Friday, 5 October 2012

Survivors have an obligation to speak up

Standing up and saying to the world "I was abused' is hard. It is even harder if you are a man and even harder than that if you were sexually abused. No one knows that quite as well as those of us who have been there.

I reached the point of being able to say "I was abused" in my early twenties. Being able to talk about it was liberating, and very helpful in helping me process what had happened. But I have never been comfortable with telling people "I was sexually abused". There is always that little voice in my head that says what will people think? Will they suspect me of being a sexual predator? Will they still trust me around their kids?

About a year or more ago I realised that in refusing to be specific about the type of abuse I suffered, I am guilty of fuelling that stigma. By refusing to be completely honest, I am re-affirming to others that being a sexual abuse survivor is something to be ashamed of, something to hide, something that should not be spoken about. And by affirming this stigma, I am failing to use an opportunity to encourage boys and men to speak up and get the help they so desperately need.

With this in mind, I am starting to believe that as a survivor who have arguably progressed further than many others in my healing journey, I have an obligation to stand up and say "I am a survivor of sexual abuse". I should be offering myself as living proof that the stigmas are unfounded, just as I have been testifying for years that there is life after addiction.

Even as I am typing this, I am thinking about the effort I made to keep this blog anonymous. Isn't preaching about speaking up while staying anonymous a bit hypocritical? And yet, I shiver at the thought of having everyone in my life know my history...

I don't know if I could do it.

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