Dear abuse victims,
I’m calling out to you from the very depths of my heart and my soul. It’s the very same soul that was stolen from me by a selfish and vicious abuser. While attacking my soul, he robbed me of my innocence and sense of safety in this world. He stifled my voice and depleted my inner core. He denied the child in me any sense of self worth and sent me on a life long journey trying to regain a sense of being, that requires little or no effort for most people.
With each attack he took away more and more from me and by the time he was done, after five years of abuse, I was depleted of any self esteem, hope and positive feelings about my life. In place of that, he injected me with awful feelings of shame and guilt, amongst a host of many other negative emotions and feelings about myself. The result of these heinous acts on my body and soul left me with a deep dark and heavy void; a void so deep that no matter what I put inside, it wouldn’t fill up. In this dark abyss, I struggled to cope with endless nightmares, triggers and flashbacks. The result of this all, was that I became a shadow of my former self, and this empty person became filled with severe anxiety, depression and PTSD.
To each and every victim that sees this, know that I know and feel the pain that you are in. I know the sleepless nights. I know the foggy days after those heavy and vivid nightmares. I know of the migraines that come as a result of them. I know the immobilizing depression. I know the feeling of trying to live one hour at a time. I know the feeling that life is just not worth living. I know the temptation of giving up.
However, I’m here to tell you that after many years of hard and emotionally draining work, I bought my stolen soul back. I’m buying back my belief that this world is a safe place. I’m regaining my voice and my sense of self. I’m beginning to feel that I am indeed deserving of love and care. I can finally say, “I am worthy.”
I’m not going to pretend to you or myself that I’m fully healed. I don’t know if it’s even possible to completely heal from emotional and sexual abuse. However, I feel the undeniable senses of new and healthy feelings and behaviors; goals that I never believed were attainable. I never thought I’ll see the light of day. My days were so dark and heavy that there was simply no room for any light to pierce through. Slowly but surely as time goes on, my world is become lighter and brighter.
To my fellow victims, I want you to know, that the only way that I was able to make that transition from being a victim to becoming a survivor was through years of therapy. Equally important was the support that I’ve received from others who “get it”. It was this support that helped me and continues to help me get through the really rough days. It’s almost impossible to go through those dark times alone.
As I speak to you directly from my broken heart to your broken hearts, I beg you not to allow yourselves to suffer alone. You don’t need to fight this enormous battle without the help of your fellow comrades. What you have been through is above and beyond what most other people can ever imagine. I have been through it and I know that there is no way you can heal your body and soul by keeping it secret and buried.
Believe me, I know the shame and guilt that’s preventing you from coming out and seeking the help that you so badly need and deserve. I’ve kept my secrets for many long and excruciating years. These are secrets that are too heavy to carry. The shame and guilt that your abuser transferred to you, belongs to him. He is the one that deserves to feel shame and guilt. Yet, in his sick and selfish way, he managed to fill you up with all these negative feelings that he was supposed to have about himself.
I also know the stigma that’s attached to men seeking help for emotional pain or trauma from abuse. I’m a man and the stigma for men is so much more profound. It goes against the whole nature of the way men are presented in the world. We are supposed to be tough and not show our innermost struggles and vulnerabilities.
However, to that I must say. There is no greater power than facing your abuse and trauma head on and dealing with it through therapy and support. The strength that it takes to open up each and every memory in therapy is enormous. I’ve had therapy sessions in which I’ve left the office sweating from the intensity of the session. If that doesn’t define strength, then I don’t know what does. The work of healing necessitates real power and strength. It’s a strength that most men don’t even own.
Let’s stop the stigma. Let’s stop this absurd idea that men are too strong to suffer. None of us asked for this challenge. You have been traumatized enough by fear, don’t let fear cripple you further by preventing your recovery. I am pleading with you, with tears in my eyes, to reach out and to seek out the help that you so badly deserve. Please stand strong and stand proud that you’ve made it through your abuse and now it’s time to heal.
I still have quite a distance to go to get to the finish line, but at least I’m on the way there. Please join me in my journey and when we get to the finish line, we will all rejoice together that we’ve been through hell and came out stronger and better. We will show our abusers that no matter how much they tried to crush us, we made it to the end of our journey. The only way to join the race for recovery and healing is to remove the masks and start running. Let’s remove the mask of stigma. Let’s remove that mask of the foolish belief that men are not allowed to suffer. Please, please come and join me in this race to living again, I will be here waiting for you!