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Help for male survivors of sexual abuse, physical assault and rape
Please don't suffer in silence: Individual counselling and support for male survivors of sexual abuse
There are at least 5 million men in the UK at any one time, who have suffered the humiliation and trauma of being abused at some point in their lives. What happened to these young men, boys really, has profoundly affected who they have become as adults.
From sexual abuse, to sexual assault, to rape, these young boys have grown up to become husbands, boyfriends, fathers, grandfathers, and in many instances, no one else has ever been the wiser. The topic is taboo, just about everywhere and by everyone, and is surrounded by stigma, guilt and shame.
One in six men have been molested as a child (the figure is nearer one in four for women), and while the resources for traumatized women is extensive and well publisized, men rarely realize that those same resources are also theirs for the asking. Though the numbers involved are staggering, the problem remains a silent and devastating epidemic that is only just surfacing in the public awareness.
Ninety percent of child molestors target children they know and can manipulate. Although all children are at risk, child molesters particularly seek out shy and naive children who may or may not be related to them; children with disabilities or learning disorders; and children who are experiencing loneliness and emotional neglect. Children who have not been educated about the methods child molesters use to groom them are the most vulnerable of all.
Because of the act and the betrayal, the side effects of abuse, can, and often do, last a lifetime. After all, you probably felt a great attraction toward this person. You trusted them, you looked up to them, they were your protector, your provider and your playmate. But when they took your childhood away, you may have been so young that you didn't even realize that what was happening was wrong. Many times I have heard someone say they were assured this was normal and that it happened to everyone.
Men are told to be tough, not to cry and to hide their emotions. Their role is the protector, the provider; you're not supposed to be vulnerable. We are taught that vulnerable = victimized. Bring this forward 30 years. Men now don't tell because they have decided in their own mind that not being believed, or being thought of as weak, is worse than the original abuse. They can feel that zero support is more threatening than keeping it hidden, and it's much harder to talk about, or admit too, when the perpetrator was a man.
But all molesters are not male. It may have been your father, cousin, a brother, grandfather, uncle, your priest, a neighbour, your landlord, a scoutmaster, your doctor or even your teacher. But it could equally have been your sister, your babysitter, your childminder, a grandmother and even your own mother. This can make trusting anyone very difficult.
So you keep the details hidden. The pain, the guilt and the shame of this strategy can be immense and can block your ability to speak to anyone and you keep it a close secret, sometimes for years and years. This leaves you at greater risk of developing emotional anxiety, stress and depression. You can find yourself with anger issues, problems with relationships, problems with intimacy, sexual dysfunction, low sex or prolific sex disorders, problems with sexual orientation confusion and at an increased risk of suicide.
Here are some comments from male survivors. Have you had thoughts like these?
It's like being in a living hell. I feel like I died back then. They stole my childhood. I feel tortured by my past. They took my innocence. I've carried this secret around my whole life. I have to sleep with the light; I am the darkness. All the darkest things you can imagine I've lived through. I felt powerless. My heart aches when I think of it.
Free yourself from the bondage of shame and fear
By finding the courage to talk about your experiences you will release the shame, the guilt and the fear. This is not meant to be a tell all, I am just talking about speaking the words. Acknowledge what happened.
This is when you realize, it wasn't my fault, I was just a kid. This is something that happened to me when I was a little boy. You can free yourself from the self blame and the stranglehold that somebody has had over your mind and life. Use this moment in time to heal from the past.
IT WASN'T YOUR FAULT! NEVER, EVER
All too often men are ashamed of their past because they felt complicit in the act that is the subject of their abuse. How can that be?
Well, they rationalize that as a male they are supposed to be in control, supposed to be strong and powerful. But as the abuse happened, somehow they must have allowed it to happen, they were involved, and therefore complicit and weak. Their body reacted in a natural way and so they felt it was okay and normal. Because of this many will wonder if they are gay and spend a great deal of time suppressing their feelings, to the point of later in life becoming homophobic in their behaviour and language.
This is really confusing. What it doesn't take into account is the fact that we are biologically hard wired to have an erection where there is stimulation, or when we are touched in a certain way. It doesn't matter who is doing the touching, it happens without our consent. This may even be a new experience for us and therefore doubly confusing because we don't understand what is happening in our own bodies.
The body just naturally responds. It is not about having pleasure. But it can be about wanting attention, and this is how the molester can trick you into trusting them. They tell you they love you, care about you and want to protect you. As young people we are also hard wired to surround ourselves with people who will support us and look after our needs. It's not about love. Young children don't know what love is and so they come to understand it to be the abusive situation misinterpreted as love, because this is how it is explained, and shown to them.
Remember, one thing I promise you. You too can find peace. You deserve to have closure. You may live to see a time when you can be truly at peace with yourself and happy with the love of your family. I hope you will reach the time when you can fully embrace the future, without worrying about dragging the past along behind you. A time when you can look forward and not backward, and truly mean it.
I want you to feel the incredible joy of having a wonderful partner (and family, if that's what you want), someone who loves you, honours you, understands you, makes you feel whole, who can take away your pain and replace it with true love and strength.
And, I want you to remember that you too have those same qualities, even if they have been suppressed for many years. To give back to your partner and family all the love and joy you have been holding back and so desperately want to share with them. The true you, the real you, the whole you, including the half that you have had to keep hidden for so long.
If you relate to any of this, please don't suffer in silence any longer. Now that you've made it this far down the page, it is clear you are thinking about acting on what brought you here. If the pain you are in is costing you your family, your home, your job, your sanity, it's too expensive. Male survivors tell me they feel that someone else has been controlling their lives, they feel like a puppet on a string. It's time to cut those strings and take back control of your life, right now! If you live near me, all you've got to do it pick up the phone! Visit the appointment page and give me a call. I look forward to welcoming you to The Haven Healing Centre and getting started as soon as possible. Till then, Phil.
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Note: DISCLAIMER: This information is not presented by a medical practitioner and is for educational and informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read.
It's a small investment in yourself, but could be a life-changing experience you will cherish forever.
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