Thursday, June 7, 2012

Hurt, Wounded, Broken... Shattered...

It's hurts.

It all just hurts right now.

Anyone who has been around me knows there is something up.

Patience is near non-existent. Anger and frustration are through the roof. I'm at an utter and complete loss as to how to make it better, feel better, get better, or even just feel good for a few moments.

There's just so much going on right now that I can't even begin to put words to it all.

I'm feeling cut off and isolated from everyone and everything. Feeling utterly alone. Some people who I talk to on occasion give advice but none of it helps. I know they mean well, but truly, most people just plainly do not get it.

They don't understand the huge disconnect that happens between you and rest of humanity when you're violated to the very core of soul. They can't see the huge crevasse that opens when people you're supposed to have the deepest bonds of trust with leave you hurt and violated and wounded.

So now I'm supposed to connect with people.... people who are beyond that deep trust and intimacy barrier... but the people inside that barrier are untrustworthy.... So now I'm supposed to trust those that are out there... Yeah.... even that description won't assist those who haven't a clue.

It hurts, and unless the shoe's you're wearing came from the same manufacturer as mine, you can't ever possibly begin to truly understand the nuances and intricacies of everything that goes into the insanity roiling inside me right now.

So what to do? Where to go from here?

If you figure it out, let me know.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Sexual Assault Awareness Month


April is sexual assault awareness month. It’s also child abuse prevention month. With recent news, not just here in PA, but nationwide, being filled with stories about abused and exploited children, I wanted to spend a few minutes to raise awareness to the epidemic issue of childhood sexual abuse.

Current statistics state that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually victimized by the time they turn 18. This means that nearly 25% percent of the American population have been directly affected. Sadly though, most professionals admit that those numbers are low, because we know that fewer actually ever report the abuse. It’s estimated that only 1 in 3 ever tell anyone, and even fewer male individuals ever tell. The average age of men when they tell someone about past abuse for the first time is mid-thirties.

Sadly there are many myths surrounding sexual abuse and even sadder is that many of these myths are the exact things that keep people from telling in the first place

One of the biggest is the Vampire Myth. The idea that if someone is abused, they will go on to abuse someone else. While Hollywood and TV play into this myth on some popular shows, such as CSI, and suggest that 30% of boys who are abused will go on to abuse, studies that have been done show that this number is actually somewhere between 2 and 10%. 

Another myth is the “stranger danger” myth. The idea that all or most abuse is carried out by scary men in trench coats with vans who tell children stories of lost puppies or free candy. The reality is that most cases of abuse are actually by someone the child knows personally and trusts. The biggest percentage of that is actually the child’s own parents, then grand-parents, then other immediately family members, then extended family. From there in lessening percentages people from the community that the family and usually the community trusts as well. Statistics show that in only about 10% of the cases is a stranger responsible for sexually assaulting a child. 

Another Myth? Only men abuse and only girls are victims. The reality is, perpetrators of sexual abuse can be male or female, come from all ethnic groups, orientations, economic, and social classes. As such all children, regardless of gender or race, or other factors are equally at risk for abuse.

Children who are sexually abused commonly deal with Anxiety, PTSD, Depression, Dissociation, Eating Disorders, Self-Blame, Self-Harm, Substance Abuse, and Suicidal thoughts. This list is not exhaustive. Statistics also show that adult survivors of abuse are more likely to be involved in crime and  twice as likely to be arrested for violent offenses. Many struggle with inter-personal relationships and even the divorce rate is higher when a survivor of sexual abuse is involved.

The effects of abuse last a lifetime and effect not just the individual, but all those around them. This isn’t a problem for those who are abused to deal with, but a problem that every individual in society should be taking an active role in solving!

So what can be done?  Educate yourself.

  • Read up on the statistics, effects, and warning signs of abuse. Knowledge really is power and the more you know, the better of you and potentially children in your life will be.
  • Find out the do ‘s and don’ts of responding to someone who may share with you that they were sexually abused or assaulted. Many victims of abuse will tell you that the response they received from those they told was far more damaging than even the abuse itself.
  • Prepare to respond. Many adults freeze in the face of suspected sexual abuse. It literally is a make or break moment, because far too often the adult decides a myriad of reasons why not to report suspected abuse rather than protecting a child. Protecting the child should always be priority and as such, figure out what to do if you suspect abuse before the time arrives, so that in the moment, you can do the right thing and spare a child years of abuse.

Below is a list of sites that will help with the learning and education process and some that offer support for those that have experienced abuse and assault.

Advocacy & Education:
National Children’s Alliance: www.nationalchildrensalliance.org

Awareness:
Darkness to Light: www.d2l.org
1 in 6: www.1in6.org
Several extremely informative articles written by Survivor and Activist Robert Brown.

Victim Advocacy & Support:
Pandora’s Aquarium: www.pandys.org
Male Survivor: www.malesurvivor.org
After Silence: www.aftersilence.org
National Sexual Assault Hotline: 800-799-4889
 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Sexual Abuse is not a "Penn State" thing....

In the wake of what some are mistakenly calling a "Sex Scandal", I've posted a few things here and there and would like to share them with you.

First though, I want to explain why the Penn State thing isn't a "Sex Scandal". A Sex Scandal is what happens say.... between Clinton and Monika. Between people who are consenting age who shouldn't be having sex...

The deal with Penn State is a Child Rape Scandal. But the truth is, people are far too uncomfortable with that, so we gotta somehow make it sound "OK". Hence it's a "Sex Scandal". Most people out there would rather hide from bring uncomfortable than save a child from being raped. Sad, but true. This is the America we live in.

I sent a letter to the editor of my local paper. They did actually print it!!! Although, the paper decided one sentence wasn't allowable in our free speech nation, that being: America is just not a safe environment in which to tell for most men.

Apparently saying such things isn't acceptable..... Although any male survivor of sexual abuse or assault will tell you, it's 100% the utter truth... but people don't want to see truth... it's uncomfortable.... (let's not even mention that fact that being a child and being raped by an adult, male or female, is utterly beyond uncomfortable).

Here's my letter (UN-edited):
As a man and a survivor of 9 years of sexual abuse as a child, the recent news about Penn State, has affected me deeply. Shock, Outrage, Anger, Heartbreak, Fear, Anxiety, are all words that describe what I've been feeling, but they only scratch the surface of the utter turmoil hidden inside me.

I can only hope that people will put the focus where it belongs, not on a college or a game or even those who acted or failed to act, but on the victims and their need for support. One of the biggest fears most male victims of sexual abuse face is not being believed, and sadly, in our society, more times than not, they are either not believed, or they're ostracized and made fun of.

It took HUGE amounts of courage for one young man to break his silence and the shame that bound him, in order to report what was happening. More courage than I ever has as a child, as I never told anyone. Sadly most men never tell, never get help. America is just not a safe environment in which to tell for most men. Our masculinity is questioned. We're viewed as weak. We're relegated to the unwanted and worthless of society.

Yet that perception is horribly wrong. The truth is, we're strong. We've endured more pain and horror and fear than most people will ever have to face, and we've survived. We put a smile on our face and go to work, and try to pretend that nothing ever happened.

I'm proud of the progress and healing I've made. I'm proud to be part of a ministry that helps to bring healing to victims of abuse of all types, all around the world. I've had good support from my wife and many others, and that is exactly what victims of abuse need, support. The more support they get, the faster they can move forward in their own recovery.

My heart breaks for the wounded and abused. Please, put the focus where it belongs. Stand for those who have been hurt and offer help in any way you can.

I also posted a letter to the victims on MaleSurvivor.org. Here's that letter:
My heart breaks for you. I know your pain and fear. I'm sorry you have to feel what I feel and know what I know. I'm sorry people want to blame you rather than those who are guilty.

Please hear me when I say that none of this is your fault. You are not to blame. Those that hurt you, those that failed to protect you, the fault is theirs and the blame belongs to them alone.

I know you are overwhelmed with fear and shame. I'm overwhelmed with it all right now too. It hurts to hear how people's selfish and ignorant reactions are piling more pain on you. I wish I could save you from it all. I wish I could make it all better. I really do.

Please know that healing is possible. It might seem an impossibility right now and it might seem to be the blackest of nights with no light to be seen, but I've been in that place, the dawn is coming, the light is going to arrive. You will heal, you are worth the effort to heal, but yes, I know it hurts.

Know that you are not alone. Many fellow survivors, myself included, stand with you. We believe you. We hear you. We'll be there for you in any way that we can.

Anyway. At the end of the day, this situation isn't about Penn State or Football. It's not even about Sandusky or Paterno or McQuery...

At the end of the day, this really should be all about the victims, yes, the victims of Sandusky, but also the 25+ percent of our American population who have been sexually abused as children.

Awareness needs to be raised. I fear most people would rather go back to football... it's far more comfortable.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Square Peg.... Round World

While writing an email last night, I put a phrase of description to myself, about how I see myself.

That phrase being that I'm a Square Peg in a world of Round Holes.

Plainly, I just don't fit or belong. I'm different and outside the "norm".

I put lots of thought into this as I went to bed and laid awake for a length of time.

I don't fit the typical "view" of what it means to be a man. I'm not tough. I'm not strong. I'm not powerful. I'm not a jock. I'm not into camping, or hunting, or sports, or cars, or body building, or nascar, or tools, or outdoorsy stuff, or.... just about anything people consider "masculine". I rarely relate to other men at all. I stand around and listen to them talk about all the "manly" stuff and I just listen, because really, I have nothing to add. Oh it's not that I don't know a thing or two about the above topics, but frankly, I just don't care.

Who cares what jimbugga baggaman ran 830gazzillion yards to score the most amazing touchdown that was preceded by an equally amazing pass by super awesome QB Zippy Passaman!

Frankly most american sports just annoy me. It's more about money and glamor than the game and maybe that's how it's supposed to be, but frankly I have far better things to do than sit in front of the boob tube to watch some people play a game for money and get far more exercise in that time period that probably all the viewers combined get in a whole year!

That's pretty much how I feel about all those above items that are typically used to define a man. I look at em and I'm just not into them and really don't care about them at all!

I just don't fit in with the "normal" masculine crowd. Yet I'll assert to you that I'm a man. Frankly (and you can call me an arrogant SOB if you want) but in some ways I think I'm more a man than those who try to use all those things to define their man hood!

Why??? Simple, all those things aren't "manly". Sure, they're associated with "manhood", but the reality is, I know lots of women who enjoy those things to. Using said things to define you or decide if your a man or not really is stupid. What if all the women of the world suddenly decided to make those things womanly things? Where would that leave men who have used such things to define their status of manhood???

Yes, I'm isolated and on the outside. I don't fit with the rest of the group. Yes, it's horribly lonely at times. Frankly, it sucks, but it is something I can't change. I've had a few people suggest that I should "tag along" and involve myself with said things so that I can be with other men and be part of the group..... how utterly asinine is that? Pretend to be into something I'm not and pretend to be someone I'm not, so that I can "fit in"..... I don't think so. I'll be me and if that means I don't fit and as such you don't like me? Well screw you then, as you surely aren't someone I have any interest in hanging with anyway.



Did I mention it's lonely? Sometimes I'm proud that I'm not just like every other wannabe out there.... other times I'm tired of being out there on my own.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Broken....

I've been feeling really off lately...

Only words I can think to describe what I'm feeling right now are: broken, wounded, lonely, anxious, dis-jointed, out of sorts, hazy, distant, and quite a few other things I can't come up with words to described.

When I'm in this place it has all sorts of external effects. For one, I stay up later and bury my head in books, video games, movies, tv shows, you name it, anything to take my mind elsewhere so I'm not thinking about how I'm feeling.

To be completely real and honest, if I stay with it, and don't do anything to get away from it, I just want to sit and cry. It hurts.

Society would tell me to suck and deal with it or get over it, but one thing I've realized is that the very same people who would say such, are usually feeling equally as bad if not worse on the inside and they too are just covering it up, and trying to ignore or pretend it isn't there.

When did we get so far away from not only acknowledging what we feel, but from being willing to share it with others?

As Christians God tells us to weep with those who are weeping and rejoice with those who are rejoicing. So.... how can we weep with those who are weeping if we just hide it all inside? When and why did we all decide that we need to put on the facade of "I'm a Christian so all of life is a grand party"? We certainly shouldn't ever get that idea from the Bible! We see clearly case after case of God's people hurting, and I don't ever recall God condemning His people for mourning and weeping! Like I said, He was the one to tell us to weep and hurt with those who are hurting!

So that's what I'm feeling at this very moment. Sadly though, all those words and yet none of those words truly describe what I'm feeling!

Maybe someone out there can come up with a word for everything I have going on inside... maybe no one can.

If you can or can't, it doesn't matter... will you at least sit and weep with me? I just need to feel someone close to me right now.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

They say you should write....

So here I am.

I've known for awhile now that I need to start writing out my thoughts and feelings and such, but finding that time is difficult when you work all day and have a family waiting for you when you get home.

I've done it in the past and actually enjoy it. There is just something... surreal if you will in the physical act of actually writing out your thoughts and feelings. I don't mean like I'm doing now.... typing... but actually physically writing. With a pen... I know it's quickly becoming a dieing art and I've even heard some schools are spending more time on typing classes than on penmanship. Go figure.

Anyway, I almost feel this sense of peace as I physically write. I even feel creative and artsy if you will. Granted not when I'm just using any pen. Ball points just don't cut it. It's gotta be a pen that uses real ink. The kind that stains the paper and bleeds through to the other side if you hold your stroke a little too long. Something with a fine fine point on it. It just feels like that ink leaving the pen is a release of the pain in my own heart and soul. Strange perhaps, but this is how I feel.

I thought about laying out some... soliloquy or diatribe all about me and my life and all those details etc to bring you up to this very moment of my life, but then... this isn't all about you. It's really not even all about me. So I'll just write, and if I keep coming back here and adding to it, and anyone keeps reading it, over time, you'll have a better picture of me and who I am, and the cause of the weight of pain and woundedness in my heart and soul.

Right now, in this moment, my heart aches for my dad. I miss him so very much. It's weird though. I can't even say we were close. There was always a distance between us, and like my wife says, he was 90 and had cancer, so you know the day was coming, but nothing, absolutely nothing can really prepare you for it. Not when he's still mentally aware and sharp as ever. I know for some people, when their loved ones have Alzheimer's it's a relief because they've already mourned the loss of their loved one, because truly the person they know and loved was gone a long time ago. But for me, my father is the man I always knew him to be.

My father was a brilliant man. I mean truly brilliant. Intelligence seems to be getting rarer and rarer these days, but my father was truly one of the most intelligent people I've ever known. He invented things. Things that are still used today. Ok granted, most of you out there don't ever come in contact with the things he created, but if you are into music... if you have an expensive amplifier, not the electronic kind, but the kind with the very best sound, the ones that still use vacuum tubes... you very likely have a piece of technology that my father created. We still have all the patent documents for all the various vacuum tubes he created while working for RCA and Westinghouse. Not only that, but my father was part of the team that created the radar systems the US Military employed at pearl harbor.

Man do I miss him. My heart utterly aches at his loss. There were times though that I was so angry with him. Angry because we weren't close. Angry because he didn't teach me the things he knew. He didn't teach me about electronics, although I watched him many times tinkering with things and soldering things and repairing things that most people tell you to just throw away and buy a new one. He didn't pass that on to me. He was also into woodworking. I watched him do that many times as well, and yet again... he never taught me. So many missed opportunities. So many things I can't possibly ever pass on to my own children.

I know my father and I are a lot alike. So I know that while you rarely ever saw feelings and emotions from him (short of anger) he actually felt his emotions very keenly and deeply. I do as well, but they rarely ever come out or at lease aren't easily visible for people around me. In learning about myself, I was able to learn that my father, and most of my family actually, are Autistic. Or at least "on the spectrum" as they say.

Hence my father's utter brilliance.

Hence the reason I feel like I'm utterly dieing on the inside, and yet on the out side, it seems like everything is just great.

Yes, I really do miss my dad.