Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Is Sexual Harassment Different for Men? (Part 3 of 9)

Too often, law enforcers and others assume they need a response of crying to believe the victims. Again, it’s the stereotypical acceptance as one standard of behavior. Reports of the celebrity abuses say that some of those women reacted by self-medicating—drugs, alcohol, engaging in high-risk sexual behavior, or withdrawing from friends.

I can’t say this often enough: there is no such thing as one response to being molested. We survivors behave in a wide variety of ways. When we talk about it, some of us appear calm, even detached. Others become angry or shout. Some go mute. Some of us cry.

One of the things I’ve read too often that’s taken to be true for all of us childhood survivors bothers me. They say their kids were doing well in school, never troubled, and then their grades began to fall. After that, they had trouble getting along with others and became belligerent. That’s one response—and it may be common—but it certainly doesn’t fit all of us.

For me, it was the opposite. In school, I did extremely well. Once I was inside the building, my mood shifted. I focused on learning and mixed well with other students. Until ninth grade, I wasn’t absent for a single day. Even though I didn’t realize it at the time, school became my emotional sanctuary.

How did you respond to the molestation when you were a child?


Noah Alvarenga said...

I really liked this post.

I became a high-performing, driven person. Even when I was younger (relatively speaking, not that long ago as I'm only 21), I used to take up at 6 am to do my school so I could be done early and tackle any projects I made myself - mind you, I was homeschooled and my siblings didn't really start their school until about 8 am.

People in college know me as the overachiever, the perfectionist. The "A minus isn't good enough" guy. Nowadays, however, I realize that getting lower grades than perfect arent the end of the world. As long as I'm learning and growing and I'm keeping up with my course goals, I'm in the right spot.

However, this overachieving nature has got in the way of relationships. I've been known to get a bit too enthusiastic or even get frustrated and angry over winning/not winning. Not achieving and not winning just makes me hear in my head that "I'm not good enough. I'm not worth anything -- I'm not strong, fast, smart, etc. Enough..." So that song of fear that plays in my head like a tune on repeat -- it messes with me. It influences how I act--Ill walk all over people if it means getting that win so I can feel like I'm not a failure or worthless.

It's been something I've been working on. My girlfriend, mentor, and others in my life are certainly great help when it comes to replacing this lie with some good truth.
My hope and prayer is that whether in loss or victory, I can always be sure of who I am in Christ and the value He has made me with.

Roger Mann said...

My reaction morphed as I grew up. I made friends in grade school but not many. I didn't do well in academics at that point, I tended to zone out in class and my homework suffered as did my grades. I tended to keep a low profile, not attract too much attention by class clown or loner. I tended to blend into the crowd.

In HS I got average grades except in Math. I loved math. Math had answers. I didn't. I dated just enough to appear normal. Had a couple of friends but none close. I learned not to show my emotions.

I got hurt just out of high school by a friend. That's when I really withdrew. The walls that were forming earlier solidified that year. I've maintained them in good repair ever since. I never talked about the abuse, for years denied it happened and created a fantasy of a wonderful childhood. That worked until I was in my late forty's. That's when I realize I was broken and began the search to find help.

I was in such denial that everyone could see Roger had a problem but me.

Abuse destroyed whatever chance I had for a healthy relationship with anyone in my life. I reacted by believing it was everyone else's problem. When I finally saw the truth, I was in such despair I thought I would die. Getting in touch with other survivors saved my life.

Unknown said...

Noah, I resonated with your post. I was the overachiever. For example, I went fulltime to two graduate schools simultaneously. People admired my zeal and energy, but they didn't realize (and never did I) that I was a driven. I constantly had to prove to myself and others that I was worthwhile.
Only after healing from my childhood abuse set in I (slowly) realized how driver I was. I still draggle with that issue, but I know God loves me, I love myself, and the people I love most care deeply for me.

Anonymous said...

When I was first abused by the step-dad, I reacted as any 6-year-old would to a punishment. I was upset, sullen and inwardly rebellious. My mom had never treated me that way and yet now she was insisting that I treat this interloper with obedience, respect and submission. I learned to appear to do all those things on the surface but internally I was seething.

Out in public, I was quiet and shy and self-effacing. I had to pretend like everything was fine and normal. At home, I became more withdrawn and introverted. I was always as well-behaved as I possibly could be in order to avoid being whipped. But that was not always successful, since I could never foresee some perceived misstep.

When I started to be bullied and abused in middle school, I became even more isolated, stoic and reclusive – both at school and at home. I was a straight A student – partly to gain whatever approval I could from anyone who would care. It was something that teachers and parents valued. It was already too late to win any acceptance from my peers. And the excuse of having homework to do kept me out of the way of the step-dad in an officially sanctioned activity that allowed me to escape his constant scrutiny, criticism and harassment if I could stay in my room with my nose in a book.

School was a refuge from home and home an escape from school – but it was always only trading one form of abuse for another.

Eventually I learned to not only show no emotion, but to feel no emotion. I switched off that part of me and removed myself mentally and emotionally whenever abuse occurred. Little wonder that as an adult, I had few memories of the abuse until they were triggered and buried me in a landslide of depression and re-experiencing of the trauma.

I ended up as a very academic, perfectionistic, socially awkward person who trusted no one, had no friends, and was painfully lonely. I will never know how much of my personality was influenced by the abuse and what would have been my natural personality if not for the interference.