I was interested in a post by Cecil Murphy over on the 1in6 website, and as I was reading it, I was saddened by the first paragraph.
Recently, I read an in-progress master’s thesis on male sexual abuse. The writer’s research said that most men don’t deal with their abuse until they’re middle-aged—late 30s to early 50s. She provided no rationale, only the figures. Maybe that’s well-known in therapeutic practice, but it was new to me.
It made Cecil think about his own experience, which really matched that research.
Every man needs someone to trust—implicitly—whether it’s a spouse, a friend, or a therapist. He needs that safety to divulge and know he’ll be heard and not rejected.
Maybe that is the answer: Once we’re ready, we can face our pain—even if we feel at times that we can’t suffer any more.
I didn’t wait until my late thirties to start to deal with my abuse, though it was definitely a long struggle through my late twenties and into my early thirties, so I wasn’t that far off from the norm. I do think that Cecil is on to something though, in terms of needing to feel safe and not alone in order to start down that path. Knowing that there were other people out there who had been sexually abused as children made a huge difference to me, and allowed me to finally acknowledge what had happened to me. But, it was a struggle and I was in my thirties before I really began to come out the other side of that struggle. I’ll never be able to go back and be a college aged kid anymore, I can’t be 25 again, those years are gone, and they were somewhat lost. They were what they were, and while they weren’t horrible, I now know for sure that they weren’t what they could have been. Had I found support and began to heal earlier, then perhaps they could have been a better experience, perhaps I could have done more, or different things instead of living scared and lacking self confidence. I’ll never know.
That’s why I have always been a strong believer in getting a message out about surviving abuse. I want every survivor to start down that healing path as soon as possible. I want them to know that it is possible and they aren’t alone in doing it. That’s why when an organization like No Longer Silence comes along and specifically tries to reach out to teens and young adults, I am so excited by that and willing to support it. Obviously, research shows that many survivors (men and women) do not really attempt to heal from their abuse until they feel secure about themselves and their place in life, but why should that wait until middle age? Why can’t we do more to offer that support and security to younger survivors? Healing takes time, work, and lots of energy. Why not start that journey today? That’s one less day the effects will be around to haunt you.