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How do you begin to disclose your own abuse or rape?

A client’s experience follows

I began to have nightmares about 15 years after the abuse, I was just trying to get on with my life, I chose to ‘close my mind to the nightmares and bad memories’ it worked for about 12 years.

I had difficulties in forming long term relationships and showing my emotions towards people, I got involved in fights, I developed a hard shell and became very poker-faced. Eventually, I met some one and got married, over the years my wife often became puzzled at my periodic emotional distances and erectile dysfunction. She became quite frustrated that I could not open up to her, she knew something was wrong, and bless her, she tried her best make me talk.

I didn’t want anyone knowing I was a victim of rape, so I went to our local GP and told her I was feeling depressed and asked her to help. This was just a denial of what was happening to me, but my wife began to stop worrying so much as there seemed to be a solution to my unexplained mood swings and lack of sex drive.

This terrible secret began to intrude into every aspect of my life, I was beginning to fall apart, but no-one must know I was a victim of rape, I’m a man, men don’t get raped.

This thought and feeling of male pride was my defence in not saying anything, my shield, my mask.

I lost my job, my relationship suffered, I began to drink and became verbally abusive towards my wife. One day in February 2006, I was at home alone, watching daytime TV, a programme was on and a man was describing how he was sexually abused earlier in his life.

This man’s story was so similar to mine, and here he was, telling all on TV! His courage and sense of calm made me think about my own history.

You see, I was sexually abused by my uncle for three years, on and off, between the age of 6 and 9. I was told “..no –one would believe me, I was just a kid..”, my uncle was a sergeant in the army and I was told repeatedly every-one loved him, he was a hero.

When my wife came home that evening, I apologised for my behaviour and I told her everything, at first she said nothing. I was worried she would not believe me, but at the same time I had to tell some-one while I had the courage to.

We talked, cried and laughed, for what seemed like hours, I had finally released my secret, it felt weird, but good, very good.

My uncle had died in 1987, so there was no point in involving the police or telling my parents, they were old, let them keep their memories.

With my wife’s help, I made steps to speak to some-one at Crisis Point who could help me with my history, I stayed in therapy for two years, a major struggle at first. It has helped me a lot, made sense of my past actions and how I feel. Even today, I can see how my past can sometimes affect my life, and I am able to deal with the trigger factors more objectively.

It took me a long time to tell some-one, but I am pleased I did, it helped me live my life.