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.

Control Issues

Every person I know who was sexually assaulted struggles with control issues. Or perhaps power issues is the better term. We tend to have to be in charge (in control) of things or we surrender and give up any self-assertion. Some vacillate between the two extremes.

I am a controller, although many people don't recognize it. For instance, recently I was at a dinner meeting and five of us were at one table. I started the conversation going and kept it moving. One woman was largely silent while the rest of us laughed and joked. When there was a pause, I turned to her, a woman I didn't know well, and said, "You've been quiet. So tell us five things about yourself that you don't want anyone to know."

Everyone laughed. I was in control. She responded in a joking manner and entered the conversation. That's what I call benevolent control. There have been other times when my assertiveness (or aggression) has been more self-centered, such as my need to protect or defend myself. In the past, if a conversation tended to go in an unwelcome or dangerous way I cracked a joke or changed the topic.

I rarely need to do that these days.

I'm learning to give up unhealthy power—the kind of control that belittles or hurts others. I want to submit gracefully to those who still need to assert themselves. I recently spoke at a conference and the leader did a few things I didn't personally like, but I thought about her actions and said to myself, so what? Who'll remember? Who will care?

In that instance, I knowingly and consciously gave up control and it was all right.

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