I compiled this in response to a mother who inquired of me as to how early abuse affected me as a child and how the effects might be treated or forstalled.
The stories of my early abuse are found in Survivor Stories, pufferfish stories parts 1 through 3. These are of course tiggering.
When I first read your message, I wanted to give you a thoughtful response. I didn't know what to say to you right off. So, after thinking about it, here are a few responses. I hope they can be of help.
My early abuse was destructive to my ability to socialize with other boys. Something in my socializing ability had been broken or badly distorted. I needed some guided help in socializing with boys in a non-sexual way. I needed an adult or a resource person to be there when I was with some other boys so that they could help me to establish a playful relationship. I would have been over-sensitive to boyish roughness. When boys in third grade told me jokes, I didn't know how to laugh. I didn't know why they were funny. When the boys were playing marbles or kick ball or whatever, there was always a "catch" in my mind that I couldn't compete with the other boys, as though we were not equals. If I had had a social facilitator or coach, they didn't have to be there forever but just to help get some meaningful interactions going. I think that they would have been self perpetuatiing afterward.
Somehow my early abuse and the fact that it involved other older boys put an artificial separation between me and other boys. This became amplified as time went on. My concept of what it meant to be a boy had become "sexualized". They became objects of both heightened suspicion and admiration. Much later in life I have had to self-treat this by watching a lot of <non-sexual> movies which would re-educate my heart as to what it means to be a boy. Movies like those following the writings of Charles Dickens: Oliver Twist
is the best. Charles Dickens must have had an intuitive understanding of this problem. The fact that there are about 5 different filmed versions of Oliver Twist
may show that it is tagging into something in the consciousness of a lot of guys. I have also read a number of books which helped with this problem. I have lists of both books and movies but to include them here would make this letter more awkward. Some of the other more helpful movies included Big
, Flight of the Innocent
, I'm Not Scarred
, Empire of the Sun
, I Am David
, and Where Eskimos Live
. These would not be appropriate for young children.
I needed help in not
getting abused more. I'm not sure how this connection happens but it does. I read a long time ago that adult women who have been abused or raped are much more easily raped again. Somehow they give unconscious signals that they have been broken and that they can be abused again. I think some of the signals may be in posture and in self esteem. A boy who was abused is somehow more likely to be abused again. He needs help with this. He just needs a little more guidance socially than he would have otherwise. He doesn't need to know
that he has become bait. I used to know a college student whose nickname was "Q.B." That stood for queer bait. Funny but not really funny.
If he develops ADD or ADHD then rather than treating it with drugs, maybe he could be taught how to concentrate and focus his mind (in school). He could be encouraged to work out his energy in some physical way. I have become a perfoming musician which takes a lot of energy and demands a lot of concentration. Some boys need active participation in a sport. I was very coordinated but not good at sports because I lacked 3-dimensional vision. This kept me from knowing where the ball was. The admonition: "Keep your eye on the ball" would fall flat because my two eyes were looking different directions.
Abuse seemed in my case to act like an acid which crept into my being and ferreted out any other weakness and exploited it. I had an eye problem something like Sylvester Stallone. My abuse and resulting dissociation attacked my eye problem and made it much much more intractable. Later after my memories surfaced, I had to expend quite an effort to straighten my eyes. I still have problems with this. In the case of boys who don't have a natural weakness in their eyes, dissociation may creep in and find any other natural problems and make them worse.
I had a reading problem. As a young child, I had the eye problem just mentioned and also a type of dissociation which interfered with transfer of impulses between the left and right hemispheres of my brain. This made it difficult to coordinate my thinking and the motion of my eyes in reading. I really needed a reading coach or teacher as a young kid. Such help might have forestalled tremendous problems I had to overcome in becoming a proficient reader.
The problem of lack of coordination of my left and right brain hemispheres also made it easier for me to "stuff" my emotions. I didn't know how to "feel" responses to other people. Men in our society tend to do this anyway, but dissociators may do it more. Until a few years ago, when I watched a sad part of a movie, I would cry only with my right eye. This may be a connection to the social skills problem mentioned above. As an adult I had vision therapy by a local specialist. He is a doctor of optometry who knows how to help children and adults with the problem of lack of coordination of the visual apparatus and their brain activity. They worked through with me with a variety of eye-brain exercises they have developed. If I had this as a child it would have helped immensely. The 3-D movies which helped me a lot in this were: Spy Kids 3-D
(the best), Sharkboy and Lavagirl
, Encounter in the Third Dimension
(IMAX adapted for home viewing), World's Greatest Roller Coaster Thrills
I am sure that there are more things that need to be said. I will try to provide these as I think about this.