As I facilitate Support Groups for Adult Survivors of Child Abuse, I am often reminded of the resiliency of the human spirit.  And yet, even through this resiliency, there is still so much pain that has been hidden inside of us for years.  This hidden pain changes EVERY aspect of how we look at life, how we interact with our loved ones and even how we love ourselves.

The negative impact of child abuse on adult mental health has been documented for over 150 years, and, over the last thirty years, in particular, numerous research studies have documented the link between child abuse and mental illness in later life.  Reports on the long-term consequences of child abuse has demonstrated that abused men tend to score significantly higher on measures of depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsiveness, dissociation, hostility, low self-esteem, sleep disturbances, sexual dysfunction, impaired relationships and suicide attempts (Briere et al; Fromuth and Burkhart, 1989; Hunter 1991).

In a review of the research on gender differences in emotional development, Brody (1985) noted the consistent finding that boys learn to “neutralize” the expression of most emotions over the course of development. By early childhood and then consistently into adulthood, males are found to be less emotionally expressive than females (Eisenberg, Fabes, Schaller, & Miller, 1989). This “neutralization” of emotional expression can generate an intense conflict when it interacts with the experience of abuse. At the nucleus of almost every episode of abuse are intense feelings of fear and helplessness. Thus, at the precise developmental [stage] when the male child is learning that to be considered appropriately masculine he must suppress all “non-masculine” emotional states, he is overwhelmed by emotional states that are culturally defined as non-masculine. ² (Factors in Cycle of Violence:  Gender Rigidity and Emotional Constriction By David Lisak, Jim Hopper, and Pat Song)

Some of the common symptoms that are experienced by male adult survivors of child abuse are:

  • ANGER
  • BETRAYAL
  • FEAR
  • HELPLESSNESS
  • HOMOSEXUALITY ISSUES
  • ISOLATION AND ALIENATION
  • LEGITIMACY
  • LOSS
  • MASCULINITY ISSUES
  • NEGATIVE CHILDHOOD PEER RELATIONS
  • INABILITY TO TRUST AND CONNECT WITH OTHERS
  • FEELINGS OF INFERIORITY, INSIGNIFICANCE – NEGATIVE FEELINGS ABOUT ONESELF
  • PROBLEMS WITH SEXUALITY
  • SELF BLAME/GUILT
  • SHAME/HUMILIATION

As you can see from this list, there are many emotions that both men and women might feel.  However there are some that are unique to being a man who was sexually abused as a child.  These are issues that our brothers, our sons and the men we love, are forced to deal with.

In the end, each of us has an inner child – a little girl or a little boy – inside of us.  Some of us have integrated this inner child into our psyche, and some of us are not even aware that this child exists.  As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, I fervently and with love, open my arms to welcome home this brave family of adults who have been through so much, who have felt that they were the only ones, but have persevered against all odds.  We have, within us, the ability to change the future for our children.  Imagine if the over 42 Million adults who were abused as children found their voice, told their truth.  The predators who have counted on our silence will no longer be able to operate under the veil of secrecy that society has allowed.

We can change the way society deals with child abuse, ALL child abuse.  We are the adults who survived and we have found our voice and we are not afraid.  Together we can prevent the sexual abuse of our children.  Together we can prevent ALL child abuse.  Because we are not alone.

I AM ONE.  WE ARE ONE.

 

Who will cry for the little boy?

who will cry for the little boy?
Lost and all alone.
Who will cry for the little boy?
Abandoned without his own?

Who will cry for the little boy?
He cried himself to sleep.
Who will cry for the little boy?
He never had for keeps.

Who will cry for the little boy?
He walked the burning sand
Who will cry for the little boy?
The boy inside the man.

Who will cry for the little boy?
Who knows well hurt and pain
Who will cry for the little boy?
He died again and again.

Who will cry for the little boy?
A good boy he tried to be
Who will cry for the little boy?
Who cries inside of me

by Antwone Fisher

 

It is time.  It is up to us.