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#394652 - 04/23/12 09:09 PM Feeling LIke I'm not a Real Survivor
jls Offline


Registered: 03/06/09
Posts: 1142
I often feel like my experience of sexual abuse is illegitimate, as if I somehow don’t qualify to be a survivor. Things go thru my head like -

“As a teenager I was old enough to know better”, or

“That’s just what happens to homeless kids trying to survive”, or

“Somehow I must have wanted it since I didn’t fight hard enough to stop it”, or

“Other people had it worse”. or

(I love this one)

“You act too together to really be a survivor”, as if the only way to qualify is to be completely f*cked up.

Truth is I often do feel f*cked up, and people notice it, although when asked what’s wrong the last thing I would admit to being is a survivor going thru a tough time with stuff from my past. Anyways has anyone else had these things go thru their head? If so I’d like to know, if only to affirm that its part of being a survivor, if this is in fact other people’s experience.




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#394655 - 04/23/12 09:18 PM Re: Feeling LIke I'm not a Real Survivor [Re: jls]
onlyakid Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 03/31/04
Posts: 1552
Loc: New Jersey
JLS,
Somedays I too feel like maybe I wasnt abused because I was 13 and my brother was only a few years older (3 1/2). I too thought that as a teenager I should have known better and that other people had it worse. I dont have flashbacks and I didn't use alcohol or drugs. Turns out my choice was food, enough so that I was recently diagnosed with diabetes because of all my sugar intake.

Wish I could tell you that once you finally see that it was abuse and wasn't your fault that you'll stop doubting but you don't. It may subside for awhile but it comes back.

Jason
_________________________
"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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#394657 - 04/23/12 09:23 PM Re: Feeling LIke I'm not a Real Survivor [Re: jls]
jls Offline


Registered: 03/06/09
Posts: 1142
I think maybe I need to start saying it out loud so it stops going around and around in my head. I'll start here ~

I was sexually abused as a kid, and yes, I was just a kid!

Now I'll move on to doing it in front of the mirror.
_________________________
Love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.


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#394665 - 04/23/12 09:56 PM Re: Feeling LIke I'm not a Real Survivor [Re: jls]
traveler Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 02/07/06
Posts: 3513
Loc: somewhere in Africa
Yeah - i've been through that, too. several times.

what helped me most was telling my story face to face with a real live person. As great as these MS forums are, and as much as they have helped me, (and that is a LOT!) the physical presence and immediate response of a personal reveal helped make it legit for me. i've done that several times - with 2 therapists, my wife, and 2 carefully selected, safe and trusted friends (all separate times - and of course - it was difficult every time). seeing and hearing and feeling their reactions was very validating. they confirmed that what i'd experienced was really abuse and their expressions of compassion and understanding were very encoraging and helped to confirm what i kept doubting or minimizing or discounting or denying. now they know and i have heard myself say it out loud and others repeat it back to me, it is much harder to go back - i have accepted it and stand on a solid foundation of truth and can start to move on and build a better future. it's hard to accomplish anything when the ground you're on keeps shifting.

Prevail!
Lee
_________________________
As my life goes on I believe somehow something's changed
Something deep inside...
I've been searchin so long to find an answer
Now I know my life has meaning
Now I see myself as I am, feeling very free...
When my tears have come to an end I will understand
What I left behind: a part of me. Chicago


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#394676 - 04/23/12 11:21 PM Re: Feeling LIke I'm not a Real Survivor [Re: jls]
Chase Eric Offline
Moderator
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 10/25/10
Posts: 1486
Sometimes it helps to step outside yourself and imagine a brother or sister or friend going through what you experienced - as if you could watch it all happen to them like watching TV - and judge it THAT way. Would you be inclined to step in and warn them, stop things? That's where the truth really is.

For me, I saw my molester doing to my little sister and half the little girls in the neighborhood exactly what he was doing to me. That gave me enough perspective to realize that things were quite sick in my world. I often had sex with him because I knew it would keep him off my sister, so my sense of normal was totally screwed up. Another day at the office for me at 13. Just accepting it as abuse was a long process for me because back then I was too deeply in the middle of it to really see it.
_________________________
Eirik




Click my pic to see why I'm here

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#394689 - 04/24/12 12:12 AM * [Re: jls]
Smalltown80sBoy Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 03/25/12
Posts: 2217
*


Edited by Smalltown80sBoy (04/28/13 05:30 PM)

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#394698 - 04/24/12 12:56 AM Re: Feeling LIke I'm not a Real Survivor [Re: jls]
chambers Offline


Registered: 04/17/12
Posts: 118
Loc: VA
Originally Posted By: jls

Truth is I often do feel f*cked up, and people notice it, although when asked what’s wrong the last thing I would admit to being is a survivor going thru a tough time with stuff from my past. Anyways has anyone else had these things go thru their head? If so I’d like to know, if only to affirm that its part of being a survivor, if this is in fact other people’s experience.



You are not alone. I've read some guys stories on here and just felt like a total punk compared to them, so many have endured much worse than I did. I never admitted what was really bothering me to anyone either, it's not an issue many people can deal with. The blame game is something we all have to deal w/ but we should all reach the same conclusion, we were the victims and it wasn't our fault.

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#394731 - 04/24/12 05:05 AM Re: Feeling LIke I'm not a Real Survivor [Re: jls]
dark empathy Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 2024
Loc: durham, north england
Oh yes, I've had this one myself, indeed because the idea of a bunch of teenaged girls abusing a teenaged boy is so alien to our understanding, I wasn't even aware of what happened as s/x, let alone abuse.

it wasn't indeed until i was 20, and had a panic attack when my mum by mistake came into the bathroom when i had my shirt off having a wash that she suddenly said out of the blue "oh you were raped", ---- -what? Bullying yes, but that? I was utterly stunned, indeed that's been one of the hardest things to accept.

one thing I found helpful as everyone else has said is telling my story in the third person, or imagining it written down in detail with a different protagonist, that made it more real. Also for me, one comment which Larry aka Road runner made a long while ago helped considderably too, ---- imagine that the gendas were switched and what the reaction would've been. Because yes, it's true, if a bunch of teenaged boys had done to a girl what had happened to me things would've been extremely different, indeed one of the worst memories I have is at one point punching a girl in the chest, where upon she went to a teacher and I! was the one who got a right royal yelling at.

Another helpful thing I found to remember, but something which was extremely difficult to face at the time, was squaring my body's physical response with what happened. My mind was elsewhere, indeed my mind was nearly absent, but my body wasn't.

Apparently the same thing happens if a woman is abused, but because with men the physical reaction is more obvious, people always assume it's voluntary, indeed I often get really irritated at this assumption that just because a man's body involuntarily respondes this implies that he always is implicit in what is going on.

Realizing that my mind and body were completely separated during the experience helped me quite a lot, ---- though I know with some others' experience things are different.

All the best,

luke.


Edited by dark empathy (04/24/12 05:09 AM)

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#394734 - 04/24/12 05:38 AM Re: Feeling LIke I'm not a Real Survivor [Re: jls]
Dar Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 11/15/11
Posts: 170
Loc: Missouri
jls,
I cannot tell you how many times I have said those same excact words that you posted. It is also very hard for me to seperate the thoughts of what you are saying even tho my therapist and many many others say it wasnt my fault. I too still feel like it was.
I dont know if I will ever get over those thoughts but I am learning to deal with it and move on. I hope you can too brother.

Blessings
_________________________
All I ever wanted was a hug.

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#394739 - 04/24/12 09:06 AM Re: Feeling LIke I'm not a Real Survivor [Re: jls]
unhappycamper Offline


Registered: 10/21/11
Posts: 624
Loc: VA
jls:

"Qualifying" is how you get a driver's license or a tax break--by meeting a list of criteria. Trauma (CSA or any other kind) means "injury," which can only be measured by its effect on the victim. There's no other criterion.

Hearing the survivor stories on MS and the parade of child-abuse stories in the news, I've often felt "unqualified" as a survivor because I "only" remember being raped, beaten and nearly smothered once by someone for whom I carried absolutely no family, friend or other trust baggage. But it still can mess me up at times, 53 years later, and I definitely have a gut understanding of the strange reactions (and non-reactions) of others who have been traumatized by CSA.

Don't worry about the labels... just get better! Peace.

John

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#394755 - 04/24/12 11:09 AM Re: Feeling LIke I'm not a Real Survivor [Re: jls]
Asmodeus Offline


Registered: 10/25/05
Posts: 112
Loc: Vestavia, Alabama, USA
The fact that there will always be people who had it worse doesn't take away from what happened to any of us.
_________________________
I may not be perfect, but at least I'm not fake.

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#394919 - 04/25/12 01:44 PM Re: Feeling LIke I'm not a Real Survivor [Re: Asmodeus]
jls Offline


Registered: 03/06/09
Posts: 1142
When I look at it objectively, as in how anybody else would see it, I guess I had it pretty bad, being a young teen living on the streets and subjected to sexual abuse and exploitation by adult predators while trying to survive in that situation. Its just hard for me to see it that way, it being that bad I mean, for a number of reasons. One of them is that I am often so dissociated from my feelings about what happened to me that I feel nothing, so I guess its not surprising that I'm having difficulty grasping the full reality of what I went thru. Also, I wonder if I tell myself it wasn't that bad as a protective mechanism, like I'm trying to alter the reality of what happened to me in retrospect so that I don't have to face the pain of it today, which is in effect a form of minimization/denial. Anyways these are all intellectual insights and are far away from feelings I've been long detached from. Hopefully I'll reach them someday.

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#394924 - 04/25/12 02:21 PM Re: Feeling LIke I'm not a Real Survivor [Re: jls]
KMCINVA Offline
Greeter
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 08/31/11
Posts: 1782
jls

I think it is important to speak of the abuse like others have said, tell what you went through, how you felt and feel today about the abuse. My T sees speaking as letting the poison from the abuse out of the mind and body. Be selective to whom you tell. I told some close to me and the treatment, as least as I felt, was as bad as the abuse--scorn and humiliation and down right inhumane. Fortunately I found support from strangers who allowed me to speak and heal, I found live support groups that allowed me to speak and heal, I have a therapist who is excellent and creates a safe place for me to heal--these people offered me safety and a non judgmental ear and smile. If I had not found these people, I would have been lost at the hands of the first people I told and do not believe I would be here today. Reliving the abuse in a condemning environment does not allow one to heal but rather destroys. Hearing yourself speak and seeing eyes listening and not rolling into a shallow head in disbelief, hearing people say you can talk when ready we are here and not hearing people demanding to know when are you going to get money for the abuse, seeing a gentle smile and a pat on the back instead of fingers point at you, and hearing words you are so brave to have survived and be here today--helps one to move forward. Like most,I could not speak until I felt safe.

Remember, it only takes being sexual abused once that makes you a victim--each victim reacts differently. The impact is the same, you have been violated, robbed of your childhood and ability to trust and love. You are standing today, so you are a survivor and you deserve to be free and happy.

Kevin


Edited by KMCINVA (04/25/12 03:29 PM)

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#394949 - 04/25/12 07:30 PM Re: Feeling LIke I'm not a Real Survivor [Re: jls]
traveler Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 02/07/06
Posts: 3513
Loc: somewhere in Africa
WELL SAID, Kevin!
i agree 100%
_________________________
As my life goes on I believe somehow something's changed
Something deep inside...
I've been searchin so long to find an answer
Now I know my life has meaning
Now I see myself as I am, feeling very free...
When my tears have come to an end I will understand
What I left behind: a part of me. Chicago


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#394988 - 04/26/12 12:55 AM Re: Feeling LIke I'm not a Real Survivor [Re: jls]
kirby Offline


Registered: 04/23/12
Posts: 23
Same for me man it was only when i found, others who had been through it when i realized these feelings were normal,

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#394992 - 04/26/12 01:37 AM Re: Feeling LIke I'm not a Real Survivor [Re: jls]
whome Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 05/07/11
Posts: 1736
Loc: Johannesburg South Africa
Hey JLS

I know the feeling, I also have those thoughts. When I read stories like yours it makes me feel even worse, living on the streets and having men take advantage of you.
I feel like a bit of a fraud. But the truth is that I have a guy that was molested for a year at school, he was just fondled, and he shows the effects of abuse more than probably others would.
Its not the intensity, its the ramifications.
In AA after years of meetings I sat and listened to the readers on day and something they said hit me, and it was this.
"I will not regret my past, nor wish to shut the door on it" and the other one was "No matter how far I am down the line, I will us my experience to help others"
I have, and in the very first meeting that I shared my 'real' story two people stood up and shared their abuse too. My story helped them, I felt so good about that. So I no longer keep my abuse a secret, I no longer hide it, it is what it was and I had no control over it, it was not my fault.

Your story is here on MS and I am sure that it helped a lot of guys here over the time you have been here, I know it helped me.

Heal well
Martin
_________________________
Matrix Men South Africa
Survivors Supporting Each other
Matrix Men Blog

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#395061 - 04/26/12 02:00 PM Re: Feeling LIke I'm not a Real Survivor [Re: whome]
jls Offline


Registered: 03/06/09
Posts: 1142
"I will not regret my past, nor wish to shut the door on it"

I like that line. It rings as equally true for my recovery from sexual abuse as it does for my recovery from alcoholism. What I take from it is that the past is what it is, as in it can't be changed, or willed or denied away. In the absence of access to a time machine my past will always remain part of me so learning to accept it is vital to healing from it. Like you said though, its the ramifications of the abuse that are most relevant since with alot of effort those can be changed, as in how the abuse affects my life today, which I am still working on.
_________________________
Love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.


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#395066 - 04/26/12 02:37 PM Re: Feeling LIke I'm not a Real Survivor [Re: jls]
Steve J Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 09/26/08
Posts: 24
Loc: Louisiana
Hey Guys,

I resonate with all of your responses. The one thing I took away from the Oprah Show was that the way CSA is perpetuated is by victims not speaking out. Since then, I've taken every opportunity I can find to tell my story. I've told my story to my therapist, my addiction support group, my Mankind Project men's group, the HEA annual conference ( I do have mild hypospadias), the Exchange Club (a national service organization that raises money for the prevention of child abuse), and anyone else who will listen.

If you are looking for safe men, I personally recommend the Mankind Project (mkp.org). It is through this organization that I have learned that it is possible for me to have a non-sexual, intimate relationship with other men. When I attend my MKP men's group every other week, I can bring anything to the group, knowing that I will never be criticized, judged, or condemned. I may be challenged, but never criticized. I have found these men to be caring and very supportive.

Several years ago, I staffed a New Warrior training in Montreal. On Saturday morning while observing a process, I got triggered. I moved to another room and was leaning against the wall weeping when I heard someone come up behind me. He asked if he could touch me, and when I said yes, he just held me. Moments later, he was joined by another man, and they just held me and comforted me while I dealt with the emotions. After about 15 minutes, the emotions passed, and I was able to talk about what had happened. After I shared my story, one of the other men acknowledged that the same thing happened to him. I don't know where I could have found that kind of support outside of MKP.

The Mankind Project is not the only organization doing men's work. There are a number of others. MKP is the only one I am intimately familiar with. There are a number of guys here on MS who are New Warriors. I'm sure they will reveal themselves if asked.

If you want to know more, PM me. I wish you all the best.
_________________________
Steve J
Courageous Buffalo

New Warrior, May 2008
WoR, Hope Springs, October 2009
WoR, Dahlonega, May 2010
malesurvivorsstory@blogspot.com

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#395072 - 04/26/12 04:10 PM Re: Feeling LIke I'm not a Real Survivor [Re: jls]
ArtsyGuy Offline


Registered: 04/26/12
Posts: 9
Loc: GA, USA
Originally Posted By: jls
I often feel like my experience of sexual abuse is illegitimate, as if I somehow don’t qualify to be a survivor. Things go thru my head like -

“As a teenager I was old enough to know better”...

“Other people had it worse”...


jls, I'm new here, and these two thoughts in-particular resonated in my mind often over the years. I was 14 at the time of my experience. You're not alone in having these thoughts- and it can be painful, but we're headed in the right direction by just talking about those thought processes openly. It takes a great deal of courage to do so.

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#395098 - 04/26/12 08:21 PM Re: Feeling LIke I'm not a Real Survivor [Re: jls]
Sailor John Offline


Registered: 10/04/11
Posts: 310
Loc: Newfoundland & Labrador
Hi jls,

I can completely sympathise with you. Most of those feelings have happened to me. A couple others that still haunt me to this day is thinking about a woman that I never asked for a date because of fearing rejection even though we often chatted for a long time as she worked in the canteen in the building I was staying in.

Another is why didn't I tell my best friend because I know that his family would have taken me out of the hell I suffered and still do.

I think that we get all f()@ked up at times and have to just work through it. It's amazing what we can do when we have to to help our recovery along
_________________________
I will mourn the teenager I never was and strive to make that dot of light way out in the far reaches of the end of the tunnel turn into a bright sun.

WE ARE NOT VICTIMS. WE ARE THE SURVIVORS!!!

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#395137 - 04/27/12 12:43 AM Re: Feeling LIke I'm not a Real Survivor [Re: ArtsyGuy]
jls Offline


Registered: 03/06/09
Posts: 1142
Your right that it takes a great deal of courage to talk about it, not just the abuse itself but also about how we try and minimize, deny and rationalize the abuse away. At the end of the day none of it stands up to the facts, that being that adults having sex with kids, whether they be preteens or teens, is just plain wrong, and that makes us survivors of terrible acts committed against us as children.

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#395182 - 04/27/12 10:52 AM Re: Feeling LIke I'm not a Real Survivor [Re: jls]
Louis Offline


Registered: 04/26/12
Posts: 12
Loc: TX
I think we all feel this way at some time in our lives especially as we get older in our teen years. We feel like we should have stopped it or fought it off. The one thing that bothers me the most is knowing that at times in my teens I actually think I enjoyed getting to do it, it felt good. That is what I still find hard to fight and say I cant be a survivor if I enjoyed it any at all ever.
_________________________
Men’s best successes come after their disappointments.

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#395199 - 04/27/12 01:07 PM Re: Feeling LIke I'm not a Real Survivor [Re: Louis]
jls Offline


Registered: 03/06/09
Posts: 1142
Its that conflict between something feeling so good physically and feeling so disgusted about it emotionally that I had such great difficulty reconciling as a teen and still do today. Teenage kids coming of age are awkward about sex to begin with so having it forced on us by adults at that age can be very confusing.
_________________________
Love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.


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