Friday, October 29, 2010

Oprah - Male Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse, Part 2

This post is about my experience being part of the 200 male survivors on show airing November 5 and November 12. Please tune into the Oprah show to view these episodes and spread the word to all your friends. This post is part two of a two part series.

(Continued from Part 1 on October 28, 2010)

Sitting in a room of 200 male survivors was something that I had never experienced before. I have been to conferences with female survivors but not in a situation like this. To say this experience and being in a room full of male survivors was powerful is an understatement. I will never ever forget this experience and I will never forget the faces of those in this studio and the ones that I got to meet. There were guys from all over the country and Canada there from all walks of life. There were guys that were married, single, fathers, straight, gay and everything in-between. We all were there speaking with one voice.

While there are many ways she could have taken the show and many things she highlighted, their main focus was on telling the world in a dramatic way that there are many male survivors in this world. More importantly, Oprah and her staff wanted to give a voice to male survivors of child sexual abuse so that others out there who are too afraid to speak out, will have the courage to face what was done to them. It is so difficult living in silence and for men who were abused; it is extremely difficult to speak out or to acknowledge what happened.

Boys are taught from an early age that you are to be strong and in control. Boys are not allowed to show weakness and most of the time, emotions are discouraged from an early age. Boys are taught you have to be a man which means most of the time to deny feelings and emotions in our society. Because of this, when the shame and guilt of child sexual abuse is thrust upon young boys, they feel like they cannot speak out. For to speak out shows weakness and little boys are not supposed to go down that road. That is why this show is so critical because the world needs to realize that boys are molested and abused. The world needs to realize that there are many others out there. Each male survivor that feels like they are all alone, will see firsthand in a dramatic way that there are many more out there that have experienced these things.

While the show could have gone in many different directions, they chose to keep the focus very narrow as to what I just described. I wish that they would have acknowledged more gays that have been abused but there is such a stigma in our society. The underlying thought is that if you are a male survivor, you are going to go out and molest other children, especially if you’re gay. Of course, this is such a load of BS and a very backwards view. Most people who are male survivors do not go on to molest children and just because you are gay does not mean a thing on this. I know many male survivors who question their sexuality, wondering if the abuse made them gay. One wise person once told me that being abused by a man does not make you any more gay than being abused by a woman makes you straight. Those were some wise words that more of this world needs to understand.

I also wish the show would have gone more into recovery and the people who had really turned their lives around. However, we would have been there forever taping these episodes because that is a lot of ground to cover. My hope is that Oprah or Tyler Perry or someone else will do a show on survivors that have really healed and reclaimed their lives. There is hope and possibility from those who have struggled through the pains and horrors of the past. This show however, just touches on these subjects because there was not enough time to go into all of that.

Overall, I’m happy with the way the show will most likely appear and think that it is going to be a powerful statement to the world. I hope each person that can, will tune in and watch this because we as a society need to understand that these things are going on all around us. We can hide our head in the sand like many of us do, but until we confront this epidemic problem head on; we’ll continue to destroy the lives of many of our young boys.

Statistics show that 1 in 6 boys have been sexually abused before the age of 16. Think about that for a moment. Identify 6 boys or men that you know and then realize that most likely; one of these has been abused. That is a mind blowing thought. Yet, we as a society hide our heads in the sand and when situations confront us or appear before our eyes, we tend to discount and dismiss what our mind is throwing up as warning signs. Too many times, we do not want to get involved or we want to believe the problem will just go away. Too many times, we feel if we just talk to the potential perp, that the problem will go away. These perps know how to seduce children and they know how to do it right before the watchful eyes of those around the children. They laugh and mock those who fail to see it. Perps are not stupid. Perps are not just some strange looking man on the street corner. They are fathers, brothers, uncles, cousins, preachers, deacons, teachers, community leaders and the list could go on and on. More often than not, the perps are known to the children and their families.

Anyway, I’m almost off track of what this write up was about. As you will see when you watch the show, many of these things will come out from the interviews that are aired. You will see how difficult the struggle is to reclaim your life and how often survivors of child sexual abuse act out as a result. You will see how alcoholism, drug addiction, sexual addictions, relationship issues, depression, anxiety and many other things tends to be the normal life for survivors of child sexual abuse. Each person on this show is a testament to the strength and endurance of the human spirit because none of these things are easy to live through.

There is so much I could tell about this entire experience but it would get too long for anyone to read. I met so many wonderful men there and I felt safe with them. Some of them I got to interact with more than others and will most likely forge long term friendships with them. Each person there impacted my life in a dramatic way and I will always be grateful for the experience. I am so excited that Oprah is using her life and her media platform to highlight a big problem tearing apart our society.

It was interesting that even the producer who initially interviewed me on the phone was a male survivor. Yet, until this show was about ready to tape, he had not disclosed that to anyone. He most likely will be featured on the show. I cannot imagine how difficult it was for him to hear story after story and put this show together. I am overjoyed when I see someone making a big difference by being true and honest with themselves.

How all of this is going to impact my life, I am not sure at this moment. It is one of those life changing moments though that has helped me to see, I do not need to be silent. I do not need to live in fear of what my abusers may or may not do to me. They’ve already taken so much from me and they have thrown me aside to find my own way in the world. From this point forward, I don’t plan on standing in the silent shadows any longer. If my abusers do not like that, then it is they that will have to get over it. I’m taking back my life. I’m claiming what is mine.

So tune in on November 5 because this episode will be one that will impact the world and will hopefully begin a new dialogue where male survivors feel empowered to reach out and heal the wounds that were inflicted upon them. May each of us that survived these horrible moments find peace, comfort and healing. May society and the world stop allowing these things to remain hidden in the dark corners of humanity.

And as I write these words, I am well acquainted with the fact that the impact of this show is hitting me hard emotionally. It has challenged me to the core and I am reconnecting with the strength I hold within myself.

Mark your calendars or set your TIVO to record the show on November 5 and November 12. Send an email and post a link on Facebook to let all your friends know about this very important show. I realize there are probably other questions that someone reading this may want to ask and know but until the show airs, I'll probably refrain a little from posting much more. Feel free to leave a question through the comment feature and what I feel I can answer at this point, I will do that for everyone to see.

Keep checking back as all of this takes place because as I connect with this show again, I'll most likely be sharing more about how it impacted me and the effects on male survivors and our world.

Other Resources: The Male Survivor Organization

(Above Picture (c) 10/28/10)

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