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#76661 - 01/14/03 09:40 PM Journey To Peace
Wuamei Offline
Member

Registered: 08/19/02
Posts: 2700
Loc: The left turn I should have ta...
This is an article to which I linked thru the MS homepage in the media area. Tho dated to last August, I wanted to post this article here for possible discussion, and becuz it really spoke powerfully to me. Partly becuz the man this article is about lives in my neck of the woods, more or less. Also becuz his story says a lot about the male survivor, abuse & spirituality. And becuz it appears in a mainstream newspaper of some size & readership, the Raleigh NewsObserver.

Tuesday, August 13, 2002 8:56AM EDT

FAMILIES & RELATIONSHIPS

"Journey to peace"

A Cary man learns that the only way to overcome sexual abuse is to face it

By KELLY STARLING, Staff Writer

RALEIGH - In the distance, a yellow and orange kayak glided across Lake Wheeler. Scott Jones dipped his paddle in the murky water, pushing closer to the pier with smooth, strong strokes. The early morning sun lit his weathered face and damp, gray-streaked hair as he pulled in, at peace.

Jones gets out on the water often. The serenity clears his mind and helps him think. He never did this, let his mind chatter at will, two years ago. Two years ago, Jones was in a different place.

He filled his life with work. He hid his past from everyone, even from himself when he could.

But at a Thanksgiving gathering in his hometown of Columbus, Ohio, in 2000, his shield collapsed.

After dinner, a young relative said she had a secret to reveal: She had been molested by a family member, she said, over six years.

"It all came crashing in," Jones said. Suddenly, his life changed.

The next day, Jones took his three teen sons to lunch. He asked them if anyone had ever tried to violate them sexually or make them feel uncomfortable. They said no.

Then, he spoke the words he had never said before: "I was sexually abused as a child."

At 44, Jones, a medical equipment salesman who lives in Cary, still cries about the rape.

The scandal in the Roman Catholic Church has prompted many people to face an uncomfortable issue: the sexual abuse of boys. Some survivors take decades to find their voices. Some never tell: Sharing their stories means becoming vulnerable again, to hurt and anger, confusion, misunderstanding and grief.

But locally and across the country, more men are seizing the chance to transform their lives by speaking out. The journey toward healing began for Jones that Thanksgiving. But like most survivors, he's still traveling. Step by step, day by day, Jones moves a little closer to feeling renewed.

It's hard to know how many men were molested as children. Even more than women, some experts say, men hide what happened.

The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network in Washington, D.C., reports that 3 percent of boys in grades five to eight are sexually abused. For boys in grades nine to 12, the figure jumps to 5 percent. A 1996 study by Jim Hopper, a research associate at Boston University School of Medicine, puts the number much higher, estimating that one in six boys are victims of sexual abuse before they're 16.

"It's so hard to break the silence on it," said Meredith Jones, director of support services for the Durham Crisis Response Center, "so hard to find victims to talk, because culture in our society said that this is somehow the victim's fault."

Historically, men have struggled to speak out because there is a myth that sexual abuse doesn't happen to boys, Jones said.

But after the Catholic church scandal, more survivors have sought help. The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network reported a spike in calls after the scandal. There has been a jump, too, at the Durham Crisis Response Center and the Raleigh Men's Support Center, though center directors attribute that to better education.

This year the Durham center created its first male support group, and the Raleigh center has seen its support group membership quadruple over the last two years. "Most of the men who have come on board didn't know where else to go," said Charles Fisher, support group program director for the Raleigh Men's Support Center.

It took three decades for Scott Jones to seek help.

A childhood ends

Jones was a boy of 11. He had been swimming with a friend and the friend's big brother. Afterward, at their house, the big brother lured Jones into his downstairs bedroom, locked the door and raped him.

"I don't even remember walking out of the room," Jones said.

He told no one what happened.

Instead, he retreated into himself. He started helping his mom around the house without being asked, trying to wipe away the shame and guilt.

"I tried to do whatever I could to please people," he said. "When I disappointed someone, it affected me greatly. If I had disappointed a teacher, I could feel the redness in my face and feel the tears start to form. I needed to be accepted and part of something that was good."

Jones was married at 20, to the woman he had dated since high school. Year after year, Jones grew more depressed and displeased with the marriage, though. Little things set him off. Once, when Jones had cooked dinner and his wife came home late, he yelled at her and slammed things on the counter.

"I would say things to hurt my [wife]," he said. "She would start crying. My reaction was not a physical one but a violent one nonetheless. In my own way, I was an abuser."

As a father, Jones said his past haunted him, too. "He came to our soccer games and we helped him with projects," said his son, Jason, who is 21. "It wasn't like he wasn't there. But sometimes you couldn't talk to him."

The rape followed him wherever he went. "The trauma that happened to me was before I was 12 years old," Jones said. "But I replayed it a million times in my mind."

He never felt safe enough to tell anyone, even his wife. After 14 years, they divorced.

The long-term consequences of abuse vary from man to man, and recovering can depend the level of support from people around them and how long before they tell, experts say.

Many men feel rage, struggle with authority, experience depression and mental illness, avoid intimacy, even harm their bodies, said Meredith Jones of the Durham Crisis Response Center.

"Keeping the silence can amplify the symptoms," said Fisher. "It's really damaging to hold it in like that. This kind of abuse is similar to domestic violence; it's perpetuated along the timeline by silence."

Facing the pain

The silence exploded for Jones that Thanksgiving.

That night he couldn't sleep: He felt rage at the man who abused his relative and at the boy who had raped him.

When he talked to his sons the next day, he checked his emotions: They sat mute, in shock. That afternoon, he told his mother. Her body stiffened, he said, and she changed the subject.

He tried to sleep that night in his childhood bedroom. But this night, rest would not come: He got up, packed and drove back to Cary in a funk.

"It's like trying to hold a beach ball under water," he said, "you know sooner or later that you'll lose the battle."

That weekend, Jones was despondent; he stared at his handgun, considered suicide.

On Monday morning, he went to work but walked around like a zombie. In the afternoon, his sister called and read him a letter his abused relative had shared with her family.

That was when Jones realized he had two choices: Kill himself or get help. He called a rape crisis hot line.

Two Saturdays after Thanksgiving, Jones sat in a circle of men who had been abused as children at the Raleigh Men's Center. He just listened.

"I never considered that this had happened to anyone else," he said. "You feel like an island in the ocean and there's no one else like you."

He became a regular. The first time he phoned another group member for help was a triumph, he said. He was on the way to transforming his life.

Learning to feel

With the help of his group and therapy, Jones has faced concerns he never dared acknowledge, such as his sexuality. He never had any romantic feelings toward men, but the rape had made him question his sexual orientation.

"I always wondered in the back of my mind whether I was gay or not," he said. "It took me doing this work to separate my sexual abuse from my sexual identity."

He opened himself up to his feelings. When memories arose, he used to hold back the tears. "Now," he said, "I let them flow."

He has grown closer to his sons. Jason Jones said he used to feel bitter that his dad moved to North Carolina and away from him and his brothers. But now he understands. They talk about life and Jones' dreams for Jason and his twin brothers.

"We'll just stay on the phone and talk for 45 minutes about everything or anything," Jason Jones said. "It's nice. It's like talking to a friend."

Scott Jones also began taking time for himself. Each evening, he meditates. He cut back on work and TV time -- ways he used to keep himself numb -- and learned to kayak.

"The quiet time does a lot for my soul," he said. "I allow myself to think and not feel guilty about it."

Each week, Jones travels a little farther on his voyage. He has become active in church. A month ago, he got a massage, letting a man's hands touch his body; he didn't flinch. Two weeks ago, during a first date to a movie about a girl abused by an uncle, he sobbed without shame.

On a recent morning, Lake Wheeler rippled gently under a soft blue sky. Jones rowed alone on the lake, moving steadily toward shore.

"I love the peace of being outdoors and being one with what I consider to be God," he said, as he docked. A golden life vest hugged his damp, ruddy skin. "I feel really connected. That's something I never had before. It's good to feel good."

As he climbed out of the kayak, an orange butterfly flitted near the edge of the pier behind him, just inches from his grasp.

Staff writer Kelly Starling can be reached at 829-4636 or kstarlin@newsobserver.com.


Maybe some of you would like to share something about this article that has an impact on you in some way.

I also encourage you to read my message to all of you as the new moderator of this forum, dated January 7.

Thanks

Victor

_________________________
"I can't stand pain. It hurts me."
--Daffy Duck

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#76662 - 01/19/03 01:54 PM Re: Journey To Peace
Wuamei Offline
Member

Registered: 08/19/02
Posts: 2700
Loc: The left turn I should have ta...
I'd like to really encourage you guys to read & to comment on this story. I've met the guy the article is about, and thru the article I've now found a live support group. This is a really inspiring story.

Victor

_________________________
"I can't stand pain. It hurts me."
--Daffy Duck

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#76663 - 01/20/03 03:08 AM Re: Journey To Peace
RickL Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 03/16/02
Posts: 84
Loc: Oregon
Wuamie,

I'd like to respond to this

I can relate very well to several of this man's feelings and behavior.

First, keeping busy. What a drug that can be! But I definitely took solace in my career when I was younger, all the way up till just a few years ago. If work was slow or not engaging, I would feel anxiety, coupled with this empty place of dissatisfaction.

I also relate to the desire to do all the right things with people so they would like and accept me. Ironically, I'm sure this behavior of "trying too hard" probably pushed an equal number of people away!

At the same time I could be very critical. I was merciless with judging myself; so it's only natural that those impossible standards would spill over to my judging others. Of course, my dad, (my perpetrator) was HIGHLY critical and cynical of just about everyone and everything.

I was a virgin until I met my wife at age 27. I'd like to be able to say it was because I was so incredibly moral, but the truth is, the idea of being sexual with another felt unsafe, terrifying and/or repulsive to me. I loved the way it feels, so I perpetuated my aloneness with solo sex. (My therapist says that doing this compulsively is re-enacting my abuse). It seemed like a miracle that I fell in love with a woman and felt safe. Now that seems like a dream once again, as I have been divorced for 5 years. I too became both overly critical and overly "needy" with her, without knowing what was driving the behavior.

I did know I had been sexually abused. I even talked with my wife about it. But in my mind, I had diminished its importance so much, that I wrote it off as not having much bearing on my problems. I do remember feeling hurt and angry when she expressed some fear that I might do the same thing to our son, shortly after he was born. I absolutely could never have considered it. That alone should have been a clue to its impact on me. But I think I was too afraid or cynical to explore the true impact of the abuse.

And finally, I too find a lot of solace by spending quality time in nature. It has a transporting effect on me. In part, because I'm fortunate enough to live in Oregon, a place with unsurpassed beauty and wilderness. Spending a few days backpacking in a gorgeous wilderness, I feel very close to God--cared for and nurtured. I love it so much because I seem to suffer a lack of feeling cared for and nurtured, something which definitely stems from the abuse and all the disfunctional family interactions which were a part of growing up. An unmet childhood need.

So I too am turning to God more consistently and thoughtfully. I can't afford not to. And I'm learning that it is when I STILL all the chatter--all the busyness and chaotic activity--that 2 things can happen. The first is pain of the abuse can come back to haunt me. But by working on my recovery, and facing the things that terrify me, the 2nd thing is happening more and more--I notice that I feel the presence of God, the love of the Christ, much more when I feel a sense of stillness. And I know deep down, that is the only way this gaping hole of aloneness will be filled. I'm seeing harbingers of this--aloneness lessening, and loving relationships increasing. I still have a long way to go, but like the energy the earth gathers as it prepares to quake, I'm just starting to feel some deep "rumblings" of change.

Rick


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#76664 - 01/20/03 01:07 PM Re: Journey To Peace
The Dean Offline
Moderator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 07/15/02
Posts: 2080
Loc: Milwaukee, WI
What a beautiful kind of meditation Rick. Being still is a hard thing for me for the same reasons you mentioned. The good, peaceful things of stillness are so good. But the first things that come up in my stuillness is my fear, my anger, my profound lonliness. IF I can hang on through all that and let myself move on to the peace it is wonderful.

For me, it is real work to make myself be still for more that an hour. So when I come to a day or two that I have dedicated to stillness I find it a time of utter exhaustion. But that too is good, if the exhaustion is because I have held on and let God flood my being.

My family lives in the Portland area. It is a most beautiful place on our earth. You are fortunate. But there is beauty around here to. If I really want it I can find the time and place for quiet. I wonder if I really want it.

Anyway, thanks you for your thoughts--they have been a gentle challenge to me.

Bob

_________________________
If we do not live what we believe, then we will begin to believe what we live.

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#76665 - 01/20/03 03:49 PM Re: Journey To Peace
Wuamei Offline
Member

Registered: 08/19/02
Posts: 2700
Loc: The left turn I should have ta...
Rick your words inspire me as well. I've always loved nature & just don't get outdoors enuf. Scott inspires me as well. I've always enjoyed kayaking & would like to do more of it...

Bob I also have a hard time with stillness & with silence. I'm much more about making a joyful noise to the Lord, or just making noise, or crying out to the Lord or just crying, than I am about being still & knowing the Lord is God, or considering His creation, especially humanity, and thus considering the glory of God.

Victor

_________________________
"I can't stand pain. It hurts me."
--Daffy Duck

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#76666 - 01/20/03 04:44 PM Re: Journey To Peace
Wuamei Offline
Member

Registered: 08/19/02
Posts: 2700
Loc: The left turn I should have ta...
Rick:

Like you I related to a lot about Scott's story, a lot of them the same kinds of things you related to.

Workaholism: keeping myself busy work or not, keeping my mind occupied with noise & the buzz of activity, trying with busyness not push out the pain, the bad memories & feelings. Physical & emotional pain has slowed this down, but now I must be careful not to isolate & just shut down.

Trying to please others, yet also holding people to my standards of "perfection," and finding that of course I cannot please everybody, that some might well disapprove of things I do or ideas I have or even of me ! I'm just learning not to give a damn, even be happy, when I don't please everybody, becuz it means I'm being me.

Well, I was no virgin, but I was always, in any sexual activity solo or not, either re-enacting my abuse or trying to correct it, "do it right,"
tho not usually consciously. My T also says my addictive sexual activities are probably ways of reenacting and/or trying to correct my abuse.

While I didn't know about my abuse, some part deep within me knew something. But I couldn't let it out & deal with it for so long.

The pain also comes back to haunt me; that's why I avoided it for so long & still do sometimes now.
Yet facing it has opened me up & allowed me to let myself be loved & to love myself, then in turn to love others.

As you say Rick, slowly but surely...

Victor

_________________________
"I can't stand pain. It hurts me."
--Daffy Duck

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#76667 - 01/21/03 12:27 AM Re: Journey To Peace
Wuamei Offline
Member

Registered: 08/19/02
Posts: 2700
Loc: The left turn I should have ta...
In the article, I also found it very inspiring to read how Scott is learning to open up to emotional touch and expressing his emotions & thots properly & freely, as well as to healthy touch like massage, spiritual touch like meditation & participation in church, and the social touch of joining the support group.

"And Jesus grew in wisdom (mind, emotion) & stature (physically), and in favor with God (spiritual) & man (social)." (Luke 2:52)

This is what I aspire to as well, and Scott is an inspiration in this, especially in his sharing this openly thru the article.

Victor

_________________________
"I can't stand pain. It hurts me."
--Daffy Duck

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#76668 - 01/22/03 02:08 AM Re: Journey To Peace
RickL Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 03/16/02
Posts: 84
Loc: Oregon
Victor,

You're making me think when you frame this in terms of "touch".

"Touch" is a loaded topic for me.

"Touch" when I was little, was quite threatening when coming from my dad, and by childhood logic, other males.

Positive "touch" when I was growing up, was not what my family was about, either physically or emotionally. My parents rarely "touched" me in that natural, comfortable, affectionate way that children need.

As kids we were not often "touched" by words of kindness and affirmation. Instead, my dad was either steely silent and self involved with his alcohol and Wall Street Journal, and then suddenly, without warning, we'd get SLAMMED in some way--usually verbally & emotionally. We'd get SLAMMED by his completely off the charts emotional volatility and anger. Or sometimes it was more like a SNEER. We'd be criticized for some behavior he considered poor judgment. Make a mistake? Not unless you want the BELT! In the early years the belt was really his belt. Later it was more the "implied" sense of the belt. Which he could excercise with nothing more than a facial gesture.

Mom did the best she could, but she too was afraid of him. She also grew up without affectionate "touch". I can distinctly remember longing for her to hold me, hug me & kiss me,(in an appropriate way) yet feeling there was something wrong with needing this. So I can remember asking, no demanding--that my sister's friends "kiss me goodbye" after a visit to our house.

So I learned isolation--because to be averse to touch is to be averse to normal, healthy social interaction with other kids, who naturally express their physicality with each other. Eventually I learned to express myself through speaking, writing, etc--those more cerebral, and therefore "safe" forms of expression, all the while feeling like I longed for a more physical sense of "touch". Maybe that's the major reason why I learned to play my male organ so well! Dammit! Feel something good physically! Do it alone so you're safe!

So I need a roadmap for healthy, fulfilling "touch". When I look at "friends" who feel comfortable touching each other a lot, or upon saying hello or goodbye, not just hugging but even kissing one another, I feel like I'm looking from outside the glass. I know there's such a thing as boundaries, and certain behaviors are not appropriate. But I'd sure like to experience "touch" more.

And I am. Through the kindness and affirmation I'm finding here at Malesurvivor. Through small ways I'm beholding God's grace. Through a greater sense of being in harmony in my body. I'm finding that I'm feeling "touched" more as a let go of the old fears, and find goodness rushing in to replace them. It may not be quite that "visceral" type of physical touch, which can imprint a child for such good (or such sadness) but it's a growing sense of touch none the less.
And in the last 5 years or so, I'm pretty comfortable with hugging. So look out should we ever meet in person!

Rick


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#76669 - 01/22/03 11:35 AM Re: Journey To Peace
Wuamei Offline
Member

Registered: 08/19/02
Posts: 2700
Loc: The left turn I should have ta...
Rick:

Touch, of any kind, was rarely a positive experience for me growing up either, due to the sexual, physical, emotional & verbal abuse I received thruout childhood & beyond. That's why it's so important to me now, tho I still struggle with it, in many ways.

But MS is indeed a great place to "get in touch."
Massage has also helped a lot; BTW there are several good recent threads about massage that can be found thru a search.

Rick, thanks for the warning! ;\) I hope maybe the time will come we can meet in person and hug as brothers & friends & fellow survivors!

The more healthy touch I take part in, the more the pain of the unhealthy touches is eased...

Victor

_________________________
"I can't stand pain. It hurts me."
--Daffy Duck

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