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#82982 - 05/09/05 02:17 PM Men learn to cope after sex abuse - MaleSurvivor! (possible triggers)
Curtis St. John Offline
Past President
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 01/20/04
Posts: 1796
Loc: Westchester, N.Y.
(This link may only work through May 9th)

Men learn to cope after sex abuse


Men learn to cope after sex abuse
By ROB RYSER
THE JOURNAL NEWS
(Original Publication: May 9, 2005)

SOMERS — Something like a warm spring breeze has drifted into the life of Curtis St. John — something that makes him smile, he says, without knowing why.

Perhaps it is the fresh feeling of being 10 years old again so many springs ago on the south side of Poughkeepsie, before the season changed to summer, and he was sexually abused by his neighbor, who was also his math tutor.

That summer, the same math teacher was arrested for raping an 18-year-old man, dismembering him and eating his body parts.

"If you would have told me five years ago that there was a way that I could ever be normal, a way that I could ever be happy — never," said St. John, a 36-year-old family man who lives in Somers. "There was no way I could believe that."

Yet as certain as he speaks of the spring breeze, without knowing where it comes from or where it goes, St. John is that believer.

The springtime of St. John's adulthood does have something to do with the fact that his abuser, Albert Fentress, deemed insane, has been in a state psychiatric institution since confessing to the cannibalization murder in 1979. It's a confinement St. John played a pivotal role in extending by deciding to testify against his abuser in 2002. Fentress' history as a pedophile was unknown up to that point, and St. John was hailed as hero by prosecutors for coming forward.

Far more important to St. John than the confrontation with his childhood tormentor and the satisfaction that justice was done, he said, is that he now connects the innocence that was so brutally taken from him with his alcoholism and unhappiness.

Perhaps of highest importance, as a newly appointed member of Male Survivor[Board of Directors], a young but growing national group, St. John is now also helping other men who suffer in silence with their secret.

"One out of four men have been sexually abused as boys," said St. John during an interview last week at his office in the Conservatory of Music at Purchase College, SUNY. The group cites two studies, one of which used sample of 595 college students.

"Men don't tell because they think they aren't men if they have been sexually assaulted," said St. John, the director of operations at the Conservatory. "It is so painful to watch these guys. I am at the point where I can pick them out."

It is a point in St. John's recovery at which the group Male Survivor also finds itself, as an organization that is only 10 years old but growing, with more than 300 dues-paying members.

It helps, according to Manhattan therapist and former Male Survivor President Richard Gartner, that the clergy sex abuse scandal in 2002 has opened the door for some men to admit they were sexually victimized as children.

"Hopefully, the scandal in the Catholic church has made it easier for men to speak out," said Gartner, author of three books, including the recently published "Beyond Betrayal: Taking Charge of Your Life After Boyhood Sexual Abuse." "Men don't have the language readily available to articulate their experiences, much less heal from them."

The origins of the movement dates to the late 1980s, the same period when the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, was formed in Chicago. But the foundation was laid even earlier by the women's movement.

"In the mid-1970s, no one believed that women were really abused either," Gartner said.

If experts outside the emerging field disagree, it is only with certain statistics that suggest one out of four adult males have suffered sexual abuse by age 16, and that one out of six men have suffered unwanted direct sexual contact with an older person.

"That seems high to me," said Dr. Flemming Graae, chief of child and adolescent psychiatry at Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla. "I see adults and certainly a population of kids who unquestionably have a very high incident of physical or sexual abuse, but that is not a general population. If it was true, it would be shocking."

Male Survivor is trying to establish that there is a deep problem with male sexual victimization by correcting myths that boys are not abused if they are aroused, or that they are somehow less traumatized than girls.

It is an identification, ultimately, that must start with the man himself, however.

"So many men will say to themselves 'This happened but I'm fine,' and I was one of those people for years," said St. John, who has two children and who has been sober for six years. "It is easier to make it go away than to face it."

The paradox, of course, is that there is nothing easy about suppressing sexual abuse, experts say. Denial may only seem easier for a man whose suffering is the only way he knows.

"You can see the dead effect in men — the lack of emotion," said St. John, who monitors an electronic message board on the Male Survivor Web site. "Men are so stuck inside that they don't love themselves. And you need to love yourself in order to break free and understand you are worth taking care of."

The first step after making a connection between the unhappiness of adulthood and the pain of sexual abuse is finding a therapist.

"When you are talking about one in four, you are talking about everybody," St. John says. "You will run into 20 of them today. It is everywhere, and that is what people need to realize."

For more info

Male Survivor is a national organization dedicated to the prevention of sexual abuse of boys and the support of men who were sexually victimized as children.

For more information, visit http://www.malesurvivor.org.

An information line is also available, 800-738-4181.


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#82983 - 05/09/05 09:31 PM Re: Men learn to cope after sex abuse - MaleSurvivor! (possible triggers)
reality2k4 Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 07/06/04
Posts: 6838
Loc: Stuck between water, air, and ...
Thanks for the post Curtis, but, how can they ever understand the human tragedy that is caused to so many kids.

Kids who just wanted a life, just like they see their friends have got.

Yeah the experts know it all, or do they? I am a bigger expert than they ever get to be, and no.
No they cant see the real hurt, because they cant be there, so they assume they know.

People know it is bad, it is awful, it is terrible, but they dont know just how terrible it can be.

My motto is "DEGT" dont even go there, or "DEBT" dont even be there, because you quite simply cant,I dont mean you, I mean experts and Joe public.

Men and boys cope with it, some do, some cant, and it is for those that I pray for.

People think its bad, but it is not in my backyard. Until it figures in their own lives.

There are no real experts, why?
Because, so many boys live in the silence and despair of SA, so the experts dont have real case studies, or they lock the kid up for doing something out of character, instead of assessing the kid for possible abuse.

I think we can see an avoidable cycle emerge here.

Boys dont get abused according to modern mythology, and yet they are abused right down the ages of mankind.

I hope the wall of silence in this taboo subject comes down in my lifetime, I really do.

ste

_________________________
Whoever stole the Sun, put it back and we'll drop all the charges!

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#82984 - 04/08/06 02:30 AM Re: Men learn to cope after sex abuse - MaleSurvivor! (possible triggers)
Curtis St. John Offline
Past President
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 01/20/04
Posts: 1796
Loc: Westchester, N.Y.
Quote:
I hope the wall of silence in this taboo subject comes down in my lifetime, I really do.
Me too, and I think it's cracking already.


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#82985 - 04/08/06 11:22 PM Re: Men learn to cope after sex abuse - MaleSurvivor! (possible triggers)
roadrunner Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 05/02/05
Posts: 22045
Loc: Carlisle, PA
What helps me a lot is to realize that it is guys like US, just ordinary people trying to live fulfilling lives like everyone else, who are making the difference these days. By speaking out. By helping each other. By determining to recover ourselves and be everything that the abusers wanted to take from us.

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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#82986 - 04/09/06 08:20 AM Re: Men learn to cope after sex abuse - MaleSurvivor! (possible triggers)
Nathan LaChine Offline
Webmaster
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 02/22/03
Posts: 5378
Loc: Washington State
Powerful Curtis just Powerful. Doing a great job and thanks for the plug for MS \:\)


lots of love, Nathan


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#82987 - 04/11/06 12:40 AM Re: Men learn to cope after sex abuse - MaleSurvivor! (possible triggers)
WalkingSouth Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 08/30/05
Posts: 16264
Curtis,

I don't have the words to express what's in my heart at this moment so will simply settle with saying thank-you so much for speaking out in this interview. You have made our voice just a little louder.

Lots of love,

John

_________________________
“Life’s journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting ‘Holy ____…! What a ride!’” ~Hunter S. Thompson

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#82988 - 04/11/06 01:52 AM Re: Men learn to cope after sex abuse - MaleSurvivor! (possible triggers)
FormerTexan Offline
Site Administrator
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 09/12/04
Posts: 11086
Loc: Denver, CO
I was reading this earlier and was amazed. Yes, thank you Curtis.

Andy

_________________________
List of things ain't nobody got time for:

1. That


If I could meet myself as a boy...

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#82989 - 04/17/06 10:30 PM Re: Men learn to cope after sex abuse - MaleSurvivor! (possible triggers)
Curtis St. John Offline
Past President
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 01/20/04
Posts: 1796
Loc: Westchester, N.Y.
Thanks guys, that means a lot to me.

So often I wonder if its worth it, you know? I'm glad to hear it is.

You guys are the best.


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#82990 - 04/18/06 06:51 AM Re: Men learn to cope after sex abuse - MaleSurvivor! (possible triggers)
WalkingSouth Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 08/30/05
Posts: 16264
\:\)

_________________________
“Life’s journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting ‘Holy ____…! What a ride!’” ~Hunter S. Thompson

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#82991 - 04/18/06 11:12 PM Re: Men learn to cope after sex abuse - MaleSurvivor! (possible triggers)
Lloydy Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 04/17/02
Posts: 7071
Loc: England Shropshire
Curtis
you are a great ambassador, not only for MS but for all survivors.

Thanks for all the hard work you do, it means a lot to every single survivor.

Dave

_________________________
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.
Henry David Thoreau

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#82992 - 05/03/06 07:07 PM Re: Men learn to cope after sex abuse - MaleSurvivor! (possible triggers)
Curtis St. John Offline
Past President
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 01/20/04
Posts: 1796
Loc: Westchester, N.Y.
ok now you're just making me blush.


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