One man’s story of how he works to overcome the shameful feelings that can arise from the trauma of being sexually abused.
I am currently 27 years old; I’ve been married for 3 years and have been in a steady career for 5 years. It has been almost a decade since my childhood abuses came to the light and were thoroughly dealt with. When I began seeing a counselor about it, I remember him sharing with me that he too was a survivor, and although he had felt like he had processed through his own experience in a healthy and thorough way, there were still days where the feelings of shame and insecurity would return.
I have experienced this many times since my ordeal however, the frequency and intensity of these events has decreased over time. It seems that these recurrences cannot be avoided and, for some, may in fact be a healthy component necessary for complete healing. Although they are very unpleasant when they occur they can allow us an opportunity grow stronger, to choose to apply the truths we have come to know in place of the lies that we have previously believed.
For me, my greatest and continual source of strength has come from my relationship with my heavenly Father. His words spoken to me through scripture and through my times alone with him are the only reason I am doing as well as I am today.
Some time ago I had a dream that has given me a great visual to help me fight the feelings of shame when they try to return and consume me. In this dream I was full of shame and was thrown into the back of a van. I was put into a straight jacket and the other men in the van were mocking me and hurling shameful insults at me. I was terrified because I knew how terrifying and horrible the place was that they were taking me. Suddenly I knew how to escape: I began to speak out loud the words of God found in the Bible. As I spoke the other men in the van became terrified of me and covered their ears as the straight jacket began to come apart and fall away from my body. I felt exhilarated and I was free!
When I feel the shame return I visualize this dream and say out loud something to the effect of, “No, I refuse to put on the straight jacket of shame. I am free and shame has no place in my life. Thank you Lord for your goodness and your kindness and that you have freed me and healed me from shame because there is no condemnation in Christ and I am His!” Sometimes I declare this several times a day until the shame succumbs to the truth. It takes perseverance but its a battle worth fighting and a battle that we must learn to win if we are going to live the rest of our lives as healthy men who are not enslaved to our past wounds.
Survivors experience varied effects of trauma. Some experience intrusive thoughts. Healthy coping mechanisms are just as varied and can only be determined on an individual basis. The power to choose which healthy coping skill one uses can be a vital part of healing. Some choose faith and spirituality. We heal in our own time, and at our own pace.
BIO: Aaron Kesseler was born in 1986, married the love of his life in 2010 and is currently working for his step-father’s commercial heating business in Seattle, WA. After high school he attended Northwest University in Kirkland for two years. Aaron has volunteered as a camp counselor for five years with the Muscular Dystrophy Association Summer Camp as well as three years with Royal Family Kids Camp, a summer camp for the most abused and neglected children in the area.
The mission of 1in6 is to help men who have had unwanted or abusive sexual experiences in childhood live healthier, happier lives. 1in6′s mission also includes serving family members, friends and partners by providing information and support resources on the web and in the community.
–Photo: Laura Mary/Flickr