Men in My Town

Is It Really Possible For People To Heal From Sexual Abuse?

Posted in Men in My Town by Keith Smith on June 20, 2018

In a reply to a quote I made during an interview, “the real healing was achieved when I started to sincerely believe I’m not responsible for what happened to me,” a woman, Jennifer, asked, “is it really possible for people to heal from sexual abuse?”

If you believe what I’ve written may be helpful to someone you know who is suffering in silence or struggling with their journey through healing, please share what’s here. Thank you.

Jennifer, my name is Keith Smith. I’m a stranger abduction male rape survivor.

I began to make the transition from victim to survivor when I was able to stop blaming myself, when I started to sincerely believe that I wasn’t responsible for what happened to me.

When I stopped blaming myself, the fear, the embarrassment, the shame, the guilt diminished. It’s not gone 100%, but it’s less painful, less destructive.

Unrelated to my rape, I’ve been operated on three times to remove cancer. Am I healed? I believe I am even though I know the cancer may come back and the very visible scars on my body and face will remain forever.

Like the emotional and psychological scars that remain after being raped at the age of 14 by a total stranger, I’ll live with them for the rest of my life.

I can deal with the emotional, psychological and physical scars. My rape, like my cancer, won’t kill me. I won’t let it. Neither was my fault. I’m not responsible for what happened to me. I’m in control. I’m healing – not healed.

For me, healing from the rape doesn’t mean I have to forget the horror I experienced or forgive my rapist.

Like my surgical scars, I expect the emotional and psychological scars related to my abduction, beating and rape will most likely last forever.

For me, healing means I no longer let those scars, the embarassment, the fear, the guilt, and shame define, limit, control or harm me.

When I started to sincerely believe I wasn’t responsible for what happened to me, I began my transition from victim to survivor.

The emotional, psychological and physical scars remain. The memories exist. Neither go away permanently… but I’m in control. I can cope with triggers and flashbacks now…now that I sincerely believe what happened to me was not my fault.

Being abducted, beaten and raped no longer haunts me, taunts me, defines me, limits me, controls me.

I’m healing. Not healed.

May you soon be able to get to the point where you sincerely believe what happened to you wasn’t your fault so you too can start to heal – and begin the transition from victim to survivor.

Peace, Jennifer.

Keith

Advertisements

Why Didn’t They Disclose?

Posted in Men in My Town by Keith Smith on November 13, 2017

With the media reporting stories of sexual abuse victims coming forward with claims of previous abuse committed as long as 40 years ago, the question is being raised by some, “Why didn’t they disclose when it happened and why are they disclosing now?”

Let me share with you what I’ve learned over the years in speaking publicly about my own experience as a survivor of a stranger abduction rape.

Sexually abused children and adult survivors of sexual abuse often remain silent out of misplaced guilt, fear, shame, embarrassment and under threat of violence from their perpetrators, threats of violence directed at the child, their friends, their family and even their pets.

In time, some victims of childhood sexual abuse get the strength to come forward, the strength to speak out, the strength to face the demons that haunt them and the perpetrator of their abuse, while many remain silent, living with the debilitating, destructive side effects forever, never disclosing their abuse to anyone.

The personal and societal side effects of childhood sexual abuse are daunting. Children who are victims of sexual abuse often resort to inappropriate behaviors to cope as they suffer through physical, emotional, behavioral and social problems directly related to their abuse. Some turn to drugs and alcohol, drop out of school, run away from home, suffer from eating disorders, sleeping disorders, personality disorders, stress, anxiety, depression, disassociation, post-traumatic stress syndrome and life threatening sexually transmitted disease.

Some children have difficulty forming trusting relationships, resort to physical violence, sexual promiscuity and inappropriate and sometimes criminal sexually reactive behavior. Some resort to cutting, self-mutilation and in the most extreme cases they’ve murdered their abuser while others contemplate, attempt or commit suicide.

Directly attributable to their sexual abuse, victims often suffer these enduring problems throughout their adolescence and into adulthood, many suffering through decades of silence, never disclosing their abuse.

Disclosing a sexual assault at any time, 20, 30, even 40 years after the fact, doesn’t make the abuse any less real, any less traumatic, any less violating, any less horrific, any less criminal.

We need to credit victims for having the strength and courage to come forward and disclose the abuse they suffered no matter how recent or long ago in the past.

As more victims come forward with their public disclosure of past abuse we need to understand why many victims choose to suffer in silence.

I hope in some small way my explanation helps all of us recognize the strength and courage it takes for victims to finally go public and begin their transition from sexual abuse victim to survivor.

A Transformational Moment in Understanding Sexual Harassment, Abuse and Assault

Posted in Men in My Town by Keith Smith on November 3, 2017

I believe we’re at a crossroads, a transformational moment in our understanding of sexual harassment, sexual abuse, sexual assault, perpetrators, victims and society’s previous unwillingness to confront publicly what has been hidden in the shadows for far too long.

Recent events involving Hollywood executives Harvey Weinstein, James Toback, Brett Ratner, Bill Cosby, Andy Dick, Kevin Spacey and Dustin Hoffman; News & Media executives Roger Ailes, Bill O’Reilly, Mark Halperin and Michael Oreskes; NYPD detectives Edward Martins and Richard Hall, Wall Street bond trader Howie Rubin, celebrity chef John Besh, Uber founder Travis Kalanick, Bikram Yoga creator Bikram Choudhury and former U S Congressman Anthony Weiner show us all that abusers aren’t the stereotypical unknown stranger in the park, rather just the opposite. Abusers are often known to their victim, and may be well known, successful, rich and powerful.

In public, in office buildings, on the set of Hollywood blockbuster films, in broadcast news studios, in the back of a police van, in Howie Rubin’s $8 million dollar NYC apartment, in your town, on your block, on your street, maybe even in your own home, sexual harassment, abuse, assault and rape occurs.

And now victims are speaking out, criminals are being held accountable and the public seems more willing to believe accusers, more willing to confront and expose abusers, more willing to shed the stigma and confront the reality.

As the powerful, rich and famous are being outed and those around them seem to no longer look the other way, I hope victims of harassment, abuse, assault and rape, victims young and old, rich and not-so-rich, famous and the lesser known kid next door get the strength they need to speak out, seek help, bring to light the abuse they’ve suffered and expose the abuser responsible.

So thank you Taylor Swift, Ashley Judd, Rose McGowan, Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie, Asia Argento, Mira Sorvino and Rosanna Arquette for standing up and speaking out.

Because of your strength, somewhere today a young boy or girl may follow your example and find the courage to tell a parent, a teacher, a friend, or walk into a police station and begin their transition from victim to survivor.
——————————
If you or someone you know is a victim of sexual abuse, sexual assault or rape, help is available, anonymous and confidential, 24-hours a day, 7 days a week from RAINN.

Call RAINN, the Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network at (800) 656 4673 or visit RAINN on the web at http://www.rainn.org