Victor and all,
You bring us an important, thought provoking topic for our discussion.
So many good things being said, and lots of challenging things, too, which is even more positive.
I know that there are, fortunately, those among us survivors who have careers directly involved with the social tragedy of sexual abuse. Lawyers, doctors, counselors and the list goes on. Their contribution is invaluable as professionals but probably even more so as survivors.
I am in none of these professions, though I am in a teaching position, so I guess I have to rethink that one.
Nevertheless I believe that my most important contribution to the definition of SA is what I have to offer in my role as a survivor of sexual abuse. The word survivor says it all.
I was there, it happened to me and only have made it this far with great difficulty. I have survived.
For me as a survivor, the primary focus of my interest is in recovering from the sexual abuse.
My personal recovery is the greatest contribution I can make to the recovery of others. I suspect this to be true of the doctors, lawyers and Indian chiefs (me) among us.
Just as doctors focus on the medical aspects of sexual abuse, and lawyers on the legal ramifications, my 'training' by experience is focussed on healing the damage inflicted by the abuser.
This is not a task to be taken lightly. None of the other highly trained professionals can offer the direct experience, personal, one-on-one contact of one survivor sharing with another.
Medical, legal and social organizations without exception recognize this personal identification with one another as an indispensable
first step in recovery from the injurious effects of the abuse.
Let's face it. If we did not continue to suffer long after the abuse was over, by acting out, harming ourselves, our marriages and society in general, our abuse would not be of any great concern to anyone but a few us. If it didn't hurt so goddamned much we could have forgotten it.
But it does hurt that much. Enough to make us willing to speak the unspeakable truth; the truth that most people including us do not want to know.
We do not want to know it either and I personally went to great lengths in trying to damage my brain enough to erase the shame and guilt.
Other people have a choice. They can choose to ignore or diminish or attenuate all they want.
I can't. It has almost killed me more than once.
I don't want to look down the barrel of that loaded gun again to see if it still has bullets.
The reason society, through legal, medical and other agencies is concerned with child sexual abuse is because they have become aware of the tremendous cost in human life; the wasteful spending of human resources that comes as the result of the abuse.
Society has begun to act against abuse, because abuse is robbing society of some very valuable assets--us.
This site is such a great resource. I am so glad to have found it. I could not understand my own life; it made no sense. Putting the information
supplied by the professionals (all of which by the way comes from informants, patients, clients, like us) to bring light on my own experience is the only way that it has started to make sense.
So I would suggest that we as survivors can make an invaluable contribution to the coming to believe process that is occurring in society at large.
Without survivors, there would be no data for the experts. Without men brave enough to bear witness there would be no moral outrage. Without the tragic loss of youth and life, counted in bodies and psyches lost and damaged, society would NEVER act to recognize, prevent or help heal the sad legacy of male sexual abuse.
All of our efforts, when joined together will begin to banish this blight from our midst.
But it is the voice of the survivor that is the wake up call to the society at large, professionals or laymen. I was silent for too long. It is so good to have this safe forum to speak from.
So I would propose that one way to focus our efforts in this forum towards a definition of male sexual abuse specifically is from our own personal experience, strength and hope.
What happened to us, what it did to us and what we are like now is the most powerful tool for bringing the plight of the male sexual abuse victim to the forefront of public conciousness.
Our bodies, our psyches and our spirits corroded by the perfidious, corrupting attack of sexual abuse, become powerful exhibits, undeniable evidence in the calling to account of the sexual abusers and their enablers.
For me that would mean that I begin to recognize that my mother's boy friends who talked to me about screwing women when I was 7 or 8 was the early types of abuse in my life.
It is only now that I can see the germ of sexual abuse being introduced into my life by this talk. When later as a teenager, I was seduced by a man 4 times my age, I have to recognize in all justice that as a continuation of the talk of the man when I was 7 or 8.
The sex continued until I was over 21. That fact of going back for it, of wanting it after I was the age of majority is one false belief that kept me isolated and alone for so long.
So I reject that as a definition of abuse. No one should be abused--no matter what age, sex, orientation, state of inebriation. That after the fact of this recognition we as individuals may find it well advised to review any aspects of our conduct that might lead us to that abuse, does not negate the primary culpability of the abuser--whatever his age, status or state of mind.
Of course the law recognizes all manner of mitigating circumstances, but for the purposes of assigning responsibility these are not our primary concern.
If you expect me to go back to believing that because I was 21, that it would be helpful for me to take responsibility away from him, then I would refuse as a survivor. Since I was the one he seduced and molested for 5+ years, he must also take the responsibility then. I was his creature. He was the creator and must take the blame for his creatures.
Even if the legal, social or medical opinions
differ, for the sake of my own health, sanity and
life I must assert this fundamental protection.
For me, the ongoing nature of the problems caused in my life by the experience of sexual abuse, should be an important part of any definition.
For me as a survivor, my definitions of abuse must be in the context of what helps heal and what doesn't. The definition must be practical as well as true.
The way I understood what happened in my life
when I took all the responsiblity for the abuse,
DID NOT WORK. It almost killed me. A more humane and sane definition of abuse that allows me to feel, to become aware and to lay down the burden of guilt and shame the abuser piled on me
is what I have found here in the powerful testimony of my fellows.
I love you guys so much. And I just found you and perhaps I'll never even meet you. But I love you because of the way you let me feel about myself.
That love for one another, that way of understanding the way no one who hasn't survived sexual abuse can, is what must shape our contribution to a definition of sexual abuse.
It's in a way rather ironic. The story of our salvation is contained in the stories of our perdition.
So my definition continues to evolve as more of my life story becomes revealed to me. And for that reason I hope to continue to come back and listen and learn and continue to grow.
My definition of abuse and recovery will continue to grow. And so will I.
Victor, you really got me going on this one--the blood's pumping and I'm ready to testify.
But here, I know that I am "preaching to the choir"...you guys already believe. And with your support we can contribute our stories, show our scars, justify our tears and sorrow by helping others and society as a whole.
In my faith, I am taught that justice is more important than forgiveness.
What do you think? Is justice or the lack thereof a part of the definition of abuse?
Thanks for giving me the compassion and love I was unable to give myself. I hope I always remember to be grateful.
Your brother refusing to be defined by but willing to contribute to a definition of abuse,