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.

The Real Me

(This is an encore post from John Joseph.)

The real me is the me I choose to be as a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. I cannot change my history. It happened to me. I was abused. This abuse was horrific, criminal, and damaging to me emotionally. It affected my entire life. Even though it is true that I was abused, the abuse doesn’t have to define who I am. Now I choose to rise above it and to live my life as a triumphant survivor.

I once heard a Jewish survivor of the Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz say, “The only real revenge is to live.” I resonate with those words. The memories of my abuse and the devastating effects on my life, especially in the area of emotions and relationships, never go away.

Each morning I wake to remember that I was abused. But I cannot afford to let my mind stop there. I have to take the next step into the conscious choice to live above the abuse.

Living above the abuse is never easy. When I think of the people who abused me or when I stumble into momentary fear or anxiety based in the abuse, I often react by shutting down emotionally (which only leads to medicating myself in destructive behaviors). Sometimes the only remedy is to do the next right thing. Often I pray. Reading something that brings me joy can help break me out of the downward spiral. Calling a friend who understands or writing in my journal can work. Whatever helps me out of the funk is how I choose to live above the memories and to remember the real me.

The real me is fearless. The real me is filled with joy and peace. The real me is creative and artistic. The real me is in love with life and with the goodness that it brings. The real me is a helper, a healer, and a friend. The real me is committed to meaningful relationships. The real me is the authentic person I am in spite of the abuse. The real me is triumphant and someone who, like the concentration camp survivor, reeks revenge on the enemies of my soul’s peace by living today.

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