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.

"I Don't Feel Like a Man"

Culture and training gives us a skewed picture of what it's like to be a man—a real man. Many of us pull back, convinced that we don't, or can't, live up to those imposed standards.

We who were sexually molested have struggles with our sense of masculinity. Some take on the macho image to hide from reality; others slink back and don't try. Regardless of how we respond, it's a challenge. We know we have the same anatomy, but we wonder—and sometimes worry—about muscles, strength, and penis size.

One of the biggest obstacles to feeling like a real man is the message that we absorbed, even though no one said it. "If I were a real man, I wouldn't have been a victim. I wouldn't have let him do that to me. I would have fought him."

Here's my message to men who struggle with this problem. You were a child and defenseless then. Now you are facing the issue. You are struggling. That ongoing effort makes you a man—a real man—because you refuse to give up.

I struggle with issues arising from my abuse.
The struggle reminds me that I am a man.

(This post was adapted from Not Quite Healed, written by Cecil Murphey and Gary Roe.)

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One of our readers is considering attending a weekend retreat for male survivors. Have any of you ever participated in such an event? If so, would you email me direct at cec (dot) murp (at) comcast (dot) net and share your experience?

1 comment:

Roger Mann said...

I have never felt like a "man" in the cultural sense. From the time I entered high school I knew I was different. All or most of the other boys seemed to have "the book". You know the one that tells you how a boy is supposed to behave, look, talk. It seemed to me that all the other guys seem to know things I was never privy too. I dreaded each social situation because I just knew everyone was watching out of the corner of their eye to see me embarrass myself.

Eventually I learned to observe and copy. Not a perfect solution because some guys were just idiots period and copying them was a bad idea. But eventually I got to where I could pass socially if the situation was brief enough. I longed to get away and find a isolated place I could be myself except that I had no idea what being myself really meant. Who the hell was I?

My first decade or two was about as awkward as it could get but eventually I learned to mimic well enough to impress and advance. I have a lot of people where I work who really like me and care about me and that makes me feel accepted and successful at the game but still deep down inside when I am alone, I can't fool myself. I know I am still very different if not inferior as I so often have felt.