1 out of 6 men are sexually abused as children. Research shows that a large percentage of sexually addicted and other addicted men were sexually abused and/or abused in some other way as children. Addiction becomes a way to cope with the pain of the abuse.
Shame, humiliation, fear and misplaced beliefs stop men from talkingabout these horrendous experiences. They believe that somehow they caused the sexual abuse and should have been strong enough or “man enough” to have stopped it. They believe that even though they were children when it happened and the abusers were bigger, stronger and in positions of power over them, they should have stopped it. And they believe they should never talk about it even though talking about it is what starts the healing process.
On November 5, 2010 on her television show Oprah Winfrey took a major step to help men to come out into the open with their stories of childhood sexual abuse. In past programs she had spoken about her own sexual abuse as a child and had done episodes about women and men who were abused.
One of the most compelling aspects of this show was the presence of 200 men standing together, supporting each other and unashamedly expressing their vulnerability.
The opening scenes brought tears to my eyes as 200 men stood holding pictures of themselves at the tender young ages their abuse started. It was very powerful to see the light shine on them as they broke the silence of their nightmares when members of the group told their personal stories of abuse and torture. The sadness, anger and horror they described was heartbreaking.
Later in the program and in the next episode in the series, their loved ones talked about the ripple effect of abuse that tears apart not only the children who were abused but the people who love them and feel powerless to help them.
This is a moving and distressing show to watch. I have to warn you it is graphic – not gratuitously but rather realistically – in order to communicate in vivid detail some of the horrible things that happened to these men – and to other men and women – when they are sexually abused. Seeing their pain as they describe their abuse experiences lets everyone know on the most primal level the depth of the pain they have had in trying to manage these traumas by themselves without help as men unfortunately are led to believe they must do in order to remain manly.
In counseling with men and women who have been sexually abused, I focus on decreasing isolation, building a healthy support system, stopping problematic, dangerous, addictive behaviors, and developing healthier coping strategies. We do trauma resolution therapy to heal the wounds of the abuse so victims can become survivors who feel whole and can be intimate with people who they care about and who love them. I work to help their partners deal with their own struggles being in relationship with someone who was abused.
Here is the link to the full video of 200 Adult Men Who Were Molested Come Forward . You can also go directly to Oprah’s website to watch related videos, articles and resources throughout the country for men who were sexually abused and the people who support them.
Shari Cohn, LCSW, CSAT is a Certified Sex Addiction Therapist providing
Sex Therapy, Sex Addiction Therapy and Psychotherapy to the
Madison, Wisconsin area for over twenty years.
Shari specializes in helping sex and porn addicts, partners of sex addicts, abuse and trauma survivors, ptsd and sexual problems.
“Reclaiming Sexuality…Reclaiming Your Life…One Step At A Time”
Call Shari at 608-237-8000 x 109