Tuesday, November 09, 2010
Thoughts: Oprah's "200 Men" Episode
#1 (00:01) - The opening shot of all the men with their pictures got me all choked up. I know some of these guys through the online support group and through Facebook... and to see them with their pictures just brings home the point that for most of us this happened when we were so young and so vulnerable... heartbreaking.
#2 (04:20) - Watching Tyler Perry talk about how he feels lighter since he publicly disclosed the abuse... makes me happy. I hope more people (especially men) will learn that it's okay to talk about this. There are two men in my life who I know were victims of CSA and due to society's "man up" attitude, they both are suffering with a lot of shame. I realize female survivors have stereotypes to overcome as well. I'm not trying to discount that.
#3 (06:24) - The number of men abused by more than one person blew my mind. I had two perps, one as a child and one as an adult. Wonder how many women have been abused by more than one person?
#4 (08:25) - To hear them talk about grooming, it makes me wonder where my "grooming" began. Since I have no memory prior to the abuse... makes me feel icky to think about it. Just wondering if any of you remember your grooming, or was it such a way of life that you just don't know it even happened?
#5 (10:45) - There's a man on the show (one of the identical twins) who talks about his heart breaking when he sees his son because his son is the spitting image of him at that age. My son looks a lot like I did as a child and sometimes when I see him feeling free and happy and playing like he hasn't a care in the world, it makes me sad. I don't remember having that freedom... and quite frankly it angers me.
#6 (13:05) - I'm listening to these twins talk about the abuse they experienced at the hands of these priests. I want to break something. I am physically shaking as I type this. Outraged. People who perpetrate any kind of abuse - especially this kind - deserve the harshest kind of punishment.
#7 (14:54) - I love how Oprah talks about the fact that the shame/guilt is not ours to hold on to, and how the pain is huge no matter how when/what/who/why/where things happened to us. I get really upset sometimes when people turn their abuse stories into a competition. If it hurt, it hurt. Period. There's no reason for us to discount our own experience just because we think it wasn't "as bad" as someone else's.
#8 (19:39) - Speaking of how we were changed because of the abuse, how we never know who we would have been... how it changes who we think we are... I don't struggle with that anymore. I don't live in that anymore... but I know it was a huge hang-up for me on my healing journey early on. I know a lot of people who live in that bitterness of "damn you, you ruined me" and I totally get it.
#9 (21:04) - I like what Oprah and Tyler say about taking your power back from your abuser. That forgiveness doesn't mean saying, "That was okay what happened to me." It means "I am not gonna let you continue to hold the reigns over my life." "Forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past could have been any different. It's accepting the past for what it was and using this moment - using this moment - and this time to help yourself move forward." Love that.
#10 (25:00) - When Oprah speaks of never knowing what's going on inside the homes on your block - that hits me hard... there was a huge group of kids within a two block radius of my house and I have ZERO doubt in my mind that every SINGLE child in my circle of super-close childhood friends was being abused in some way. I realize a certain amount of curiosity is normal in kids, but this group of kids I played with knew WAY, way too much about sex and foreplay type stuff. Freakish to think about now as an adult, that normal play with my neighborhood friends was like "Let's play orgy." Disgusting. Thoroughly disgusting to think that we hardly ever played "normal" childhood games.
#11 (28:40) - Oprah says feeling shame is a natural process to have to go through when you are abused. Great point, and again, love what they said earlier about how it's healing to let go of that shame when you learn that it's not yours, that it belongs on the abuser.
#12 (I'm not sure at which point this one dawned on me, I must have zoned out and had a moment to myself here.) - Re: drug use... I tried drugs at 14. I think I was just curious about them at the time because it never went further until later in my life and I don't think I truly, consciously connected it to my abuse until just this past year, but I know I eventually started turning to my migraine headache medicine to put me to sleep when I was a teen. I don't think I knew why I wanted to do it. I just did. I just wanted to sleep all the time. ALL the time. I remember a point in my life, especially as a teenager, when the only things I thought about were sleeping, eating, and thinking of a way to die and make it look like an accident so my family wouldn't have to deal with me anymore.
#13 (31:46) - Regarding the mother who is still with the abusive father, I still have some anger toward people who enable my abuser and protect him from dealing with what he did to me and the way his own abuse affected him. I also feel a HUGE amount of guilt for not reporting the guy who raped me. I wish I could remember his name. I would go report it now if I could.
#14 (35:11) - Statistics: 1 in 6 boys. Oprah's question: Why don't we know this? The men say being a boy, the sense that they felt complicit because their bodies responded... the attention... kept them silent. Same things that keep a lot of women silent. I really hope someday the guys can see that they have a lot in common with us as female survivors... they keep describing some of the EXACT SAME THINGS that we go through as girls. A lot of girls get labeled as easy, stupid, complicit, seductors, etc. It breaks my heart that some men feel like they can't trust us to support them because we're women. Vice versa, a lot of women don't trust men to help them either. I get it, but we need to find some common ground to get this BREAKING THE SILENCE thing rolling.
#15 (Just some final thoughts.) - Can't wait for the next show, which will focus on the partners, wives, and parents/families of these men. (November 12, 2010. Check your local listings for show times.) I'll be doing the same commentary type blog soon after it airs. I am so grateful for these fellas who came together to talk about it all. ♥