Sunday, 5 February 2012
Male Survivors - Coming out of the Dark - Stand up and make your voices heard.
I've been blogging in ernest for about eight months now. I'd started my blog a year earlier, more as a way of getting my thoughts down than spreading my words around the world. In that first year I had about 500 hits to my blog.
Facebook was pretty much a mystery to me and Twitter might as well have been a place somewhere on the other side of the galaxy. I wasn't really up on social media or social networking.
I threw myself into it initially to help my business, then a friend suggested I blog about my experiences, my personal background. At this time I was in therapy. The stresses of the economy, health problems, other business problems overseas added up and earlier in 2011 I had what I can best describe as a meltdown.
The past came back to haunt me. In truth it felt like being slapped in the face several times an hour. I remember sitting on the floor in the living room just rocking and repeating out loud " I can't cope... I can't cope... I can't cope..."
I thought I was losing my mind.
Writing has always been an escape for me. I was able to write down my true thoughts and feelings, things I could not vocalise. I'm very shy and insecure by nature (until you get to know me at least... Though even then the insecurities linger), so by writing I could vent emotions; anger, frustration, confusion, pain, longing, etc, etc.
Although I had experienced a great deal of life, I was still quite naive. Especially in business. I was too quick to trust, too ready to accept a "great opportunity". Maybe I was greedy too. I wanted success. This was eventually to be my downfall. Ok, to be fair to myself here, this was during the worst recession in over sixty years. My business failed.
As all of this was going on professionally, I was falling to pieces personally. My childhood memories initially came back like a tidal wave, they then slowed to a trickle. These days very little, though the "dam" does still burst on occasion.
My use of social media kept me sane. Telling my story gave me a new purpose. Sharing lifted the weight considerably, and enabled me to function. I found it much easier to share this way than face to face with a therapist. The only exception to this was when I attended the Amsosa weekend retreat for non offending male survivors of childhood abuse last summer. I have written of this previously. Basically amongst other survivors I was able to let my walls down. Hell, I even sang them a song! I have no voice for singing I promise you. I think the song I made up was "Take your abuse and shove it, I don't own it anymore..."
I have been very remiss in keeping in contact with most of the other guys from that weekend, but have remained in fairly regular contact with Steve, the guy who runs AMSOSA.
In the last six months my blog has grown and grown. I probably pee a lot of people off as I post so much, but then I can't force anyone to read it... I have met some truly amazing people on Twitter too. Yes, there have been a few idiots along the way, but on the whole really fantastic people. The ability to connect with other survivors has been crucial in my development from being victim, to survivor and now I hope thriver. I post some utter rubbish sometimes, but hey, it's my rubbish!
I'm no great writer, my spellchecker gets used to death and my grammar needs serious work. The thing is though, that I write from inside of myself. My heart and soul is in my writing. It's real, it's raw, it's me.
Something that I am painfully aware of is how few male survivors are able to "put themselves out there" to stand up and tell their story, or even some part of it. I suppose men are traditionally not so good at sharing their innermost feelings, especially about a topic that still appears to be heavily stigmatised. There is still a cloud of shame that seems to hang over male survivors. I have bared myself to the bones this last six months in an attempt not only to heal myself, but also to show other guys that it's ok to put your hand ip and say "me too" or "yes, I was abused/raped"
The most important quality we can exhibit is that of honesty. Be true to yourselves, and be true to others in turn. Everyone has aspects of their lives they want to keep private, I understand that. However, if something that happened to you as a child, teenager or even adult is affecting your quality of life now, then I say get the help you need. Reach out and share your troubles. How much you say is up to you. Remember that it's your life, you control it. Unless more men feel able to stand up and be counted, the subject of male survivors will always have some stigma attached to it.
There is no shame upon the head of the victim. The shame is on the head of the perpetrators. I include in this those that might have stood back and allowed abuse to happen. I am pretty certain my grandmother knew what was happening to me, yet she did nothing. I later told my sister, she didn't believe me. The shame is not mine. It is theirs.
I am a male survivor of childhood sexual, physical and emotional abuse and also adult rape.
Aspects of my life have been disastrous because of what happened to me. I survived though, I am here and I will not sit down quietly and brush it under the carpet of life.
I feel shame, yes. I am ashamed of those people within my family that hurt me, those that did nothing about it and those that called me liar. I am not ashamed of myself. I feel very strongly that those who turn their backs or refuse to believe are almost as guilty as the abusers and rapists themselves.
So come on guys. Swallow that male pride. By speaking up you are helping to get real knowledge out there. We might have been inhibited by the reactions of society in the past, but unless we make a stand now, the truth about the impact on male survivors and therefore the available help will always be limited.
I'm not going to say we can wipe out sexual abuse or rape, I'm not that naive anymore. We can however shine a very bright light on the subject. Perpetrators need harsher punishment. Having indecent images or film of a child should carry far heavier jail sentences than are currently handed out. Pedophiles and rapists steal innocence, ruin lives so I believe in an eye for an eye i.e life imprisonment. Rehabilitation? Ha! Most sex offenders go on to reoffend once released. Fact.
Make the punishment fit the crime
In these past six months I have shared my story around the world. I decided also to share the intimate details of some of the affects of the abuse on myself then, and now as an adult man. This was my choice. Knowledge is power and it's about time that power was taken away from the abusers, pedophiles and rapists.
Some have warned me I might be seen as obsessive, or that people don't want the facts "shoved down their throats". I understand this. If you don't want to hear the truth then it's simple. Either don't read what I write or don't follow me at all. Turn your backs, look away, pretend that the growing epidemic of child abuse doesn't affect you. Obsessive? I was sexually molested, raped, abused in ways unimaginable to most. I think I've every right to speak up, to help others understand or show that's it's ok to talk about it.
This is the social media age. We have the chance to make a difference. We have the chance to be heard., even from behind the safety of a computer, mobile or tablet. Speak up guys, and gals! Sexual abuse is about power, so let's take it for ourselves. Let's make a difference. Nobody can undo what happened to me, or any other survivor, but we can do our best to protect the children of the future.
This might sound like a call to arms, maybe it is just that. Pedophiles use the Internet for their own evil ends so lets use the same technology against them. Better still, take the message further, out into the "real world"
We were the victims. We won't stand back and let yet another generation endure what we had to. We can and we will make our voices heard. We were innocent and have nothing to be ashamed of or frightened of by standing up and saying NO MORE.
Together we CAN make a difference!
I have added a new page to the right of this blog called "Male Survivors - Your Space"
Please use it, please add something. By reaching out to other survivors we can help them.