Self Care Heads Up: This piece talks about male sexual abuse
Trust House has asked me to write a blog, so here it goes. I am not an expert in much so let me tell you about my journey to date with them.
My name is Mike; I am male and in my mid-forties. For slightly over three decades, I have lived with a dark secret. This secret has made my world smaller; it has made me feel dirty, stained and used. It has resulted in deep anger, the inability to trust, to lead me to be somewhat suspicious of people’s motives.
This has resulted in me keeping people at a distance for fear of rejection or them seeing what I perceive as a dark toxic stain on my soul. It has led me to question my own sexual identity and had devastating effects on relationships.
My secret is that a male teacher at junior school (Year 2/3) abused me. It occurred in the 1980s in the north of England. It left me with a lot of mental and physical baggage and included robbing me of my innocence, shame, rage, confusion, and fear amongst many of the emotions.
The teacher died of natural causes before authorities could hold him accountable for this and other alleged offences. His death leads to a mixture of feelings for me, but relief was not immediately one of these.
Today, I often distrust male authority figures, their motives and people who I perceive abuse their power, position and status. Consequently, this has led to issues at work for me. Most if not all of my friends are of the opposite sex.
My memories of abuse come in fragmented flashes, memory clips, smells, tastes, sensations with little idea of the order of the abuse.
I remember the start, the isolation, the pretence and how touching led to much more.
My memories include the smell of the room, the shining floor tiles, aroma of wood, dust and old exercise books in the cupboard where it all began. Often, I feel like it did not happen to me, but some other child, distanced by time.
Like looking back at the child, I was observing from outside as he sought his evil gratification at the cost of my innocence and self-worth. I remember wanting to be a million miles from that place and from him. His voice still echoes in my head, when things are going badly in my life. I hear his vile words like it was yesterday, accompanied by the scent of coffee and tobacco that was present on his breath.
It has taken me years to see that this dark toxic stain is how he left me seeing myself. It was created by the fear, the lies, the deceit that he used to control and threaten me.
I remember even now my mother saying, “be a good boy for the teachers” and him saying he would tell my parents if I did not do as he said. He used this to trap me and made me feel complicit in his unforgivable acts, robbing me of my self-esteem and even the ability to understand so many years on.
It has been through Trust House that I came to realise that forgiveness and compassion are key. These are not for him, but me. His acts were genuinely unforgivable. However, it is for the forgiveness of this feeling that I brought it upon myself for not being good enough, or at some levels, I was to blame.
It is through continuous treatment that I am starting to deconstruct some of the issues that still so many years on still in prison me. I am a work in progress and on some levels, I am learning to live, though my journey still has many steps to go.
I know there are readers out there who have suffered similar and maybe considering making that all important first step towards help. From where I am in my journey, I wish I had found a place like Trust House many decades ago.
One of the biggest illusions I told myself which also kept me from accessing help was that the damage would come out and wash me as a person away. I tried accessing help many times over the last couple of decades.
The truth is reader by suffering in silence, the damage is already there and taking its toll on you. You could think of the treatment for this, as being similar to dealing with a severe cut. That is, you seek help, and they look at it, clean it, apply ointment, medication or stitches and then dress it.
Counselling for this works similarly. Counselling allows you to explore, unpack, clean out by tackling the issues that affect you in the now, future and past. Only then, can the effects of such trauma, be dealt with and stopped from causing more pain and suffering.
To use a famous quote, “The hardest part of any journey is the first step”.
Trust House is the place that allowed me to see some of the more complex issues in my life caused by my abuser in my journey that I have now shared with you. I am not going to say it will be easy, as it is not, but the friendly, loving, dedicated staff at Trust House provide a safe, confidential, and supportive environment to take that vital first step.