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#386154 - 02/17/12 07:28 AM Need help in learning what to say
annie123 Offline


Registered: 02/13/12
Posts: 11
Hi all,

I thought I would start a new thread since this is a very different issue than my last post. My last post discussed the fact that a close friend had recently shared his experience as a victim of sexual abuse as a child - that he had kept hidden for 30 years.

Over the course of the past several days, he has been sharing more and more of the actual experiences as the "bubble up". With the counsel from this forum I have been there to listen and understand. I've tried to encourage him to seek a therapist or come here - but he won't yet.

Yesterday, he shared with me that after the abuse stopped, he was very confused. He was entering puberty and didn't know the "right" way to masturbate. He ended up using an animal to help him achieve an orgasm on several occasions - and this memory haunts him deeply now.

Again, when he told me, I listened. I told him that I saw it as an act of strength in that he ended the cycle of abuse by turning to an animal rather than another child. And the fact that he was able to overcome this entire situation and lead a "normal" life is very courageous. Honestly, I didn't know what to say. Does anyone have resources on this specific topic?

Thanks.


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#386182 - 02/17/12 02:05 PM Re: Need help in learning what to say [Re: annie123]
Jim1104 Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 03/16/11
Posts: 407
Loc: Louisiana, USA
Annie - you are such a good friend to seek to help this man. I am in awe of your love for him.

*****May be triggering*****

Look, I have posted in other support sites that I tried to use animals to meet my needs a few times. As a christian and reading the first chapter of Romans in the bible, it really is shaming, haunting and absolutely revolting to my moral senses, but I think you have the right of it.

When I started masturbating, it bugged me so much that I wrote a letter to my mom and dad asking if I was a pervert or something. Upon being called into the den with dad, his response was that I had sperm building up in me and I could get rid of it in one of two ways - with a girl or with myself. As a 14 year old, it was far preferable for me to masturbate than it was for me to be sexually active with a girl.

He was wrong, of course, about my options. I could also engage guys and animals if I wanted to do so. Engaging with guys was not that easy in the early 70s and I didn't even thing about the animal thing at the time. That came later in college and afterward.

I mentioned the animal thing one time in a different forum dealing with same sex attraction and was surprised to hear that I was not all that unique. Others had done it and some who grew up on farms said that it's amazing the ways farm kids can come up with to satisfy there very legitimate needs.

Until recently, I wouldn't have considered I even had a warped enough mind to use the option that you mentioned. I wouldn't have thought myself capable of abusing someone weaker than me meet my need to ejaculate. As a survivor of CSA, though, I can understand now that I might have thought of abusing someoneone as a viable option. That's what this stuff does to you and I praise God that I never follow that path.

So, I think you made a very good point to your friend that he chose to end the cycle of abuse with himself and not harm another child. While I have to say that using an animal for sex is still not good, in my opinion, the road he chose probably saved an untold number of lives. Had he acted as his perp did, who knows how many lives would have been ruined.

I don't know you or your friend, so take or leave what I say next. When I was taught about salvation through belief in Jesus Christ, one of the things that was made clear to me was that there comes a time when I am responsible for my decisions and actions. Whether it is at age 5, 10, or 50, until I have the capacity to understand the ramifications of my decision to accept or reject Jesus, I have not reached my age of accountability.

Your friend has lived through adolescence. He probably has seen a lot of adolescents in his life. With a few exceptions, can you really look me in the eye and tell me that a "normal" pre-teen or early teen has the ability to fully understand the ramifications of a decision he or she makes? At best, healthy well adjusted kids are just trying to survive to the next day. There are just too many chemical changes in a kid's body.

Now, take all those chemical changes that are supposed to happen to a kid brought up in a healthy environment and multiply their negative affects on the body and mind of an abused kid and tell me if he as the ability to even come close to being accountable for his actions. It is not possible.

Your friend did what he had to do to survive. He was creative, smart and compassionate in the choices he made. He needs to give himself credit for the right things he has done.

_________________________
Jim
Male/USA

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#386189 - 02/17/12 05:48 PM Re: Need help in learning what to say [Re: Jim1104]
annie123 Offline


Registered: 02/13/12
Posts: 11
Thank you, Jim. That is very reassuring to me...and it gives me support in how I reassure him.

This new phase of disclosure has been challenging. Certainly because of the animal component...but actually more so for the thought of how deep and dark a place you have to be in to go there. I've been having a lot of nightmares - I haven't shared this with the victim - and I am sure it is because these are difficult thoughts and visions that he has shared. I have also been doing a lot of reading to understand how to support him which probably doesn't help with the vision part...

For the "listeners" out there...how do you compartmentalize the information that is shared? How do you gently say "I can't listen to you now" for your own mental health (I am a victim of a date rape which is no where near the impact of child sexual abuse but obviously left some scars) without making the victim feel more shame, guilt and embarrassment? I feel he has made so much progress, I don't want him to stop...but I am really not qualified to handle some of the topics, feelings and examples he brings up. And I worry that if I say "you really need help" he will think I am rejecting him or labeling him as a deviant.

How do you treat the victim going forward? I don't want him to think that I see him as a victim...but at the same time, I feel like if I don't somehow acknowledge it, he will think I have glossed over something so pivotal in his life.

It is morbidly amusing that he was the victim and figured out a way to box this stuff up and hide it away for 30 years...and I am only the listener and feel like it has taken over all my waking and sleeping moments.

Any help the board can offer?



Edited by annie123 (02/17/12 05:50 PM)

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#386199 - 02/17/12 08:36 PM Re: Need help in learning what to say [Re: annie123]
mmfan Offline


Registered: 09/25/11
Posts: 114
Compartmentalizing isn't easy. I have nightmares too following some of my friend's disclosures. I'm not sure how much of this is due to my being a CSA survivor myself. Sometimes I do feel like his stuff "takes over."

Balance is essential and you have to keep yourself safe. You shouldn't minimize your own stuff because you do have a full plate. You won't be much help to him if you get so triggered that you can't listen and can't function.

That said I remember how sensitive and delicate the situation was when my friend first disclosed his abuse to me. I think if I had conveyed in any way that I couldn't listen, that he would have felt rejected and unsafe. (My friend is quite sensitive around rejection though, so your situation may be different.)

Mostly I tried to just care for myself behind the scenes as well as I could, and draw boundaries when necessary like when he was having extreme nightmares and kept calling me in the middle of night (sleep is essential for my coping, as much as I wanted to be there for him, I couldn't). I remember saying something like "I care about you and want to be there for you with my full attention, and right now I need to get some sleep so that I can do that, so let's talk in the morning as soon as I wake up." I can't say he took it well unfortunately. So I'm still not sure if my delivery was the best, but, I couldn't see any way around it.

You may want to optimize your own coping and support strategies. I'm sure any supporter should, but, especially with your history of trauma, this might be stirring things up. I know I relied a lot on my own therapist during that time to address my own triggers and stuff that came up.

Regarding how to treat him going forward, I can tell you what my friend has needed. In the early stages he needed to know that I still respected and liked him and considered him a "man" and that I didn't see him any differently. Of course, I DID see him differently - I respected him 100 times more than I did before -but that was nearly impossible to convey to him in a way he would understand.

Also its good to be flexible because because what they need can change from day to day or moment to moment. Sometimes he wants me to treat him like "a normal man" as if he had never been abused, and he'll even be offended by compassion/caring, and complain that I'm treating him like he's "weak." Other times he craves tenderness and gentleness like a small child would need, and if I make the mistake of treating him like a normal adult at one of these times, he complains that I'm being insensitive. So, I guess what I'm saying is I haven't gotten it right every time, and I'm not sure we can, but the best we can do is just pay attention to their signals.

You sound like a sensitive and caring friend and I'm sure this is why he has entrusted you with such a massive step in his life.


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#386202 - 02/17/12 09:13 PM Re: Need help in learning what to say [Re: annie123]
peroperic2009 Offline
Moderator
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 10/09/11
Posts: 3600
Loc: South-East Europe
Dear Annie,
I've tried to do more thinking on your situation and I'm not sure have I enough life experience to give you some advice. Anyway I'll try to give you my thoughts and maybe that could be of some help. You've had some experience dealing with rape victims and you've tried to do your best to give your friend support;. Anyway you are feeling that you stepped into unknown territory and didn't feel comfortable with overall story. For me a little bit problematic part is that you've tried to configure out what to say in some specific situations, how to make best approach and how to position yourself in way to be of best help to your friend. There is one catch (at least in my opinion). Partners (you in this case) never should cross the line trying to heal victim. It is impossible mission and many people are trying to do that. Even if you are expert in area that shouldn't be your job in these circumstances. You've asked already for concrete specific answers and that is sign for me that you've already trying to heal your friend or at least you are feeling need for that. Please stop yourself, you don't need to know more about all those issues in details. You have huge knowledge how to listen and be supportive to somebody who went trough traumatic experience. That is all that matters and that you should do, nothing more. Other wise you could lost yourself desperately trying to fix something that you actually can't accomplish. You should be available for some compassion and for assistance - basically giving support but nothing more than that. Otherwise you could be harmed non-intentionality. Now if we add fact that you are also victim and had terrible experience things are becoming even more complicated. Please if I'm wrong don't bother with my words. If you were victim of some kind of abuse that means that there is higher possibility that you could cross easier your boundary trying to do best for others and not caring too much about yourself. You have to be very careful. You have all rights and actually you have obligation to always protect yourself in first place and than others can come to scene. So if some things are too difficult for you, you must find way how to explicitly say your feelings and pull yourself out of unwanted situation. No one should blame you or whatsoever. You have to tell your friend that you are also victim and in some way you will equalize yours standings; you are at same side, you are both victims and you were both very vulnerable. That kind of talk would lead you to statement that some things would do some harm to you and that you are not capable of doing much help. For your sake and well being you have to say something like that very clearly. No one should take your words like something wrong. There is no easy way to do so, you just need to be honest and nothing wrong would happen. That doesn't mean that you would stop to listen your friend; you just tell him that some parts (and words and expressions) are too disturbing for you as victim. Those are things that I would do if I would be in your position. Be honest and say what you are keeping in your soul, your friend has opened to you and now it is your turn.
Pero


_________________________
My story

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#386212 - 02/17/12 10:51 PM Re: Need help in learning what to say [Re: peroperic2009]
Jim1104 Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 03/16/11
Posts: 407
Loc: Louisiana, USA
Annie:

I can't really add much to what the others have said, but that never stopped me before.

I asked my wife, who is a therapist, what she would say to you. Bottom line - be honest, make sure you take care of yourself, and just let your friend know that you love him, but you need time to assimilate what he has told you. Just like it's hard to drink water from a fire hose, trying to deal with so many revelations is difficult.

Right or wrong, my thought is that it may be appropriate to let him know that you want to continue listening to him, but just tell him that the processing you have been doing has caused you some nightmares too. The thing is, in order to be of help to him, you have to be in a good place yourself. You won't be if the nightmares continue.

Finally, I really didn't like hearing you say, "I am a victim of a date rape which is no where near the impact of child sexual abuse but obviously left some scars." Perhaps you have been able to deal with that part of your life, but don't minimize what you went through and minimize it. Perhaps I am wrong, but it seems to me that rape is rape, regardless of when it happened. You deserve great admiration for what you have survived.

Jim

_________________________
Jim
Male/USA

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#386388 - 02/19/12 10:16 AM Re: Need help in learning what to say [Re: Jim1104]
SamV Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/13/09
Posts: 5941
Loc: Talladega, Alabama, USA
Hello annie,

I am a Greeter here, my name is Sam. I welcome you to this place of healing and support. If there is anything I can do to help navigate the forums, chat room and articles, please let me know.

Again welcome,
Sam

_________________________
MaleSurvivor Moderator Emeritus 2012 - 2014

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#386546 - 02/20/12 05:12 PM Re: Need help in learning what to say [Re: SamV]
annie123 Offline


Registered: 02/13/12
Posts: 11
Thanks Sam - I appreciate it!


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