The "Seeds" or "Keys" of Hope

Chris Anderson

Past Board Member
The "Seeds" or "Keys" of Hope

MaleSurvivor believes that there are 3 necessary elements that make healing from many kinds of abuse and trauma possible: Hope, Healing, & Support. Each term means something specific within the context of recovery. Hope means the knowledge that a survivor is not alone, and that recover is possible. Healing is the proactive effort to commit to doing the hard work of healing. And Support is both the professional and personal support survivors need from others that helps recharge and encourage us.

Many people struggle with knowing what to say to survivors, especially when a survivor is just beginning to disclose. For survivors, it can be frustrating to hear that hope is possible while they continue to struggle with painful memories and feelings. For healing partners, it is often stressful to feel like they dont know how to respond when a survivor shares with them. To address these issues, MaleSurvivor staff developed these "seed" or "key" messages of hope that are intended to give supporters some guide for helpful things to say, and to give survivors important reminders that they can hold onto when they are feeling frustrated, sad, or otherwise in a negative space.

The 4 Seeds or Keys:
1. You are not alone.
2. The abuse was not your fault.
3. It is possible to heal.
4. It is never too late.

Far from being the "right" thing to say (there is no such thing, sadly), these messages are key points that, for many survivors, are important to hear over and over again. It is very likely that the message may take time to sink in, but over time and repetition, the message that healing is possible can take root.
 

wreckage

Registrant
Chris:

Thank you. There has been a little crack in the concrete of pain that has covered the me that is trying to grow through it. I feel a bit more rooted.
 

gettingstronger

Registrant
Chris,
Thank you and MS for posting these! If I may share some specifics from my own healing, here are some things my wife has said since I disclosed what happened. I wanted to share these in the hope that they can help someone who loves a survivor. Paraphrasing her words:

1. I know that what you went through wasn't your fault, and how it's affected both you and us isn't your fault, either.

2. I'm here for you, and you're free to tell me or not tell me the details of what happened. If it helps you heal, I'm all ears. If it's too painful/humiliating/etc., don't feel like you have to tell me. I already know that these things are what make it so hard to talk about, so don't feel like you have to tell me any specifics.

3. I know that some problems in life are so big that they create problems of their own. So the layers of abuse from all over your childhood caused you pain so bad that even trying to deal with it has been too painful. Hence, even after 24 years of marriage, here we are. I know you can't do this alone, so if it's ok, I'm willing to learn about it and nudge you a little, gently and with your ok, and walk through the pain with you. What's important to me is that we get through this together and you become the man I know you can be.

4. We've been stuck in a cycle where I want intimacy, but the memories, emotions, nervousness etc. have been so bad for you that it turns into a performance issue for you. The last thing I want is for my wanting intimacy to be one more thing that causes you pain, so I'm willing to put our sex life on hold until your healing is far enough along to make it good instead of bad. I can't honestly say I won't miss it, but it's more important to me that you heal and not be stressed out of your mind every night when we go to bed. Like the C-PTSD books say, you can't start getting better until you're somewhere safe.

5. I know we're both struggling with body image issues, so let's work on these together. (We're both convinced, way deep down, that we're ugly as sin and someone NO ONE would ever want to hit on.)

6. Let's work together and try to write down a list of things you're struggling with. I mean memories, body responses, emotions, and anything else you think is important. Sometimes just getting it all on paper can make it more manageable. The point isn't to argue over them or tell you you're wrong, but to see if we can come up with ways to replace these with things that are healthier and more helpful to you. And again, if something is too painful or embarrassing, you don't have to reveal it to me. You're in control here and I'm only here to help.

7. Let's NOT try to put a fixed timeline on this. The abuse happened over a period of more than 10 years, so it's completely unrealistic to think its effects are going to go away overnight. What should have been 10 years of healthy sexual development was a nightmare instead, and any healthy sexual development simply didn't happen. Only one trauma after another. So don't feel like you have to heal by next Tuesday or I'm leaving, or something like that. Just promise me you'll do your best, even when it's painful. This shows me more than anything else that you're willing to heal, not only for yourself, but for both of us. It's going to take time.

8. Your pain is safe with me. I won't tell my best friend, our pastor, or anyone about it. And don't be afraid of pain! It's the avoidance of it that has caused your efforts in the past to stall out. Embracing your past, allowing it into your life and working through it hurts like hell, but you're in a safe place now and I promise to not make it worse. You're the strongest man I've ever met, knowing what I know now, and it's you who are facing all this, not the little boy who these people very nearly destroyed. While he was completely overwhelmed, YOU can beat them on his behalf. (End paraphrase of my wife's comments.)

I've obviously got the greatest wife in the world. This is the path she and I have laid out, and it's actually working! (There's been a tremendous amount of answered prayer in this as well, and I'd be remiss to not say so.) So if your boyfriend or husband has told you about abuse, or if you suspect that there's something like that in his past, I hope this gives you some starting points. I wish there was a magic process that would make it fast and painless, but if you're patient, it will pay off.

May everything good come your way.
 
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Wow! Thanks for all of this.
 

Mojo2020

Registrant
Chris,
Thank you and MS for posting these! If I may share some specifics from my own healing, here are some things my wife has said since I disclosed what happened. I wanted to share these in the hope that they can help someone who loves a survivor. Paraphrasing her words:

1. I know that what you went through wasn't your fault, and how it's affected both you and us isn't your fault, either.

2. I'm here for you, and you're free to tell me or not tell me the details of what happened. If it helps you heal, I'm all ears. If it's too painful/humiliating/etc., don't feel like you have to tell me. I already know that these things are what make it so hard to talk about, so don't feel like you have to tell me any specifics.

3. I know that some problems in life are so big that they create problems of their own. So the layers of abuse from all over your childhood caused you pain so bad that even trying to deal with it has been too painful. Hence, even after 24 years of marriage, here we are. I know you can't do this alone, so if it's ok, I'm willing to learn about it and nudge you a little, gently and with your ok, and walk through the pain with you. What's important to me is that we get through this together and you become the man I know you can be.

4. We've been stuck in a cycle where I want intimacy, but the memories, emotions, nervousness etc. have been so bad for you that it turns into a performance issue for you. The last thing I want is for my wanting intimacy to be one more thing that causes you pain, so I'm willing to put our sex life on hold until your healing is far enough along to make it good instead of bad. I can't honestly say I won't miss it, but it's more important to me that you heal and not be stressed out of your mind every night when we go to bed. Like the C-PTSD books say, you can't start getting better until you're somewhere safe.

5. I know we're both struggling with body image issues, so let's work on these together. (We're both convinced, way deep down, that we're ugly as sin and someone NO ONE would ever want to hit on.)

6. Let's work together and try to write down a list of things you're struggling with. I mean memories, body responses, emotions, and anything else you think is important. Sometimes just getting it all on paper can make it more manageable. The point isn't to argue over them or tell you you're wrong, but to see if we can come up with ways to replace these with things that are healthier and more helpful to you. And again, if something is too painful or embarrassing, you don't have to reveal it to me. You're in control here and I'm only here to help.

7. Let's NOT try to put a fixed timeline on this. The abuse happened over a period of more than 10 years, so it's completely unrealistic to think its effects are going to go away overnight. What should have been 10 years of healthy sexual development was a nightmare instead, and any healthy sexual development simply didn't happen. Only one trauma after another. So don't feel like you have to heal by next Tuesday or I'm leaving, or something like that. Just promise me you'll do your best, even when it's painful. This shows me more than anything else that you're willing to heal, not only for yourself, but for both of us. It's going to take time.

8. Your pain is safe with me. I won't tell my best friend, our pastor, or anyone about it. And don't be afraid of pain! It's the avoidance of it that has caused your efforts in the past to stall out. Embracing your past, allowing it into your life and working through it hurts like hell, but you're in a safe place now and I promise to not make it worse. You're the strongest man I've ever met, knowing what I know now, and it's you who are facing all this, not the little boy who these people very nearly destroyed. While he was completely overwhelmed, YOU can beat them on his behalf. (End paraphrase of my wife's comments.)

I've obviously got the greatest wife in the world. This is the path she and I have laid out, and it's actually working! (There's been a tremendous amount of answered prayer in this as well, and I'd be remiss to not say so.) So if your boyfriend or husband has told you about abuse, or if you suspect that there's something like that in his past, I hope this gives you some starting points. I wish there was a magic process that would make it fast and painless, but if you're patient, it will pay off.

May everything good come your way.
GettingSronger... thank you for sharing your wife’s message to you. When I read it a couple of days ago, I instantly thought to myself that it’s exactly how I feel but in my confusion, pain and sheer shock of what’s happening in my relationship, I couldn’t find the words. Using your beautiful example I crafted my own message to him but it may be that I’ve learned all of this too late and have damaged his trust in me so bad that there’s no way to salvage our relationship. As it stands now, he wants us to be over although this morning he told me he loves me and this isn’t my fault. I told him it wasn’t his either. I’m going to step away so we can have time apart from each other. Who knows what the further holds, just taking it one day ata time.
 

Guiseppe

Registrant
The "Seeds" or "Keys" of Hope

MaleSurvivor believes that there are 3 necessary elements that make healing from many kinds of abuse and trauma possible: Hope, Healing, & Support. Each term means something specific within the context of recovery. Hope means the knowledge that a survivor is not alone, and that recover is possible. Healing is the proactive effort to commit to doing the hard work of healing. And Support is both the professional and personal support survivors need from others that helps recharge and encourage us.

Many people struggle with knowing what to say to survivors, especially when a survivor is just beginning to disclose. For survivors, it can be frustrating to hear that hope is possible while they continue to struggle with painful memories and feelings. For healing partners, it is often stressful to feel like they dont know how to respond when a survivor shares with them. To address these issues, MaleSurvivor staff developed these "seed" or "key" messages of hope that are intended to give supporters some guide for helpful things to say, and to give survivors important reminders that they can hold onto when they are feeling frustrated, sad, or otherwise in a negative space.

The 4 Seeds or Keys:
1. You are not alone.
2. The abuse was not your fault.
3. It is possible to heal.
4. It is never too late.

Far from being the "right" thing to say (there is no such thing, sadly), these messages are key points that, for many survivors, are important to hear over and over again. It is very likely that the message may take time to sink in, but over time and repetition, the message that healing is possible can take root.
Thank you for this growth primer. Now Heals.
 

BULNSC

Registrant
Chris,
Thank you and MS for posting these! If I may share some specifics from my own healing, here are some things my wife has said since I disclosed what happened. I wanted to share these in the hope that they can help someone who loves a survivor. Paraphrasing her words:

1. I know that what you went through wasn't your fault, and how it's affected both you and us isn't your fault, either.

2. I'm here for you, and you're free to tell me or not tell me the details of what happened. If it helps you heal, I'm all ears. If it's too painful/humiliating/etc., don't feel like you have to tell me. I already know that these things are what make it so hard to talk about, so don't feel like you have to tell me any specifics.

3. I know that some problems in life are so big that they create problems of their own. So the layers of abuse from all over your childhood caused you pain so bad that even trying to deal with it has been too painful. Hence, even after 24 years of marriage, here we are. I know you can't do this alone, so if it's ok, I'm willing to learn about it and nudge you a little, gently and with your ok, and walk through the pain with you. What's important to me is that we get through this together and you become the man I know you can be.

4. We've been stuck in a cycle where I want intimacy, but the memories, emotions, nervousness etc. have been so bad for you that it turns into a performance issue for you. The last thing I want is for my wanting intimacy to be one more thing that causes you pain, so I'm willing to put our sex life on hold until your healing is far enough along to make it good instead of bad. I can't honestly say I won't miss it, but it's more important to me that you heal and not be stressed out of your mind every night when we go to bed. Like the C-PTSD books say, you can't start getting better until you're somewhere safe.

5. I know we're both struggling with body image issues, so let's work on these together. (We're both convinced, way deep down, that we're ugly as sin and someone NO ONE would ever want to hit on.)

6. Let's work together and try to write down a list of things you're struggling with. I mean memories, body responses, emotions, and anything else you think is important. Sometimes just getting it all on paper can make it more manageable. The point isn't to argue over them or tell you you're wrong, but to see if we can come up with ways to replace these with things that are healthier and more helpful to you. And again, if something is too painful or embarrassing, you don't have to reveal it to me. You're in control here and I'm only here to help.

7. Let's NOT try to put a fixed timeline on this. The abuse happened over a period of more than 10 years, so it's completely unrealistic to think its effects are going to go away overnight. What should have been 10 years of healthy sexual development was a nightmare instead, and any healthy sexual development simply didn't happen. Only one trauma after another. So don't feel like you have to heal by next Tuesday or I'm leaving, or something like that. Just promise me you'll do your best, even when it's painful. This shows me more than anything else that you're willing to heal, not only for yourself, but for both of us. It's going to take time.

8. Your pain is safe with me. I won't tell my best friend, our pastor, or anyone about it. And don't be afraid of pain! It's the avoidance of it that has caused your efforts in the past to stall out. Embracing your past, allowing it into your life and working through it hurts like hell, but you're in a safe place now and I promise to not make it worse. You're the strongest man I've ever met, knowing what I know now, and it's you who are facing all this, not the little boy who these people very nearly destroyed. While he was completely overwhelmed, YOU can beat them on his behalf. (End paraphrase of my wife's comments.)

I've obviously got the greatest wife in the world. This is the path she and I have laid out, and it's actually working! (There's been a tremendous amount of answered prayer in this as well, and I'd be remiss to not say so.) So if your boyfriend or husband has told you about abuse, or if you suspect that there's something like that in his past, I hope this gives you some starting points. I wish there was a magic process that would make it fast and painless, but if you're patient, it will pay off.

May everything good come your way.
Well said. I need to print that to remind myself of how to respond to my lovely husband who has been hiding his pain for a long time. Thank you for sharing how your wife responded. She is beautiful to me!!
 

Tom1967

Registrant
Chris,
Thank you and MS for posting these! If I may share some specifics from my own healing, here are some things my wife has said since I disclosed what happened. I wanted to share these in the hope that they can help someone who loves a survivor. Paraphrasing her words:

1. I know that what you went through wasn't your fault, and how it's affected both you and us isn't your fault, either.

2. I'm here for you, and you're free to tell me or not tell me the details of what happened. If it helps you heal, I'm all ears. If it's too painful/humiliating/etc., don't feel like you have to tell me. I already know that these things are what make it so hard to talk about, so don't feel like you have to tell me any specifics.

3. I know that some problems in life are so big that they create problems of their own. So the layers of abuse from all over your childhood caused you pain so bad that even trying to deal with it has been too painful. Hence, even after 24 years of marriage, here we are. I know you can't do this alone, so if it's ok, I'm willing to learn about it and nudge you a little, gently and with your ok, and walk through the pain with you. What's important to me is that we get through this together and you become the man I know you can be.

4. We've been stuck in a cycle where I want intimacy, but the memories, emotions, nervousness etc. have been so bad for you that it turns into a performance issue for you. The last thing I want is for my wanting intimacy to be one more thing that causes you pain, so I'm willing to put our sex life on hold until your healing is far enough along to make it good instead of bad. I can't honestly say I won't miss it, but it's more important to me that you heal and not be stressed out of your mind every night when we go to bed. Like the C-PTSD books say, you can't start getting better until you're somewhere safe.

5. I know we're both struggling with body image issues, so let's work on these together. (We're both convinced, way deep down, that we're ugly as sin and someone NO ONE would ever want to hit on.)

6. Let's work together and try to write down a list of things you're struggling with. I mean memories, body responses, emotions, and anything else you think is important. Sometimes just getting it all on paper can make it more manageable. The point isn't to argue over them or tell you you're wrong, but to see if we can come up with ways to replace these with things that are healthier and more helpful to you. And again, if something is too painful or embarrassing, you don't have to reveal it to me. You're in control here and I'm only here to help.

7. Let's NOT try to put a fixed timeline on this. The abuse happened over a period of more than 10 years, so it's completely unrealistic to think its effects are going to go away overnight. What should have been 10 years of healthy sexual development was a nightmare instead, and any healthy sexual development simply didn't happen. Only one trauma after another. So don't feel like you have to heal by next Tuesday or I'm leaving, or something like that. Just promise me you'll do your best, even when it's painful. This shows me more than anything else that you're willing to heal, not only for yourself, but for both of us. It's going to take time.

8. Your pain is safe with me. I won't tell my best friend, our pastor, or anyone about it. And don't be afraid of pain! It's the avoidance of it that has caused your efforts in the past to stall out. Embracing your past, allowing it into your life and working through it hurts like hell, but you're in a safe place now and I promise to not make it worse. You're the strongest man I've ever met, knowing what I know now, and it's you who are facing all this, not the little boy who these people very nearly destroyed. While he was completely overwhelmed, YOU can beat them on his behalf. (End paraphrase of my wife's comments.)

I've obviously got the greatest wife in the world. This is the path she and I have laid out, and it's actually working! (There's been a tremendous amount of answered prayer in this as well, and I'd be remiss to not say so.) So if your boyfriend or husband has told you about abuse, or if you suspect that there's something like that in his past, I hope this gives you some starting points. I wish there was a magic process that would make it fast and painless, but if you're patient, it will pay off.

May everything good come your way.
I'm in the beginning stages of approaching and dealing with the trauma of my CSA. What you shared is beyond powerful. Thank you.
 
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