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Be Silent No Longer

Introduction

The first thing you must understand is that you were not responsible for the abuse that was perpetrated upon you. Your self-defeating thought and behavior patterns stem from your sexual abuse. If you are to maximize your potential, the shame and secrecy of abuse must be destroyed. Be Silent No Longer can help you, but you must take the first step by breaking the silence and isolation that guards your secrets.

When I was a boy I wanted to hear men speak openly about sexual abuse with courage and without shame; men that would destroy the myths of my existence and the lies of my perpetrators. You deserve nothing less. You do not have to suffer in silence any longer. You are not alone in your pain and you can heal.

Be Silent No Longer isn't about how to recover from abuse. You may have done the work necessary to find relief from your immediate pain, but healing can only occur when you give your secrets the voice they deserve. If you become overwhelmed with feelings while reading this, take a break.

What you are about to read are some of the commonly asked questions boys have about sexual abuse. Remember, you are unique and your experiences and feelings may be very different from what you read here. It is very important that you understand this when reading the following material.

Regardless of your age you have something of great value to share and that is your experience, strength and hope. For whatever reasons, you absolutely refused to surrender and you chose life. You may not agree with some of the answers and that's OK too. I encourage you to seek the answers which honor your truth.

Finally, I want you to know that when you break your silence you will become the man you were intended to be.

Fred Tolson


Following Are Some Of The Commonly
Asked Questions Boys Have About Sexual Abuse...


But My Story Is Different
Why Is It So Hard To Talk About?
How Can I Get Help When I am To Scared Or Embarrassed To Ask?
What If I Hurt Someone?
Am I Gay?
Sometimes It Felt Good
Forgiveness
Helping Each Other
Is Healing Really Possible?
On Being A Man
For Guys Of All Ages

But My Story Is Different

Suppose you were standing on a railroad track and a train came along and hit you. The moment the locomotive struck you it wouldn't make any difference how many box cars ran over you too because you're already dead. In other words if you were molested once you were profoundly wounded. If someone touched you and it frightened you, you were abused. That it wasn't safe to tell anyone about what happened or that your feelings were minimized or ignored proves it.

It has been said there are as many ways to abuse someone as there are victims. In other words no two stories are the same or two victims who are affected in the same way. You are unique, but you do share many feelings in common with other survivors. i.e., anger, grief, isolation, silence, and betrayal are just a few. When you break your silence, you will discover many other things in common with guys who have been sexually abused.

Why Is It So Hard To Talk About?

Shame, fear, distrust and embarrassment are just some of the feelings you may experience when you think about your secrets. Who would believe you? Who could you trust? People might think you're a freak or that you were responsible for what happened to you. The older you become the harder you struggle to forget the past or pretend that it didn't matter. Sometimes you may forget for a while, but it is your constant companion. Some of you will use alcohol and/or drugs to numb your feelings while others may use denial, anger or self-destructive behaviors. Most of you use silence and isolation to guard your secrets.

Why is it so hard to talk about? Because you never talk about your secrets and because you don't, you deny others the benefit of your strength and courage. You may believe that you weren't the only boy who was ever abused, but emotionally it feels like you were. You may wait for years to hear a man or another boy talk about being sexually abused. This would give you permission to talk about your secrets or so you believed.

When you read about other survivors, you might feel tremendous relief. Now you know you aren't alone. It happened to others. They were sharing their stories and you could relate to them. Even though you believed them and admired their courage and strength, you were still frightened. What you didn't know were that many of these men had spent a long time in recovery before they could speak publicly about their abuse. You judged yourself by their accomplishments and this isn't fair to you. You deserve to have champions and guides, but it will be difficult to find them until you break your silence.

Be gentle with yourself. Every day, more of us are coming forward to break the silence. Most of us will need help and support to accomplish this and so will you. There are people and places that are safe and supportive. You will have to risk finding them, but it will be worth it. The first step is to break the silence that guards your secrets.

It is unlikely that the person(s) who hurt you will ever be completely honest about their behavior. They will attempt to put the responsibility for their behavior on you by lying about your behavior and feelings. When confronted, most sexual perpetrators deny molesting anyone. Expect your abuser to deny your secret, but don't let this keep you from speaking out.

How Can I Get Help When I am To Scared Or Embarrassed To Ask?

Your courage and creativity have brought you this far and it can take you the rest of the way. You can do it because you are a courageous survivor. Safe and supportive people can help you, but you must take the first step!

M.A.L.E. has reached thousands of survivors with the message they are not alone in their experience and that healing is possible. Sexual abuse is not about its' victims, it's about what happened to them. You are not different, but others have made you feel that way. You were not responsible for what happened to you, but you are responsible to give your secrets the voice they deserve. I was scared and embarrassed too. I am asking you to do something that others should have done for you. Because they didn't you must help yourself by reaching out to those who do care. Once there were two dogs who fought all the time. One was named Shame and the other Courage. When the owner of these dogs was asked who won the most fights he replied, "The one I feed." Which one do you feed?

The person who hurt you has probably hurt others as well. They must be stopped! Tell someone, anyone what happened to you. It doesn't make any difference whom you tell, keep telling until someone hears you and stops the abuse.

What If I Hurt Someone

If you are hurting someone now or feel the urge to hurt someone. Stop! There are never any excuses for abusing anyone. Never. Ever. Get help and counseling immediately.

Many survivors have reported at least one incident of sexually abusing someone as a child. While most survivors do not become sex offenders as adults many abuse themselves and others as a result of keeping their secrets. Your abuse profoundly hurt you, but your silence will hurt others.

Am I Gay?

When an adult forces, threatens or seduces you to commit sexual acts it doesn't mean you're gay. Even if you helped him do it. Whether you're gay or straight it doesn't make any difference. When you were being abused you didn't have a choice. That you didn't fight or yell or run away never means you wanted it, enjoyed it or that you're gay.

A normal part of adolescence is questioning who I am, where I fit in, am I normal, are my sexual feelings normal. Frequently when a person has been sexually abused he turns these normal thoughts into those thoughts which occur because of sexual abuse; I must be abnormal, I must be gay, etc. Lastly, being sexually abused by a male does not make you gay. Sexual abuse is about a misuse of power; it's not about sex.

Sometimes It Felt Good

Your body is designed to respond to physical stimulus whether you want it to or not. If you ejaculated, had an erection or felt powerful feelings of arousal, this is normal. How is it possible to feel so frightened, experience tremendous physical pain and become aroused too? Because you cannot control your body's natural responses to sexual stimulus. If you think that because you experienced pleasure you must have wanted it or that if it felt good it wasn't abusive you're wrong. It was abusive and you did nothing to deserve it. Your body's natural responses were betrayed by someone who used you for their gratification and needs. Perhaps this story will help you understand.

It's a really hot day outside and you have been working hard mowing the grass. Your neighbor gives you an ice cold glass of lemonade to help you combat the heat. Feel the chill of the glass in your hand when you take it from him. Notice the water beneath your fingers from the condensation on the glass? As you lift it to your mouth there is a faint wisp of cold air against your nose. You begin to drink and your throat constricts in shock from the sudden cold. Remember when you drank so fast your chest would hurt, but you wouldn't stop drinking because it tasted so sweet and felt so refreshing. Even though your teeth hurt, your chest was exploding and you were holding your breath you kept swallowing great gulps. When someone is sexually fondling you, it may be physically painful and you may be scared and angry, but you cannot keep your body from responding.

Forgiveness

The only person you need to forgive is yourself. As for others you will find the right answer for you after you have traveled down the road to recovery. I only need to give forgiveness that benefits me. You will find the right answer for you when you honor your wounded child.

Helping Each Other

In my healing journey I have been privileged to be a member of two different support groups for courageous young survivors. I want to share some of my experiences with the first group to show how men and boys help each other heal.

Tonight was the first time that these adolescent boys would meet and hear adult men who, like themselves, were survivors of childhood sexual abuse. We had agreed to meet with these kids to try to help them by sharing our secrets with them. My agenda was to help them escape the life that I knew was waiting for some of them if they did not deal with their abuse. What I did not expect was their contribution to my healing.

It was the eyes that peered from faces masked with indifference and fear that gave them away. They were frightened of what they might hear or worse yet, feel. As I sat there I debated with myself whether to edit my story and I decided that the truth, with all of its ugliness, was the only thing that might break through the denial that filled the room. So, I went on to speak to the fear, shame and isolation that all of us had tried to protect ourselves and our secrets with. Afterward, several of the kids came up to me and asked how I could have said some of the things that I did. They could not believe that men could talk about their abuse. While hearing about our experiences caused some to re-experience their shame nevertheless these boys wanted to hear more, and say more.

The boys gathered around us needed what we needed at their age. They needed to hear our voice. They needed to hear us break the rules, i.e., talk about what happened to us. In the coming weeks as they began sharing more about what had happened to them, we tried to give them the acceptance, understanding and quiet strength that we were denied. I realized that in caring about these kids, I was beginning to care about my kid too. They were teaching me that, like them, my adolescent child was scared, silent and full of shame.

The compassion that I felt for these kids was spilling over into my life. I began to understand how difficult it was for my adolescent child to take care of himself. Thus begun the healing of years of unjustified anger I victimized myself with by holding myself accountable for what I perceived was my failure to champion and protect myself. I strongly believe that survivors, regardless of our age, can help each other. I have wondered what might have happened if I could have had the opportunity to talk to a man who believed me, supported me and loved me. However, without the courage and strength of these young men, our efforts would not have been possible.

Is Healing Really Possible?

Yes, but you must want it not need it. The truth is that not every boy or man will recover. Some will succumb to the pain and others will go on to the end guarding their secrets. However, most of you can and will heal from your abuse. It is not easy and sometimes it may feel very painful. It won't happen in a month or a year and the journey may last a lifetime. The good news is that you will begin to feel better sooner than later. The crisis may last for a while, but there will be good days too.

You do not have to make this journey by yourself, but you must do the work. You will have to give your secrets the voice they deserve and honor your feelings when they arise. If this all seems unfair, it is. Sometimes it feels like being abused again, but this time you are in charge. If it becomes overwhelming you can take a break. While you are in control of your healing you must keep upping the ante for yourself.

On Being A Man

Whether you're 9 or 12 or 20 years-old you are becoming a man. Being a man is a process of growth and maturity that lasts until we die. When we are abused our beliefs, values and perceptions can become confusing to us.

How do real men walk? Cross their legs? Talk? Feel? Dress? Do real men always fight back or cry if they are hurt? Can real men always protect themselves? Some of you didn't have men in your lives whom you could ask about these things. This is especially true if your perpetrator was a man. Men who hurt you taught you that you could not trust men and to be afraid of men. Did you know that men who were not abused struggle with the answers to these questions too?

The tragedy of abuse is that it steals your authentic self and replaces it with the lies of your perpetrator's behavior. Your authentic self is buried beneath your shame, fear, confusion, anger and hurt. You did this in an attempt to protect yourself from the terrible reality of your abuse. Unfortunately, it worked too well. Until you break the silence around your secrets and heal your pain and trauma, you can never become the man you were intended to be.

For Guys Of All Ages

If you are reading this chances are someone has hurt you. Your abuse is not about you, it's about what happened to you. You did nothing to deserve it and it wasn't your fault. Look at any playground full of children. Of the boys on that playground, possibly as many as one out of every four will be molested or abused before he is grown. Unfortunately, in cases where males are caught in a tragedy not of their own making, understanding becomes misunderstanding in a culture which values assertiveness, pride, strength, and denial as qualities of manliness. Men and boys simply are not allowed to admit that they are victims!

That men have been socialized from an early age to not be vulnerable, as well as society's attitude about men as victims, often prohibits openness about childhood sexual abuse. Boys want to tell, but they are often afraid they will not be believed or protected. The boy's view of an adult as an authority figure can make it much more likely that he can be threatened bribed or manipulated into following adult orders.

Boys rarely tell about their sexual abuse because they are frightened and are told not to tell by the offender. Most offenders are not strangers - 85% of the offenders are known to the child. Child sexual abuse most often happens in the home - the victim's or the offender's - and cuts across all social, economic, religious and ethnic lines. You are not alone in your experience and healing is possible.