This month we partnered with Rachel Grant to do a 2-part blog series and a tele-seminar, all for male survivors. The seminar can be heard here –
Below is part 1 of our combined blog series
Feeling the Weight of the World…Alone
Over the last 3 years I have had the good fortune of working with an amazing advocate for survivors of childhood sexual abuse, and someone who has become more than just a colleague, but also a valued friend: Ms. Rachel Grant. So when she asked if I would write two articles and do a tele-seminar together, as we have in the past, it was my honor to say “yes”.
As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, it has been an arduous path of pain and healing. For over 35 years it has felt as though there have been many more “downs” than “ups”.
While I could spend an entire article just listing the challenges associated with the trauma of childhood sexual abuse; for me there were two major issues that caused the most tribulation and confusion.
The first was feeling as if I were completely alone. I thought for so long I was the only person this crime was perpetrated against and therefore it was on me alone to “deal with it”.
The second was the confusion a young boy feels when sexually abused by a man.
Today we’ll start with the first…
…feeling totally alone.
Although feeling alone is not unique to male survivors, it is only from this perspective that I can speak. So I promise to talk openly and honestly about my own journey.
But before I begin discussing the challenges associated with abuse I want to first let all know who are reading this, that there is light at the end of the tunnel…and it’s not an oncoming train.
Hope and joy can be attained. It won’t always be easy, but if you work with the right folks, and believe that those who have gone before you mean what they say, healing awaits.
So let’s talk about that most awful of feelings, being alone. And I don’t mean loneliness. While in and of itself, loneliness can feel horrible, it’s not quite the same as “feeling alone”. It incorporates so much more. It’s a feeling of betrayal and dismissal. It’s as if the whole world is moving along, happy and well. And you have been left behind, utterly abandoned.
Additionally, you feel isolated and different from everyone else around you. You see others around you leading “regular”, happy lives but you feel different and separate from everyone due to the abuse.
As I wrote once before about this topic, “Feeling Alone, it’s a familiar feeling. It’s altogether too familiar. As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, I struggled for decades with it. I had it twisted around me like a straight-jacket of discomfort. The result was a never-ending quest for love and acceptance in all the wrong places with none of the right people.”
Here at “Together We Heal”, we work to provide support groups and counseling to fellow survivors. And whenever we get a call or email, or are contacted in any way, the VERY FIRST thing we say is…you are NOT alone. We are here for you, with you and will be as long as you will allow us. The reason for this is because of what I mentioned earlier, my own feelings of being alone. Once I finally came forward, I learned a couple of important factors.
The first thing I learned was that I wasn’t the only little boy to be sexually abused by the same man. This person was my minister, and was therefore trusted by myself, my family and all who knew him. In 1981 when the abuse began, there were no talk shows about it, no news stories reporting it, no support groups that I could open up to. Hell, I didn’t even know what to call what was happening to me because I had never heard the words “childhood sexual abuse”.
And the second was that others, both men and women, told me they had the same feelings. Once I was told the truth about childhood sexual abuse; that I wasn’t alone, it was then I felt as though a weight the size of the world on Atlas’ shoulders was finally lifted from my own.
And that was the turning point for my own healing. Once I learned I didn’t have to carry this burden alone, and that others would help me, it was then I finally understood the meaning of the word “hope”.
More than anything it is my “hope” that everyone who reads these posts or listens to when Rachel and I talk on her show, is that you can KNOW that hope and healing are a reality, and if she and I can have and live it, you can too!
Please…reach out, tell someone…we will be here for you.
Next week we’ll discuss a topic that so many male survivors struggle with but don’t feel the ability or freedom to talk about, the sexual confusion caused when abused by a man.