Take Back My Image

BuffaloCO

Registrant
I was inspired by a nice pm and someone in chat who encouraged me to post. My T says I, we, can take back our image. I hate having my picture taken now as I never like the way I look in pictures. Just normal pictures bother me, but this is now on my list of things to work on.

I really don't know how to do it, but 4 years ago I didn't know how I could talk about this to anyone, or how I could get past the idea it was me, all me, my fault, or how I could believe there was anywhere safe in the world.

I do talk now, and I don't believe anymore that it was my fault, and I don't live in fear now.

So I can do this, even if I don't know for sure what to do. I will. We will win, we already have in fact!
 
It's a interesting post concerning someone's image other than a photographic one. A victim can think of himself the same way a photo could depict them. That's a pretty hard job and I'm happy that you achieved that. It's the difference from seeing a porn picture of one's self and one that is filled with joy. It sure is a hard image to change.

Peace, Rainbows, Love, Healing & Hope
 
I completely 2nd what Jeff said.

I also struggle with having my picture taken.

When walking in the city, and there is someone holding a camera, I automatically duck and put my head down so that they don't take a pic of me.

I always feel good after coming to a realization of having made an accomplishment. And, This, BuffaloCO, is a big accomplishment!

Congrats,
Logan
 

BuffaloCO

Registrant
I'm thinking my T meant that my "image" is more than just a picture. It's who we are inside, it's what they could not take away from us. They didn't take it all because I survived and I'm fighting back, we all are.

There were also a lot more regular pictures of me, even though I never like even those being taken. But I am so tired of letting those other pictures define what I think about when I look at normal ones. Maybe time to focus more on normal ones.

I don't know if any of this makes sense, because I only started to work on this.
 

BuffaloCO

Registrant
I really want to change now this whole way I react to my picture. I hope I can get back to T when I finally get a job and keep going with it.
 
Hey Buffalo :)

Yeah, I agree that our image is not only an actual photo but really who we are. I think that is a profound thought. I know that we are all fighting a war in order that we can see ourselves in a better light or rather in a light that we really should be in.

The war that I have been fighting over the last 3 years hasn't been going too good, as a matter of fact I'm stuck in a rut. The problem with my self image is just very bad in that it matches all the pictures taken of me between 9 and 18. The problem is that I never said no to what was happening to me, that was me and my childhood it was the game I was in. The game didn't stop when I went into the USAF because when I came back on leave I went straight back to the city. It wasn't till I came out of service when I was 21 and ran away from my parents home and the city at 22 that I was finally out of the game. But I still have the image of my childhood as part of the game. Maybe my image has changed since then but the image of my childhood is still that of being in porn, being a big druggy, being beaten and tortured and most of all not really protesting my childhood but it being the norm for me.

As for the real pictures taken of me there were none taken by my parents after age 8. Maybe I had pictures taken by one of my friend's parents but all the others consisted of some level of porn. So those pictures and the game I was in is the image I have of my childhood. I've been working with my T for 3 years and we have come a long way but I still don't see any change in my image.

Good luck in finding a job, it really looks like you have a really big change in the way you look at yourself. I'm sure that once you get back into therapy you will see a big change in yourself.

I like this thread a lot, it makes me think about myself but it's too bad that my image I have of myself is still pornographic.

Peace, Rainbows, Love, Healing & Hope
 

BuffaloCO

Registrant
Right now this has pushed up a whole lot of mixed feelings in me. Gotta get back to T, but gotta get a real job first. It makes me angry that I know what I need and can't get there because people still judge and take me for granted. Sorry, had to vent.
 
this is an interesting thread for me. i was never used in porn photography, but reading these posts, i realized a few things:

1. before mom married the step-dad and 1st perp, i was a "model" for students at a school of photography. i guess i was pretty good for a kid under 6. there are lots of photos - formal portraits and more "advertising" type ones from that period. i didn't mind that attention at all.

2. as long as i can remember, since mom's re-marriage, i have hated to have my picture taken. i always put it down to a poor self-image - and thinking that i was weird looking. once i started therapy, i realized i had a bit of body dysmorphia - distorted idea of my appearance.

3. nearly all of the photos of me from age 6-18 were taken by the step-dad/perp. though there is nothing inappropriate in the photos, i hated the fact that he was in control - telling me where to stand or sit, which way to look, etc. and i guess in a way, he was also controlling how i appeared to the world because he was "creating" my "image" - not just through photography, but also how my hair was cut and what kind of clothes i wore and the activities i was involved in. apparently my appearance reflected upon him. all of us in the family - and the way we appeared were part of his image that he had to control. i have always hated looking at those photos and avoided them as much as possible until a couple of years ago.

4. my favorite picture of myself from my teen years is not a photo - but a drawing done by my art teacher, as we students took turns sitting for one another in class.

5. once i started college and got into theatre, i did not mind having photos taken of me in various roles. the costumes and makeup and different "identities" became a safe "disguise" that i could hide behind. and yet, they show the "real" me more than the posed photos in the family albums, yearbooks, and official I D cards. the step-dad almost kicked me out of the house the first time i went home for a visit after growing my hair long and wearing facial hair. appearances were important to him and i had to fit his ideal.

6. it was a photo of me at 13, taken by the step-dad at the worst period of abuse (at school and scouts, as well as his last attempt) that finally broke my resistance and let me connect with my younger self and view him with compassion and understanding. now i have a totally different "lens" through which i view all of those childhood photos.

Good stuff here, guys!

please forgive me if i am out of place posting here.
Lee
 
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Hey Lee

No, you're in the correct forum/thread, looking at the "image" of how we think of ourselves. To you your "image" is pornographic. Hiding behind a different "image" by going into theater, not being able to see the real you which you saw as "...poor self-image - and thinking that i was weird looking...".

It's interesting that you mention hiding your image behind the theater. I had long blond hair and was athletic looking, when I went into the USAF I was scared to death that being blond would mark me as a prostitute. I was so relieved that on the second day of basic training they shaved our heads. People are scared of the image they think they show and try and develop instead an image that they can hide behind. I hid behind a crew cut, I was just like everyone else not the prostitute I was.

Unfortunately I still don't have "now i have a totally different "lens" through which i view all of those childhood photo", my image is still one of being a prostitute and pornographic.

Thanks so much for your input.

Peace, Rainbows, Love, Healing & Hope
 
Hey Buffalo,

Are you sure that "because people still judge and take me for granted" that you are the way you were and that I still think that I'm still a prostitute? Unfortunately, I still think of myself as still a prostitute and shittly kid. It is still sad that we know that our past still defines our present state of mind. I know it isn't true but those "images" that I feel are still defining me00 and are still the same with you also.

You know that it's OK to vent, that's what we're all here for :). I'm sorry that you still have so much pain.

Peace, Rainbows, Love, Healing & Hope
 

BuffaloCO

Registrant
We can find a way to say NO, that is how they defined me. It is not who I am, not how I see my self, not a label I will accept anymore on me. I know I am not, was not and never will be defined by them. The only way I know to fight back is to speak up and break down the myths. I'm doing that, it is getting easier. Maybe I just need to rest my mind for a bit. I'll back to my T and sort this out when I can. In the meantime I guess we just use that strength inside of us that let us hang on when we were little. It was enough then, and it's enough now too.
 
Hey Buffalo,

Sorry I am just now getting to a response to this. I am glad that you posted this. I have really been struggling with this concept myself over the past few months in therapy and in my own work. I don't know if I have anything to add. Just that I feel this same need to reclaim my image, or counter what image may be out there.

But I am so tired of letting those other pictures define what I think about when I look at normal ones. Maybe time to focus more on normal ones.
I really identify with this statement. I find myself drawn to young pictures of myself from the ages of the abuse. I still have not been able to separate the seemingly innocent images from the memories I have of the more explicit pictures that were taken of me. It feels like they are superimposed permanently. But, like you, my T has affirmed that they do not have to be. It seems to be one of those things that I need to explore in more depth to get a handle on.

It is something I will work on, and I'll let you know if I get any insights worth sharing. I'd like to hear from you if you have any breakthroughs or ideas about this from your work too, if you feel like sharing.

Wishing you well as you work on this challenging topic.
 
It's very hard to see one's self in a different light. most kids were active in school activities whether those activities were sports or in other school activities. Of course you had the guys that were smoking weed but still participating in school activities, some were musically inclined. This is what normal kids did.

Since I can remember, which is not younger than 9 years old, I have been in the porn business. Starting when I was 9 Pictures of me were taken to end up in boy magazines or sold in one way or another. Pictures of me in the '60s are now on the net forever immortalized. I was being pimped from the age 12 till I was 19 or 20 while I was home on leave from the USAF. When I was 14-15 I was beaten to do things that no human being should ever do but I had no choice. I tried to kill myself twice when I was 14-1/2.

I did practice judo from the age of 11 till around 17 and I won a truckload of trophies but the years from age 14 till the end of my judo career was drug fueld. I was never going to go to the olympics.

The image of myself during my preteen and teenage years were not typical of a normal kid. My life revolved around sex and johns. My high class private school was a joke to me since I was absent more than I was in class. But I guess due to my parents money I got my high school diploma. I didn't even go to the graduation ceremonies. I cannot even think of myself as a normal kid because I was never normal as a kid or teen, I did drugs in the USAF instead of being a good serviceman. In short my life revolved around sex and to think of myself any differently I would have to make up stories of myself. That's exactly what I did for the past 40 years, making myself look like I was a typical American boy. That whole life collapsed around me on January 2011. My past came back to haunt me and is trying to kill me or just make me insane.

You see I didn't even have a time when I was a kid where something didn't have to do with sex. I would get driven from a john's apartment to the apartment where I was staying to take a shower and some speed so I can stay up in class. That's the only image of myself that I have ever known. It's almost impossible to think of myself in any other light. Telling me I wasn't at fault just doesn't fly. Prostitution was something I stayed with because I knew the game and even though I would never handle the money part I would always get a tip of $5-$20. That was a lot of money for a 12 year old in the '60s. I could at any one time carry around $50 in my pocket. My friends who were also in the game did the same. I don't remember as a kid as ever having a money problem. This was the life I knew.

It's hard to think of yourself as a good person when all you knew was the game. Like I said a little earlier that I played the role of all american kid and father but reality and my real persona came back to the surface on January 2011. This is the image that I have of myself.

As Popeye the Sailorman said "I am what I am" and what I was and alway will be is a fucken shitty little hustler.

Peace, Rainbows, Love, Healing & Hope
 
Jeff, I am heartbroken for you. I hope I am not being disrespectful or callous or in any way offensive, but I simply do not agree with your self-description. I will not even repeat it.

What you are is a survivor of human trafficking, a child thrust into a world that grew into the only reality his juvenile mind knew. It's like the Stockholm Syndrome, in which hostages bond with their kidnappers even while their very lives are threatened. You knew what you knew and you found a way to survive. That does not make you a bad person. It makes you a survivor.

It also makes you a person who, like myself, desperately needs to learn how to forgive himself. What happened to you was imposed upon you. You did not choose it. You stuck with what was familiar amongst what had to be a terrifying life experience. As I have said in one of my earlier posts, you are one of my heroes and I wish desperately that you find some healing. You deserve it more than anyone else I have ever met, or not met.

I've read this here on MS and it is worth repeating: A child cannot consent, he can only comply.
 

BuffaloCO

Registrant
Makes me think of something I heard once. Comply or die. I complied, I live, and I am NOT what they taught me I am about myself. I never was.
 
Hey NM,

Thanks for the kind words, you are not being disrespectful in any way. This is something that I have to work on but I'm nowhere near a goal. I'll explain why.

Papasan was my surrogate father and my judo teacher, I would have walked off a bridge for him. Sex with him was a given simply because I thought kids had sex with their fathers or relatives and I enjoyed being held by him and being loved by him. He was very kind to me, took me all over the city, to museums, parks and maybe a bazillion times to the New York World's Fair in '64 and '65. I still have a samurai sword letter opener that he bought me at the Japanese pavilion at the NYWF on my desk in my dungeon. We were typically father and son, although he was Japanese and I was a white american. When we went places together we went as father and son. If he took me to a john I never complained or said no to him and it wasn't because I feared him.

There was a year long horror when I was 14-15. I was beaten and tortured with something like a cattle prod shoved up my ass and turned on. The next week I had to watch the movie they made of that. I was scared that they would kill me with that cattle prod if I didn't listen to them. I was beaten and tortured and did things that a normal human being should ever do. In the fall when I was in 10th grade I tried to kill myself twice, it was the fall of '65 when I was 14. There is no question about this being abuse.

I had a friend, Bobby, in the city who was also was pimped by papasan and we both stayed in an apartment that papasan had rented for us and two other kids my age. Bobby and I were very very close and we were always doing photo shoots together at some photographer for papasan, we even went to johns together on occasion. It was what we did and what we were.

If you look at anyone on this site you'll see men that hated what was being done to them as kids. Like I said before normal kids played baseball, belonged to the student counsel, played or listened to music or just hung out with their friends. Me on the other hand did drugs and men, I was just a shitty little hustler.

It is very hard to convey my feelings and how I existed in that environment in a post. At 22 I had to get away from everything that defined me, I simply disappeared off the face of the earth. I left my parents, left my friends, left papasan and Bobby and moved north of the city to where no one knew me and knew what I did as a child and young man. I made people believe that I had been just another typical blue eyed, blond hair and good looking normal kid from a normal family. I hid for around 40 years until I finally fell apart in January 2011 when my past caught up to me.

Sorry for the length of this post but it helps me understand myself and what I was as a kid. I've had a few different avatars since I came to MS but after a while I couldn't stand looking into the eyes of those faces. The avatar I have now is of guilt and shame. I can't look into his eyes and he can't look into mine or into the eyes of anyone else. This is the true image of myself.

Peace, Rainbows, Love, Healing & Hope
 
Hi Jeff.

I have to disagree with your self-assessment. In law there is the principal of "But for" that I think applies to you. But for the fact you were exploited starting at age nine, but for the fact you were molested by Papasan for years, but for the fact you were trafficked by Papasan and abused by adult male ephebophiles, but for the fact that you were groomed by Papasan, you would not have been a "hustler."

I have to repeat this. You are not at fault. You were a kid who was hustled and trafficked and that experience of dependency on Papasan made a very abnormal situation (to say the least) seem somehow normal. The implication is that you had a choice in all that and I do not believe you did. As I said earlier, children cannot consent, they can only comply.

I read somewhere that we survivors of sexual abuse tend to blame ourselves for it. By doing so, it gives us the illusion that it was something we could have controlled, and could control in the future. By saying "It's my fault," what we really mean is that had we simply taken step A and step B, it would not have happened and therefore we can now take steps A and B to prevent it from happening again.

My therapist calls it loyalty to dysfunctionality. And I am learning to agree with him.

As far as the drugs, good heavens, many of us survivors used (and still use) them. The fact you were drugging yourself as you went through this torment shows you did not really want to be doing what you were being forced to do. Had you truly "enjoyed" the experience you would not have needed drugs to numb a shattered soul.

I say this from experience because I am a drug addict and alcoholic. I have been sober for about ten years now and I can say while it was difficult, getting sober was the best thing I ever did for myself, my wife, and my daughters.

Jeff, please know that I will not give up on you. I firmly believe that you are -- and were, as a teen and pre-teen -- a great person. You have survived a youth that was horrific, and even that word does not do it justice. You were used, abused, exploited and tortured. These things were not your choice. All your other ancillary decisions sprang from the abuse and exploitation. They are not your fault. I truly, truly hope you can learn to forgive yourself -- not for what you did as a child, but for blaming yourself for all these years.

You are a good person. I wish I could tell you this in person. It was not your fault. You were not what you say you were; you were used, abused and exploited. You are a survivor.

Mike
 

Obi

Registrant
Jeff,

here is a third person now telling you exactly what moose and I have been telling you.

IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT.

you ARE a good person!!!!
 

Obi

Registrant
that now makes 4 people...

how about it?

everyone that is reading this thread i ask that you join in with the 4 of us to let jeff know that it was NOT his fault and that he is INDEED a good person...

maybe if enough of us say it that perhaps it will help jeff to understand that those old tapes are wrong and that he is a great person...
 
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