I have had the great privilege to have heard the recounting of trauma survivors from all manner of experience. Some of us had those one or two crucial friends in our lives that kept us from the brink. Some of us had no one. Even now, I can see those survivors clear in my mind, scattered throughout the world. Some know no life outside of the one of abuse. Some found a path out. There are even those poor souls who are entering the cycle of abuse, torture, and confusion. Today all of this is happening. We can’t see it, we can’t do anything at this moment to prevent it, but it all happens in one day, then the next, then the next.
Some say abuse will always occur. It will always propagate itself in the survivors the predators leave in their wake. There will always be predators, there will always be victims. Some may survive. Some may not.
A long time ago, I had a different life than this one. I was so young and took the basic things of life for granted. I use to enjoy running into open fields. This child had fiery red hair, a big smile on his face, usually with a little drool running down one side of my mouth. He loved to run fast. He talked in this manic rhythm. He was too engaged in living that he didn’t have enough time to stop to tie the laces of his shoes.
His rules in life were simple. He had one mother and one father. They loved him with all their heart. He loved and adored them as only a child could. Without condition, without hesitation. Fully. He trusted his parents absolutely.
Whatever they gave him was exactly what he deserved.
The childhood ended long ago. Swiftly and without notice, the child faded into a wall, becoming a confused, haunted creature. He didn’t have the words in his mind to speak to others, to articulate what had changed in him. He had no one.
Many things have changed in my life. I am very lucky to have found the love and support of a beautiful woman. I am a man who goes to therapy and doesn’t feel like it makes me any less capable as a person. I seek help readily when I need it. It wasn’t always this way.
I think about my childhood, I think of how shattered I became, of the intense fear of not knowing what will be done of me next. I think of it all, and the sun still rose the next day.
The sun always rose, and that was one of my few certainties. It’s not the only thing I am certain of now. I am certain that you and I are the same. We come from different places, different generations, different ethnicities, but here we are now because some things ring true in all of our ears. We feel the same effects of abuse, we ridicule and abuse ourselves, we stay in bed till 5pm the next day, we are drug users, we are alone, we go through multiple relationships, we have HIV, we put piercings in our face, we even wear suits. We hide, we shout out loud to anyone who cares to listen.
I can see myself in an auditorium, with my wife and all of you someday. It would be like the colors of the rainbow. The colors of love and unity, and here is where it begins.
To our men. To those who are survivors, to those who are supportive and sympathetic. We aren’t supposed to talk about abuse. We are supposed to get over it. Men who are abused travel a hard road in this society. We are the victims and we are the predators. We are taught to be silent BECAUSE we are men. It isn’t our function in society to be victims, to be incapable, to be vulnerable. Yet we are.
Our power comes from being the very thing society tells us we should not be. We can continue to be silent, but instinctively we know that this does not work for us. It never truly has. Because we know how it feels to be alone, and we know that every day there are children like us. We see them in the mall, on the street. We see the boys, the girls, the adults who have been abused and raped. We don’t see what happens behind closed doors, but we don’t need to.
It is through our pain that we see that our function in society, as men, has changed.
I have seen the response from our women crusaders, and I see that they are only waiting for us men to stand up, to let ourselves be seen, to stand with them. Many men have, and many more will.
We will put a voice to our pain. Men were not made to be silent. We are survivors. It isn’t all we are, but it is why we are here today.
If we do this now, then little boys and girls will be able to run in open fields without fear. Their rules in life will remain simple.
What they, and we, receive will truly be what we deserve.