- Remembering and dealing with your abuse can change the way you think about yourself as a man. Boys tend to grow up trying to think of themselves as strong and independent, like cowboys in films. Adults tend to encourage them to think this. Remembering your pain as a boy may affect this view of yourself. That can feel threatening.
- You may feel confused sexually. What happened to you as a boy may lead you to question what the abuse means for you now. If you’re ‘straight’ you may wonder if what happened makes you ‘less than a man.’ If you’re gay you may wonder whether you’re gay because you were abused. All of this is very unsettling and may threaten the way you see yourself sexually.
- If you’re currently in a dangerous situation or have suffered a recent assault you might be thinking, ‘why can’t I cope with this? I should be able to.’ Again, this threatens your overall sense of safety.
What to do in a crisis? –
Build the life raft for recovery!
Over the next few pages we’ll look in detail at coping with crisis. To help with this you could use the image of a life raft. This sees the process of recovery from abuse as being like a river running down to the sea. The aim is to get further down the river towards the sea and, as you do, you start to feel more in control, happier and more fulfilled. The pain gets less. It’s a difficult journey, but one that has been completed many times by many survivors of abuse.
Any rapids you encounter on the way are like a crisis. You need to travel in something safe on this journey for, whilst the water will often be smooth and the raft will simply glide with the stream, the rapids are very difficult to get over. So, you need a sturdy life raft to get you over the rough patches.
Building the life raft for recovery means :-
- Staying alive
- Getting support
- Keeping yourself safe
- Establishing control over distress
- Beginning to feel your feelings
Try to build your life raft as soon as you can, even if you’re not in crisis now. It’s important that when you need it you can jump in. If you’re in a crisis now then try to concentrate on building it. Get some help with building it from those around whom you trust.
The next few pages will give some tips on how to do it. Most of these tips come from other survivors who are on the journey too. They have overcome many rapids and their experience might be of great help.
The life raft is just an image. If it doesn’t suit you then you could imagine your own safe image. It might be a house or a boat or a plane – anything which will help you feel safe, protected and able to survive the hard times until better times come.