T.J. Wilmering is lending his voice to the national outcry against sexual abuse and harassment.
The same week Time Magazine recognized Silence Breakers as "Person of the Year" for the social media movement to end harassment and abuse of women, Wilmering said don’t forget about boys and men who are abused.
“There is power in voices,” said Wilmering. “I really wanted the voice of men who had been abused to be heard. It’s such a difficult topic to bring up, to say, to voice publicly, and I just wanted to be a part of that. I was abused and I was tired of hiding it.”
Wilmering, an elementary school teacher in Webster Groves said he was repeatedly abused as a child.
“I was molested my entire childhood and my teenage years. I was raped at the age of nine and again at the age of eleven. It was very extensive and it’s something I still have to deal with today.”
PTSD, depression, and flashbacks are the by-products of Wilmering’s childhood sexual abuse.
Wilmering said months of news stories about sexual harassment and abuse have affected his emotional health. But, he said he’s encouraged that more high-profile men are breaking their silence about abuse.
Men like Broadway actor Anthony Rapp, who accused Oscar winner Kevin Spacey of sexual assault when Rapp was 14 years old and Spacey was 26. And Terry Crews, an actor and former pro football player who went public about a 2016 party where he says he was groped by a prominent Hollywood agent.
“For me I think it actually goes back to the Penn State coach, that’s when it really started affecting me a lot,” said Wilmering. “And now recently, with all the publicity in the news, one person after another, it just keeps reminding me what I went through. But it also reminds me I am not alone.”
After more than 26 years of teaching, Wilmering said he’s retiring at the end of the school year. He said his retirement years will be spend speaking against the sexual abuse of boys and men. Now that he’s found his voice, this silence breaker isn’t going quietly.
“There’s strength in numbers. I think the more people talk about this the harder it’s going to be to hide it, the harder it’s going to be for the pedophiles to do what they’re doing,” said Wilmering. “It makes me proud that I’m able to stand here and say without embarrassment, I was sexually molested. I did nothing wrong.”