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.

Don't Let Them Say It

Most of us encounter individuals who pry into our lives or ask questions that trigger memories, or they're just unaware of how offensive their remarks sound. Some people don't know what to say or do.

The next time someone says something inappropriate, we need to be able to quietly-but-firmly reply with something simple such as "I don't want to talk about that."

One of my friends smiles and says, "Can you keep a secret?" The other person always answers yes. "So can I," he says and says no more. They usually laugh. If they don't get it, he walks away.

That approach may not work for everyone (and it's not something I'm comfortable doing), but I suggest we find simple-but-kind responses to irresponsible statements. I remind myself that because they're rude or insensitive I don't have to mimic their behavior.

The worst question I've been asked was at an informal gathering and a man I scarcely knew came up to me. He said he heard that I had been molested and I affirmed that I had been.

"Did you like it?"

I was so offended, I stared at the man who asked. "Excuse me, please," I said and walked across the room.

"I guess you didn't," he said.

I'm not saying I handled it well, but I didn't give into his voyeuristic question.

We have a right to privacy and to protect ourselves. In fact, it's more than that. I consider it a sacred responsibility to protect ourselves from such insensitive people.

They may ask;
I'm not required to answer.


stanw said...

Just the other day someone I know made a comment about me. What he said was hurtful to me. When I mustered the courage to tell him that it offended me he retorted somewhat in anger, "You should get over that!" That was the second time he has made that comment so I just have to back off from spending time around him. Before I ignored what he said but it doesn't pay to be silent anymore.
Someone said just the other day on a video, "The way you feel is normal for what happened to you!"


Cec Murphey said...

Good point, Stan. Walking away or avoiding is sometimes the most sensible and successful thing we can do. Some people seem to have no idea how intrusive they are. And I don't feel it's my responsibility to teach them.

I don't do well around angry people, which has a great deal to do with my childhood physical and sexual assault. It's easier to follow Stan's method.

And I like, "The way you feel is normal for what happened to you." Good thought. Thanks, Stan.

Joseph said...

Stanw, is it possible that the one who said that is himself dealing with or repressing some abuse that happened to him? Just a random thought. Cec, what do you think it possible?

Cec Murphey said...

Joseph, who knows what he meant? Sounds harsh--and possibly you're correct. He may also have been talking to himself.

I'm amazed at the men who open up and tell me they were sexually assaulted before they add, "But I got over it." I don't argue with him, because you don't just "get over" rape. But it's a signal to me they're saying, "Don't talk to me about it." I don't push the topic.

stanw said...

It is hard to know what that guy is dealing with or not dealing with. Could be the breakup of his marriage many years ago but unless he shares something I doubt anyone will know.

Mark said...

Cec, your comment about the men who say "But I got over it" reminds me of something that happened in a small group I was part of.

I shared, very briefly and with no details, about a step of victory I'd had in my healing journey.

Afterwards a man came up to me and said "That happened to me too. You've just got to let it go."

His tone of voice was kind. And he wanted me to know he had been abused also. Which meant it still affected him. So his comment "You've just got to let it go" was actually contradicting his statement.

I realized that I was in a healthier position than he was. Which made me sad for him.