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  • Writer's pictureAllan Shedlin

Where the Fu*k Was My Father?

Guest Post by Doug Erwin


An introductory note from Allan:

When Doug Erwin virtually handed me the letter he wrote below (via email), he said two things:

  1. You’re the first person I’m sharing this with; and

  2. Where the fuck was my father?! He should have been protecting me!

It is Doug's and my wish for all who have suffered unconscionable abuse that his coming forward will help reduce – perhaps even eradicate – the suffering that is caused when one human being abuses another.

After reading the letter, I told Doug I was so sorry he had experienced this childhood trauma. I told him I was honored that he felt comfortable sharing it with me, and asked him if I might share it here on the Daddying blog because it raised such important issues about "fatherhood." (We've always maintained that when we refer to fathers in our work, we refer not only to biological fathers but also to grandfathers and other men who play "fatherly roles.")

Doug encouraged me to share it and said he preferred I use his real name rather than making it anonymous. He felt it would help his ongoing process of healing. And by drawing attention to this horror and making it more personal, perhaps the obscene number of people who have suffered similar atrocities would no longer be seen only as a congregate, which has had the effect of depersonalizing the issue.

He hoped publishing the letter might lead to minimizing the chances it will happen again.

We agreed that:

  1. Because we are living at a time when there is so much attention on the issue of sexual abuse (Women's USA Gymnastics, Me Too movement, Catholic Church, National Women's Soccer League, Boy Scouts of America, teachers/coaches, etc.), it was important to add his story and provide another opportunity for healing and accountability; and

  2. Because when those in a position of trust violate its sanctity, it must be made known in the hope that it might serve a preventive purpose.

Doug Erwin, age 11

As we discussed Doug's trauma, we talked about the mind-boggling numbers of victims who have been brave enough to come forward and may only be a small percentage of those abused.

We spoke about the inconsistency of laws from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and how they contrast with the consistency of the abuses. Thus, we noted the unfortunate need to distinguish between "justice" and "law." We also spoke about the crying need for changes in both our legal and our justice systems.

Finally, we spoke about my research on the daddying qualities most desired by children. At the top of the list is "being there" for your child. Rounding out the top five are "be a passionate advocate for us" and "provide us with security and affection."

It is Doug's and my wish for all who have suffered unconscionable abuse that his coming forward will help reduce – perhaps even eradicate – the suffering that is caused when one human being abuses another.

Doug's letter (with his brief email note to me) is presented below, verbatim and with his permission. Following his letter, we've included several links to organizations that help victims report and seek support for cases of abuse and sexual violence.


Allan, I am attaching a letter I wrote last night that I have not mentioned or shared with you before. I'm one of the 85,000 men abused by their Boy Scouts leaders. The following letter to the Judge tasked with the bankruptcy (with more than money)...tells it all. Doug

September 22, 2021

Your Honor,

Sixty-three years ago at age eleven, I was an 80-pound underweight, fatherless, repressed Boy Scout. My mother was a waitress in the Greyhound Bus Depot, working 60 hours a week, providing for three children. Her desire for me to have male role models led her to trust my sixth-grade science teacher and Boy Scout leader.

Of the dark stories I have been able to share with my therapist, the worst was of the attempted rape...only aborted because I was "still too small." I had the foresight to know something was terribly wrong and walked home in the middle of the night to sit on our porch until my mother's protective sense knew something was amiss and came to the door to find me.

Mine is only one of literally thousands and thousands of stories to be unearthed as a result of the BSA Bankruptcy lawsuit and is not the worst. Nonetheless, it took over 60 years to tell.

The negotiations by the Tort Committee have been diligent, exhausting, and serving the interests of us who have filed because of the BSA Bankruptcy suit. And to be frank, I have received four months of therapy provided by the BSA that has taken me from a very dark experience because of the child sexual abuse I endured and led me to understand the residual effects that have encumbered my life.

Thank you, BSA, for doing the responsible thing.

However, in the last Tort meeting we were told that depending on the LAWS of the state where the abuse occurred, there were statutes of limitations that defined the amount of recompense each survivor would receive. For instance, a person in New York State with a high level of abuse could receive $1.2 million, while another survivor from a state with a short statute of limitations with similar abuse could receive nothing.

I am from one of those states, Nevada, that the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse was/is two years. For me, that would have been 1958-59 when even the mention of such abuse was incredulous. We were told that even though it was abhorrent, and turns the Tort members' stomachs, nothing can be done. Because of this law, I will possibly be one of the victims who has the potential to receive nothing in compensation.

$1.2 million – nothing.

That 11-year-old child wants to scream, "That’s not fair! Violated twice!" I am asking you to make this settlement more fair for all of us. Surely, there is a way.

With great respect,

Douglas Erwin Troop 50 1958-59, Elko, Nevada

* * *

If you or a child/adult you know has been the victim of sexual violence or other abuse, here are some resources for reporting:

Boy Scouts of America (BSA) victims:

For immediate assistance: 24/7 Scouts First Helpline 1-844-Scouts1

For immediate assistance: 1-800-656-HOPE

Natl Center for Missing & Exploited Children CyberTip Line:

Natl Coalition Against Domestic Violence:

24/7/365 Hotline: 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE)

TTY 1-800-787-3224


Doug Erwin is a husband, father, grandfather, brother, teacher, and artist. He was raised in a time when children were to be "seen and not heard." Doug has dedicated his life to making sure children get the attention and love they deserve, and is a dedicated father for his children, unlike his own absent father. A boy who was told he would never be let in the doors of a college or university, Doug graduated on the dean's list, with three degrees and the distinction of being a “School Master.” With his life dedicated to children, particularly elementary school age, Doug created a nonprofit organization that literally circled the globe using art as the tool to teach diversity, tolerance, and peace through art. In retirement, he is focused on his own art, gardening, and volunteering at his local Folk Art Museum as a docent for children.


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