Tag Archives: CSA

Guilt, Shame, Prevention, and the Burden of Educating Others

In a very helpful newsletter, Cecil Murphey of Shattering the Silence stated that the following statements irritate him:

“You don’t need to feel guilty.”
“You have no reason to feel ashamed.”

I agree. I get both statements said to me often and they irritate me, too. These people mean well, mostly; at least the ones who aren’t saying it in a “man up, get over it” way.

I think what they are trying to say is, “It wasn’t your fault.” But saying it the way they do comes across to me like a glib attempt to “tell me how to feel” and it doesn’t help at all. It certainly doesn’t make the guilt and shame magically go away. I suppose it’s ignorance of how to help on their part, so I try to educate.

Cecil Murphey suggested (linked above) that saying, “I’m sorry you’re hurting” is better, and I agree. He explained that as children, we didn’t know we were not to blame. So we naturally blamed ourselves as children do, and guilt and shame gained a foothold.

Most of us were told we were to blame by our abusers, often people we trusted, and maybe even loved. Then guilt and shame took root – during the delicate formative years. We don’t choose to feel guilt and shame, and we can’t “decide” to stop feeling that. Does it make sense to say to a child with a broken arm, “You don’t need to have a broken arm”? It won’t be fixed because you said that. They need a cast and they have to go through the mending and healing and not try to climb trees until the healing is done.

Sometimes I realize that survivors need to educate people on how to help, and I try to; but most times I’m too busy trying to deal and heal to worry about it. I often wonder, “Why does the burden to educate and inform the public so often fall on the shoulders of the survivors who, quite frankly, have enough on their plate?”

It seems survivors are also the majority of people teaching others how to keep their children safe from predators. At times, the willingness of parents to put fingers in their ears and say, “It can’t happen to my kid” makes me very upset. Self-care is vital in this jungle.

Then the language of the education can also be problematic. Most prevention advocacy talks of “parents, watch out for these signs of predatory abusers” but rarely do they mention that parents can often be the predatory abusers of their own children. For a survivor of incest abuse, it is very hard to read that stuff.

The important part, to me, is trying to learn better how to help and prevent, and to move forward in eliminating child abuse, rape, and all other forms of crimes against children.

Most survivors want to help with this, it often helps us to help others; but we do have a lot on our plates just to keep breathing and heal. It would be wonderful to see more people, especially those who are not survivors themselves, helping to end, and prevent, child abuse.

I know it’s frightening and unpleasant to think about an abuser harming your child or kids you know. It’s far more horrible to become an abused child. Which is worse? (Trust me, being abused is worse.) Learning about it to prevent it is far better than doing nothing out of squeamishness only to find out your child was abused. Damage from abuse (especially of children) can last a lifetime and affect every aspect of the child’s life. “It can’t/doesn’t happen in my town” doesn’t and can’t help the children at risk in your town.

Isn’t prevention worth more than scrambling after a non-existent cure? Isn’t prevention and the safety of children worth some discomfort? I’d sincerely like to know; but too many people have their fingers in their ears and can’t hear the question – or the cries of abused children.

~ ~ ~

© W.R.R. 12/11/2013
For all survivors of any form of rape or abuse; you are not alone. Seek help. Speak out. Find your path to healing.

www.AsAshesScatter.com
wrr@asashesscatter.com
@AsAshesScatter

Please read the Comment Policy before submitting a comment to the moderators. For more about me, you are welcome to read my story and visit the About page.

Thank you for reading.


What I Couldn’t Ask

What I couldn’t ask
what you wouldn’t say
burns inside my soul
each and every day
The nightmare world you made
stretched reality
broke it into pieces
you stabbed inside of me
Staunch the flow
whet the stone
twist the mind
break the bone
What is left
this patchwork mask
as scars define
what I couldn’t ask

~ ~ ~

© W.R.R. 12/5/2013
For all survivors of any form of rape or abuse; you are not alone. Seek help. Speak out. Find your path to healing.

http://www.asashesscatter.com
wrr@asashesscatter.com
@AsAshesScatter

Please read the Comment Policy before submitting a comment to the moderators. For more about me, you are welcome to read my story and visit the About page.

Thank you for reading.


I Know What Goes Bump in the Night

I know what goes bump in the night
it is heavy footsteps climbing stairs
the creak of boards
three, five, nine
thin wood door
crack and whine
I know what goes bump in the night
heavy breath soaked in rye
the hand that strikes
the cruel hold
count the breaths
do as you’re told
I know what goes bump in the night
that nameless pain
bearing down
flee within to hide, to sleep
where self stumbles
go deep, go deep

~ ~ ~

© W.R.R. 12/5/2013
For all survivors of any form of rape or abuse; you are not alone. Seek help. Speak out. Find your path to healing.

http://www.asashesscatter.com
wrr@asashesscatter.com
@AsAshesScatter

Please read the Comment Policy before submitting a comment to the moderators. For more about me, you are welcome to read my story and visit the About page.

Thank you for reading.


Gay, Bi and Trans Males are “Really Men” Too

This paragraph from a Shattering the Silence newsletter, describing a male survivor of child sexual abuse is very problematic:

“He later said that he started dating girls at age sixteen, and even though he liked girls, later married, and was never involved in any homosexual relationships, he still wonders if he’s really a man. ”

Homosexual, bisexual, and trans men (survivors or not) are also “men”. I am a bisexual male survivor of a sick pedophile ring run by my father. I do struggle with “Am I a man?” questions, but because of my years of abuse, not because of my orientation. The idea that only heterosexual males are “men” or “real men” is erroneous, not to mention blatantly homophobic.

Update: I have received a courteous clarification from the poster of the quote above (he was quoting a friend) and I do appreciate it:

“When he speaks of being a man he means ‘feels the way he assumes masculine beings feel’ I know him and I’m sure he didn’t refer only to heterosexuals. Sorry for the confusion.”

Unfortunately in my experience, many people and advocates often seem to be ignorant of, forget about, or downright ignore LGBTQ survivors. Too many of their resources and myths pages sound like “gay = bad/disgusting” and for LGBTQ survivors, this can be devastating. If resources are attempting to allay the fears of straight male survivors who are afraid they “might be gay”, such sections of information should be clearly marked as being intended for heterosexual survivors; preferably with an addition intended to address LGBTQ fears in a similar page or section.

I hope the day will come when sexual orientation has very little to do with how we speak to survivors, or which survivors are perceived as worthy of our help. For now, my thanks for the much-needed clarification above.

~ ~ ~

© W.R.R. 11/20/2013
For all survivors of any form of rape or abuse; you are not alone. Seek help. Speak out. Find your path to healing.

www.AsAshesScatter.com
wrr@asashesscatter.com
@AsAshesScatter

Please read the Comment Policy before submitting a comment to the moderators. For more about me, you are welcome to read my story and visit the About page.

Thank you for reading.


Sex Ed, Consent, Responsibility: Can We Teach Them in Healthy Ways?

***Trigger Warning for child sexual abuse***

Consent can be taught without implying our sons are potential rapists. This is a fact that is ignored by many.

After reading this:

An Open Letter to My Son About Sex via the Good Men Project, 8/24/13 by Janis Whitlock, I was inspired to share my thoughts. Normally, I read the comments – even when they go over 300, but for self-care reasons I stopped reading these. For the record, “most” child sexual abuse survivors do not grow up to abuse kids, and “most” predators of children were not abused as kids. There is a pitiful amount of ignorance about this in those comments. Please educate yourself on abuse myths and statistics; that is the whole point of this post, after all: education and being proactive about it.

As a general disclaimer, I should add that as a male survivor of incest, with my mother as one of my abusers, the simple and usually benign notion of a mother talking about sex to her son basically creeps me out. That aside, I am also a dad of four kids, two girls and two boys, and they do need education, healthy information and facts; especially on abuse prevention and combatting child-harming deviants. Their mother and I handle most of this together, and our kids know they can ask either of us anything, or tell us anything.

The above linked article is a mother’s letter about sex to her son. In my opinion, it goes from “let’s have a healthy talk about sex not being bad” to “you are a boy so please don’t rape anybody” in 0 to 60 seconds. The whole letter isn’t bad, just certain parts, and I object to the saturation of anti-porn sentiment (porn depicting adults being legal) and the writer’s opinions being presented almost as facts. Teens are going to try to look at porn, the curiosity for boys and girls is already there. Also, if you haven’t talked to your son enough to already know he isn’t the raping type, how can you be sure he even likes girls? Maybe sex isn’t the only thing he’s been afraid to talk to you about?

In particular, it’s irresponsible for a person to make sweeping generalizations about what “all” or even “most” other women or men like or don’t like based on the letter writer’s own preferences and turn-offs, and then teach them as “facts”. Kids shouldn’t be required to become little copies of their parents or care-givers, after all. What if your son has a girlfriend who likes some things on your “women don’t like this” list? Will he think she is weird or gross? That’s not healthy either, right? Can we also stop pretending that only boys are curious about sex?

However, my main point is this: a healthy age-appropriate sex talk and abuse prevention education should include education on consent. There is a healthy way to do this and a damaging way. Saying anything that sounds to a young male like “you’re a boy, so please remember not to trip over your hormones and rape a girl” has no place in a sex-positive educational talk to a teen boy. Odds are, if we’ve raised them to understand, give, and receive respect for themselves and others, our kids won’t grow up to be rapists, killers, bullies, or jerks.

Another thing that is often forgotten or bypassed is that young girls also need to be taught about consent. Their consent and the consent of others are equally important. How many times have little girls kissed little boys when the boys didn’t want them to? Teach everybody about consent, not just the boys.

Finally, we have the ugly situation of many adults not even understanding (or caring about) what constitutes rape and consent. If adults aren’t educated on this, how can we expect kids or teens to know what rape and consent are? I read horror stories in articles on statistics or in the news about men and women who think buying an expensive meal entitles the person to have sex with you, like it or not. Also, far too many adults think a teen boy is “lucky” if his female teacher rapes him – as long as she’s “hot”. Yet if the genders are reversed, most of those people are suddenly outraged. Why?

We as adults need to get educated too, before we try to teach young people. We need to stop teaching them shame and guilt about sex and their bodies. Just because our parents did that, doesn’t mean it should be done to our kids, too. Our kids and teens need to be taught respect for others as well as self-respect. They need to learn that their bodies belong to them and that their bodies and sexuality have value and shouldn’t be indiscriminately given away like they mean nothing.

We also need to change the societal view and pressures that being a virgin is something bad or laughable, a condition to shed, tossing it out like garbage on the junk heap of our lives in some hollow rush to be grown up, to be maybe loved, or to “belong”. I don’t care about “waiting for marriage” in the least. Yet if self-respect and self-worth are taught, perhaps more young people will wait until they feel ready, with or without feeling “in love”. In the absence of pressure and ridicule, perhaps they could make safer and healthier choices.

Sex education, consent education, and abuse prevention education go hand-in-hand, or they should. For those with objections to factual sex ed in schools, do you know you are leaving your children vulnerable to all sorts of traps and tragedies? Abstinence Only doesn’t work. Teen pregnancy rises in any state where that is the only sex ed offered. More importantly, children need to know the proper names for body parts and know how to get help if somebody tries to abuse them. Age-appropriate sex ed and abuse prevention (and consent) can be taught to very young kids, and it needs to be taught to them.

Too many parents don’t find out “it can’t happen to me/in my town/to my kid” isn’t true until after their kid is abused. Don’t make your child pay the price (most often a lifelong and horrible price) for your ignorance and your preference to keep your head in the sand. Learn the warning signs of predatory and grooming behaviors in the people around your children (especially if you think you can trust them). Learn the warning signs of abuse in a child. Talk to your children, let them know they can tell you without fear if somebody is hurting them or making them afraid. This goes for bullying, mental health issues, etc. How many parents have found their child dead from suicide because of endless bullying and the parents never knew the child was being bullied, or never knew the child had mental problems or was being abused, because the child was afraid or ashamed to tell? Also, many kids do tell and are often not believed. Don’t teach your child that telling you they need help will not get them help.

Our kids need these types of education desperately. Many adults need them, too. The “birds and bees” sex talk dreaded by so many is far easier to have when you have already educated them on basic body parts, abuse prevention, and respect, long before they turn twelve or fourteen. Sadly, many parents skip those talks entirely and allow society and the media to teach their children, out of embarrassment. If you don’t teach your child, somebody or something else will. Some kids get taught ugly lifelong lessons by abusers, or stumble through pitfalls that a little guidance could have helped them to avoid.

One final point on rape: males aren’t the only ones who rape. Females aren’t the only victims of rape. This is a fact, whether you accept it or not. Telling boys “learn not to rape” is awful. It is in direct opposition to the intention of having a sex-positive talk with your son. Teach consent and sex ed. Foster a relationship where they feel safe to ask questions. Don’t make them think you believe their natural and good sexuality is nasty or potentially evil. That worms into the mind of kids and teens and does some ugly psychosexual damage. Imagine telling your daughter, “Try not to rape anybody.” You wouldn’t do that? Then please don’t say or imply this to your son, either.

I spent most of my life and all of my childhood being raped by adults, men and women. I was four when my father raped me the first time, five when he rented me to others daily. Prior to four, they were training me, grooming me, to accept sexual and physical abuse. At age three, my parents were teaching me how to “service them” sexually. This abuse was all I knew and they lied and said all parents were entitled to sex from their children. That was a pedophile ring, run by my father. They made and sold films and photos and made kids harm other kids in them. It has been an ugly struggle of slow healing to become the dad I am today, and that struggle is ongoing.

When I hear, “Teach men and boys not to rape”, my heart breaks. Teach everybody not to rape. Teach consent and healthy factual age-appropriate sex ed and teach abuse prevention. Learn warning signs…. Before it’s too late.

~ ~ ~

© W.R.R. 9/11/2013
For all survivors of any form of rape or abuse; you are not alone. Seek help. Speak out. Find your path to healing.

www.AsAshesScatter.com
wrr@asashesscatter.com
@AsAshesScatter

Please read the Comment Policy before submitting a comment to the moderators. For more about me, you are welcome to read my story and visit the About page.

Thank you for reading.


No One Hears

No one hears
so there can be no words
in the chorus that sings
the heart song of pain
for murdered innocence
thousands of voices
raised in agony
unable to cry
covered by the vibration
of the lunar moth’s wings
drowned out by the passing
of clouds, of winds
of secrets
that no one ever heard

No one hears
leaves rustle in a breeze
black buzzing cloud
disturbs the laden air
tiny bodies rise on wing
revealing their prize
as it shifts in the dirt
tucked gently under leaf mold
a cradle for their children
laid in the hollow
of a lost child’s eye
settle, sweet one, it’s over
winds rise to cover the sound
that no one has ever heard

~ ~ ~

© W.R.R. 8/7/2013
For all survivors of any form of rape or abuse; you are not alone. Seek help. Speak out. Find your path to healing.

http://www.asashesscatter.com
wrr@asashesscatter.com
@AsAshesScatter


“I wasn’t brave”, and the problem of assumed familiarity from strangers….

I want to focus on two things here; being called “brave” by random strangers who don’t know me, and having those strangers act like they’re entitled to behave as if we are best friends on the basis of a few tweets, or in a comment because they read one essay. Do you want to know how to help me feel more comfortable talking to you? In a way that could help you with talking to some other survivors of abuse you may meet? Then please, read on; and thank you for taking the time to do so. As for comments on this blog, please read the Comment Policy.

To those who have already put in the legwork to help me feel comfortable and to become my friends, huge thanks to you. You help me learn how to grow into a “real person” every day, and I couldn’t make it without you. To my fellow survivors, take from this what resonates with you, feel free to ignore the rest.

******************

As a survivor of child sexual abuse, I rarely want to be told I am brave/strong/etc. I realize people are trying to be supportive, encouraging, or complimentary, but it usually feels off to me and falls flat, especially from a stranger or somebody who only knows a few things I’ve written about myself. I typically gloss over and ignore the comment, hoping it will go away. This article by Justin Cascio has helped me grasp a better way of realizing why it bothers me, in particular #5, the “brave” section:

10 things people have said to me that you should never say to a trans person

From a stranger, it does objectify, and seems to be an assumed intimacy that repels me. I am not me to them, I am a cardboard poster boy for “all survivors”, or simply an opportunity for them to feel better about themselves. Also, I don’t see being a survivor as “brave”. The phrase “it takes courage to survive that” irritates me. Actually, all it takes is “not dying yet”, each day. I never felt “brave”. In the end, it feels condescending. (Thanks to Justin for this clarity. I really appreciate his blog.)

As a semi-random point, I’ll add this: I don’t “speak for all survivors”, nor do any of them specifically speak for me. We do often find kernels of truth or common feeling in each other’s words, but it’s a “take what resonates with you and leave the rest” sort of process.

So what to say instead of “you’re so brave/strong because you survived”? Well, for me, I’d rather have my efforts to keep plugging along acknowledged over assumed past “bravery”. Why? Because surviving isn’t a done deal, it’s an ongoing process; and for many of us, it is a lifelong struggle.

Also, I was serious about the “I wasn’t brave as a kid” part. It’s a matter of perspective, in the end. To me, brave would have been trying to run away or refusing to hurt others because they ordered me to. Both of those things would have resulted in my death. So in my mind, what let me survive was closer akin to cowardice, and being told “you were brave” just makes me feel bad, as the truth of my past rises up on cue to negate the “compliment”. Therefore, if the goal is to make me feel better, I’d rather be told, “I’m glad you are still here and it’s great that you do what you can to help others”. Tell me I’m a good daddy, or that you like my poetry, perhaps, if you do. “Brave” is only a lie that haunts me, in tandem with the other ghosts born out of guilt and shame.

Thank you for trying to understand, and for trying to learn that survivors are all different. Maybe somebody else feels better to be told they were “brave enough to survive that”. Maybe they don’t. As I said, none of us are poster representatives for all of us.

The best advice I can give is, if you want to really discuss things with me about abuse and survivorship, make an effort to get to know me. Do some reading here on my blog (without making assumptions) and try not to assume familiarity or display an expectation of intimacy in talking to me before I’ve decided if I feel comfortable with that. It’s the same common courtesy you probably display at any other event where you meet new people. The assumption of intimacy or friendship and the entitlement of expecting me to be buddies just because you believe you’re a decent and safe person, can quickly feel like red flags to me. I often have people exchange three tweets with me and then they seem to assume they are on a par with my support system of people, family and friends, and begin acting like they have the same intimacy privileges that they do. Frankly, that behavior makes me want to avoid those people. So if your goal is to make me feel better, please don’t do that.

If you simply want to ask my views on abuse or survivorship, please still make an effort to allow me to feel comfortable talking to you first. A good start is to do your own research prior, on your own. Speaking to an informed person who asks good questions and wants to discuss issues is a lot more comfortable for me than feeling like a poster boy you randomly want to tell you things to have a passing curiosity satiated. People of that sort are not why I’m here. I am here to try to help others like me or vaguely similar to me, and to help educate those who show some effort in wanting to help, too; especially if they have the goal of learning prevention to keep their own kids safe. That, after all, is the most important thing. Far easier to prevent than to make them endure a lifetime of trying to heal.

Also, please read As Ashes Scatter: My Story and About W.R.R. to learn more about me. It is quite jarring to have a (however well-meaning) stranger assume they know what abuse I suffered on the basis of one tweet.

In conclusion, it is also not helpful or appropriate to ask me how I feel today in reply to a serious tweet about abuse issues, or to offer “religion-based” comfort when you haven’t read the comment policy where I state that that is a trigger for me. I mean no offense, I just need to clarify these points to avoid feeling reluctant to tweet or speak out due to a fear that strangers will start assuming they are “buddies with privileges” and reply to me in ways that make me want to disappear. Thank you for your time and patience, and hopefully, for your understanding.

~ ~ ~

© W.R.R. 7/30/2013
For all survivors of any form of rape or abuse; you are not alone. Seek help. Speak out. Find your path to healing.

http://www.asashesscatter.com
wrr@asashesscatter.com
@AsAshesScatter


As Ashes Scatter: My Childhood in a Pedophile Ring

This page was needed, even while posting it triggered me. It is very hard and frightening to speak of these things, but if I can help others, even one, it is worth it.

My story of abuse, in brief:

As Ashes Scatter

I am working on writing my memoir, which can be a very daunting and harrowing undertaking for any survivor. For now, I write it only for me; but I wanted to share some of what I survived, to hopefully help others understand what so many face, even now.

– W.R.R.