Trigger warning: This article contains content regarding sexual abuse.
Something very close to my own heart is the issue of sexual abuse. I should mention straight up that I have not directly been a victim of this crime against humanity, but for many years I WONDERED if I had been because I am very passionate about the issue. Suffice to say I now have clarity, and on further enquiry, I have identified myself as a ‘fall-out’ victim. It’s kind of like families who live with alcoholics who also suffer, even though they are not directly afflicted with the disease. The disturbance an alcoholic creates in a family system is systemic. In the same way, a survivor of sexual abuse directly influences the relational field of those around him or her.
At the time of writing this, I am in my 50th year. After my ‘relational review’ process a few years back, it dawned on me that I had an attraction to a particular ‘type’. (A relational review is a soul journey process where you revisit, connect and conclude with all intimate relationships of the past, in order to release any forms of energetic attachments still running).
In my 20s, I was studying mental health at university, and one Thursday night at the bar (a university tradition) I met Craig. He was three years older than me, had already graduated and was working as a schoolteacher at St Stanislaus’ College in Bathurst, the same college he attended as a student years earlier.
We dated for a few months and pretty soon Craig became my new boyfriend. He was GREAT! Everybody loved him. A STAR football player, tall, handsome with defined features as well as charismatic, open and friendly. We travelled to football games on weekends and out to my family farm in the country. We sailed around the Fijian islands together. We were best friends, committed lovers, strongly attracted and very compatible in our personalities.
But something was not right, and I could not name it. My mother felt it also. Sometimes I would ask her if she thought Craig would make a good husband, and she would shake her head and say, “Something’s not right”. She described Craig as wearing a mask and felt that all of his ‘goodness’ and likeability was covering up something.
After a year or so, we moved in together. Patterns started to emerge. Some nights Craig would not come home and told me he had stayed at his Mum’s. He would be late for arrangements or appointments and seemed to be always chasing his tail, trying to catch up with his own life. One Saturday morning we were on our way to a wedding, and he picked me up all red-eyed and dishevelled. He had not slept.
Often, there were occasions at the local football club after game events, where I noticed women go a bit goo-goo eyed around him and show him LOTS of attention. He always maintained a friendly, open state, so I just thought how lucky I was for him to be MY boyfriend and not theirs!
However, over the years, all of the above just wore me down, and I started feeling very unsafe with Craig.
Things came to light. Mainly promiscuity (lots of it). He had an uncontrollable and possibly unconscious urge to connect with women other than me.
He was also very diligent about going to church (Catholic) on Sundays where I believe he was offering his confessions.
My attempts to confront the issue of infidelity were often blocked by blank stares and denial. For a while, that pattern was crazy-making but deep down I knew that my perceptions were right.
As much as we were fond of each other, the gap between us began to widen. I had neither the skills nor emotional awareness about how to navigate us into a better place under the circumstances.
Eventually, he applied for a new and better job on the coast, and that was the beginning of the end of us. Our relationship could not sustain the distance. We lost contact.
YEARS later it all came to light when Craig (after marrying, having children and furthering his career) became depressed. I believe he was in his 40s and his kids had left home.
He went for counselling, and while unpacking his childhood, it came to light that he was sexually abused by a Brother at the boys’ school he attended, from the ages of 10 to 13. Craig was a day boy as his parents lived in town.
This time, he did not go into denial. He met the issue wholeheartedly. He told his family and loved ones as well as making his story public on social media. Then began his healing journey, which continues today. It was at this point that I reached out to him and offered my support. Everything fell into place for me. I understood the energies that were driving him when he was in his youth were a response to try and balance something that was taken long before.
I understood that the failure of our relationship had very little to do with me, but rather the relational field that lay between us.
Craig’s story is just one of six I could tell you about men who are/were close to me and who have been sexually abused. I tell this story because there is a strong perception that it is women who are victims inside a masculine paradigm of dominance, sexual or otherwise.
Very seldom do we talk about boys who were sexually abused by their older sister, or by their teachers or peers at school. We tend not to notice children whose sexual energy is being unconsciously coveted by their mother or aunt. It is not JUST men who abuse women. It is also mothers, sisters, brothers, priests, grandparents, adoptive parents and so-called loved ones who abuse both women AND men. The issue of sexual abuse is SYSTEMIC in our society and is not gender-biased in any direction.
Healing For Men
For centuries, women have sat together in a compassionate space and supported one another with intimate conversations. We let each other unpack.
How would it be for a man to open up the conversation of his past trauma at a pub or at work? It’s not ideal and they would probably re-traumatise if the receiver could not hold a loving space and be with them and the expression of their trauma with empathy and understanding.
Thankfully we now have men’s groups, workshops and therapies where these issues can be opened up and dealt with in a safe environment.
But the healing journey can only happen, once the level of internal toxic shame can be released enough to take conscious affirmative action.
My intent for speaking to this issue here is to bring awareness to the unfortunate reality that walking among us are very good, open-hearted men who are carrying burdens that are buried deep.
As women, parents, natural healers and caregivers, we tend to assume responsibility for the emotional dynamics in our intimate connections. In truth, our only responsibility is to love our own soul and self and to do what we can to allow the healing that needs to take place inside the masculine heart with as much grace, love and awareness we can attune to.
Below is a list of resources for the healing journey to continue for men. Sexual abuse can be overcome and healed. The emotions of shame, guilt, anger and sadness can be released, and the burden can be given back to where it started.
More on that later!
Resources I Stand By
- Yildiz Sethi is my foundational teacher in Family Constellations work. Based in Brisbane, she runs specific training on sexual abuse resolution. www.rapidcorehealing.com
- Path of Love provides retreats and deep immersion events. The work is based on exposure processes with highly skilled, aware and compassionate facilitators, some of who were disciples or students of beloved Osho. www.pathretreats.com
- Sexual Abuse Survivors Handbook: One Man Fights the Catholic Church by John Saunders. www.jsaunders.com.au
- I have also completed my training in abuse resolution as an extension to Systemic Family Constellation. Check out my website for further information.
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