Quoted Reference for Spouses / Partners of Males of Childhood Abuse from Victims No Longer Book - Chapter 22

Quoted Reference for Spouses / Partners of Males of Childhood Abuse from Victims No Longer Book - Chapter 22


Note: I have taken this section out of the book Victims No-Longer: The Classic Guide for Men Recovering from Child Sexual Abuse as a reference for all the spouses / partners that are here on this discussion board and engaging in the chat on Tuesdays. I believe this section and for that matter the whole chapter 22 may be helpful to you. This book is focused on Adult on Child sexual abuse (CSA). Child on Child Sexual Abuse (COCSA) which includes incest among siblings are not really mentioned in this passage but can also be difficult to discuss by a survivor.

If You Suspect Abuse Even if the survivor hasn't told you anything, you suspect that he was abused as a child. He may not have shared the information because of fears of not being believed, being scorned or ridiculed, or seen as undesirable or unmanly. Maybe he hasn't accepted it as abuse, or admitted it to himself. If you suspect that your friend is a survivor, you can raise the subject of sexual abuse on a general level, showing your openness to talking about it; let him know that you are willing to listen to anything he wants to share with you, but you will wait until he is ready for disclosure. Don't be impatient or overly protective. Avoid "leaping into action." Remember that we are talking about his recovery, not yours. Respect his pace. You can't—nor should you—do it for him.

If you know (or have suspicions) that child abuse is currently taking place, be sure to do everything you can to see that it is stopped. You don't have to wait until you have concrete evidence—there isn't enough time. The hurts compound daily. If you have no direct control over the situation, report it to the proper authorities. In most localities child protective/social service agencies will investigate even anonymous reports of sexual child abuse. Insist that appropriate action be taken. Threaten public exposure if necessary. It is important to your friend, to you, and to the world that we create a society where sexual abuse of a child is literally unthinkable. This is everyone's responsibility. Most survivors have known nonprotective adults who ignored abuse or did nothing to interfere with it. They conclude that no one cares—that there is no safety or protection anywhere in the world. Imagine the difference it would have made to their lives if even one adult had believed them and stood up to the abuse.

Among the participants at a workshop for male and female survivors were a sister and brother. She had been sexually abused by their father. Her brother was the person who stood up to the perpetrator and put a stop to the abuse. He came to the workshop to continue to support his sister in her healing. In the process, he was working toward his own recovery from the effects of having been raised in a dysfunctional family. His presence at the workshop was important for everyone there. It was deeply moving for all of us to see visible evidence of someone standing up to abuse. It contradicted feelings of isolation and lack of safety in the world. In the brother's own words, "I'm not such a wonderful person. . . . It had to be done and I did it." To the rest of us, he is a Hero. It is always the right time to stand up to abuse. We all need to be heroes.

Note to the Survivor: It is important to be as clear as you can in letting people in your life know what is going on. They cannot read your mind. Even if they see that something is up, they can only guess at the complexity of what you're going through. The more fully you share with them, the better they will understand how to support you in a useful way. If you learn to state your needs specifically, you have a better chance of having them met. At the same time, recognize that this recovery process is yours. Your expectations and demands must be realistic. As close and caring as the relationships are, you are separate people. They can't be expected to feel what you are feeling. They have lives of their own, and can't give them up to facilitate your recovery. The more realistic your expectations are of the people who care about you, the less you will feel abandoned when they cannot be there for you all the time.

Weather forecasting is an inexact science. We know that hurricanes cause upheaval, but it is impossible to predict the extent of the devastation. Some storms produce high winds and driving rain. Others cause flooding and damage to life and property. Still others pass harmlessly offshore, dissipating their energies virtually unnoticed. In the same way, we cannot accurately anticipate the exact course of anyone's recovery. Each personality is unique. As a survivor's life experiences are his alone, his recovery will follow a path that differs from anyone else's. But, whatever its form, a hurricane is still a hurricane. There are things we know about the nature of this phenomenon. As with hurricanes—although you cannot know exactly what to expect of any individual recovery process—there are some manifestations for which you can prepare. If they don't occur, you are no worse off. If they do, your preparations will help you ride out the storm.

The fact that you are in a caring relationship with a male survivor means that you have already accomplished something significant. If you read the preceding chapters of this book, you know that trust is an overriding issue for any survivor of abuse. To the extent that you have managed to establish a level of trust with him, you have created a degree of safety. You may be the first (and only) person the survivor feels he can trust. If this is true, you have probably already experienced some negative aspects of the situation. Since the abuse involved violation of a position of trust, the fact that he trusts you brings up his fear of further abuse. The times you are closest and most loving (physically or emotionally) are likely to be the most difficult for the survivor. On the other hand, if he accepts that you are trustworthy and truly care about him, he is likely to view you as his "only" chance for a caring relationship, and cling tightly to you. You feel smothered, crowded, and overwhelmed. There may be jealous demands on your time and energy. He may want you to join him in withdrawing from the rest of society, creating your own "safe" and isolated little world. If this is the case, demands on you increase until they occupy every moment. Any attention to your own needs—or interest in other people—is seen as abandonment. You may be accused of not caring enough, or even of behaving abusively.

If you find that you enjoy this type of jealous, demanding relationship, it may be because it speaks to a frozen childhood need of your own. Healthy relationships exist in the open; healthy lives require variety and interaction. No one can (or should be expected to) meet all of another person's needs. If you are involved in a relationship that is draining you of all energy, free time, and independence, you are well advised to think about what you are getting out of it. This is a good time to explore therapy or counseling for yourself. There are several good books on codependency in relationships. Reading them may help you to understand your situation. Other resources (whether or not you were raised in an alcoholic family) are Al-Anon, ACOA, or CoDA meetings (see "Other Twelve-Step Programs,"). These programs teach people how to detach themselves from the unhealthy aspects of caretaking relationships.

Co-dependent relationships are ultimately unhealthy because they inhibit the growth of both parties. People in healthy relationships respect each other's individuality and support each other from a position of self-respect. Only by beginning with the premise that you deserve and demand to be treated with respect can you hope to help someone else achieve the same goal. What is true for the survivor is also true for you: Meeting your real needs is always in the best interest of those who care about you. Resist becoming a caretaker. It isn't good for him or for you. By taking charge of your own life (no matter how selfish it feels), you are providing a model of recovery for your friend. If the relationship survives the changes, it will be stronger and healthier. So will both of you.

As difficult as it is to sustain a relationship when the ability to trust has been weakened, many survivors manage to engage in long-lasting friendships, marriages, and other intimate relationships. Some of these are strong and loving; others are needy and huddling, immature and shallow, or lonely and isolated; still others depend on actually or symbolically reliving the abuse. (Note: It is never helpful to allow yourself to be abused in a relationship, no matter what the rationale. If you cannot stop the abuse yourself, leave. Furthermore, it is never healthy to abuse another person, no matter how great the provocation. Anyone who invites abuse is reliving past hurts; be careful not to reinforce this behavior.)

Whatever the dynamics of these relationships, they can remain stable over relatively long periods as long as there is no serious threat to the mutually accepted (often unstated) rules. But a stable relationship is not necessarily a healthy one. There are dysfunctional and abusive relationships that endure for many years. Each party to the relationship knows his or her role and plays it well. There is a certain comfort in knowing that there will be no surprises. But, in order to last, these associations must remain stagnant. Any growth or positive change by either partner threatens the delicate balance that keeps the union intact.

When the survivor begins to work actively on his recovery, all the rules are up for reevaluation. Ripples are felt in every corner of his life. As his insights, feelings, and behaviors change, it is inevitable that all his relationships need to adjust to the transition. You may find that the man you thought you knew so well is behaving like a total stranger. Familiar traits and actions will alter focus. Feelings and reactions are magnified and intensified. There are times when you feel confused or lonely. This is a difficult period, but it is a necessary time of healing. When things are the roughest, try to remember that it won't last forever. Recovery is a time of crisis; the crisis is temporary. But be prepared. As I said to survivors in another part of this book, it will feel worse before it gets better. This is equally true for those around them. You are under no obligation to stick it out through the hard times. Staying or leaving is your choice. Not all relationships can stand the strain of the recovery process. Those that manage it are irrevocably altered. We don't know what the precise outcome will be, only that it will be healthier (though not necessarily much easier). It will therefore have to be reassessed as a brand-new relationship, and both partners will have to decide whether it makes sense to continue. If you choose to be there through the recovery process, there will be rewards—the real pleasures of forging a mutually nourishing relationship with another adult. There will still be hard times, but the daily interactions will no longer be in service to past abuses. There is room for joy and celebration.

As much as I'd like to prepare you for all that will happen, it is sure to be a surprise when the changes begin. I can only give you notice of some reactions that you might encounter:

1 / Withdrawal. Overwhelmed by the enormity of his feelings, the survivor retreats physically or emotionally. He engages in long periods of silence, is generally uncommunicative, or requires more time alone. At these times he might disappear for long periods or be uninterested in his usual pursuits. When this happens, friends of the survivor feel shut out or rejected. You feel confused and resentful. It is very isolating to have someone close to you "check out." In the absence of communication it is hard to know what is going on, whether you had anything to do with it, and if there is anything you can do to help. It's easy to jump to the worst conclusions. But there are many possible explanations for the withdrawal.

The survivor is experiencing a confusing welter of emotions. He may need time and space to sort them out. He may not know what to say to anyone. He might be attempting to protect you from his pain or to avoid letting his angry feelings explode in your direction. He may also be having some negative thoughts and feelings about you that he doesn't want to express until he can make sense of them. He could be reacting to feelings of hopelessness and self-doubt that have nothing to do with you.

Unless you think that there is danger that he will harm himself (or others), the best course of action is to do little or nothing. Reassure him that you care about him, and will listen if he wants to talk—and then allow him the time and space he needs. You can always do more later if necessary. For now, try to resist intrusion into his solitude by caretaking or expressing resentment at being excluded. It is likely that what is going on inside him has little to do with you. Even if it does, nagging him about it will shut him down even further. He may be working through these issues elsewhere—in individual therapy or a recovery group. If so, it is an appropriate way to deal with them. It is to your advantage to support his process. An active, welcoming patience can pay dividends for both of you. As he opens communication in therapy and group, your communication improves as well. In the meantime, get similar support for yourself—whether in therapy, individual counseling, or participation in a support group. Problems in relationships are rarely one-sided. It will be helpful for you and your friend to discover your part in the unhealthy aspects of the interaction.

2 / Mood swings. The course of recovery is never smooth and steady. There are times of rapid, visible progress, periods of apparent inactivity, and occasional lapses into old patterns of behavior and feelings of hopelessness. These shifts of focus evoke powerful emotional reactions. The survivor can be flying high one day, full of confidence in his progress, only to sink into despair the next. A moment's tenderness can quickly explode into anger. Needless to say, these mood swings are difficult and confusing to friends of the survivor. This is particularly true if you have taken on the caretaking role of protecting him from "bad" feelings. Difficult as it may be, you must train yourself to step out of the caretaking role. The survivor's feelings are his. You did not cause them, nor are you responsible for alleviating them. Furthermore, they are necessary to healing. As hard as it is to see someone you care about in pain, you must allow him room for having—and getting through—his feelings. Celebrate the good times with him. Be there for the hard times if you can (and if you are allowed to), but recognize that he must do his own recovery work. Your support will help ease his recovery.

3 / Crying jags. You may find that your survivor friend, once so completely in control of his emotions, seems to be crying all the time. Don't be dismayed. Welcome and celebrate his tears when they come. This is an important facet of the process—"Tears are the lubricant that allows recovery to move forward." If he cries in your presence, try not to be embarrassed or distract him. Don't try to "make him feel better"; crying itself will accomplish that. You can occasionally share an encouraging word or two, but stop talking if it seems to distract him from the emotions. You will see that, with safety and encouragement, he will cry as long as he needs to. Afterward, he will be calmer, clearheaded, and a little tired. Both of you will be less worried that crying indicates being "out of control."

4 / Irrational anger. As the survivor begins to accept the unfairness of what was done to him, feelings of anger surface. Expression of anger may be an unfamiliar experience for him. He may come from a family where any angry word or feeling inevitably led to physical violence or other abuse. If this is the case, he will have learned to keep his emotions—particularly angry feelings—rigidly in check. Expressing anger can be terrifying for him and those around him. The tiniest angry display feels like he is raging out of control. Inexperienced in expressing anger, he is likely to vent it inappropriately. The first target for his angry feelings may be the person he feels safest with—you. This isn't a comfortable position in which to find yourself. The slightest area of disagreement can trigger an excessively angry response, and you end up feeling like a target. There doesn't seem to be anything that you can say or do that will prevent these outbursts. This is a tricky situation to negotiate. Remember that if the angry response is completely out of proportion to what is going on at the moment, it probably has little to do with the present situation. Something in the present is restimulating old memories and feelings. The safety of the current situation allows these feelings to be expressed.

This knowledge can help you understand what is going on, but it doesn't do much to help you feel good when someone you care about is yelling at you. Nor should you accept the situation passively. Verbal abuse doesn't benefit anyone. It is perfectly acceptable to validate someone's right to feel angry without accepting that you have caused his anger. You never have to be the target of abusive behavior. (It should go without saying that you never need to expose yourself to violence or other physical harm. If you even suspect that an encounter might become violent, leave the situation immediately. You can always straighten it out later.) Assure your friend that you understand that he is angry. Let him know that if the anger has anything to do with something you have done, you are willing to work it out with him. But tell him that if he continues to rail at you, you will leave until he is able to discuss it with you more calmly. Then, if he continues, do just that.

When someone is in the midst of an angry outburst, he will not be amenable to reason, nor will yelling back at him solve anything. Neither of you is really hearing what the other is saying—you're too busy feeling attacked. Later, during a calmer time, the two of you (perhaps with a third party present) can discuss what was going on. Let him know that you care about him but are not willing to allow yourself to be the target of misdirected anger. Ask him for suggestions about how you can respond in a helpful manner without becoming a target. By not accepting anger that doesn't belong to you, you are helping your friend focus it where it belongs. He then learns to use his anger to facilitate his recovery. In this way, anger is transformed from weak, frightened, defensive posturing to the power of righteous indignation—standing up to the abuse.

5 / Blaming. Similar to irrational anger is the tendency to cast blame. When the survivor accepts that he was not to blame for what was done to him—and that he is not to blame for everything that is wrong with the world—he is apt to search for who is. He hasn't been exposed to the idea that not everything that happens is somebody's fault. It is difficult to understand the concept of responsibility without blame. He feels that if it isn't his fault, it must be yours. You find yourself in a situation where you can't seem to do anything right. The correct response to irrational blame is the same as to irrational anger. Don't accept it if it isn't yours. Let your friend know (at the time, if he can hear it; later, if he can't) that you understand that he is upset. Enlist his aid in thinking about the situation. Assure him of your good intentions to work with him to solve whatever problem exists, without needing to find a villain. In doing this you are both refusing to fall victim to further effects of the abuse, while allowing any blame to be placed where it belongs.

6 / Unreasonable demands. It isn't easy to say no to someone you care about. It becomes even more difficult when the person is obviously having a hard time. You want to step in and make it all better. You want to solve the problems, salve the wounds, relieve the pain and resolve the confusion. As the survivor puts increasing attention and effort into recovery, he may also place greater demands on the time and energy of those around him. If this is allowed to continue unchecked, it can fill all the available space, leaving you little room to lead your own life. Even though you might want to, you can't do it all for him. This is his recovery process and he has to go through it. The most helpful thing you can do is to decide on how much time is reasonable to offer your friend, and limit yourself to that. Don't buy into protestations that you are abandoning him. This is not selfish or uncaring behavior. It is important that you reserve what you need to keep your own life on an even keel. If you burn yourself out, you are of no use to your friend or yourself. Continue to reassure your friend about the importance of his recovery, and that you are in full support of it, but don't be put upon. He doesn't need a model of martyrdom or self-sacrifice. The best image to offer him is of someone who cares for others without giving up looking after her- or himself. This image of self-respect can only help both of you.

7 / Sexual behavior. Since the abuse was acted out sexually, recovery will involve feelings about sex and intimacy. If your relationship with the survivor has a sexual component (or even if it doesn't), expect to encounter difficulties in this area. Among his unreasonable demands may be insistence on more frequent sexual activity than you find comfortable. You may feel pressured to engage in sexual practices that are not acceptable to you. On the other hand, the survivor may lose interest in any form of closeness or touching, including sexual intimacies. You may even find yourself in the position of being with someone who wants sex one minute and is repulsed by the thought of it the next. He may demand sex, yet recoil from being touched. He may be unable to achieve an erection, or seem to be sexually aroused all the time.

This is certainly a confusing situation. The reason you're having such a hard time making sense out of it is that it isn't logical. It is pure feeling, reacting to powerful changes in the survivor's perception of his experience. He is trying to sort out the meanings of abuse, sex, love, caring, and intimacy. He is testing the world and trying to learn about reasonable, nonabusive boundaries between people. The most helpful thing you can do in this instance is be scrupulous about maintaining your own boundaries.

Sexual testing may occur whether or not your relationship was sexual previously. Whether you are friend, therapist, or family member, it is possible that you will be dealing with it. He may have learned that the way to get close to someone is to relate sexually, and this behavior reappears during times of crisis. This is not the time to initiate a sexual relationship. He is too vulnerable. You would both be allowing yourselves to be seduced by an old pattern of distress. Yielding to a sexual pull at this point will severely damage the trust and intimacy you have established.

If you are already sexually involved, do nothing that doesn't make sense to you. Remember that the essence of abuse is taking sexual advantage of a trusting relationship. The survivor needs to know that it is all right to say no and have that refusal respected. At the same time, difficult as it is, you must respect the survivor's need to refrain from sexual activity. Don't interpret it as evidence of lack of love or caring. It probably has nothing to do with you. He is asserting his right not to be sexual unless it is right for him. If both of you understand and accept this basic right to control over your bodies, it will ultimately lead to more fulfilling intimacies, sexual and otherwise.

8 / Regression. As memories of childhood return, they can be accompanied by a tendency to behave in a juvenile (or infantile) manner. Sometimes this takes the form of healthy playfulness. At other times, the survivor may get unusually clingy, needy, silly, whiny, self-centered, inarticulate, incompetent, irresponsible, or childish. He may resort to comforts (or obsessions, compulsions, and addictions) he employed when the abuse was taking place. There's really nothing that you need to do about these regressive behaviors (some may even be enjoyable) unless they are actually dangerous. As people used to say about you when you were a child, "This is just a stage he is going through." In this case it isn't a flippant comment. Abuse robbed the survivor of a normal childhood. Regression may be an attempt to reclaim some portion of what was lost. It is okay to seek comfort from a teddy bear, a pet, or a newly discovered capacity for silliness. You, as a trusted friend, provide a safe environment for regressive behavior.

9 / Physical abuse. Genuine recovery never requires the survivor to behave abusively or be abused further. Nothing positive is ever gained by allowing yourself to be the victim of physical abuse. Neither is abusing a survivor (or any other person) ever helpful in any way. If feelings of anger and resentment require a release, it is okay to express them by hitting a punching bag with a baseball bat, pounding a pillow, or screaming into a friend's shoulder (it effectively muffles the sound so that neighbors don't call the police). You can engage in wild revenge fantasies with the survivor, sharing what you would like to do to the perpetrator. He can beat up a doll or other representation of the abuser. He can buy a cheap set of dishes and smash them. (Wear goggles and gloves so you won't be hurt.) But anger must be focused in the right direction—toward the hurts of the past. It is not helpful to create another victim. You are not a perpetrator; don't let yourself be treated as one. It is unlikely that someone who was not abusive in the past will suddenly become brutal, but if he does, get protection. If you feel physically threatened or even intimidated, leave immediately. Discuss it later when things are calmer. Make it clear that people who love each other do not hurt each other. People who have a healthy level of self-respect don't permit themselves to be harmed. Any attempt at physical violence should be seen for what it is—capitulation to the original abusive behavior. Protecting yourself from harm is consistent with recovery. If your friend becomes violent or threatening (or suggests that you abuse him), let him know that you care about him (and yourself) enough to reject the abuse.

10 / Resentment. As the survivor becomes aware of what he lost to the abuse—as he accepts that he deserved (and deserves) better treatment—he may feel and express resentment. Resentment may be general, focused on lost time and opportunities. He may resent the loss of childhood, or the time, money, and anguish spent on recovery. These are understandable sentiments, and it is fairly easy to empathize. Empathy is more difficult when the resentment is focused on a specific person (you) because you weren't subjected to the same kind of pain: "It was easy for you, your father didn't . . ." It isn't helpful to argue that you didn't have it so good, or that your having been abused wouldn't have made his life any better. It will be easier on you if you see this expression of resentment for what it is—longing for a normal life. It really has nothing to do with you. Ignore the direction of the attack and respond to the underlying message. It wasn't fair. It never should have happened. You have a right to feel resentful. Don't waste time taking on blame or responsibility that isn't yours. Validate his feelings and move on.

11 / Confusion and preoccupation. Putting the past into perspective and establishing strategies for the present and future require a tremendous outlay of thought and feeling. Recovery is the central focus of the survivor's energy and the task can seem all-encompassing. This means that he has less attention for other matters, and may appear bewildered and remote. Even a normally well organized, efficient individual can become "spacy" and careless. You might have to speak to him a couple of times before he hears you. Routine chores are left undone, bills unpaid and phone messages unanswered. Try not to get too upset about this, even if you have to take up some of the slack for a time. This state of mind is usually temporary, lessening as recovery is incorporated into the survivor's life. If this situation is intolerable to you, insist that he pull himself together enough to carry his load—but don't be surprised if he is unable to comply fully. He isn't doing this to upset you. If you have the patience to ride out this storm, he will eventually return to a normal level of responsiveness and responsibility.

12 / Fear. As the powerful feelings generated by past hurts are dealt with openly in the present, the survivor will experience frightening emotions. Fear may intimidate him to the extent that he will avoid even people and activities he normally enjoys. This state is also temporary, and should resolve itself once the most difficult part of this process is past. While it is going on, validate the survivor's feelings, reassure him that what was done to him was, indeed, frightening. Offer to sit with him or hold him gently while he shakes, shivers, and/or sobs the fear away. If the avoidance continues for a long time, you might suggest that you will accompany him in visiting some friends or engaging in a pleasurable activity that isn't too threatening. This can provide a healthy refocusing of attention away from pain and fear. Although recovery is a long-term, ongoing process, it doesn't have to occupy his every waking moment. Relaxation restores energy. Laughter is healing. If he is unwilling to participate in these excursions, go without him. Don't become a prisoner of someone else's fear; avoid burnout yourself. You will be a better, more effective ally if you pay attention to your own needs.

13 / Mistrust. The survivor in recovery is actively questioning all his previous assumptions. Recognizing that much of what he learned was misinformation and outright lies, he is reevaluating his entire world. He must learn (perhaps for the first time) who and what can be trusted. It is hard to be mistrusted by someone you care about. If the survivor indicates that he doesn't trust you, try not to personalize it. Most likely it is a statement about himself ("I have trouble trusting people") and has very little to do with you. He is relearning to trust and the first step is recognition that he doesn't trust people. That he can tell you about it is evidence that he feels relatively safe with you. If you are certain that you are a trustworthy friend, you needn't be upset by the survivor's trust difficulties. In time, as recovery continues, his trust of you will deepen.

14 / Inconsistency of response. Just as a survivor experiences mood swings, the powerful changes he is going through can translate into unpredictable behavior. Whereas you once knew the range of responses to expect from him, it now seems that nothing is guaranteed. You are left feeling confused, bewildered, and abandoned. Is this the same man you knew and cared about? These rapid, unpredictable changes of behavior are reactions to confusing internal dynamics. Don't be alarmed. In time, things will become more stable and consistent. In the meantime, you can explore the inconsistencies with the survivor. Avoid taking a critical or censuring tone; seek to open communication with your friend to understand what is going on.

The early stages of active recovery are highly intense, trying times. Unusual strains are put on relationships. You may experience all, some, or none of the aforementioned responses. In any case, the configuration will be unique to your relationship. The only reassurance I can offer is that it does get easier. You won't be riding the whirlwind forever, and the rewards of recovery are great. In the meantime, keep remembering that you are not the perpetrator, and it does no good to allow yourself to be a target of hostility, ill will, or abuse. Be clear about that. Be alert to any tendency on your part to engage in survivor's guilt. (The term "survivor's guilt" most commonly refers to a phenomenon that was identified among combat veterans of the U.S. armed forces in Vietnam. Upon returning to their homeland, they found themselves unable to explain why they had survived the war while their buddies had died. The inexplicable unfairness of their situation produced a reaction of self-blame for not having been able to save their friends, and shame at having survived. This torment is a common component of the form of post-traumatic stress disorder known as Post-Vietnam Syndrome.)

You were not to blame for the boyhood abuse of your friend. You were not there and could have done nothing to stop it. Don't let misguided guilt feelings freeze you into helplessness. Not having been abused as a child is nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, because the hurts you experienced were different than his, you may be in a better position to provide him with support, encouragement, perspective, and alternatives to dysfunctional relationships. (See chapter 11 for a discussion of relationships where both partners are survivors.) Don't try to join him in his pain—doing that would create two victims. Instead, provide him with a picture of life beyond abuse. Insist on your right to respectful treatment as you provide a healthy model of self-respect. Trust your caring and include yourself under its umbrella. Good luck.

Lew, Mike. Victims No Longer: The Classic Guide for Men Recovering from Sexual Child Abuse (pp. 448-466). Small Wonder Books. Kindle Edition.
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