A Canadian controversy

by morrisamb 17 Replies latest watchtower child-abuse

  • Big Tex
    Big Tex

    Thanks LL for the heads up about this thread. It's quite interesting.

    Not to split hairs, but perhaps what Matthews' main difficulty here is that he isn't allowing himself to "get it". By that I mean his column is written in an emotionally detached fashion. This is common for abuse victims, particularly males, as a means of coping.

    Donald I remember when I read "Father's Touch" and how much I identified with you when you were detached (Superman as you called yourself). I was the same way until I literally broke down emotionally and physically. I was determined to perform, to go to work, be a good husband, etc. and screw how I felt inside.

    I think sexual abuse affects men and women differently. Oh certainly there are many commonalities and by no means am I suggesting that men are affected worse or react more badly. Let me speak in broad generalizations for a moment (which is always dangerous as there are always exceptions.) I have noticed that one coping mechanism men often use is to completely suppress any and all emotion regarding the experience. Men tend to "suck it up and be a man". Some of that might be society's expectations of what a man is "supposed" to be (strong, brave, etc.) but some of it is our own expectations and reactions.

    Consider for a moment: at the heart of sexual abuse is the knowledge that one's body is being used against your will by someone bigger and stronger. A victim, male or female, will feel frightened, angry and even ashamed about the experience. Part of recovery is purging those emotions out (often by re-experiencing them in order to put them where they belong). No one enjoys re-living the experience, telling another how you were used, often using graphic details. But this is where I think many male victims separate from female victims in that it is very difficult for a man to admit being completely dominated and used. Most men even if they can speak about it, will often not allow themselves to feel it. My biggest problem in therapy was how disconnected I was from my feelings. My last therapist used to chide me with "stay out of your head".

    I see a similar dynamic with this columnist. I would wager that if he read his column out loud, or spoke verbally about his abuse, his voice would be flat and his face expressionless. I would also wager that he hasn't told everything that happened to him, either because he doesn't want to talk about it, or because he won't allow himself to remember.

    I think his "no big deal" attitude is more what he tells himself rather than any admonition to other victims. I read his column, and subsequent follow up more as his way of saying "here's what happened to me; no big deal" when inside he's hurting badly but can't (or won't) let it show. His minimizing is more about his level of shame, and his unwillingness to let himself feel than it is a commentary about others or abuse in general. In all likelihood he willl always keep those feelings deeply buried under lock and key and never realize that act of suppression creates poison and that poison affects his life. Those who do not seek help will act out often in self-destructive ways such as drinking to deaden the pain inside. He won't act out his abuse by abusing others, but he will act it out by raging at the driver who cut him off, have continual nightmares, over medicate or drink too much to relieve massive tension, find himself in one bad relationship after another and so on.

    By the way, as an observation, I find it intereresting that he had 3 separate incidents at various points in his life. I can't help but wonder how much that says about his family and how little survival tools he received. I really think he's been through more than he says publically or perhaps even to himself.


  • Lady Lee
    Lady Lee

    Thanks Chris

    As I was reading your post some questions finally hit me (my excuse is that it was late and I was too tired to think this more fully:

    • What happenes to a man's sexual identity when he has been sexually abused by three men.
    • How will the fact that men found him sexually obtainable affect his ability to relate to others sexually later on?
    • How will it affect his view of himself sexually re: orientation, and behaviors?
    • How will this get acted out in his adult life?

    Mike Lew addresses all these issues (and many more) in his book Victims No Longer.

  • Big Tex
    Big Tex

    That's a brilliant book LL. To my knowledge, I believe that was the first major published work at specifically at male victims. It really helped me back in the late 80's.

    See I think that's another issue male victims deal with is the struggle with same-sex abuse. Again, this is broad generalities and I know there are many exceptions (and I do not want to sound homophobic in any way). But sexual orientation is a big deal with male victims not only if the abuse was same-sex but the fact that often male victims are stimulated (sometimes to the point of orgasm). So it brings up these whole set of issues. I am friends with a man who was abused by his brother from pre-school till adulthood and he believes he is now gay (or at least attracted to men) because of that abuse. Personally I don't know but I suppose it's possible.

    And since human behavior is somewhat complex, the coping mechanisms are not the same, i.e. promiscuity/continued infidelity, drugs/alcohol, anger management problems, etc.

  • Lady Lee
    Lady Lee

    Lew's book came out in 1988

    Two other books aimed specifically towards male victims are:

    • Male Survivors by Timothy L. Sanders 1991
    • Broken Boys, Mending Men by Stephen D. Grubman-Black 1990

    Another issue would be how does a man hold a belief in his own personal power when he acknowledges that it was taken away 3 times. Perhaps his attitude of accepting the blame is his way to ignore that it he didn't have power in those situations.

    I feel far more sad for this man that I feel angry. I can certainly understand the anger of other victims though. One made a great point:

    "If you cannot support the victims in your column, for God's sake, do NOT give the perverts and pedophiles fodder for their sick and demented views."

    morrislamb stated in his letter:

    I must tell you that more than one of my acquaintances told me that the column you wrote would inspire and be pinned up to a bulletin board by peodophiles.


    Thank you so much for bringing this here. I think this is an extremely important issue for many people to understand. Whether it happened once or many times, whether it was fondling or fullout rape is still leaves a huge scar on a person's psyche. Much bigger than Mr. Hughes supects.

  • Big Tex
    Big Tex

    Yeah I think that's fair LL. I mean I don't go around with a big "V" for victim sewn on to my shirt. I don't think about it all the time either. Having said that, the abuse I suffered (coincidently at 3 and 4 as with this columnist) was a major factor in my life. It doesn't define who I am, but how I reacted to it, survived and conquered it does go a long way toward it.

    I think the crucial mistake he makes with his original column is striking the wrong tone. It's one thing for him to take the attitude toward himself it's quite another for him to project that on to others. Nearly every victim was told at some point that 'it's no big deal' so that phrase is a kind of trigger for many people.


  • morrisamb

    Chris and Lady Lee...great dialogue going here. I reacted swiftly to his column for good reason. He is a regular columnist for a major newspaper chain. I don't, but I know a lot of people put a lot of weight into what someone of that stature writes. My concern was that it would be taken as "the word on" instead of just one person's take on the subject. My other concern was as we've discussed. Just because someone believes they are "okay" and "over it" doesn't make it so. I have often found such a person the candidate that most likely needs a visit with a counsellor.

  • Lady Lee
    Lady Lee
    I have often found such a person the candidate that most likely needs a visit with a counsellor.

    me too.

    I thought your responses were excellent and most definitely needed to be said.

    People with some degree of status are often looked up to. especially on issues that most people (non-abused) know little about.

    What I find very damaging (aside from how abusers would use his statement) is that it seems to declare that the reaction that many people have to abuse is of their own making and that perhaps they should just get over it.

  • Big Tex
    Big Tex
    I thought your responses were excellent and most definitely needed to be said.

    Absolutely Donald. Spot on.

    Although I think we're past the he/she was asking for it mindset, I think his wording and tone was poor and probably attritubable to his own issues. Having said that, I think a couple of the emails he posted were way out of bounds. I wouldn't wish that anyone had been more traumatically abused in the hopes they would somehow "understand" more.

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