“I actually think hate’s a drug,” says Sean Gillespie, formerly Aryan Nations. Sean was sexually abused by man in his neighborhood when he was a young boy. When it was discovered years later, Sean, still a kid was interviewed by a social worker and told what had happened. For some failure, somewhere in the system, nothing was done. His abuser still lives freely.

There’s nothing like rape, sexual abuse, molestation to fuel inner rage. Think about it. You’re a young kid and someone manages to trick you into going into their garage, drinking something spiked with them, taking a few pills and you wake up having been molested, or you willingly engaged because you’re told, “This is just play. Don’t you want to know how sex works?”

For boys, the pain and the pleasure can get intertwined. It’s not unusual for a boy to receive sexual pleasure when he’s being molested, even to orgasm. What does it mean to be pleasured by betrayal, by someone hurting you? What legacy does that leave?

For many it leaves a deep anger, smoldering embers that can erupt into a roar of flames at any moment, triggered memories acting like gasoline poured on a fire. For others it leaves a legacy of hate, self-hatred for many, but hating yourself only goes so far and it can end in suicide. Some try to drink and drug the pain away, others act it out, impulsively engaging in anti-social behaviors—taunting and beating up other kids, turning the rage outward.

Nothing works as well for fueling hate turned outward than a hate group that tells you, “You’re special because your white,” and everyone that is not, is fair game for your hate. “You should hate them because they are inferior to you, they are trying to take your jobs, trying to take your women, criminals and rapists, and you know who is orchestrating the whole thing? The Jews!” So many people to blame and hate.

And as long as you stay in the hate you don’t have to feel your pain. You don’t have to revert to that helpless boy, the one that couldn’t make it stop, the one that got tricked, that stupidly trusted, that felt pleasure when he shouldn’t have. You can just take all that hate out on others and make them feel your pain. It feels good even to send the pain outward, to express hate.

But the problem with any drug, including hate, is that it can dull the pain, redirect it onto others, but it doesn’t heal the core hurt. In Sean’s case he had to wrestle with the pain of having been molested, his family and his community failing to protect him, his own acting out and his family and community not understanding that it was just pain he was acting out, and ultimately his joining a hate group and getting imprisoned for his hate crimes.

No human being does well living in a cage and living in a cage surrounded by other angry people is really tough. Sean tried to kill himself in prison. But afterward he got help and he started a program for healing, working through all the fear, anger, sadness and hurt. He gave up hate. He’s out of prison now. He’s a mixed martial arts champion and he speaks against hate. You can hear him speak here.

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