Hi. My name is David. I am an adult male survivor of sexual abuse perpetrated by my parents. The sexual abuse began in my early childhood and continued until my adolescent years. By its very nature, sexual abuse also entails physical, psychological, emotional, and spiritual abuse. These later forms of abuse from my parents continued into my adulthood. Like all children, I sought a bond with my parents; a bond of love, trust, safety, and nurturing support. Instead of that bond, what I received was bondage. As a child, I was equipped with coping mechanisms to escape the savage and brutal invasion of sexual abuse. I learned to dissociate to survive the evils of the abuse. As I reached adolescence, I turned to alcohol and drugs, and used them to escape the brokenness that lie within me. I soon realized the addictive nature of those substances. By my high school years, I began to fall prey to what is known as the result of the grooming process. For me, grooming resulted in focus upon my appearance, intellect, and physical exercise; manifesting an illusion of perfection to cover my wounded child within.
I graduated from two colleges, earning both an undergraduate degree and a graduate degree in my chosen profession. I also passed the state boards to be licensed in my chosen profession. Because you see, sexual abuse is the best kept secret which is perpetrated. And that secret will be maintained at any price. But the reality of the situation was that during all these years, I was suffering intense panic attacks, severe depression, suicidal ideology, guilt and shame. My relationships with women were always sexually based and hopelessly permeated with desperation on my part, to not be abandoned. It was a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Several years ago, my mental health had deteriorated to the point where I was afraid of everything. I was afraid to get out of bed, afraid to fall asleep, afraid to get up, afraid to get dressed….afraid, quite literally, of everything. Flashbacks began to rule my life. Post traumatic stress disorder kept me on a constant hyper-vigilance. All of this would be void from my existence had it not been for the sexual abuse. Coinciding with my health issues, was a complete lack of steady employment. My jobs were isolated, scattered and short-lived. I either took a medical leave, quit, or was discharged. In terms of seeking recovery, I was placed on every medication available. I was hospitalized and underwent electro-convulsive shock therapy. Nothing worked for very long. Finally, my inner child — the spirit from within — cried out in a way I cannot put into words. The harvest was ready to be reaped. The betrayal, hurt and anguish of the sexual abuse was festering and ready to be addressed. And yet, I felt incredibly scared of telling my secret. My flashbacks grew in intensity and frequency. The misplaced shame and the guilt from my parents’ actions literally hung off my body and spirit. How was I to give a voice to what had happened?
Thankfully, I was introduced to Vera House a little over 4 years ago. Through the course of individual counseling, I started to peel away the layers of the sickening secret I had been carrying. For the first time in my life, I received help to begin to trust in and believe in myself. It has not been an overnight process. But each step, however difficult, reinforced that I am indeed a survivor and that I can rely on my instincts to thrive. Along with continued individual therapy, joining the Men’s Group at Vera House has become an important part of my recovery. At first, I was afraid of joining the Men’s Group. I had learned to distrust and dislike men. And yet, as I trusted more in myself, I found in this Men’s Group other men who had walked on a similar path of abuse and survivorship. In sharing our stories with each other, I realized that I was not alone. I began to feel unity, empowerment, and trust from some of the bravest men I have ever met.
Over the past year, I have maintained steady employment with no gaps in my work performance. I have reconnected to God in a new Christian Spirit. I have begun to trust my instincts in situations that even a year ago would have overwhelmed me. Of course there are still challenges. It is a work in progress. But the tide has turned, and my new life is just beginning. There is another side to the horrors of sexual abuse: the side of survivorship and thriving. It is my sincerest hope that every male and female here today, who has been or knows someone who has been sexually abused, can take one thing from what I or the other survivors have said: that there is help, there is healing and there is hope.