“I just want to hear that it wasn’t my fault and that it wasn’t my responsibility to make it stop.” A male survivor posted that on Male Survivors from Sexual Abuse (a Facebook support page – and it just got me angry . . .
Well, not angry so much as just frustrated! How well I know that “shame/blame” game we play with ourselves; who is blaming who; who is condemning a small child. For that is what we were – a small child back then; a boy who needed some love, a boy who had found his life a confusing whirl of events, and some of them abusive.
Here’s what I told them, best as I could:
“It wasn’t your fault and it wasn’t your responsibility to make that decision to stop. I know; I was a ‘groomed’ kid. Had a lot of problems with that until I realized – the shame should start and stop with HIM (or her). Like a shrink told *me*: if a child asks, an adult should say NO. All the time. The shame is on them for either going along with it or encouraging you to do so. Not for you. For us it was a trade-off: sex for something that was like love. We didn’t know the difference, but we NEEDED it – some love, that is. Did the best we could; not our fault someone took advantage of a small child. They should have said “no” and gave you a hug and left it at that. Shame on them – and blame on them. Not yourself anymore. Wish I could help.
PS: I think this is one of the hardest issues we face. The shame/blame game. Put it on them, not you. Every way you can.”
It was the best that I could do. How do I go about explaining this one: shifting the “Yoke of Shame” off of your own shoulders (or the inner child’s ones) to where it really belongs – onto the back of the abuser. Sure – you might have ‘made a choice’ in your child’s mind at the time: whether to take something that resembled ‘affection’ (and who’s to say it’s not? Sex is the ultimate expression of ‘affection’, if you want to take ‘making love’ that way . . .) But the fact is you had a need driving that choice of yours. It might have been ignorance of what you were doing. But they should have known; they should have warned you – given you even had a choice in this thing! What would you have said (asking my inner child here) – if he had told you: “This is something that is going to make you ashamed and feel bad about yourself for the rest of your life. This is something that’s going to make you want to cut yourself, hurt yourself; making you suicidal. This is going to make you feel bad forever, years without end.” Would you have said ‘yes’ right then? Or would you have stepped back and thought about it?
And I don’t know about you – but I was a willing child; an eager one ‘to please’ sometimes; wanting that thing so bad . . . hell, it felt good sometimes. But was it my fault for wanting this thing? Or him for showing me? Or even going along with me when I sorta kinda demanded?
No, he should have said ‘no’, each and every time – no matter what I did. It’s not the “kid’s fault” – it’s the fault of the man abusing him; the fault of the man who said “yes, I’m going to do this kind of thing.”
Now – here’s the damnedable part: it seemed all quite right and normal until I grew into my later years and found out it was wrong. It wasn’t until then that the ‘shame and blame’ began – when I realized if I told people this thing about me, they would look at me kinda funny – some of them DID make fun sometimes (even him, my own abuser, in the end). Homosexuality (even among small boys) – is (or was) something to be ridiculed by one’s own peers – and quite severely perhaps! (I remember a few boys getting beaten for this kind of thing, or admission of the same.) They started making me question myself and the decisions I had made at the time.
Hell, I didn’t even know the meaning of the word ‘molest’ – not when it comes to little children – until I was in my late teens or early twenties. I knew what ‘molest’ meant: “to bother something or someone” – but as for using it in terms of a sexual sense? It had no meaning to me. (Blame my parental and social isolation, plus given the times – the late 1970’s, deep down here in the South . . .) However, when I did find out it’s “true” or other meaning; when “child molest” became a word unto its own connotation and accord (I am very picky about the English language; everything has it’s own symbols and sense to me) – then I began realizing: this is what happened to me. And I sought help on it. Not right away, of course – I was still growing up – but later, when the depression and anger kicked in . . . so much there, so much . . .
Why add the shame and the blame to the list on the growing pile (eg. “lost childhood”, “lost innocence”, “no sense of family”, “no sense of home”, and no sense of what is going on in his head sometimes – classic DID cases right here, LOLing)
Why add their (the abuser’s) burden to mine?! I’ve got enough on my own plate; I don’t need to be adding more – and if I can shift this ‘burden of abuse’ onto my abuser’s shoulders: well, then – so be it! There it goes! (bye-bye Burden! See ya in awhile!)
Because truth be told it’s THEIR fault we’ve been abused. We were not the ones doing the abusing – they were – and it’s all their fault. They should have been the ones to say no. Not only to us but themselves and their own desires, knowing the implications in the society we live in – the blame and the shame. The things they used to keep us silent.
But we’re not going to be silent for long.
Here’s to you – hats off to all survivors. You might got a long way to go, but you’re getting there with every step, even if a few are a bit behind. Ya gotta walk back to move forward sometimes, and sometimes you might not get ahead. But it can get done – given time. And I know: the words are easy, but feelings don’t come cheap. Just don’t be afraid to avoid them. And remember who you are.
You are a survivor.