Leap of Faith
This comment by Dave on the post Open the Door: A Survivor’s advice on Not Shutting Out the World
I am a survivor, and I have to shake my head at this article. I really do see where the author is coming from about being vulnerable; It’s a message like Plato’s Allegory of the Cave. It is, however, not that simple. For me, and I suspect others like me, it’s the hardest thing in the world.
I do not, and cannot, trust other men. In fact, I can count on one hand the number of male friends I have, and none of them I let get close to me. My abuser was a fairly stereotypical masculine man, and such behaviors in other men, trigger a strong defensive reaction in me; even now, twenty years after the abuse ended. As a consequence most of the truly close friends I have, which are not many, are women. My wife worries that I am a social isolate.
The other thing that keeps me walled off from the world is the stigma of being a survivor. I live in fear of others finding out. I had one girlfriend break up with me because she was terrified if we ever had kids I would abuse them. Another person looked me dead in the eye and asked if I abused kids. Then there’s the homophobia associated with male survivors. I have had been called pansy, and much worse when others found out. I do not openly advertise the fact that I am a survivor. All of these reactions came from people I trusted enough to reveal my past to.
In my experience, survivors like myself, cannot truly open up, and cannot truly be vulnerable while the very real social consequences of being a survivor keep us defensive and walled off.
I apologize if this was longer than I expected, once I got writing I could not stop.
Let’s start a conversation:
How do we help survivors feel comfortable to open the door, lower the walls and participating in a meaningful and rewarding social life again?
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