffith didn’t think his behavior toward women was bad. He thought anyone who criticized him had other motivations.
The turning point for Griffith was when he met his girlfriend, Lindsay. They met at an endurance event, and immediately fell for each other.
However, Griffith’s manipulative, controlling, and shaming behavior continued.
Except, Lindsay wasn’t going to put up with it.
“She called me to the carpet on it. She said I really need to deal with these issues.” And she was the first to do so.
Lindsay wouldn’t let his behavior stand, and pushed Griffith to the point where he opened up to her, and told her about the abuse.
Lindsay was the first person Griffith had ever opened up to. Lindsay urged Griffith to seek treatment.
“I since learned that just coming out about it and talking about it is only the first step. Then you have to actually walk through the fire,” he said.
“You got to do the work to attack the behaviors and the coping mechanisms that you developed over 30 years, and that takes time.”
Griffith went to therapy to confront his issues and his behavior. He was reluctant at first, but now believes that treatment saved his life.
“It was her that pushed me into therapy. I went in kicking and screaming, but it totally changed my life, it improved our relationship.”
The first part of the healing process was being able to talk about the abuse, and Griffith opened up in a big way.
Griffith publicly came out about his abuse when he published an article entitled “Damn Right I Was Sexually Abused” in February 2015.
Griffith felt an immense sense of relief when he hit send, only to be followed by a profound sense of anxiety.
However, hundreds of people responded to his article on Facebook. The responses ranged from supportive messages to other survivors completely opening up about their own abuse.
Griffith knew he wasn’t the only one to survive childhood sexual abuse, and was determined to raise money and awareness to help other survivors.
Griffith admires the women that have been confronting their abusers over the past few months. From the #MeToo movement to survivors confronting Larry Nassar in court, Griffith is adamantly supportive.
The missing piece for Griffith is men being able to confront their abusers.
“I want to be a voice for the men. I want men to know and understand that its okay to talk about these things.”
Griffith’s experiences as an endurance athlete and communications professional would come together in his effort to raise money and awareness for the cause.
His cause would begin in the British Virgin Islands.
In April 2017, Griffith was running the Tortola Torture, which is a 35 mile race around the entire island, when an organization needing his help reached out.
Help For Children was opening up a satellite office in the British Virgin Islands. They asked if Griffith would allow them to sponsor him during the race with their logo.
After the race, Griffith called Help For Children with a big idea.
Griffith realized that running a normal marathon wasn’t going generate enough attention.
“I’m not going to run a marathon to raise money. I’m not going to run across the state to raise money. Because everyone’s done that. It’s vanilla.”
He decided to up the stakes—and run across the entire country.
Griffith told them he was going to run 3,000 miles to raise $1 million for Help For Children.
They loved the idea.
Griffith started his run on March 19, and departed from New York.
Griffith is currently in Pennsylvania, and will stop briefly to attend a Help For Children gala in Chicago. His final destination will be San Francisco.
The run should take Griffith about five months. Supporters can donate at Griffith’s fundraising page.
If he hasn’t raised $1 million by the time he arrives, he’ll keep running until he does.
“I’m driven. I’m determined. You will not stop me. If I can’t run I’ll walk. If I can’t walk I’ll crawl. If I can’t crawl I’ll slither. But you will not stop my effort moving forward, and to make a lot of noise about child abuse.”