PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- New York Mets knuckleballer R.A. Dickey openly discussed Tuesday the sexual abuse he said he endured as a child, which he chronicles in detail in memoirs due to hit bookstores later this week.
Dickey, author of "Wherever I Wind Up," said he was victimized by two separate perpetrators during the summer he was 8 years old -- by a 13-year-old female babysitter and a 17-year-old male.
"I started writing the book in 2005, and it was too painful then to write," Dickey said. "So I set it down a couple of years until I felt like I had the equipment to be able to hold it well and talk about it, in an effort not only for my own catharsis, but as a possibility to help other people. Sure, it's been difficult, but I feel like I'm OK with it.
"It's almost like the bullying stuff," he continued. "Unless you talk about it, unless it gets out there, unless you know there are people that care about you regardless of what has happened to you, unless you know that, it's hard to get to the place where you feel comfortable not only talking about that, but talking about what it's made you into.
"One of the hopes I have for the book, and will have as long as it's out, is that people will be able to draw something from it that may help them -- whether it's to talk about it more, not to be afraid, to be open with what's happened, and that there are people available that will love you no matter what. I kind of grew up in a place where I didn't necessarily feel that."
In the autobiography, Dickey also discusses finding a syringe in the Texas Rangers' clubhouse in 2001.
As detailed in the book, Dickey reveals how he felt disgust with the prospect of teammates cheating when he spotted the syringe. He made four appearances for the Rangers during the '01 season, while primarily pitching for Triple-A Oklahoma City.
"The sight of it makes me cringe, the shiny thin needle lying randomly on the tile floor," Dickey writes. "My mind races with thoughts about how and why it got there. I know as much about needles as I do about jewelry, but I'm pretty sure this isn't a sewing needle. I don't know if this syringe injected a Ranger with insulin or cortisone or B12 or anabolic steroids, though you can hazard a guess when you run through the roster of my muscle-laden teammates.
"I'd never seen a syringe in a baseball clubhouse before. I've not seen one since. It may have been used for the most benign of purposes, but the mere sight of it makes me feel as though I am looking straight at Evil -- like seeing a weapon somebody left behind at a crime scene."
Dickey said he did not feel he violated clubhouse etiquette writing about the syringe because he was nonspecific in terms of potential violators.
"That was so much more of just a general observation," Dickey said. "I wouldn't know where to begin on that team. I mean, Ken Caminiti, for one -- admittedly. [He] was on that team when I was there. You just never know."
Dickey said the clubhouse culture with respect to tolerance for cheaters has changed anyway.
"Certainly the evolution has been such that, in this era of player, presently, I think there's a lot of people who have a real distaste for steroids and being able to counterfeitly enhance yourself," Dickey said. "I think there are a lot more people who are willing to say, 'You know what? I would rather there be a great testing process in place.' And I think that speaks volumes for Major League Baseball. They've done a good job to not only eradicate that, but to develop a culture where that's frowned upon. The culture was different."
Regarding the sexual abuse, Dickey said he concealed it for 23 years.
Until today, he said, only 10 to 12 people in his inner circle were aware.
He said about telling his wife: "That was really, really difficult. Part of being sexually abused is you feel like you're damaged, you feel like if people knew the truth you would be looked at in a certain light, or you would be broken and fractured. So you don't risk it. That's one of the things I wish I would have done better. I just didn't possess the equipment or the vocabulary to do that well with her, and it cost me. It was tough on our marriage for a long, long time. When I told her, she loved me despite the ugliest parts of my life. It really did a lot for our relationship."
Dickey said he never has approached law enforcement about the alleged abuse. He said he would not know where to start with the alleged male perpetrator.
Dickey does openly discuss the babysitter incident in the book.
"The babysitter chucks the pillows and stuffed animals out of the way," he writes. "She looks at me and says, Get in the bed. I am confused and afraid. I am trembling. The babysitter has her way with me four or five more times that summer, and into the fall, and each time feels more wicked than the time before. Every time that I know I'm going back over there, the sweat starts to come back. I sit in the front seat of the car, next to my mother, anxiety surging. I never tell her why I am so afraid. I never tell anyone until I am 31 years old."
Dickey said he still lives with the abuse incidents.
"It's always there," he said. "As many mechanisms as you develop for trying to run away from the pain or something like that, it's never enough. As deep as you push it back in the cabinet, in the recesses of your mind and your heart, they often come back, in various different forms even. But it's always there. It's something you never forget. I mean, I'll never forget it as long as I live. But I think the step for me was dealing with what it was and processing through to the degree that I felt like I could hold it well and walk forward with it and do the best I could."
Dickey climbed Mount Kilimanjaro during the offseason to raise awareness for human sex trafficking in India. He said deciding to combat that abuse was no coincidence.
"You're always drawn to things that are personal to you," he said. "Not only do I have two daughters myself, but I've been through some things that can help me to empathize with not necessarily the intensity of someone who has been human trafficked into a brothel, but I certainly know the feelings of being taken advantage of in that way."
Dickey said recent events such as the alleged Penn State scandal hopefully have allowed people to be more open in discussing sexual abuse.
"Thankfully, I think it's done a lot," Dickey said. "I hope sexual abuse is never looked at in the same way as something that is taboo to talk about or something that's tough to openly discuss. We all have our issues. We all have had our adversities in our lives."