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#64801 - 09/15/06 02:18 AM Need to help my stepson
stepmom Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 09/14/06
Posts: 7
Loc: California
Hi -

I am here because I hoping to get some advice. I have been married to my husband for nearly four years, and he has two children from a previous marriage. The oldest boy, my oldest stepson, is going to be 17 in November. The youngest is 14.5 years old and lives with his mother 1700 miles away. Our oldest boy (OSS for now) has lived with us for nearly 3 years, and I love him very much. So does his father. His mother has neglected him terribly and has for a long time. She is fonder of the youngest, but neglected him as well. She is getting her act together some, finally, and that's the only reason she has the youngest boy.

Two nights ago, during a major argument at home over a contraband cell phone, it came out that while OSS was living with his mom, he was raped.

He was nearly 12 years old, just starting 5th grade. He was out very late, after midnight on a school night, with bad kids behind the local Target store. His mother did not even know where he was and did not ask. The kids decided it was time to go home, so OSS began his way home alone. He went past the local community college, which had many Port-a-Potties, and he was grabbed from behind. The man who grabbed him told him not to scream or he would kill him. The man pulled my OSS's pants down and raped him and then left.

OSS told no one. His mother was asleep when he got home. He told an older boy (big brother of a friend) that he was robbed that night in the same location. The older boy was a drug dealer and a gang member, and he went out that night and claims to have shot someone dead in that location, leaving the body in the river. My OSS is a total wreck. He has never told anyone. He feels dirty, ashamed, and unloveable.

We assured him that we loved him just the same as ever, and we have tried to be there with him more during the last two days. I had him tested for STDs (he is in the clear, thankfully), but that meant I had to tell our doctor and she had to file a police report. MY OSS knew that and gave permission for it.

I too was raped as a 16 year old, on a date. So I can relate somewhat to him. But my attacker is still alive and living in Atlanta. And I was not a young boy.

Family therapy might help us. He is very angry with his father for somehow not being there. But I am here because I am wondering what kinds of things that teen male survivors go through that us ladies might not. I want to help my child.

Any advice is appreciated. Thank you.


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#64802 - 09/15/06 02:59 AM Re: Need to help my stepson
roadrunner Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 05/02/05
Posts: 22045
Loc: Carlisle, PA
stepmom,

It's great you are taking such an active interest in your stepson's welfare. He will notice that, believe me, even if he doesn't show it so much at first.

An abused teenager living in the aftermath of abuse is going through some rough times. In most cases he will blame himself for what happened, and until he gets into counselling and receives some help he will probably suffer from decreasing self-esteem. It's very common for abused teens to feel quite powerless and worthless.

He will desperately need to talk about things, but at the same time he will fear being shamed, rejected and judged. There will be lots of "negotiation" before he will be able to talk, and much of it will be "encoded". So for example you ask him is anything wrong, and he will say no, he's okay. What he really means is he hasn't any idea even how to start talking about it. But with encouragement, understanding, and indications that you really care and are not going to judge him, he may start to open up a bit more.

Even if home is safe, it's difficult for an abused teen. Everything will look unreal to him, and everything he hears will sound trite and irrelevant. There may be displays of anger, but of course he has a lot to be angry about. If he does open up at all, it's important that he get your immediate and full attention. Nothing is more important - remember that however much of a brave face he is putting up to you, he is very frightened. Who would not be? When he sees that you really are interested and care, this will encourage him to keep communicating.

School will be a special problem. It's absolutely to be expected that an abused teenager going back to school will feel conflicted in lots of ways. The assurances of adults seem irrelevant; what do grownups know? What matters to him are his fears and anxieties, which he will often feel reluctant to share, even with adults he trusts.

These fears will be in areas that impact most immediately on his abuse experiences. For example, he will look at his schoolmates and see no one who "looks" like he has been abused. So he will feel all the more alone.

He will also feel anxious about how all his schoolmates seem to be participating in a view of relationships that leaves him as an absolute outsider. Everything they do seems to be dangerous and threatening so far as he can see. If a friend, for example, tells him about something he has recently done with a girl, he will think: That's what the abuser did to me. Discussions of sex, which of course are a huge topic among teens, will strike him as threatening and he will again feel like an outsider.

As he begins to feel more and more different, he will wonder how his friends can fail to see this "difference". Abused teens very often wonder if they have a "sign" on them announcing their abuse - they really do feel that obvious. Classes like gym, if they involve nakedness and communal showering, will be especially traumatic.

In classes in school he may find it difficult to concentrate and may wonder what the subject matter have to do with him. The result will often be a general meltdown as he figures that his own life has nothing to do with the "real world", and he may come up with solutions like leaving school and doing something that will prove his manhood and demonstrate his ability to be independent: for example, working construction or joining the military.

I really believe that the most important thing you can give him is a safe venue where he feels loved, wanted and special, and where he can feel free to talk about what's bothering him. Let him know that you won't judge him but need to understand how to help. If he says he can't talk, respect that but leave open the way for future discussions.

I hope these ideas help. There are several classic guides to recovery from abuse by Mike Lew and Mik Hunter, but these are for adults and teens find that these books don't speak to them. Much better for teens and those trying to help them is Cynthia Mather's "How Long Does It Hurt?: A Guide to Recovering from Incest and Sexual
Abuse for Teenagers, Their Friends, and Their Families". I have not yet read this book, but several teens have told me it helped them enormously. If you want a copy, you can get it through the bookstore on this site.

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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#64803 - 09/15/06 03:02 AM Re: Need to help my stepson
indygal Offline
Member

Registered: 06/22/06
Posts: 439
Stepmom,

as a mother who also raised a son, my heart goes out to you as i can appreciate the deep heartwrenching pain you must feel right now.

teenage boys as young men are already often in a frame of mind where they appear not to listen to advice from their elders; couple that with this horrific trauma and you can only imagine the internal conflicts he's facing now.

it is extremely helpful - and i can't emphasize this enough - that you have been able to assist him in this ordeal. this board is also the right place to be; please avail yourself of the resources here including the therapist search.

there are young men like your son who also post on the male survivor forum, at some point you might try and introduce your son to this site also; how to do that is probably something only you can figure out, however.

remember, you and your son, your family are not alone.

all the best,
indy

_________________________
my avatar is one of the Battle Angel characters, fighting the good fight.

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#64804 - 09/15/06 09:30 AM Re: Need to help my stepson
VN Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 06/03/05
Posts: 723
Stepmom,

I do not come to this forum so much, but I come to here to seek that you write something. I was in chat room sometime later then you was in there, and I seen some what happen when you was in there speaking. I just wish to say, from me, I am very sorry for how one person in there treat you. That is not proper, not appropriate, and not excuseable. I am very glad that you find some very GOOD people to talk with about this.

I am survivor who was much abused, sexualy, by my mother, and I want you to know that I would not at all feel offense or threat by you in chat. There is much different between my own mother and most 'real' and 'good' ones. I know that. I still have some time, hard time to trust anyone who is in 'mother' like position to me, but I know that is of me, not of them.

I just want to say, your stepson, he is very lucky he have you, and his father, as parents. This is very hard thing to deal of, and to have family to support, that is very importent and helpful thing. I hope perhaps one day he can come to here hiself and find help. There is some younger members here also, he would not be only one miner here.

I am very glad you find this site, to give to you help and advices to help your son. Thank you.

VN


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#64805 - 09/15/06 10:28 PM Re: Need to help my stepson
stepmom Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 09/14/06
Posts: 7
Loc: California
Everyone, thank you for responding to my post.

Roadrunner, what you described seems like exactly what my SS is doing at school. Feeling like a loner who doesn't fit, and just waiting it out so he can get out of there and "be a man". He is doing horribly in school and is totally unmotivated. And he has told me before that he knows he is a complete outsider there - no one has been through what he has, in his mind.

When I was a child, my father was physically abusive and my mother and I lived in a private hell. I know what it is like to feel you do not belong at all, and that the kids in school know absolutely nothing about how life "really" is. I told my stepson that honestly, I never fit in either. I still do not fit in anywhere, really. Not at work, not in school, sometimes not even at home with my husband. I said it was just as well that he did not fit. Because it meant that he would always be unique - his own person - and he would be stronger than those other people because he had been through so much. And that he would have perspective and wisdom because he had survived. Not fitting in has its good points. Of course, that was before I knew about the rape. I thought he was referring to all the other bad things he'd been through that I already knew about.

When he does open up, I am careful to listen and not do anything else. If I am washing the dishes, I turn off the water and slowly dry my hands so he knows I am paying attention. And I am careful not to overreact to what he says or judge him for it - I only try to clarify what he means. You are so right that it is dreadfully hard to talk about abuse. That much, I know I can do right. It is what has brought me closer to him - the ability to carefully ask questions and carefully listen. I see who he is and he knows that I love him even though he thinks he is ugly. I felt that way in my life too - for probably the first 25 years of it.

For me, however, education was a way out of depending on my abuser, and I ran with it. I am now a professional rocket scientist (no kidding), and I nearly starved to put myself through university. I find it hard to know what to do to help my stepson appreciate what an education can really do for him. It can buy him safety, choices, a good salary someday, the ability to think for himself and it helped me feel better about not fitting in, because I knew I had something more too (my well-trained mind). And it can help him protect his own family and children someday from living in the cycle of poverty which often exposes children to more abuse. I wish I could help him see that school can be a salvation. But I fear he will not. Because he is in such a hurry to prove what a big tough man he is - just as you said, Roadrunner. Construction, Marines, Police, big man stuff. He's experiencing that meltdown that you described now.

Thankfully, they don't shower communally in gym. He does have to change his clothes there, but he's a pretty big young man by now so I think he feels safer doing that now than he once did. I had not thought of that part. You are so right that he thinks there's a sign on him - he even said that exact thing to me once (but of course he did not say why at that time).

I will have a look at that book and maybe he and I can read it together, so we can talk about it.

I really am amazed at how accurately you describe my boy's life thus far - it is dead on. He is in love with his girlfriend (who doesn't treat him as well as she should, in my opinion). Even though they have been going out for 8 months, and I have walked in on him while he was holding her breast (I raised an eyebrow and walked right back out again), he told me that he was not having sex. Why? Because he said that she might regret doing it so young (she is 15) later on and he never wanted to hurt her that way. Totally makes sense given what has happened. He understands how precious her innocence is.
---------------------------------------------
VN, thank you for your kind words. There are lots of bad people of both genders out there - and lots of good people too. You are right about that. I am sorry that your mother did not honor the blessing that is her son. Bad things happen to good people sometimes, and it just ain't right. I hope that person will learn that screaming at me doesn't help my stepson get any help. Maybe he'll calm down if he realizes I am not a predator.
---------------------------------------------
Does anyone have any ideas on how to get my boy interested in school, or at least not dying to show how courageous he is? I don't want him to die in the war because of what someone did to him 5 years ago. And he is ready to die to prove his manhood.


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#64806 - 09/15/06 11:36 PM Re: Need to help my stepson
roadrunner Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 05/02/05
Posts: 22045
Loc: Carlisle, PA
stepmom,

Quote:
Does anyone have any ideas on how to get my boy interested in school, or at least not dying to show how courageous he is? I don't want him to die in the war because of what someone did to him 5 years ago. And he is ready to die to prove his manhood.
How about stressing to him how courageous it is even to GO to school under these circumstances, much less concentrate and do well? Often what an abused teen needs is validation - that feeling that what he is doing, in the face of his problems, is noticed and appreciated by those who really count in his life. Are there clubs or activities in his school that suit his interests? Sometimes a teen will hesitate to get into those because he thinks that here too he will fail or be closed out. But very often he finds that once he is in a smaller group with which he shares specific interests, it isn't so difficult to get into the swing of things.

He might also benefit from some serious talk about what it means to join the military these days. If he thinks school is mechanical and mindless, let him think a few minutes about basic training. And his service would almost certainly end up in Iraq, where he would be caught up in what is basically a simmering civil war that the US military cannot stem or end, and with rules of engagement that prevent the army's firepower and skills from being deployed in any effective way. Talk about frustration!

A stint in the army will of course NOT address his basic problem, which is recovery from abuse as a child. It will be a form of running away, and he may already know that running never solves a problem.

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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#64807 - 09/16/06 01:20 AM Re: Need to help my stepson
lostcowboy Offline
Member

Registered: 11/10/04
Posts: 797
Loc: North Texas
Hi Stepmom, you were looking for some info. Male Rape
Also if you can find the book "Recovery by Helen Benedict" it talks about rape and how it effects all types of people. When I read it in 1992 it helped me to see that most of the thoughts I had on why I was raped were wrong.

Stepmom, you mentioned that you were raped when you were 16, there is another web site I go to, Pandora\'s Aquarium It is mainly a site for females, but they do allow males on it also.

_________________________
"Don't walk in front of me, I may not follow. Don't walk behind me, I may not lead. Just walk beside me and be my friend." - Albert Camus
Pretty much my life as I have posted so far. Triggers!

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#64808 - 09/16/06 01:38 AM Re: Need to help my stepson
stepmom Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 09/14/06
Posts: 7
Loc: California
I will see if I can get any information on what GIs thought it would be like versus what it is like these days in the military. Maybe we know someone he can talk to. I am not sure.

I agree with you that it is a way of hiding. I think it might do some good to point out that remaining in your life is exceptionally difficult after abuse. "Being here now", as the Buddhists say, is pretty hard. I will acknowledge how brave it is to stay in your life, because I agree most people don't know that that alone is a challenge.

The only club that interests him is the auto club. I could suggest he join. But he doesn't have a driver's license and he feels pretty embarrassed about that (he has no license because without a B average I refuse to pay to insure him, and he cannot drive without insurance). Plus he tends to be a thrillseeker/adrenaline junkie (no shock there, I guess), and we don't feel like a car is going to improve his life expectancy. I'll ask him again about a club at school.

Thank you for your perspective!


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#64809 - 09/16/06 01:54 AM Re: Need to help my stepson
stepmom Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 09/14/06
Posts: 7
Loc: California
Thank you lostcowboy. I just went to the web site for the rape crisis center and printed out the material. I'll check into the book.


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#64810 - 09/16/06 08:15 AM Re: Need to help my stepson
Leosha Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 06/18/03
Posts: 3614
Loc: Right here
Stepmom,

I am sorry, that you have also his difficulty, to wish to prove he is man. I wish he knew that, military, it don't make the 'man'. College doesn't either. No specific thing does. We as men, we are created in how we respond to all things in our lives. Your son, he is already a 'man' in the best use of the word. Still a child in ways, yes. But a 'man' for you and your husband, and he himself to be proud of.

Leosha

_________________________
Avatar photo in memory of my younger brother Makar.

"Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted."~~~Martin Luther King Jr., 1963

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