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#422848 - 01/22/13 12:02 AM What made you decide to seek help?
EagerLearner Offline

Registered: 01/04/13
Posts: 16
Loc: Midwest
This topic is really for everyone, both survivors and supporters.

For survivors:
1. What was it that ultimately drove you to seek therapy and how has it helped you?
2. If you have not seen a therapist, what are some barriers that you think might keep you from getting help? Or what coping mechanisms have you developed on your own so that you don't feel the need for professional therapy?

For supporters:
1. Similar questions - What do you think ultimately drove your survivor to seek help from a therapist (if he has one) and how has it helped him?
2. Was there anything you did to encourage him to get help?

A little background on my story:
First, my survivor is an amazing man who has been very successful in life. He is extremely intelligent and has always excelled academically and is currently a medical student. I don't think that a person looking at him would have any idea what internal battles he faces. Sometimes he falls into a very dark depression. He is haunted by memories of his past and has difficulty trusting people. He seems to think that he will never really be able to overcome this, that he somehow doesn't deserve to be happy.

I don't want him to feel this way. What happened to him as a child wasn't fair and he most certainly deserves to be happy. It hurts me to see him so depressed sometimes. I really think that he could benefit from some professional help and I have gently suggested it in the past, but he has never really been interested. He told me that a faculty member at his medical school told the students in his class that if they carried a psych diagnosis they would have to explain it on residency applications and it could hurt their chances of getting into the programs they wanted. However, I checked with a couple of officials at my medical school and they said that isn't entirely true. The wording on the application is actually intended to be very protective of patient privacy and he would not need to disclose anything unless it would impair his ability to take care of patients.

I can definitely understand his concern about any possible impact on his career. I actually went through a period in college that I was struggling with some borderline eating disorders and I was very reluctant to seek any kind of help out of fear that it might somehow keep me from getting into medical school. However, since being in medical school I have seen several classmates who are seeing counselors or psychiatrists and it seems pretty well accepted. Medical school is stressful and can cause even the sanest person to sometimes feel like they are going a little crazy.

But I digress. Besides the fear of the professional implications of therapy, I think my friend may also have a fear of facing the emotions that will likely arise when he revisits events from the past. He says it's easier to just be numb. And I guess it seems like he just doesn't believe things can get better for him or that healing may be possible.

I know that CSA has lifelong implications. It's horrible, but it happened and what happened can't be undone. But I think that there can be healing and that maybe over time and with a lot of support that awful gaping wound can close. The scars may be there forever, but I really want to believe that healing is possible. And I really think that he can be happy.

However, I know it has to be his choice. He will only benefit from therapy if it's something he wants to do. I can never force him and I won't ever try. I have made gentle suggestions, but I also try to always make it clear that no matter what he chooses to do, he still has my full support.

I guess I just wanted some other perspectives. Thank you all in advance for any input!

#422896 - 01/22/13 10:16 AM Re: What made you decide to seek help? [Re: EagerLearner]
crazy gecko Offline

Registered: 10/04/12
Posts: 309
What drove me to therapy?

Originally, I didn't have much of a choice. It was court ordered. And even if I was willing to risk being in contempt of court I couldn't skip it - I was in jail for dealing drugs (to support my own habit). I was in therapy for a few years before I decided that I was ok and left. Then, starting October 2009, I went through a 2-year period in which my wife passed away suddenly, followed my life-threatening illness and major surgery, then I lost my grandma, who was basically the only descent parent I ever had. Oh, and throw into the mix making contact with my mother for the first time since 1985 and developing feelings for a female friend of mine and all the stress that came with that. So, inevitably I suppose, I broke down. The night I caught myself on the bathroom floor with a knife, busy cutting myself, I realised that I needed help if I was going to give myself a fighting chance at keeping it together enough to be a dad to my little girl. So the next morning I hit google and traced my old therapist.

I have an official psych diagnosis - four, in fact. Yes, it has hampered me in some areas. There has been jobs I couldn't get because my dx made people doubt my reliability etc, but all in all I've been able to have a successful career in spite of that rather thick psych history file.

As for not wanting to face the emotions - that is big. It was the most terrifying part of therapy for me, and sometimes still is. I have often wished I could go back to just being numb, but the reality is that numb is not only the absence of pain - it is also the absence of joy. I want real happiness, but I have come to understand that I can't get there without going through the pain first. Right now, I'm dealing with thoughts and feelings would have left me suicidal in the past, but experience and therapy has taught me that even when it hurts so much I can hardly breath and I can't see any hope of it ever changing again, if I hang on long enough, I will find hope again, somehow. That, alone, makes therapy worthwhile.
I guess what I'm trying to say
Is whose life is it anyway because livin'
Living is the best revenge
You can play
-- Def Leppard

My Story, Part 2

My blog

#422902 - 01/22/13 01:35 PM Re: What made you decide to seek help? [Re: EagerLearner]
HopeDiesLast Offline

Registered: 01/15/13
Posts: 62
I'll answer from a supporter point of view. I made my survivor go to counseling after I realized that our marriage was not going to survive the Status Quo. That no matter how much we loved each other, we couldn't make the necessary progress on our own. Fortunately, he doesn't want to lose me and he's had therapy before, two points that really facilitated that he was open to agree with my point of view. I realize that my approach could have horribly backfired. We ended up both going to counseling, which I hope will yield results in the foreseeable future.

I think, often we think we can cope on our own until the point where it's absolutely proven to us that we can't. Like crazy_gecko's story about suddenly finding yourself on the bathroom floor cutting yourself and realizing what you're doing. If you're not at that absolute low point, it's hard to say: ok, I'm going to therapy now and make myself hurt by going through all this cr*p again. Because let's face it, it hurts. So your motivation has to be very good to willingly submit yourself to that.

#422904 - 01/22/13 02:05 PM Re: What made you decide to seek help? [Re: EagerLearner]
Candu Offline

Registered: 07/01/12
Posts: 312
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: EagerLearner
For survivors:
1. What was it that ultimately drove you to seek therapy and how has it helped you?
2. If you have not seen a therapist, what are some barriers that you think might keep you from getting help? Or what coping mechanisms have you developed on your own so that you don't feel the need for professional therapy?

I don't know how much help this will be to you as you are trying to help someone younger. I'm finally dealing with the CSA starting about a year ago at the age of 51. I never thought of the CSA. I never forgot it but wasn't something I thought about. Until last year I didn't think it was all that significant.

I've been under a lot of stress for a few years. Then starting about two years ago a bunch of stuff started happening that were difficult for me. This was related to my work. Some things caused a downward spiral for me. Relationships at work were badly effected. At one point I was trying to figure out what has screwed up my life so bad. I had to include the CSA in this. I read a lot of books on the subject and discovered how destructive the CSA could be.

I looked online for CSA therapy in my area and didn't come up with anything for adults. A few months later I looked again and found a resource center for men that had a CSA program. I went down, was accepted and told it would be a few days before they would get back to me on setting up sessions. Seven months later (after a number of contacts) I went down last night. After completing six weekly EmpowerMen (serious) sessions I will be starting with therapist.

Barriers? Just the normal male stuff. I'm OK. and I can deal with this.

After all the reading I did I decided that I could do stuff on my own but that sometimes you are better off calling on a professional. On this I didn't think a DIY approach was a good idea.

While the following does not apply for your situation (yet) many parts fit with me.

#422906 - 01/22/13 02:28 PM Re: What made you decide to seek help? [Re: EagerLearner]
traveler Offline

Registered: 02/07/06
Posts: 4287
Loc: resettling in NE Ohio
Originally Posted By: EagerLearner
For survivors:
1. What was it that ultimately drove you to seek therapy and how has it helped you?
2. If you have not seen a therapist, what are some barriers that you think might keep you from getting help? Or what coping mechanisms have you developed on your own so that you don't feel the need for professional therapy?
However, I know it has to be his choice. He will only benefit from therapy if it's something he wants to do. I can never force him and I won't ever try. I have made gentle suggestions, but I also try to always make it clear that no matter what he chooses to do, he still has my full support.

hi, Eager -

1.(a) as a male survivor, i did not cope very well with my past. i repressed everything and functioned OK until i totally fell apart in my mid 30s and fell into a deep pit of depression and could not function at all. i was practically led to a therapist by a friend and my wife. i was in therapy for about 15 months and regained control of my life, but had not really gotten to the bottom yet. i fell again years later - about 2 years ago - and was an absolute mess. this time, my wife insisted i get help or she would leave. i was afraid of what therapy would mean. it was agonizing the first time and this time i knew it would be worse because new and more serious memories were surfacing. but i did it - and i am glad. i've been in therapy this time since last Nov. - about 15 months again. i am much better now and think the end may be in sight. i could not have done this on my own!!! what helped me was a 4-fold support system - my wife, my therapist, the resources and forums and friends on this MS site, and faith in God.

(b) i have new self-esteem. i have a much better relationship with my wife - who is also much happier. i have newly-discovered real live emotions - not always positive - but healthy and normal. we have a restored sex life again - that had been dysfunctional to non-existent for years. i know and respect and value myself. i have more self-confidence socially and at work.

2. what previously kept me from getting help was - first, unawareness or disbelief that it could help. i honestly thought i was a hopeless case and could not imagine anything being any better. second - once i became aware that therapy was possible - fear set in - fear of facing the monsters in my past - fear of the painful emotions that i knew would come. fear that what would be revealed would be so repugnant to my wife that she would judge, condemn and desert me. fear that if anyone found out i would be branded as an untouchable. but the fear of losing her was greater than the other fears and i gambled on that slim chance.

you are right in stating that it has to be his decision and he has to want to do it - to put in the work of healing. you are doing the right thing - being patient and encouraging and supportive. bless you for that! but for me - gentle didn't work. i needed more firmness. i know everyone is different. hope you find the right approach.

How long, LORD, must I call for help, but you do not listen?
Or cry out to you, “Violence!” but you do not save?
Why do you make me look at injustice?
Why do you tolerate wrongdoing?...
Therefore the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails....
Habakkuk 1:2-3

#422928 - 01/22/13 04:38 PM Re: What made you decide to seek help? [Re: EagerLearner]
genedebs Offline

Registered: 11/09/12
Posts: 378
Loc: MO
Dear Eager

I don't know if this will be helpful. I did not seek therapy specifically for my CSA. Rather I had an experience when I was 37. That generated a flashback to a episode when I was 12 and obeyeed my mother to negotiate with my father to tell her he loved her.

I started crying and continued to cry for about 4 days. The tears were so overwhelming that I could not even walk a straight line.

When I began the therapy I thought my mother was an innocent victim, and my father was a monster (because of his physical abuse and rage). When he insisted I reevaluate my mother, I reported back an example of her having me undress and pose for her photographer friend.

This, the therapist explained to me was incest. He explained that I could spend thousands of dollars and years of therapy and it might not work anyway. Alternatively I could do cognitive behavioural therapy and be patched up and continue wounded.

It lasted 6 to 9 months and gave some coping skills so that many of the experiences of my childhood could be remembered and coped with. Within 3 year I was suicidal and going back to the therapist. He said this would do nno good if I didn't stop drinking.. This lead to my getting sober and also began a process of doing less well financially. So I used the mental health services which were available from my health insurance.

This continued with the CBT and finally I accepted meds. I developed a variety of technologies to cope and peeled some of my most severe disabilities away. (such as knowing that if I were living alone, then when I came into my apartment, then I did not have to protect myself from "them" when I entered.)

After 10 years of slow deterioration, I changed therapy, to get psychotherapy.

How has it helped? I no longer maintain a psychotic delusions. I am scrupulous about taking my meds. I no longer minimize the effect of my abuse, nor believe I was complicit in all of the sexual abuse, which began when I was 10 and continued till I was 17, through five different abusers. For example when I was 13, I was sick and the man (twice my age) my mother had taking care of me molested me. But, I got him to mail the valentine to my girl friend.

So I had "agreed" to his sucking me off and lick my body in exchange for his mailing my valentine.

So, if this is helpful, I hope you can use it.

Edited by genedebs (01/22/13 04:39 PM)

#423250 - 01/26/13 08:59 AM Re: What made you decide to seek help? [Re: EagerLearner]
dark empathy Offline

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 2716
Loc: durham, north england
Hello Eagerlearner. I am probably the person with the different experience, since for me, while I have nothing abundently against professional therapy, that was the bit which didn't work.

firstly, as for what decided me to change, well it began when i was 25 in 2007. I knew I'd been gang raped as a teenager, but that was fine I was over that right? I kept on telling myself that quite successfully, not atributing my fear of crowds, my panic reactions at being in any state of undress, not the least my total lack of any sort of relationship, my genophobia or any other of my reactions to this, since that was ten years ago and I was alright?

It was my attempt however to break my own pattern and this time when i fell in love with a girl, another female friend as it happened, to actually be more forward than I would ever considder being. Bare in mind "forward" in this case meant taking and holding her hand. I tried this, and it didn't end up working out. So I'd put aside all my! barriers for nothing. needless to say i cried for pretty much 24 hours solid, and at that stage I decided that no, my abuse was not particularly over and dealt with.

My parents (who weren't involved in the abuse as it happened at school), were too close to really talk to about anything, so we mutually decided on therapy, ---- unsurprising considdering my dad before he retired was a community psychiatric nurse. I had a couple of sessions with a private psychodinamic counseller, but that didn't work out as expected both because she seemed more keen on looking into the fact that I was born prematurely, and also that she didn't really have a use for what I was saying. The only really good thing about that therapy was my chance to talk to someone.

After a few sessions I found that my university had a counselling service and started with them, since my parents would no longer have to foot the bill for that, ---- but since the uni service was basically much more about exam stress than anything else, that didn't work hugely well and after a few weeks they passed me over to the charity relate who dropped my case, that is they said "they'd get back to me" and proceeded to promptly forget about me.

Weerdly enough the closest thing I had! to therapy was from a friend of mine who happens to have a masters in humanistic counselling, ---- a lady I know in her fifties who is also a doctor of chemistry, several phone calls to her helped, though that wasn't so much therapy, more talking to a person who happened to be a lot older than me and very ensiteful.

Probably the most helpfull things I found to do were firstly talk on ms, since being across the internet it is impersonal enough to be easy, but personal enough to help, then reducing my phd from full time to part time since this meant all those days when i was literally! unable to work, I wasn't having to force myself as there were times when I'd write three pages of my thesis, take one look at it and due to my intensive self disgust delete the hole thing.

I also started several commitments just so that I had somewhere to go each week, for example I began attending lectures in a subject other than mine.

I did try medication which helped to a limited extent, not that it reduced what was happening, but just because it limited the affects slightly so that I wasn't knocked out for quite as long a period, though after a year on that I felt I could stop.

Most of the best things I did however were coping mechanisms and methods of understanding I developed entirely alone, or by talking on this site. For example, I got to realize that pretty much all I needed to do o get through bad points was be persistant, that everything goes in waves and cycles and all i had to do was slog on through the bad parts. This isn't hope or good expectations for the future, it is just the recognition that nothing lasts forever.

I also know that while I am a natural intravert, isolation can become a drug. Spending a weekend alone is one thing, ---- but spending over a week without seeing the sky is quite another. Much as I don't particularly like to admit it, I had to realize that I do need people occasionally, and that the worse I'm feeling the more I'll be inclined to be alone.

I'd imagine if someone who was married was doing this, it could be pretty hard on the other party, indeed I think my parents probably got spared this because I was obviously living alone in my flat.

I also now know that my own judgement of myself and anything I do is intrinsically flawed, simply because I am not a reliable critic of my own actions. Whether writing, singing (soemthing else that is important to me), or even my personal appearence, I just know! I will believe anything I do to be rubbish or my appearence uggly. Thus I simply do not take any notice of my own self assessments at all, since I know where I am concerned I'm ridiculously biased.

These sorts of insites however were not things I particularly got easily, and took a lot of slogging through rubbish to find, since whether or not a person has! professional therapy, there really isn't a particularly easy way to deal with this sort of thing other than go through it.

heck, even though now I admit myself I'm far better, that I'm not in a constant depression, I still have my phobic reactions, and I still have odd days, I just understand them a hole lot more.

I hope some of this is helpfull.


#423272 - 01/26/13 05:21 PM Re: What made you decide to seek help? [Re: EagerLearner]
Still Offline

Registered: 02/16/07
Posts: 7011
Loc: FEMA Region 1
This is a link to something that a guy here once created:


And another

Edited by Still (01/26/13 05:22 PM)

#424578 - 02/07/13 08:32 AM Re: What made you decide to seek help? [Re: EagerLearner]
DavoSwim Offline

Registered: 02/06/13
Posts: 397
Loc: Midwest
I first experienced abuse 40 years ago at the age of 11. The perp was a grad student in guidance and counseling at the local university who I came in contact with while he was a children's choir director at church. He convinced my parents that I should come to his apartment for IQ testing and it was part of his thesis. Alone with him, he pinned me down, pulled off my pants, made comments about my penis and the lack of pubic hair, and then proceeded to "show me how to masturbate." He then offered me a Playboy so I could practice what he taught me. I don't remember much after that except that there was a knock on my door and it was my brother coming to get me since the session was over. That knock saved me from further abuse. For some reason my parents never let me go back. 8 years later, I was camping with family and friends in the mountains of Colorado. I must have had "vulnerable" written all over me. One night, the husband of the couple who owned the cabin, decided to sleep next to me out on the deck. I was in a sleepy haze when I heard the sound of the sleeping back being unzipped. He then proceeded to slide his hand down my stomach until he reached my penis. He proceeded to masturbate me. I was frozen in fear, and memories of the previous abuse came back. I don't remember if I ejaculated or not, I never told anyone, and buried the memories for 30 years now. However, I acted out my pain without realizing why. Last year is when it all changed. I was in the hospital and had two surgeries and had part of my intestines removed. I had to have a catheter inserted. When it was time to remove it, the nurse came in and had her hand on my penis as she removed the catheter. At that moment everything came back to me. The memories flashed back as though the abuse had just happened. I remember screaming inside my head to get your hands off my penis. 40 years of buried memories came out. In the past year, the images of my past have gotten stronger. It came to a head when I was watching a tv show about survivors of abuse, and it was though my story was being told on screen. The subject of the show ended with saying how he got help, and it made me realize that I needed help. Since then I've sought out a therapist so that I can begin the healing process


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