I hurt for a long time because of childhood sexual abuse. Now I want to provide a safe place for hurting men to connect with other survivors of sexual abuse. Talk to us. You don't have to use your real name to share your experiences or ask questions.

Sorting It Out For Yourself

(This post, submitted by Jim Hopper, is from a page at www.1in6.org.)

How people define their own experiences, and the labels they give to them (or don't), are very important.

We're not interested in imposing labels, or even providing definitions. For our purposes, that's not necessary or helpful.

Instead, we're offering tools for thinking about childhood or teenage sexual experiences that may have caused or contributed to current problems.

For some of you, that's why you're here right now. You're trying to sort out, on your own terms:

· "What was that childhood (or adolescent) sexual experience really about?"

· "What effects has that experience had on me?"

· "Is that a reason why I'm struggling with _________?"

The question, "What was that sexual experience really about?" may be the most basic, and could take a while to sort out. It implies other questions, like:

· Was the other person in a position of power or authority over me?

· Was I manipulated into doing sexual things, or into believing I wanted to, even when I really didn't?

· Did sexual activity change what had been a positive relationship into one that involved secrecy and shame?

· Was the other person using me and not really considering my experience or my needs?

· Did the other person take advantage of vulnerabilities I had at the time – feeling isolated and lonely, feeling excited and curious but ignorant about sex?

These questions speak to possible exploitation, betrayal, and disregard for your well-being – experiences that can cause a variety of problems, right away and into adulthood.

No matter how old the other person was, if dominance, manipulation, exploitation, betrayal or disregard for your well-being were involved, the experiences(s) may have contributed to problems in your life now.

We are not pushing anyone to condemn or even to label the other person or people involved… Also, such experiences may have involved attention, affection and physical sensations that, at the time, you found pleasurable and in some way wanted (e.g., in a confused way mixed up with shame).

The point of trying to "sort things out," if you choose to do so, is to understand whether – and if so, why and how – the sexual experience(s) may have helped to cause some problems you have now (like problems with shame, anger, addiction, or depression).

We're providing resources for sorting out what makes sense to you, and for sorting out the options for dealing with your unique experiences and moving closer to the life you want.

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