Together We Heal

Together We Heal is for any who suffer from the trauma of Childhood Sexual Abuse. We are here to provide a safe forum for survivors of abuse to share, learn and heal, give direction to those seeking guidance and to expose sexual predators for what they are and their methods of getting into our lives.


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Feeling the Weight of the World…Alone

This month we partnered with Rachel Grant to do a 2-part blog series and a tele-seminar, all for male survivors. The seminar can be heard here – 

Below is part 1 of our combined blog series

 

Feeling the Weight of the World…Alone

Over the last 3 years I have had the good fortune of working with an amazing advocate for survivors of childhood sexual abuse, and someone who has become more than just a colleague, but also a valued friend: Ms. Rachel Grant. So when she asked if I would write two articles and do a tele-seminar together, as we have in the past, it was my honor to say “yes”.

As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, it has been an arduous path of pain and healing. For over 35 years it has felt as though there have been many more “downs” than “ups”.

While I could spend an entire article just listing the challenges associated with the trauma of childhood sexual abuse; for me there were two major issues that caused the most tribulation and confusion.

The first was feeling as if I were completely alone. I thought for so long I was the only person this crime was perpetrated against and therefore it was on me alone to “deal with it”.

The second was the confusion a young boy feels when sexually abused by a man.

Today we’ll start with the first…

…feeling totally alone. 

Although feeling alone is not unique to male survivors, it is only from this perspective that I can speak. So I promise to talk openly and honestly about my own journey.

But before I begin discussing the challenges associated with abuse I want to first let all know who are reading this, that there is light at the end of the tunnel…and it’s not an oncoming train. 

Hope and joy can be attained. It won’t always be easy, but if you work with the right folks, and believe that those who have gone before you mean what they say, healing awaits.

So let’s talk about that most awful of feelings, being alone. And I don’t mean loneliness. While in and of itself, loneliness can feel horrible, it’s not quite the same as “feeling alone”. It incorporates so much more. It’s a feeling of betrayal and dismissal. It’s as if the whole world is moving along, happy and well. And you have been left behind, utterly abandoned. 

Additionally, you feel isolated and different from everyone else around you. You see others around you leading “regular”, happy lives but you feel different and separate from everyone due to the abuse.

As I wrote once before about this topic, “Feeling Alone, it’s a familiar feeling. It’s altogether too familiar. As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, I struggled for decades with it. I had it twisted around me like a straight-jacket of discomfort. The result was a never-ending quest for love and acceptance in all the wrong places with none of the right people.”

Here at “Together We Heal”, we work to provide support groups and counseling to fellow survivors. And whenever we get a call or email, or are contacted in any way, the VERY FIRST thing we say is…you are NOT alone. We are here for you, with you and will be as long as you will allow us. The reason for this is because of what I mentioned earlier, my own feelings of being alone. Once I finally came forward, I learned a couple of important factors. 

The first thing I learned was that I wasn’t the only little boy to be sexually abused by the same man. This person was my minister, and was therefore trusted by myself, my family and all who knew him. In 1981 when the abuse began, there were no talk shows about it, no news stories reporting it, no support groups that I could open up to. Hell, I didn’t even know what to call what was happening to me because I had never heard the words “childhood sexual abuse”. 

And the second was that others, both men and women, told me they had the same feelings. Once I was told the truth about childhood sexual abuse; that I wasn’t alone, it was then I felt as though a weight the size of the world on Atlas’ shoulders was finally lifted from my own.

And that was the turning point for my own healing. Once I learned I didn’t have to carry this burden alone, and that others would help me, it was then I finally understood the meaning of the word “hope”.

More than anything it is my “hope” that everyone who reads these posts or listens to when Rachel and I talk on her show, is that you can KNOW that hope and healing are a reality, and if she and I can have and live it, you can too! 

Please…reach out, tell someone…we will be here for you.

Next week we’ll discuss a topic that so many male survivors struggle with but don’t feel the ability or freedom to talk about, the sexual confusion caused when abused by a man.

http://rachelgrantcoaching.blogspot.com/2015/08/feeling-weight-of-worldalone.html


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The Bristlecone Project

About a year and half ago I began talking with Dr. David Lisak, founding Board member of the The Bristlecone Project, President and a founding member of the 1in6 Board of Directors and a retired Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Massachusetts.

As Together We Heal began establishing contacts and building a network of partners within the community of childhood sexual abuse survivors, David Lisak’s name kept coming up. In the course of my conversations with advocates from all over the USA, nothing but great things were said about him and the “project” he was working on.

Shortly before Christmas of 2013, David and I were discussing the potential of TWH, 1in6 and The Bristlecone Project working together. David mentioned he would be in Florida the following year and asked if I would be interested in participating. Not only did I say yes, I was honored and humbled to be given the opportunity. I had read the other men’s stories on the website, and in them I heard my own, and that of so many of our fellow brother survivors.

Rather than attempting to describe this amazing project, I prefer to let David Lisak’s words speak for themselves.

1in6’s latest awareness initiative – “Bristlecone: Portraits of Male Survivors

The Vision: A mosaic of photographs and words that portray the reality and hope of men who were sexually abused as children.

The Focus: The present, not the past. Who each man is. What defines him. What is the focus of his life. Each man will be portrayed through a series of photographs, a brief written portrait, and his own voice.

The Purpose: To portray this reality — who we are now, living meaningful and dignified lives — to the many men who may feel isolated and stigmatized by what happened to them. And to portray this reality to whole communities through the Bristlecone web site and public exhibitions, providing positive, hopeful role models of men who have faced their childhood experiences and who learned to live healthier, happier lives.

Unwanted and abusive sexual experiences in childhood affect men across categories defined by race, class, ethnicity, sexual orientation, culture, religion and other characteristics and traits. We are committed to making the Bristlecone Project inclusive of men from a broad range of identities. For more information about participating in the Bristlecone project, please click here.

As the numbers of participants increase, the web-based Bristlecone exhibition will be tied in with local exhibitions in public venues featuring men from those communities — “Bristlecone Los Angeles,” “Bristlecone Boston,” “Bristlecone New Mexico,” etc
———-

People often ask, “Why Bristlecone?” So on the site, David explains and shares a poem about the tree…

Bristlecone Pine trees survive and thrive in the harsh conditions of the western Rocky Mountains. Despite thin soils, strong winds, freezing temperatures, and limited water, Bristlecones can live for thousands of years, and are among the oldest living organisms on earth.

BRISTLECONE PINE
If wind were wood it might resemble this
fragility and strength, old bark bleeding amber.
Its living parts grow on away from the dead
as we do in our lesser lives. Endurance,
yes, but also a scarred and twisted beauty
we know the way we know our own carved hearts. ©2013 by David Mason

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I feel so honored and humbled having been asked to be a part of this inspiring project. A project I know will continue letting other men out there see, it’s ok to come forward. It’s ok to share the pain you’ve endured. It’s ok, because now you can know you are NOT alone. You have a brotherhood of men who will be there for you, stand beside you in times of need. We truly know how you feel, what you were forced to endure, but now you have all of us to lean on. And as we often say, Together we can heal.

Please take some time to read not just mine, but all of the other men’s stories. They’ve opened up their hearts and in many cases, their wounds, with the desire of helping others. May 2015 be a year where even more men find hope and healing from the trauma of childhood sexual abuse.

http://bristleconeproject.org/men/david-pittman/

Copyright © 2014 Together We Heal, Inc.