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.

Telling

From my own experience and learning about other survivors, we usually start the healing journey by telling someone. That someone may be a person we've learned to trust, or we take the risk, hoping that person will understand.

Usually we start with innocuous statements and little detail, thinking if they can accept that, we'll tell more. It's sad, but sometimes those first answers push us back into silence. "I'm sorry," or "That was long ago." They don't mean to be unkind, but I assume that's a safe way for them to signal that they're not going to be comfortable or compassionate in listening.

The worst response is, "You're imagining everything. Who would do such a thing to a child?" Such responses usually come from family members who refuse to face the reality.

Then someone does understand and we sense that. Once we break the silence with a single, caring individual, we're ready to start healing.

Some rush to see a professional, and it's an excellent healing step. They can open up and have someone listen.

Others, like me, can't face opening ourselves to someone we don't know. I needed someone I could trust and who cared for me. Having a reliable person was like reversing the process. Someone I trusted violated me; a second person I trusted opened the door to healing.

Regardless, we're constructed in such a way that telling is the only viable way to healing. As long as we hold the pain inside, it never goes away. We may temporarily bury it, but it won't stay buried.

Here's one of my sayings: I know of myself only what I say of myself. That means, I know who I am only by saying the words, hearing them accepted, and affirmed by someone else. That "witness" verifies my experience.

I know of myself 
only what I say of myself.

1 comment:

Andrew Schmutzer said...

I also know of myself what I hear others survivors say of 'our pain.' Simply put, my support group of other male survivors showed me that one of them could say 3 words, and I understood 6. Through much tears, we gave each other the gift of words. We helped each other speak.