Scott Mclelland relives his agonizing tale of abuse and credits his damaging past as the catalyst for him becoming the good man he is today.
I honestly never thought I’d bring myself to write my story, but as a casual reader of Good Men Project, I found myself having to write this, to offer up a perspective, if nothing else.
Before I go any further I will offer full disclosure: I am an MRA, and no I don’t hate all women. I have a hard time trusting them; something that has led me down a road where I am happy living as a single guy through choice.
August 1, 1987. My world fell apart when my stepfather died. I was at my grandmothers that day and I can even remember the time. It was half past 10 in the morning when I was called into the living room. I was told that he had gone to work and had come home for breakfast and had a heart attack. It was sudden and he was gone. The man who was the center. I was only eight years old.
He came from Stranrar on the coast between Scotland and Ireland and grew up on a farm. He was very old school in his ways, and believed in looking after people and protecting them. He was the head of the family, but as he told me, it was never about my mother, or my sister, or even me being less than him; it was about him loving us and wanting us to be happy, to have the best in life. And he worked like a dog to try and give us this.
The funeral was a blur. My most vivid memories from it was my grandmother not wanting me to see the body, but I wanted to. I needed to see him. I was always trying to live up to being a man and the last time I saw him alive, because of the people around, I only shook his hand and said goodbye. I didn’t hug him. I didn’t tell him I loved him because I wanted to show strength and I needed to say goodbye. I needed to tell him I loved him so my mother let me do it. But boy, when I got back to my grandmother’s I paid the price. I went from my grandmother comforting me to calling me a “little bastard” for not doing as I was told. Someone I was supposed to get comfort from hurt me so much, and it caused me so much pain on top of the confusion and the anger I was already experiencing that I could never forgive her. At age 15 I cut all ties with my grandmother, and until her death didn’t have contact, and I have no regrets.
Time passed and I found myself becoming more and more introverted. I excelled at school, but found myself distanced from people. I couldn’t get close to my classmates. Most of all, I couldn’t invite them home after school, since I didn’t want anyone to see what it was I had to wear long sleeves, even in the summer.
My mother had found herself alone. It’s weird looking back, because I can almost understand why things happened, but I cannot forgive what happened; it’s a confusing state of affairs to say the least. With each day she got more angry at the world, but didn’t have a focus in life.
My “Auntie” was a woman in her 40’s, single and very much a student of what we would describe as “radical feminism.” She somehow managed to twist my stepfather’s heart attack into a selfish act, into him being a “misogynist” by working so much and leaving her with two kids and nothing to help her grow and improve. Men became the enemy and dating went out the window because “men are all rapists,” and the inherent badness that was the male was manifested in me.
At that time, I was a socially backward 10 year old, who was cut off from friends and any form of a male role mode.l I was not allowed to join the scouts, as it promoted patriarchal values. My sister was more and more distanced from me as well. At 9 years old she was saying I was a potential rapist. In her mind, I was bad, and her anger grew more, and more. We even had a copy of the scum manifesto on the coffee table.
At the time, my mother was a drinker, and one hell of a violent drunk. Her resentment toward me grew, and the fact that I was beginning to look more and more like my biological father didn’t help. She started to lash out more often. At first there was an occasional slap, then a full blown punch, then full beatings. I still have two scars on my cheek from when she took a leather belt to my face. She was a woman who didn’t need a man, and she seemed to believe that with each beating she became more liberated. One of my most vivid memories at that time was lying on the ground in the hall outside of the kitchen and seeing her shoes, black patent 4 inch high heels which she proceeded to kick me with. I actually learned that you can get a hernia if kicked just right. It’s a little known fact, but trust me, it’s true.
When I was 13 I saw my biological father, someone who I hadn’t had much contact with over the years. Though, I was able to spend some time with him. One weekend he took me to Blackpool and it was wonderful. I was with people who cared. I was treated as a human being and I can honestly say it was the happiest I had ever felt. I imagined that it was the way most kids felt all the time. I actually felt that someone loved me. It may not sound like anything special to most, but to a kid who had been shown nothing but hate it was an amazing sensation as well as a catalyst. When it was time to go home to my mother I found myself in tears, begging not to go. I broke down and told my father everything. Eventually the police were called on my mother, and for the first time in five years I slept without fear. I was safe .
We ending up having to go to court. We talked with social workers and solicitors, I went to a new school, and actually made friends. I found myself coming out of a very dark, very long tunnel. I even got to join the boys brigade. for 13 weeks and six days I was happy. I was loved and I was safe.Then the courts ordered me back home, because it was in the best interests that as a child I was with my mother. I had never felt such terror in my life, and I was filled with horror and anger as I went back home.
I had grown that summer I was nearly 6 foot tall and had grown in confidence, grown as a person, and my mother didn’t want me back. She told me many times that she fought to get me back just to get one over on my father. The first night I was back she hit me. The first few slaps immediately brought with them the fear I had known so well. That clawing feeling of helplessness. And then I got angry and did something I, to this day, have never done to another person. I punched her square in the jaw, knocking her on her ass and standing over her screaming to never, ever touch me again. She never lay a finger on me after that, but she never stopped hating me.
You can only endure hate for so long before you start to develop coping mechanisms. For me, it was simply to stop caring. For all of the hate I endured, I simply started to hate back. My grades suffered and I became cut off in a different way. I used arrogance as a mask; I hung out on the streets with others like me; I got drunk and I did a few things that I’m not proud of, even to this day. But I survived.
Then came the defining moment in my life, which changed my connection to my family and, in many ways, the world. On my 15th birthday I went out to a club with friends. Being 6’2″ and able to grow a full beard made going to clubs a whole lot easier, and I will admit I got more than a little drunk on cider and aftershock shots. I remember staggering home that night. I remember walking into the living room and that my mum had friends with her. I remember my “Auntie” telling my mother she would take me upstairs. The rest of the night is blurry, but I remember being on my bed as she pulled my jeans off, and I remember her being on top of me and me inside of her. I was drunk, and I mean majorly, majorly drunk. I did not consent. There was no way I could ever have done so. I was a virgin, and contrary to popular opinion, not all boys run solely on hormones.
The next morning I felt ill. It wasn’t just the hangover. Something felt wrong. The whole morning felt so wrong, as if something terrible had happened to me. I had scratch marks on my chest. The event that occurred had been unprotected, and in the 90s HIV was becoming more and more discussed. I turned to my doctor and got the necessary tests. I also got PEP (a dose of HIV medication to try and reduce the risks), which meant I was throwing up for days. I was massively ill and extremely scared.
My mother ,who each day did the bare minimum (checked that I was alive and washed some sheets so the house didn’t stink), discovered the medication and demanded to know everything. In that critical moment I did something that, to this day, I regret. I told her what happened the night with her friend, and what happened afterwards shocked and still angers me to this day.
I was accused of raping her. I was vile and disgusting and I must have forced myself on her friend because she is a woman and wouldn’t have done this by choice. I must have committed a vile act, and it was even worse that I assumed her friend potentially had a disease. That night my bags were packed and I was told to go. I haven’t been back since. It’s hard to explain how confused I was then. I was angry more confused, and I was outside, alone on a September night.
Thankfully, I had made a good friend at school. A geek by any other standard, but a good man to this day, and someone I consider a brother. He found me at the school after dark, sitting on the steps drinking a bottle of buck fast. Next thing I knew I ended up back at his house and something amazing happened. I ended up a part of a family. His mother, who was also a single mother, took me into her home and looked after me, fed me, and made me feel like I was loved. I felt more love in the three years I was there than I had through most of my life. She encouraged me to go to college, and now, I have a degree. She never had time for feminism (she was in similar circles to my birth mother at one time ) but was a believer in love, in being the best person she could, and she took an angry young man and helped him become what I believe I am, a good man.
We talk about how life shapes us, how it makes us who we are. I am never alone now; I have good friends, and when I want it, female company isn’t hard to come by. But my experiences with women has shaped me. I don’t think I will ever settle down. I think I am happy relying on myself and those who I trust, as trusting someone is not easy. I am too gun-shy now, but I have survived, I have done more than many in my situation would have done.
People ask me why I am an MRA, why I avoid anything with a feminist label. The answer is simple: I have seen and been part of a damaging past that has happened through bad people using feminism as an excuse to hate and to do bad things. I have been diminished and despised because I’m a man. I don’t hate women because of this. I know there are more good women than bad, in the same way that there are more good men than bad. But the MRA is one place where I haven’t been judged. I haven’t been made to feel shame for what has happened to me. I haven’t been called a liar or been made to feel like one.
Being a man is a difficult thing. It always has been, and now more than ever we need to answer a lot of questions about who we are as men. But it has to be defined by men. One of the things that we have to do is take back the right to define ourselves, which is something that has been taken away from us. By taking the pains we have endured and sharing them we can achieve so much. We can become so much, but we can only do it ourselves, and we can never feel bad about this, no matter what anyone says.