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#219154 - 04/19/08 07:01 PM "Dear Abby" made it worse for me
Brian35 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/10/04
Posts: 16
Loc: East Coast, US
Here's something that always bugged me about my SA. I used to read newspapers a lot as a kid and always read the Dear Abby advice column. One of her sayings was "nobody can take advantage of you unless you let them."

Of course, that's intended for adults -- you control your life, you have a say in what people say or do to you and you don't have to "take" anything.

But as a kid of course... I was taken advantage of, so I must have let him? That really caused me a lot of confusion and is part of why I always thought it was "my fault" because I "let him."

Yet today I really think it is helpful to me and I always recall it when I feel pressured by others or the situation I'm in to do things I don't want. I just say "no" and it's very empowering. Yet it used to be hurtful... so at what point exactly does that switch over to be helpful advice? It still bugs me.


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#219170 - 04/19/08 08:17 PM Re: "Dear Abby" made it worse for me [Re: Brian35]
Still Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 02/16/07
Posts: 6542
Loc: Never Sugar Mountain
Brian,

I think there's a true danger in how kids interpret things they hear from adult conversation and the news in general.

I remember hearing one commentator on a news-talk show when I was about 11 years old. He was really pounding on child abuse in the poor and disadvantaged kids/neighborhoods. That "rich kids in the suburbs don't need the type of help the kids in the city of Boston do." Of course they were not talking about SA, but were really talking about more physical abuse.

This was a message that was repeated nearly heavily back then. But I was being beaten violently back then by a psychotic mad-dog father.

Well, since I was raised in relative affluence, I thought that there was literally no hope for me to get help from any official source...and that I needed to just buck-up and take what I've been given.



Edited by Robbie Brown (04/19/08 09:42 PM)
_________________________
Stop expecting people to be other than what they are! You'll be so much better-off. [Christopher, age 10]

The Aftermath Video

My Absolute Hero!

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#219176 - 04/19/08 09:10 PM Re: "Dear Abby" made it worse for me [Re: Still]
Bewlayb1 Offline
Guest

Registered: 08/03/07
Posts: 243
Loc: NYC
I agree with Robbie. I remember watching a rerurn of "Mr. Belvedere" during the abuse. In it, the son, Wesley, was almost molested by a camp counselor, or a Boy Scout leader. I forget. The message of this "Very Special Episode" was, of course, to speak up and tell someone. But in my eight-year-old head, all I could feel was hatred towards Wesley. He was filthy. I wished he was dead. My mind was warped, and my senses were tainted. To this day, my head is still sorting itself out.


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#219185 - 04/19/08 09:40 PM Re: "Dear Abby" made it worse for me [Re: Bewlayb1]
Ken Singer, LCSW Offline
Moderator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 08/24/00
Posts: 5780
Loc: Lambertville, NJ USA
I think there is a big difference when a 40 yr old complains that his mother treats him like a 9 yr old and he allows vs. a kid who was abused. I've had a number of problems with Dear Abby, especially since her daughter took over the column some time back. She doesn't have the smarts of her mother imho.


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#219190 - 04/19/08 10:02 PM Re: "Dear Abby" made it worse for me [Re: Ken Singer, LCSW]
roadrunner Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 05/02/05
Posts: 22045
Loc: Carlisle, PA
I also think it's false logic to imagine that a survivor somehow becomes able to defend and take care of himself once he reaches some magical age: 18, 21, or whatever. When I was 20 and newly arrived in San Francisco a man who offered to take me in and give me a place to stay for free (yep - I bought that!) got me drunk and stoned and then hit on me and called me "lovely boy", which is what the abuser of my childhood had called me. Ten seconds later he could do anything he wanted with me - I was totally destroyed. The next day I was on the street and ready for the same with anybody.

We carry so much of the old baggage of lies and false lessons with us from childhood into adulthood, and that is precisely the stuff that makes many survivors vulnerable as adults. Self-righteous idiots with their line of "nobody can take advantage of you unless you let them"? .....

That's not to say we aren't accountable. Of course we are. It's up to us as adults to acknowledge the problem, own it, and deal with it to put things right. But that's taking responsibility and working for our future. Taking blame and torturing ourselves over a past that is so tangled up in abuse issues is another thing entirely.

Much love,
Larry

_________________________
Nobody living can ever stop me
As I go walking my freedom highway.
Nobody living can make me turn back:
This land was made for you and me.
(Woody Guthrie)

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#219194 - 04/19/08 10:35 PM Re: "Dear Abby" made it worse for me [Re: roadrunner]
onlyakid Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 03/31/04
Posts: 1552
Loc: New Jersey
I remember listening to this relationship/sex advice call in show that was on my local radio station when I was 14-15 and they commented it was normal for a teen to have had a same sex experience. This only furthered my theory that my abuse was normal.

_________________________
"Being with people that understand you...Priceless"

"and i don't want the world to see me, cause i don't think that they'd understand"

"You don't know what love is...you just do as your told"

"My life has changed. What you take as a simple thing, is not so simple for me anymore"


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#219206 - 04/19/08 10:52 PM Re: "Dear Abby" made it worse for me [Re: roadrunner]
dgoods Offline
Guest

Registered: 10/15/07
Posts: 622
Loc: Richmond area
On the one hand, for some adults, that expression may serve as a wake-up call to identify where they might be engaging in "doormat" behavior, that they weren't previously even conscious of. On the other, that's assuming said adults don't have the histories that we do... so many times i've been in conversations with people who were discussing friends/family of theirs who were depressed/anxious/"failing to thrive" etc., and hearing so often "Why don't they just (fill in the blank)?"
The thought would occur to me- "Do you REALLY want to know, or are you just looking for an excuse to justify withdrawing a level of support you can't actually provide, but gave lip-service to?" I wouldn't actually SAY this, of course; i'd simply and gently explain that there may be other factors in the person's life-history that the person talking with me might never have experienced or considered. In other words, "Sometimes it's just that simple, but often it's not- and you might want to ask yourself whether or not you are truly willing or able to both adjust your worldview to accomodate the facts, and stick around for what is most likely going to be a bumpy ride, or NOT."
I hope this makes some kind of sense to someone other than me ;\)

_________________________
Give sorrow words: the grief that does not speak
Whispers the o'er-fraught heart and bids it break.

-William Shakespeare, Macbeth, Act IV, Sc. III

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#219226 - 04/20/08 12:37 AM Re: "Dear Abby" made it worse for me [Re: dgoods]
Freedom49 Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/30/07
Posts: 2723
Loc: Washington State
Just for FYI dgoods it certainly makes sense to me. I can relate to everything you just said. I have had those same thoughts when listening to conversations like that. God the world is complicated sometimes. I just don't know what to say to people sometimes.


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#219230 - 04/20/08 01:46 AM Re: "Dear Abby" made it worse for me [Re: Freedom49]
hogan_dawg Offline
Guest

Registered: 03/26/08
Posts: 492
I'm sorry but the statement "Nobody can take advantage of you unless you let them" is total bullshit. It never becomes good advice. It's a convenient maxim that people whip out when they're too lazy to think of a solution. That's why it still isn't sitting right with you. It is what Robert Thouless calls 'crooked thinking' and L. Susan Stebbing calls 'potted thinking'. It's the stuff of self help gurus who don't know jack.

Examples of how it's bullshit:

"Nobody can take advantage of you unless you let them"
Tell that to Enron investors and the entire state of California.

"Nobody can take advantage of you unless you let them"
Tell that to millions of rape victims

"Nobody can take advantage of you unless you let them"
Tell that to a CSA victim - I had my Father taking advantage of my feelings right up until adulthood. And did I let him? No I was coerced. That's why the law has terms like 'duress' that will void legal contracts.

People can manipulate people. And the people being manipulated aren't stupid or naive, they're trusting. Manipulative people take advantage of that trust.

I think the statement "Nobody can take advantage of you unless you let them" is cruel to say to a victim. A victim gets cross-eyed when s/he hears something like that. I think it's a thoughtless statement no matter who says or hears it.

That's why it bugs you,...cause it's a just a dumb thing to say, but this person is supposed to be helpful.

Sorry for the strongly worded reply but even though I've heard that all my life and thought it was sorta true, this is the first time I've heard that sentence since coming out about my CSA, and now it just seems all messed up and unrealistic.



Edited by hogan_dawg (04/20/08 04:28 AM)
_________________________
I can say unequivocally that the lie of "To truly heal you must first forgive" has derailed more victims than the abusers themselves.
Andrew Vachs, 2003

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#219467 - 04/21/08 10:41 AM Re: "Dear Abby" made it worse for me [Re: Bewlayb1]
JustScott Offline
Greeter Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/27/08
Posts: 2586
Originally Posted By: Bewlayb1
I agree with Robbie. I remember watching a rerurn of "Mr. Belvedere" during the abuse. In it, the son, Wesley, was almost molested by a camp counselor, or a Boy Scout leader. I forget. The message of this "Very Special Episode" was, of course, to speak up and tell someone. But in my eight-year-old head, all I could feel was hatred towards Wesley. He was filthy. I wished he was dead. My mind was warped, and my senses were tainted. To this day, my head is still sorting itself out.


I remember that episode. I don't remember how old I was. I never once thought that I was anything like him or that I had something to report or share about. I do remember though, and I don't know why I thought this way at the time. Maybe it was a "hatred" thing, but part of me wanted the counselor dude to get what he wanted. Part of wanted Wesley to be hurt. Anger? Hatred? Don't know. That episode is definitely one of the few that I actually remember.

Adult advice etc, definitely played with mind too. Like the "same sex experience" stuff and "playing around/experimenting" stuff.


------------------Update--------------------
I was thinking after my initial post about things. That episode and what not, and I think perhaps, although I didn't realize it then, but I'm thinking now that what I was feeling was some jealousy. That he got out of it. He didn't get hurt. That he didn't have to feel those things. Maybe that's what was going on somewhere deep in my mind. I don't know. He got to be free, I didn't.



Edited by JustScott (04/21/08 11:59 AM)

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