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#432149 - 04/23/13 02:42 PM Sought self worth through sex after abuse
EdfromNYC Offline

Registered: 02/18/10
Posts: 334
Loc: New York City
I am having some breakthroughs. This is one.

I grew up in a crazy, alcoholic home with parents who had a lot of damage in themselves. They carried it forward. I only had worth if I did certain things well like presenting a good image to the outside world, playing a sport well (which I had a hard time with), not bringing my problems to my parents, etc. Most of the time I did something "wrong" with my parents and I was cut off or punished or humiliated or ___________ (fill in the blank).

I sought attention from someone outside the home and I got it through sexual abuse that my brain interpreted as attention. I was a 13 year old sex object to men and I confused that attention with my self worth. So after my initial abuse, I sought more sexual attention from men and really what I was seeking was more abuse. Underneath the good feelings of being seen and touched were feelings of this is wrong, this is dirty, this is really empty and dark and devoid of life. I walked with a lot of guilt and shame but I couldn't stop the cycle because I didn't understand it. It felt like needs were being met.

I've had 7 months of sexual abstinence and I don't plan on stopping it or I don't have a plan about it. It was just the right time to do it. With the abstinence comes some clarity about my lack of self worth and what I did to feel something good about myself. Now I'm left with letting go of the illusion that my worth was affirmed through sex and realizing that I was used for my youth and innocence and youthful "beauty". And I ended up thinking those things were the most important things about me and made up my worth.

It is very difficult to see this and to let go of it and face the feelings of abandonment, neglect and deprivation that I was raised with. However, not letting go of this stuff keeps me in a cage that my young brain built to protect me from the truth. This is revolutionary in my life to do this. It is changing deeply ingrained patterns of thought and behavior that are just traps which seemed to save me as a kid. What the abuse did was just abuse my needs for protection, love and care and take them and twist those needs to serve the needs of adults.

Rather than simply be ashamed of this stuff and feel badly about myself, I am looking for another path. Acknowledge and accept what happened, what the boy inside me did with the information that he had and that I was abused and it is up to me to find the real source of self worth.

Where does self worth come from? How do you get it when you are a man and you are looking for it for the first time? This is painful stuff.
And more, much more, the heart may feel,
Than the pen may write or the lip reveal.
Winthrop Mackworth Praed

#432311 - 04/25/13 12:44 AM Re: Sought self worth through sex after abuse [Re: EdfromNYC]
BraveFalcon Offline

Registered: 02/26/13
Posts: 1231
Loc: The ATL
Hi Ed. I was disappointed that your post didn't get more replies. I was curious to see what they would have been as I know there are other survivors who've done these types of things and who feel this way. Perhaps the right people just weren't on the board yesterday when you posted it.

My CSA more or less affected me the opposite way but it is always interesting to hear the accounts of those that were affected differently than me. After hitting puberty, I more or less became a sexual invalid. I still have a sex drive but it is useless and broken. I seek not self-worth or anything else from it. Nor can I or would I ever.

Although our experiences differ, I can say this in reply to your post for sure. Whoever you are, I'm sure you are worth a hell of a lot more than what you were worth to those men when you were a boy. Also, if you were seeking the sexual attention of men by the time you were 13, it is obvious you were only doing it because that's what your abuser had programmed you and conditioned you to do. Every abusive experience you sought out following your initial abuse was just a continuation of the abusive cycle set in motion by your original abuser. Your original abuser was like a guy that kicks the first snowball down a hill in what turns into an avalanche. An avalanche that you, a 13 year old kid, could not possibly have been expected to have been in control of or been held responsible for. I hope you already know that and hold it to be true in your heart.

Congrats on your sexual sobriety, by the way.

Originally Posted By: EdfromNYC
Where does self worth come from? How do you get it when you are a man and you are looking for it for the first time?

This part I can't help you with. I wish I could say otherwise but I have about as much a sense of self-worth as a maggot has intelligence. Take care. Stay strong in your recovery. Peace,


#432317 - 04/25/13 01:59 AM Re: Sought self worth through sex after abuse [Re: BraveFalcon]
EdfromNYC Offline

Registered: 02/18/10
Posts: 334
Loc: New York City
I sent you a private message to thank you for your reply but I was surprised too. But it was okay. I didn't feel rejected. I read the daily comments on here and thought I might be a little different in tone than much of the anger and confusion. I guess I was.

Glad I wrote and glad for the venue.
And more, much more, the heart may feel,
Than the pen may write or the lip reveal.
Winthrop Mackworth Praed

#432322 - 04/25/13 02:54 AM Re: Sought self worth through sex after abuse [Re: EdfromNYC]
Jude Offline

Registered: 08/09/12
Posts: 1633
Loc: New England
Hey Ed,

Alcoholic parents: Check
Abandonment, neglect, and deprivation: Check
Sexually abused at 13: Check
Repeatedly re-enacted the abuse with men: Check
Guilt and shame: Check
Sex became the primary source of self-worth and validation: Check
Came to a point of total sexual abstinence: Check
Seeking to find self-worth in something else: Check
Add some drugs and alcohol, and you could be me!

There are things in my life that I feel good about, but never could feel any self-worth from. What I've learned in AA is that I am a worthwhile person just because I am. Its not because I can do this or that, not because I have such good charachter (hah), or looks (ehh). I am a worthwhile person just because I am. Works for me.

I will remember you
Will you remember me?
Don't let your life pass you by
Weep not for the memories
Sarah McLachlan

#432354 - 04/25/13 09:43 AM Re: Sought self worth through sex after abuse [Re: EdfromNYC]
OCN Offline

Registered: 02/05/13
Posts: 400
Loc: Western Europe
Great topic!

Dealing with this as well.. i know that i am worthwhile, but deep down there is still a belief that this isnt true. Not sure yet what the cause of this is. Could be that i somehow didnt feel worthwhile to my parents.. the urge to proof that i am good.. Lately i've noticed that i do a lot to proof that i am worth it and noticing it makes me feel sad in a way. Where is my self worth? I know its inside, but i dont yet belief myself..
Trust me, you are worth it to love yourself!

I now know who I am - I've never been anybody else!

#432378 - 04/25/13 02:54 PM Re: Sought self worth through sex after abuse [Re: EdfromNYC]
csasurvivor1992 Offline

Registered: 03/25/13
Posts: 132
Loc: Texas
i was abused by my father... so attention/self-worth, closely intertwined. if my own father thought nothing of me, why should i think anything of myself? i am worthless to everyone else if my own father thinks i am worthless to him.

i realized i deserved better, kind of an abstract understanding, an out-of-body experience. took a while to seep in. then i realized that me in my body, this guy, the guy who's fingers are typing this post, me, i was abused. me in this body. i deserved better than that, but holy shit. i don't think i suffer from anything other than emotionally dissociating from the horrific truth that is my childhood.

i deserved better than that. your self-worth is there. i promise you. i am still just seeing glimpses of mine, but it's there. you know how i know? you've done your part, you've stayed alive. you've had an awful experience, but you've stayed alive. you've implemented survival mechanisms. even if you can't recognize that you value yourself enough to stay alive, you have subconsciously done it for yourself.

i believe healing can come once we reconcile our subconscious survivor with our real world selves. and even then, the truth about what was willfully done to us won't go away, but at least we can have a little peace. we deserve that much.

for what it's worth, i've done all those things too.. alcoholic dad, absent mother (lost in her own world), dad using me for sex... i went abstinent first two years of college.

i understand where you're coming from. keep working brother. we all have your back.

i've done the same thing too and best i can figure is... Number of replies does not equate to self worth. the fact you posted at all shows just how much you value yourself smile
May your past be the sound of your feet upon the ground, carry on. ~Fun.


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