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#57897 - 02/17/04 02:11 PM Re: When is it time to OUT your best friend?
crisispoint Offline

Registered: 09/24/03
Posts: 2154
Loc: Massachusetts
On further reflection, I feel badly about how angrily I responded to your post, Brooklyn, and I want to apologize publically (I already sent you a private message).

While I stand by what I said, and my objections to "outing" your friend, I believe that your efforts to help him should be commended, not rideculed (sp?), and I should've found a better way to voice my opinion.

The thing is, even when we survivors choose to tell people about our abuse, it opens up possibilities of being criticized, hurt, and betrayed. On the whole, my friends have been supportive, as well as my family, but one of my sisters asked me if she could "trust me around (her) children," and a person i considered a friend asked me if I "enjoyed" the abuse.

Can you imagine how I would've responded if they found out against my will? Even when it was my choice, these statements (and others) hurt me beyond words. If it wasn't my decision, I do believe I'd have committed suicide.

I applaud your wish to help your friend, and I want you to be there for him and support him with whatever he decides to do. But the decision has to be his and his alone.

And, again, I'm sorry for saying what I said so angrily.

Peace and love,


There are reasons I'm taking medication. They're called "other people." - Me, displaying my anti-social tendancies

#57898 - 02/19/04 04:28 AM Re: When is it time to OUT your best friend?
brooklyn Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 02/16/04
Posts: 2
Thanks to you all for responding to this post. I obviously touched a nerve with many of you who are probably going through (or have gone through) the same thing that my friend has. For those of you who doubt my intentions, let me assure you that my motives are purely related to his healing. You see, the problem with his particular case is that these events occurred many years ago when he was a child. He was not mentally prepared to defend himself, or make mature decisions on his own behalf. When I speak with him about the events (which for the most part he would rather not talk about) he seems to regress back to the child. This regression is subtle, but nevertheless apparent. This child was left to deal with a mental challenge that he simply was not ready to deal with. My fear is that he is still to this day dealing with this issue on the emotional level of a child and therefore is not capable of making the best decision for his own good. The issue that I have is that he made a decision to protect his parents then. He continues to protect them to this day, and his decision to keep these memories surpressed and not deal with them openly is not only affecting his life. It is affecting his marriage and the lives of the people closest to him. And two of the people most affected have no clue about the abuse. What they know is that their son is distant, never comes around, treats them poorly, is behaving in ways that they don't understand and they are looking for answers. They have no clue.

I agree with all of you that the decision should be his, and I pray that he finds the strength to confide in them and truly begin healing. In my opinion the irony is that he must confront his greatest fear to turn the corner.

I'd be interested in hearing what it took for some of you to tell your parents. What was the outcome? How did they react? Did it do more harm or good? How did you feel after telling them, and was it key to your healing?

Again, thanks for the feedback!

#57899 - 02/19/04 05:08 AM Re: When is it time to OUT your best friend?
theo Offline

Registered: 09/28/03
Posts: 1122
the regression you refer to is pretty common, however, it is not regression per se. this does not refer to those who suffer trauma by actual regression in the clinical sense or technical flashback, again, in the clinical sense. by this i mean very specific behaviors and experience of the individual going through, or have lived through, the trauma. what happens with your friend, aside from the above possibility, is that he really does have an emotional experience of some vague sense of childlike vulnerability. it is difficult to describe objectively so i will give you an example from my own experience of recovery.

things start getting a little overwhelming for me in my day to day existence. stress from current projects, financial issues, misunderstandings with my colleagues, etc...things are reaching a crisis or near crisis point. something someone says, does, or some other purely innocent event reminds me on a level below my conscious awareness that something happened in the past. this is a trigger. something from the present trips a memory of abuse in a way i can't see but the fear suddenly becomes real right here right now. in full form, that trigger, whatever it was in the present, puts me immediately in the past whenever the specific abuse happened that i am reliving. all the emotions, all the fear, all the shame, all the pain, is going on right here, right now. this is a flashback. i am no longer the adult i am now, i am the child i was then and i am terrified. a flashback is easy to discern from the outside because the person going through the flashback is no longer the person you know. what has been happening to me lately, is i am suddenly overcome by some vague sense of fear but i do not know why or where it comes from. i am still the adult that people know me has but i become quieter and start looking for something to happen but i don't know what or when, or even if something will. it is this vague sense of impending doom that i live with on good days. when i start talking about the abuse itself to someone, such as lady theo, a friend, my therapist, whatever, i also retreat. to you it could be perceived as somewhat regressing, but to myself and those that know me and my past they see that i am still present (not in a flashback), but that i am scared. consider, if you see a snake in the forest, you will pause and likely step back very gently, or at least lean back to try to avoid this danger you see...but you do not become a child. not trying to scold you on this, brooklyn, just trying to point out the distinction. we survivors pull back from the danger that we lived through and to untrained or unknowing eyes appear to regress somewhat when all we are trying to do is avoid that snake in the road that is our abusers. do you see the distinction here? what is probably happening with your friend is that this subject is very powerful to him and he does not know how to deal with it yet so he naturally pulls back. there is more to it then that, of course. if you want to help your friend i suggest you read through the various posts here of male survivors who are dealing with these issues on a daily basis, on a minute to minute basis. also read some of the articles that you will find links to on the home page or at the top of every page. the world of a survivor is very different from those who never had to experience the hell of child sexual victimization. there are different rules in this world. read some of the material here and if you have any questions feel free to pm me.

once again, support your dear friend at his pace. listen if he wants to speak. be quiet and lend your presence if he is not able to speak. be there for him and his wife at his pace. learn what you can for your own understanding and if he asks on his own volition what you learned or think, then gently point him here. the key to supporting a survivor of any gender is be there no matter what and according to their comfort level. be honest with yourself and your friend. sometimes details are too much for a friend or significant other to handle who is sharing the life of a survivor. ask questions here, we will be there for you. take care, brooklyn.

journey well,
theo dewolfe

- It is gift, and gift will find its way
- I inherit through my choice. I build through my affirmation. It is through my freedom that I nurture, or fade into autonomy
- I was not given to serve life, but to embrace it

#57900 - 02/19/04 05:13 AM Re: When is it time to OUT your best friend?
SAR Offline
Administrator Emeritus

Registered: 12/07/03
Posts: 3310
Loc: USA

I don't think the decision a child makes to "protect" his parents has anything to do with the decision an adult child makes to "protect" his parents. Children keep secrets for all kinds of reasons. You can't expect him to make a "mature" decision about something he's still thinking about as a child.

My boyfriend's parents are very selfish and dramatic. When he was younger they were dismissive of their children's needs, especially their emotional needs, unless those needs happened to correspond with their own. Because of some of his mother's own issues, my boyfriend was made to feel especially bad, about having sexual desires and about being a boy in the first place. I think that as a child, he probably kept his abuse secret from them out of a need for privacy and self-preservation, and I think that is why he continues to keep it a secret from them. I don't see anything immature about that.

Is it possible that you want him to tell his parents, because you know how much it would hurt them, and you'd like to see them hurt? Is it possible that some of what you see as regression is actually just stonewalling, because you're trying to talk to him about something he'd rather not talk about?


#57901 - 02/21/04 11:05 PM Re: When is it time to OUT your best friend?
Lloydy Offline
Administrator Emeritus
Registered: 04/17/02
Posts: 7071
Loc: England Shropshire
He knows where to find me.
Roland, what more needs to be said ?


Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.
Henry David Thoreau

#57902 - 02/22/04 10:34 PM Re: When is it time to OUT your best friend?
RICK57 Offline

Registered: 12/31/03
Posts: 1611
Brooklyn -

I get the picture that you are there to support your friend. Please do not force the issue of who he does or doesn't tell.

I am only 2 months into recovery after 34 years of suppressing the events of my abuse. Initially, I managed to tell three friends that I had issues (pissed at the time)and left it at that. It took another 2 years for me to realise that my mind was turning into a food mixer that was constantly switched on, and full of things I didn't want in there.

At this point I demanded help as I was going nuts at work (people were starting to notice) - I had turned back into the abused 12 year old and was trying to run a shift of around 20 people at the time!

I told - 1/ My Doctor, 2/ My Boss, 3/ The therapist that my Boss got for me. After about two weeks I managed to tell a handful of other people.

I never told my parents & will not have the opportunity as they are both dead.

I have not told my Sister...she cares about me a hell of a lot, but I know she will be so upset that I couldn't tell her years ago! I haven't told my Brother as it would turn him numb & he'd want to go and kill my Perp (I saw what he did to the burglar that tried to steal his video -wouldn't bother me about the perp getting beaten...just wouldn't want my brother to go to jail for doing it).

At some point, I will have to tell my Sister, but when I am good and ready.

Please keep supporting your wishes ...Rik

*Never look down on anybody unless you're helping them up.
*I was seeking a way of expressing my anger - I found hope!
*There are many battles before the war is won! It can be won!

#57903 - 02/24/04 03:52 PM Re: When is it time to OUT your best friend?
PAS Offline

Registered: 06/12/02
Posts: 577
Loc: Canada
With respect to you telling his parents, I can only say it is a really bad idea. Although you may think it may be the "magic cure", I would bet all my money that he would see it as yet another violation.

Keep in mind that when sexual abuse of children/teens happens it generally has to involve a parent or some kind of authority that "abandons" (emotionally, physically, etc) the survivor first. In the literature/research I've looked at its called the "abandoning authority" and there is as much anger and rage at that abandoning authority as there is towards the abuser. Current research is revealing that there is sometimes even more anger at that person than the abuser.

In the case of my partner he's even MORE angry at his abandoning parent than at the man who abused him. Why else do survivors who didnt tell their parents not tell them back when the abuse was happening? There must have been some reason why they never told their parents in the first place. I bet most guys on here who were not abused by their parents directly would be able to say that at least one or both of their parents were somewhat neglectful or emotionally abandoning.

And this led to an unfulfilled "need" as a kid or a teen, which led them to seek out another figure who abused them. And they never felt safe, appreciated, loved, protected or important enough to tell their parents and feel they would have been believed or supported. So they just kept it inside...

Believe you me there are a lot of complex emotions around those "abandoning authorities". Telling your friends parents on "behalf" of your friend may very well unleash a whole new set of feelings and emotions and send your friend into a regressive tailspin.

I finally know now for a fact that it is the rage that my fiance has for his mother - his "abandoning authority" that has been at the root of my relationship problems lately (mom issues can easily map onto girlfriend/fiance/wife issues).. a rage that he did not even fathom or even be aware of until recently when his anger went waay over the top into verbally abusing me. It almost cost him our relationship (we are back together.. more about that later).

As far as "protecting" his parents...just be aware there could be more to this "protection" than you might think... this could be all about his self protection too - either from the anger/rage that is not yet untapped regarding their role in all of this. Who knows what will happen if/when they find out. His parents could not be able to accept what happened and blame him for what happened... and thats just another insult added on to his major heap of injury. I konw it sounds implausible, but believe you me, the whole "blame the victim" shit DOES happen, a lot.

Also if he is just coming to terms with what happened to him, and the memories are suppressed, how are you to know that his parents also did not abuse him? The possibility is always there... And although the survivor is now an adult and his parents are elderly, it is very hard, very very hard (speaking as an abuse survivor myself) to stop viewing oneself as a victim and "one down" no matter how old you are, no matter how aging ones parents are, it is almost impossible to stop that trigger, to stop those feelings of "victimhood" once they start. Dont put your friend there.

I konw it is hard to watch your friend suffer, but there is NO magic "key" to "curing" a survivor. It takes a long time, a lot of work, faith and therapy. And it takes a lot of people to do things according to the survivor's schedule, not anyone else's. The fact that he is taking two steps forward and one step back is not unusual. Healing from trauma and abuse is not a linear path. It goes up, down, it can backpedal make great leaps forward, then stall out for months. Its not a neat and clean process by any means.

Dont ever forget that what happens to sexual abuse survivors is a betrayal so personal, so intimate, that it is hard for them to shake off the perception that people are trying to jerk them around or take advantage of them. My partner for instance has a seriously impaired ability to determine when someone is trying to jerk him around vs. when someone is being honest. And I know that his abuse has a lot to do with that impaired ability. When one is abused or violated or gone through any trauma at all (from abuse to witnessing a disaster or war) the shock and the trauma literally rewires the brain...

I agree it is painful watching someone flounder and self destruct. But nothing you can do can push them to heal any faster than they are going to heal. Its THEIR struggle, not ours. What they need is to feel that they are in control of something at least once in their lives.

And as far as telling - there's no rule that telling one's parents is the absolute magic key to anything. If he never told his parents - so what? Yes it is critical that the survivor tell SOMEONE and not keep the whole damn thing inside, but there's a hundred different ways he could do such "telling". My partner has never told his parents but he has gone to therapy, done a lot of letter writing, has joined a male survivors support group and has launched a case against his perpetrator. Other therapeutic approaches sometimes ask that the survivor write a letter that they never mail. Other approaches involve role-play - someone takes the role of the abuser or the parent instead of the survivor confronting them directly if that is too scary or dangerous. There's a hundred different approaches that your friend could take and it is not up to you to judge which approach he takes. Yes, he does have to come to terms with this, and the role his parents played in the whole system that led to his abuse, but there are no hard or fast rules on how he does that.

Its not up to anyone but the survivor to determine the approach to disclosure. He'll get there when he gets there. Its our job as friends and family to cheer them on when they are fighting hard and hold them up when they fall.

The hardest thing about being involved with someone who is a survivor I have to admit is that it is often a challenge to determine what is "his stuff" and what is "my stuff". How his behaviour and inability/difficulty, whatever to process what happened affects YOU and your friendship with him is definitely within bounds of you to discuss with him and do something about. But if it is something that is his own battle to fight - i.e. when/how/if he tells his parents, that really is none of anyone else's business but your friend's.

#57904 - 02/25/04 05:50 AM Re: When is it time to OUT your best friend?
TheTraveler Offline

Registered: 02/24/03
Posts: 10
Loc: Richardson, TX
First Brooklyn, thanks for being a close friend after knowing what you do know. You stated " At the risk of losing someone who means as much to me as a brother, I am thinking about doing what he cannot. I believe he needs someone to intervene and carry him the next 10 yards.
Another thought when saying doing what he cannot - you'ld be amazed at what survivors have done - survive. I know you have taken to heart all that have been said and I do appreciate you looking out and actually taking action to help your friend. I wish more friends were as concerned and not afraid to 'be there' like you are doing. So, continue to be there and let him know that you are OK with him. There is time to talk, and there is time to do other things in life as a friend so that he can know that he is more than a sexually abused child, but moreover that he is a great person with a lot of other things to offer - a lot. Maybe you all can do some of those things he was afraid to do with other friends as a child such as just talking and having fun and a good laugh or a good cry - acceptance is great. When SA occurred with me as a child, my whole world and internal emotional wiring was short-circuited since I could no longer relate as an innocent child to the world. My parents I think love me very much; however, I don't consider telling them since they don't relate on serious matters too well. We don't have many conversations as adults and I am in my early 40's. So even though his family loves him, he is obviously more comfortable with you knowing about it. For, you Brooklyn, continue to have a good balance of friends to encourage you so you can take care of yourself and continue to be that good friend.

(OK - I hope this makes sense because it is late for me and I need sleep.)

The greatest thing a man can do for his Heavenly Father is to be kind to some of His other children - Drummond.

#57905 - 03/03/04 04:52 AM Re: When is it time to OUT your best friend?
lonelyone Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 02/24/04
Posts: 3
Loc: LA
I am a spouse of a survivor.
I am happy that you found this site and posted your idea prior to proceeding, because the consequences would most likely have been disasters for your friend and his entire family. You stated that your friend is like your brother. If this is really how you feel then you need to take a good hard look at yourself and your own actions and attitudes. First, you should educate yourself in the area.
ďI asked his wife if she ever considered confiding in his parents. She said she would never betray his trust. My reply was, ďIs it a betrayal of trust, or does he need a life preserver thrown to him?Ē

When I read that it really struck a nerve. Like your friend my partner is very guarded on whom he shared this aspect of his life with, and it is his right to do so. Did you ever stop to think how your comment made your friendís wife feel. I know that if my any of my husbandís friends said that to me it would have a sever impact on several levels. Like your friendís wife I will not betray my husband and discuss this subject, or how all of this affects not only our life as a married couple but also his life on a daily basis with anyone who he personally has not himself told. Even with the people he has trusted to tell I hesitate to discuss the subject with them, why?, because I donít have the strength to deal with someoneís comment that if I did something different than maybe there would be some improvement in my husbandís way of dealing with things. Sometimes being a partner of a survivor is not only difficult but also isolating. You said that this has an impact on your friendís life. How could it not. Your friend may not realize what an impact all of this has on his daily life needless to say his close relationships. As a partner you learn when your spouse is projecting or acting out. After a few years of dealing with all of this I have learned that I CAN NOT save or heal my husband. Believe me if I could I would trade years of my own life to do so but I canít, nor can you save your friend. It is his decision how to deal with things. I find that some people close to my husband may think that maybe I am the problem or maybe if I were different maybe he would make more progress in his recover. As a partner you deal with a lot of the effects of the horror that your love one was forced to endure and most of the time my partner doesnít connect his acting out behavior to what happened to him. To top that off with a comment about betraying trust by telling his parents maybe this could be construed as sending the message to his wife that she is not doing enough to help her husband. Many survivors have problems in not only their marriages but in intimate relationships. If you want to be a brother to your friend why donít you start by trying to understand the delicate position not only your friend is in but also that his wife is in rather then second guessing her judgment. Why donít you ask her what you could do to help instead of making a judgmental comment, for example be there for them ask them to go out, let your friend know when you think that his behavior is a bit off, ask him if he thinks that his therapist is helping, give them both a nonjudgmental shoulder to lean and cry on. But most importantly educate yourself, stick around and read this site, learn how all of this affects your friend, and please understand that you cannot heal him. If he is a brother to you please take the time to learn about what he is experiencing.

#57906 - 03/04/04 01:17 AM Re: When is it time to OUT your best friend?
Lloydy Offline
Administrator Emeritus
Registered: 04/17/02
Posts: 7071
Loc: England Shropshire
Your post should be required reading, your husband is a lucky guy.

Stick around, there's some great support here.


Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.
Henry David Thoreau

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