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#131610 - 08/31/04 06:53 PM Values affected by abuse?
Ken Singer, LCSW Offline
Moderator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 08/24/00
Posts: 5778
Loc: Lambertville, NJ USA
Brian brought up a good point in his last post and acknowledged "hijacking" the post. So as not to continue the hijack, I'm posting in a new thread.

Brian wrote:
Quote:
I think that because of some prevailing attitudes in ďSurvivor CultureĒ many survivors canít tell the difference between a normal healthy sex drive and acting out. And I donít think SA is the reason for that. I think itís the way SA is viewed by survivors them selves and survivor related professionals.
This struck home with me. I'm working with a 17 year old boy who was abused by his older brother. What brought out his disclosure was a temporary performance problem with his girlfriend. He panicked and thought he might be gay (sure, no big deal for some of you, but this kid is straight and anything that MIGHT be a sign of being gay is panic city. And I will help him have a healthier, more tolerant attitude after we make some progress in therapy.)

Anyway, this led to his telling his mother and she was terrific in support and unconditional belief. Another "proof" of his orientation confusion is frequent erections. He believes that if he gets slightly aroused for no reason, or if there are males around, it is another possible sign.

So, after ascertaining that he has the same kind of erection in the presence of girls, that he has never had same sex fantasies, that ALL guys have occasional equipment failures, that the range of sexual interest is almost never 100% straight or 100% gay, etc, he is breathing a sigh of relief.

I think the issue of normal thoughts, feelings and behaviors is especially important for teens. It is also important for adult survivors. I'm wondering what beliefs readers here have had as teens. Which were influenced by the abuse and which were part of normal adolescent/adult misinformation or beliefs?

As I read the post again before sending (something I recommend to all), I realize that Brian is talking about the differences between normal behaviors and acting out. Actually both topics are pretty interesting.

Ken


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#131611 - 09/01/04 07:16 AM Re: Values affected by abuse?
brian-z Offline
Member

Registered: 07/11/02
Posts: 770
Loc: Western USA
Quote:
Originally posted by Ken Singer, LCSW:
I realize that Brian is talking about the differences between normal behaviors and acting out.
Yes I am.

Youíve brought up the issue Iím talking about from a completely different angle, and articulated it much better then I did.

But I think my observations about the way survivors feed off each other, and misconceptions that survivors have are related.

Quote:
I think the issue of normal thoughts, feelings and behaviors is especially important for teens. It is also important for adult survivors.
I found it so frustrating sometimes when I was talking to someone on chat and this person would be convinced that normal (sexually based) thoughts made then a pervert. The way someone would just hold on to a belief that was causing them so much pain with such zeal was baffling to me.

Iím not sure how Iím going to say this, and some people are not going to like it, and you may not see how it ties in at first, but it does.

Iím going to start with masturbation, some of you who have been here awhile may remember my lists. One for male euphemisms, one for female, about 750 in all.

Masturbation is a biological issue, not a moral one. Unless itís causing carpal tunnel, getting you arrested or kicked off the bus it should not be an issue at all. But there are those who believe that stay at home poll vaulting (#751) is wrong and immoral mostly because of passages from the bible taken out of context. People masturbate, itís just a fact of life. Some more then others.

But an avid aniti-masturbationist can find this site and will instantly find a core of people to prop up his (or her) beliefs. There is nothing wrong with that for there own sakes, but itís the effects of the militant aniti-masturbationist could have on someone who is just confused could be devastating.

From the other thread

Quote:
I saw gay friends I looked up to as role models break up, many others being promiscuous, and some die of aids. In general for me even though being gay had a lot of 'fun' wild moments, I felt very lonely and never found the love I was looking for. I thought about the future, and it did'nt look very bright. Also, I knew I really wanted a family. Ultimately, I chose.............

......I believe we can change whatever we want in our lives, as long as we are reaching for something that we know to be a good thing, a good goal. For me it has been love and family with a woman, even though that is not where I began. I hope this helps some others out there who are considering their direction in life
The self hating queer or out right homophobe, not much difference in terms of practical application. Once again they can come to a place like this and find others who share their beliefs. And this too does not do harm to them. But what is the impact on some one trying to come to grips with sexual identity. The underline message is simple ďjust learn to hate yourself more and you donít have to be gay.Ē That is a crock of shit. I said ďcan a gay guy fall in love with a girl and have lot's of happy bumpy bumpy, you bet. Because love has jack to do with sexuality.Ē And I stand by that but falling in love with a girl does not change the underlying gayness. Telling a young man that if you are gay you are doomed to misery is unbelievably cruel, and not to mention untrue. If a gay guy chooses to get married and have a family and is happy with that choice I say good for them, and wish them continued happiness. But saying this is the only path that a gay man (or woman) should take is wrong.

Validation.

Iím not going to quote any examples because I donít want the fight.

One thing that irks me no end is this ďcircle of validationĒ that permeates survivor culture. It has the effect of seeking to homogenize the survivor community. With respect to Ken and other academics/professionals here, not all survivors are created equal. If you have two survivors of the same age, similar background and they come to this site, we can see several things happen. But more often then not we see many attempts at one-up-menship. Each trying to come up with the greater claim to misery.

But another thing Iíve seen are two survivors of the same age, similar background come to this site and one does not play the game of one-up-menship then there are those who see him as an outsider, because if his pain is less or different then mine he is not validating my right to misery and so on. I donít claim to be a saint in this regard when I came here I was a total attention whore and would take validation where I could find it, but I had to stop because it was not helping me. Now once again the people that do this do not harm themselves, but if a new person comes to the site and wants to talk about how he feels depressed sometimes because his brother abused him when he was five, and now he thinks he wants to sit down with is brother and talk about how that made him feel. He now has to compete with ďI was gang raped by Sasquatch and a fleet of Boeing 747ís when I was kidnapped by a group of cannibalistic Elvis impersonators.Ē And even if he is able to get a good thread going there is still the likelihood that it will be hijacked.

Cynics

Once you become cynical itís impossible to stop.


Survivor Related Professionals

Quote:
I hope you know me well enough by now that I will never do anything to hurt a survivor.
I donít believe for a moment you would do something to hurt a survivor on purpose. But you are only human and have the same prejudices and failings as the rest of us.

I have sought out advice from the professionals at this site and I have a great deal of respect for them. But ďKen said,Ē ďRichard said,Ē ďFred said,Ē ďThad said,Ē (and even a Brian said) should not be the end all, be all on survivor issues. I donít always agree with the prevailing professional opinion, and I donít think any competent professional would say I should always agree. But there are those who see the academics/professionals here as priests of the oracle and there words are unquestionable. And once again those who hold this view are not harming them selves, but this attitude can stifle debate and cut off the free flow of ideas.


Now once again after aílot of typing I get to my point.

The prejudices we each bring with us effects the debate in the survivor community as a whole. And impacts Survivor Culture as a whole, especially those attitudes about sex and morality.

Z


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#131612 - 09/01/04 08:53 AM Re: Values affected by abuse?
Ken Singer, LCSW Offline
Moderator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 08/24/00
Posts: 5778
Loc: Lambertville, NJ USA
Some interesting thoughts, Brian. I'm not going to attempt to address the competitive nature of some survivors' food fights or the annoying nature of moralists and others who got the word from the man above about what is right or wrong.

Quote:
Masturbation is a biological issue, not a moral one.
Couldn't agree more. However, (I may be hijacking the thread back here), my concern is more with the negative sexual messages survivors get from their perpetrators, sig others, society and themselves. I'm also concerned about the self-defeating or self-destructive behaviors that disempower people in sexual expression.

By all that, I mean that a person who masturbates compulsively instead of making love to his favorite, available partner, is probably doing more damage to his self-esteem and the relationship. The person who cruises for anonymous sex and re-enacts his abuse again and again is disempowering himself, not to mention increasing his possibility of contracting HIV. I'm not talking about people who have healthy, feel good sex with a casual partner, assuming nobody is getting hurt.

That said, maybe the message is that sex (by yourself or with others) should feel good during and after the act. If it don't feel good, is that because of societal guilt messages (or those from parents, self, clergy, media, or what), or because it REALLY was self-defeating? If it does not feel good, is it because it is connected with the abuse? If it is, can the bad feelings be reduced or eliminated by reprogramming your brain not to follow old patterns?

Phew, lots of questions with more probably to come.


Ken


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#131613 - 09/01/04 10:09 AM Re: Values affected by abuse?
brian-z Offline
Member

Registered: 07/11/02
Posts: 770
Loc: Western USA
A short reply this time.

Quote:
sex (by yourself or with others) should feel good during and after the act. If it don't feel good, is that because...
My whole thing in all this we may not be able to know the because, until we can sit down and honestly look at what it is we really want. And that may not be so easy to do if we have to much on our plate, recovery skeaking.

Z


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#131614 - 09/01/04 11:26 AM Re: Values affected by abuse?
dwf Offline
Moderator/BoD Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 05/24/03
Posts: 1223
Loc: Austin, Texas USA
My values as affected by the sexual abuse?

Having sex was/is my way of paying the rent.

To obtain or secure shelter, safety, food and/or love and attention I did and will do what I can to make myself sexually attractive and available to a man who seems capable of supporting me.

Sexual activity for me became a sort of quid pro quo. Over the years I have come to see this, although while I was busy sleeping with my boss or acting on this displacement in other ways, I was not able to perceive the origins of my behavior.

I'm not a big fan of comparing. The old sayings about "Comparing my insides to your outsides." is just one way of expressing the possible errors in comparisons.

An idea that does appeal to me is the one that says that the only really valid comparison to be made is that between what I am and what I used to be.

Valid, in this sense, meaning helpful or productive to my recovery.

Today I can say that I am aware of my propensity to use sex as a means of exchange, as barter for my survival. And I look out for that, and I ask for help with it. And I am slowly finding out my own values to take the place of that deformation in attitude that came about as a result of the being abused by the man who gave me food, shelter and a false sense of safety.

I do not know exactly what my 'ideal' sexual values will look like. But I do have confidence based on my experience thus far, that it will contain elements of love, respect, honor and joy.

I have had moments of that, which I had to learn to enjoy and then let go of.

The nature of my sexual identity and sexual expression seems to have a direct correlation with my own sense of worth and value. As I do the things which enhance my self esteem and self love, my ability to find new and more fulfilling sexual expression increases.

One word about the "feeling good" paradigm.

My behaviors in seeking security and shelter through sexual activity gave me a "feeling good" sort of experience. They satisfied a "need" that I felt and without that satisfaction I felt lost and incomplete. Does that mean those behaviors were "good" or "acceptable"?

This is a question for each of us to answer I suppose in the light of our own experience, but for me I would have to say "No.". Using sex to satisfy needs more appropriately fulfilled in other spheres of activity reinforced the deformation of character imposed by the abuse.

While the sex for safety stuff felt "good", in fact, it felt EXACTLY right. Like I HAD to do it...the feelings I have enjoyed since then as an adult enjoying sensual pleasures with another adult for the sake of the pleasure itself is in an entirely different realm of experience.

Having just a taste of sexual ecstasy has made me acutely aware of the limitations of the survival, other centered sexual activity which I learned as the victim of sexual abuse.

I know that there are people who have this very same type of behavior in their sexual expression who were not sexually abused. I understand that all this could be completely different for others. But that's not me. We each find our own way, not by ourselves surely, but each of us alone on the path.

I guess I would say that I am not particularly interested in abstractions for the purpose of scientific or sociological purposes. I'm interested in solutions that work to bring me closer to the fulfilment of my human sexual potential. And it is in this manner of learning to perceive my sexual behavior that I have made tremendous progress.

I'm not trying to agree or disagree with anyone. Nor do I seek any arguments. But I do hope I've been able to express some of what I feel has been important in the process of change in my values as a sexual being.

Thanks for reading,

_________________________
"Poke salad Annie, 'gators got you granny
Everybody said it was a shame
'Cause her mama was aworkin' on the chain-gang"

-Tony Joe White

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#131615 - 09/01/04 05:29 PM Re: Values affected by abuse?
Ivo Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 05/08/04
Posts: 267
Loc: Germany
WARNING:
This text is full of triggers, be careful!
I can speak only from my, very individual and very personal experience so please keep that in mind during reading. Please also bear in mind that my ability to express myself in English is also very limited, maybe I wrote total idiotic thing, I apologize for that case to all of you.

About compulsive sexual activity:
Ken stated that sex should feel good during and after act, and compulsive, repetitive, self-damaging sex activities are doing badly to self-esteem. So the question is why someone is acting on that way? Is it just issue about programmed brain that is doing that or something else?
I cannot put border between usual sex and compulsive one. I think that for this is extremely important what were circumstances under which I had first sex.
When you are abused all senses are sharp right to hell, this knows every survivor. You are aware of thousand things at once, for example I was aware of weather conditions, of coldness, of wind, of smells, of sounds, I felt touches from my perp, I felt my body, I felt fear and guilt, I felt lonely, abused, helpless, lost etc. Everything I felt was with huge intensity.
In all that chaos I felt sexual pleasure. My senses were cleaner than ever, because of abuse and because this was my first sexual sensation the feeling was extremely strong. My brain and my body remembered that feeling. Now, more than twenty years after, if I am horny and I want sex I want to feel that level of intensity. It must be that level and must last as long as possible. To achieve this is not so easy. It needs something like training, sexual training with a lot of repetition. I have to push limits of my body, I have to break rules and I have to do new things. Shortly I have to spend enormous energy if I want to be satisfied.
Even if I do all this there is no sure formula that I will gain what I want.
So failure and disappointment is actually very common thing. For example: if I am finished too quickly, sensation would not be great and I would be disappointed and I would try to do everything again. At the end the bad effect would be multiplied. If I ''tortured'' my body too much the feeling would also not be so good. Sometimes even the smallest disruption would destroy my concentration and all efforts would be done for nothing and sometimes the feeling would be terrible by no visible cause but I would keep trying to achieve my goal like a robot.

Also in cases that I did everything properly I would feel very drained, brainwashed and like an animal, at least for short time after act.

So is my brain programmed? Yes. Would I repeat this acting? Yes, for sure, this is my way of making love.

-It is very connected with abuse,
-It is self-defeating; I am talking about desire that is very close to destruction,
-I am not sure is it possible for bad effects to be reduced to total zero, but frequency of those bad feelings can;

That's all, I apologize for possible bad influence on all of you because of my text.
Ivo


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#131616 - 09/01/04 05:46 PM Re: Values affected by abuse?
Dan88 Offline
Member

Registered: 08/07/02
Posts: 247
Loc: DC
What's acting out vs. acceptable sexual behavior?

I guess from my point of view, if it's controllable, legal, consensual, AND it's something you look back on and enjoy after it's over, it's acceptable. If you can't stop it if you want to, it's abusive, it's illegal, OR it provokes remorse, shame or dispair after it's over, it's acting out.

And while that puts some activities clearly out of bounds for everyone, it really creates mostly gray areas where it's just a matter of the individual's perceptions, reactions and motivations that actually defines the activity as acting out or not.

As for attitudes about sex I held as a younger man that I think were formed by abuse: In my case, I really never accepted that there could be a connection between love and sex. And it even created a barrier to feeling that sex can be a natural extension of loving someone. Sleaze, abuse, pain, deceit, secrecy, shame, etc. These are all things you could associate with sex. But it made more sense to me that you DON'T have sex with people you love. If you love someone, why would you abuse them by having sex with them. I think this reaction to love/sex is something that was created by abuse and not a part of everyone's growing up.


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#131617 - 09/01/04 06:16 PM Re: Values affected by abuse?
BT Offline


Registered: 06/25/03
Posts: 388
Loc: Chicago IL
First of all great discussion. I think this topic and discussion is one of those things that is helpful for everyone here no matter where they are or where they have been.

With that said, I wanted to say how much I agree with Ken's comment about sexual activity feeling good before, during and after, (my interpratation, not his actual quote)

I could not agree more, particularly as so many survivors face and struggle with sexual identity.

While we all learn to mistrust our feelings, way too much in my opinion, examining our feelings and trusting them can go along way in helping to determine what is good and healthy vs. what is unhealthy. Learning what guilt is correct and appropriate, vs, what is incorrectly assumed and accepted is and has been quite valuable over these past years to me.

I know I spent most of my life feeling guilty because I thought I was gay, and then feeling guilty because I was acting straight and should be gay, and then vica versa and well, even I get confused thinking about it.

And I also like Brian's "one upmanship" comments. I think we all learn over time that each of us are unique and individual, and while one person that had a single experience with an older man as a teenager, may seem minor to some of us that were abused repeatedly as small children, the truth is, so much depends on each individual, and that single episode of abuse may have caused more harm, misery, and pain than the other.

I think that the best thing those that have been around here and have learned such things as this it to practice patience and be supportive. And to help everyone realize there really is no such thing as one upmanship. We are all pretty much plowing along in the same water.

_________________________
"Everyone is entitled to their opinions and it is not my job to change their mind." Dali Lama

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