During the final season of "The Oprah Winfrey Show," 200 men who had been molested as children came forward to help shatter the stigma of male sexual abuse. Each of them held a picture of themselves at the age when they say they were first sexually abused. Chad Fletcher, a father of two, was among the survivors that day, holding a picture of himself at age 7.
Fletcher bravely shared his story back then, revealing that his abuser was his own father, a man that Fletcher claimed only paid attention to him when he was being molested. This sexual abuse continued for seven years, Fletcher said, happening sometimes as often as four times a week.
"It seemed to me like every time my mother would leave the house that the abuse would happen," he said.
Fletcher wondered if his mother had an inclination that something was going on. Then, when he was 17, he says he found the courage to tell his mom about the abuse. However, she remained married to Fletcher's father, which Fletcher admittedly found difficult to reconcile. "I mean, she's been talking in the last six months that she's ready to leave him. I guess until it happens..." Fletcher shrugged.
A father himself, Fletcher also told Oprah that he struggled with the relationship between his children and their grandparents. Though he refused to allow his children to spend the night with his parents, Fletcher had not been keeping them apart.
"They've been to the house. They've been around him," he said. "My mom knows that if she picks the kids up from my house... she doesn't go back to [her] house with them."
"With all due respect to your mother... How could you possibly trust your mother with your children, that your mother would do the right things by your children when your mother did not do the right thing by you?" Oprah asked.
Five years after that "Oprah Show" appearance, Fletcher now tells "Oprah: Where Are They Now?" that sharing his story was "one of the most powerful experiences" he's ever had.
"I was surrounded by men that I knew had been through the same thing as me... [It was] like we had known each other before, and none of us had ever met each other," Fletcher says.
As for Fletcher's parents, they separated a few months after the episode aired. Today, Fletcher's relationship with his mother is both healthy and strong. "It's better than it's ever been," he says. "It's basically to the point of a relationship that every son would want to have with his mom."
Since then, Fletcher adds, his mother has apologized to him for doing nothing to stop the abuse. He holds no anger or resentment toward her.
"She's such a caring individual, and she has such a big heart," he says. "[My father] was very verbally abusive and kind of controlling... I don't know if her mind was just so beat up and she didn't feel like she could have a life by herself."
Though Fletcher went the next four years without speaking a word to his father, the two did have a conversation around last Thanksgiving.
"I called him to tell him that I had forgiven him," Fletcher says. "I didn't want to live with the resentment towards him. It was actually a pretty powerful tool, for me."
Still, Fletcher would have liked to see his father face consequences for the pain and shame that he caused. He says that his father has admitted to the molestation, but due to the statute of limitations, he hasn't faced any jail time.
"It's almost like he got off scot-free," Fletcher says. "I kind of hope that he sits around sometimes and thinks about it, and it hits him."
"Oprah: Where Are They Now?" airs on OWN, the Oprah Winfrey Network.
Need help? In the U.S., visit the National Sexual Assault Online Hotline operated by RAINN. For more resources, visit the National Sexual Violence Resource Center's website.
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