What do I say to a survivor?

What do I say to a survivor?

Chris Anderson

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

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.

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 recovery is possible. Healingis 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.

As a way of helping give people a suggestion for how we can better respond to a disclosure from a survivor, MaleSurvivor staff developed these "seed" or "key" messages of hope that are intended to give others some suggestions for what they can say to a survivor that can empower survivors who disclose, and also 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.

As many of you know, MaleSurvivor provides many world-class resources like this website and discussion forum community to men who have been sexually abused and their loved ones free of charge. Every year over 100,000 users come to this website, accessing more than 2 million pages of content.
If the information in this post, or anything here on the website, has been helpful to you, please make a donation to MaleSurvivor today. If everyone who read this post made just one $10 donation, MaleSurvivor's financial future would be solidified for years to come.
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Can I ask if you would want to put a link in your post to the post I just did ... "I've come home at last" ?

I used to be very active in here, but as that post says .. got injured at work and had to take some time off to heal other injuries.

Only thing I can say is that I'm a little disappointed that I haven't heard from many of my OLD friends. I am active again after SPOTLIGHT won Best Picture. but if they are in any way involved in the organization, ... THEIR INBOX IS SWAMPED with messages.

I've been going to do another post in the closed forums .... The therapy session after SPOTLIGHT WON! ... VERY HEALING SESSION!!!

5. Get involved in this organization. It's a very healing experience. If you do you will find you will go from victim to SURVIVOR (the reason they changed from the old name to the new one for anyone who's been around as long as I have)
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Hi Chey-Wy,

I'm sorry it's taken me a little while to reply, I'm just seeing this now. Can you post a link to the post you are referring to? I'd love to take a look at it.

I'm glad to hear you are feeling re-energized. Please feel free to drop me an email at [email protected] and let m eknow if you have any other thoughts/ideas for how you'd like to connect and get more people reconnected to the org.
Don't say the first time you meet them as you leave the room out loud that was the weirdest experience ever if they stammer severe and have signs of childhood abuse?
Don't say in a crowded room when the adult male survivor has disclosed some of there abuse in private conversation , That they knew a man who couldn't cuddle kids and adults as he,d get an erection ?
Don't call him a basket case ?
Don't say 4 weeks before your Wedding your child has been molested by a neighbours son which rips the adult male survivor world to pieces ?
Don't say to them if they Disclosed to neighbours they had been abused as children and the survivor gets attacked by the neighbours that's its your own fault for disclosing ?
Don't bring your friends round interrogating the survivor and offer no help ?
Don't move the survivor miles away and persecute him ?
Don't bring your friends or parents round and send the children down to dry his children from the bath when you know he has haphephobia and the onlookers look at him in disgust .
Don't play films which may trigger the adult male survivor as when you would bring friends round and play The Butter fly affect and laugh at the adult male survivor .
Don't bring 13 year old daughters round with the mothers and say out loud the child wants to lose her virginity on her birthday ?
Don't bring neighbours round to lock them selves in your daughters room as this will cause flashbacks and triggers for the adult male survivor ?
Don't use force marriage ?
Don't believe the abusers he has disclosed ?
Don't play games on him he will be very lost and confused if he has been abused by multiple abusers as a child if it is multiple abusers from his biological they will band together and gain selective mutism and memory ?
Don't humiliate his parental skills ?
Don't rob him blind in front of his face ?
Don't use parental alienation if he was a loving caring hard working protective father ?
Don't let him go to jail because he,s heartbroken and lost and aslo suffered sibling abuse ?
Don't have him arrested for sending a bunch of roses and a flowers and he had to stand in the same court as Myra and brady ?
I can forgive not like many small minded ignorant selfish people .
This is the part and parcel of disclosing severe childhood abuse as an adult male survivor , I crawled out the bucket a mute ?
Happy Fathers day everyone x
Laughter is the Sun
That takes away the winter
from the face x
The sign of a Mute x
The Poltergeists
The Blessings
The 2 Faceless nuns on the stairs
The snarling dog wouldn't enter
when the spirit erupted ?
I know who the Nuns are now xxx
Offer the adult male survivor compassion care and understanding take him to a mental health crisis team or a doctor don't laugh at him and say he has Bipolar , dont persecute him .
Seek him help immediately xxx
Let this be a lesson for society and the world ?
Ive been treated worse then an animal ,I felt like a piece of shit , this is my first year ive felt like a human being ?
If anyone wants to get me for defamation please step forward .
As I am not that little stuttering bastard anymore ?
How now Brown cow x
Don't laugh at some stuttering freak who stammers and every time he stammers it feels like he,s being drowned and has flashbacks as a child being drowned and beaten in the bath ?
Do any other male survivors have phobia,s from childhood ?
Sibling abuse
Do not live in Silence x
To all the fathers and grand fathers who abuse there children in either Mental , physical or sexual ways ,you fucking disgust me .
While all them fake fathers wear there mask of betrayal and lies and sin , some fathers many victims of childhood abuse are abandoned and lost in a sea of Discrimination , ridicule and persecuted and attacked who have never harmed there children ?
Happy fake fathers day to all you cunts xxx ?
I don't get a fathers day card im looked at like shit ,
I don't know how it feels to be in a loving caring protective family since childhood all the way through my adult life , my kids told me to fuck off on the phone and im loser ?
But left me a Winners medal ???
Not one of my abusers can sit at a table and lay there cards ?
Why wont anyone fight back ?
The Government
The Police
The papers
The news
Im this monster
The Basket case
The stuttering freak
The Evil Father
Id shag anything cat dog don't trust me next to a pot hole I might shag that ?
Why are my childhood abusers around my 3 kids ?
When ive had no access for 10 years ?
I delivered all my children They seen my face first I have never ever harmed my children .
I looked at adult porn to feel normal , I went to adult prostitutes to feel normal ,I contemplated swinging with adults to feel normal , id see my childhood abusers face in my wifes face when having sex .
Id work 7 days a week 12 to 24 hours a day to feel normal
I took cocaine and ectasy and vodka to escape .
I had Agraphobia if anyone went near my children
All World leaders are child murderers
They cause Death destruction starvation and persecution
They live in there bubbles of love and joy at home but when daddy or mummy go to work we cannot be adult enough to sit round a table and resolve the problem like adults .
To be honest I think the worlds a very sick place as seen through the eyes of a mute , everyone quick to judge if the book doesn't fit the cover treated like a dirty secret no one can know , Freedom of speech freedom of expression who gives a fuck who you worship , the world is a fractured place , that makes trillions out of weapons of mass destruction , following your every move online , racism , discrimination .
All my arse the lot of them
I just wanted someone to get hold of me and say we,ll help you ?
They,d let me work 7 days a week
Comfortably numb ?
Laughing at me saying I was bipolar and all the other shit ive had to endure in my life and not one of them offered to help me , is it was okay when they fell on hard times and id help them back up ?
I got to making upto 5k a day and I hated it in the end ,
Money and fame ?
Elvis died all alone escaping reality
Marilyn Monroe alone escaping reality
Robin Williams alone escaping reality
He once said
I think the saddest people
Always try their hardest to make
people happy
because they know what its like
to feel absolutely worthless and
they don't want anyone else
to feel like that
I can relate
I think a lot of us can
Im sat at home ive lost everything
I ever worked for and had to fight
against all odds to survive and learn to
use eye contact stop my facial contortions
my spasms and severe stammer ,all my abusers
are playing happy families hiding behind kids
I was the test dummy Simple Jack ?
No father day card for me ?
We all know what happens behind closed doors ?
TheWarrior what you wrote really hit me. I just came back from the cemetery to wish my Dad a Happy Father's Day. I was a horrible son. I disowned my Dad who I now know was a CSA survivor. He acted out differently than you and we treated him horribly for it. Dad would wig out, claiming to have no memory of what he did or where he went. We laughed and Mama would say do you think I am stupid. We learned after his death Mama was really stupid. Dad was telling the truth. He would dissociate and not have idea where he was or what he was doing. He was retreating to his abuse, trying to gain control or relive it, not sure. We threw him out and Mama and he divorced. We learned from his wife all she knew about Dad's medical situation. She said the doctors told her he was telling the truth and our horrible treatment of him caused many of these blackout periods. He was escaping us and the pain of his own abuse. When he got strong he married the woman that stood beside him as he healed. She is a great woman and saved his life. We also learned they had a very romantic life. Whatever he did or may have done when he dissociated was not who he was.

My sister became an alcoholic and more recently my brother tried to kill himself. We know there was PAS from Mama and her family. My brother goes to counseling and support groups for PAS and even Mama goes now. She finally admits she was a terrible wife by forcing her to choose between Dad, us and her mother and sisters and brothers. She chose her mother, sisters and brothers when grandma was sick and at the same time Dad was recovering from a heart attack. She would leave for weeks and months. When it was over and she returned, after doing this for almost 4 years, she felt left out. So she started to be mean to Dad and made us feel guilty for not loving her. We did not want her to leave so we played along and treated Dad terribly. Even though Dad was the only one there for those years. We forgot all he did.

My sister got help and recovered years ago. She reconciled with Dad and went to counseling with him. She believed him and accepted Mama and her family were hiding from what they did to us and Dad. Dad died over two years ago and today I cried thinking of all those Father's Days I did not call him or stop over and say Happy Father's Day and thank you for being there when Mama left. I didn't and I lost out on having a father. My brother faced that and realized he was very wrong in all he did to Dad to keep Mama happy and loving him. Mama even has said she was wrong and admits her family should never have expected her to leave us. We lost all those years and we basically said what you said your children said-fuck off Dad. Mama encouraged it and my sister was the only one who had a wonderful man in their life my Dad. I hope your children come around and know how much you love them. Your children will be like my brother and I, crying for what Mama and her family had taken away from us, first Mama when we were young and then Dad. We also now admit we were wrong not to have grown up to make a better decision years later. My wife had suggested forever I talk to Dad but I was afraid, yes a grown man, of hurting Mama. Tell your children about me and all the regrets I have on how I treated my Dad and not showing him my love.

Yes this is Paul and to the person who lurks this site and has made accusations about me, get to a counselor and stop hurting people. People like you are like me, we hurt people because PAS is real. TheWarrior I hope your children return and realize your love. If they do, they need ground rules like Dad did with my sister. He had overcome his CSA and said to her she could never talk to him as she did, she could not encourage anyone else to hurt him or anyone else with words or throwing things at him and all the other horrible things we did. My sister said when she heard those words out of his mouth she realized she was sick and needed the counseling with him. They had a loving relationship. She and her children have fond memories. My wife behind my back had the children see their grandfather. The children knew him and he would sneak into their activities with his wife and I did not know. I am glad they went behind my back. It shows he was a caring and loving man.

Please take care and I hope you soon hear Happy Father's Day from you children. I can say it to his grave and I hear no response nor can I see his expressions. I really sucks. We both lost out on a big part of our lives.

Thanks for your kind and understanding compassionate words it means a lot from the son of a fellow father who had been abused as a child and into his adult life persecuted through stigma and discrimination I thought I was the only person and felt so ashamed and lost I couldn't go home to my loving biological family as they where the abusers ,I felt pity on my ex wife and children as they where also victims of what my abuse had caused into adult life , I was never the perfect husband I felt scared of receiving love and affection to close , I was laughed at which broke my heart many times sometimes feeling physically sick , I felt I was on a roller coaster all the time im just starting to heal after 47 years , id do anything in the World to see my 3 children again and build up a loving caring protective friendship we once had , its been 10 years since ive spoke to them ,my abusers from childhood have all banded together so im in catch 22 ?
Im not the person I was 10 years ago it took me 9 years after my failed marriage to find the right help and support , ive been suicidal all my life ,I was self harming in my teens I cant wear T shirts as once people look at your arms your a mental nutter .
Ive been attacked a few times since the break up by small minded people calling me a pedo and I haven't seen my kids because ive sexually abused them ?
I spent 2 years in a shitty cell trying to kill myself , the prison was giving me heart tablets for my heart which I didn't need and I was fainting and turning blue in prison in my cell and on the waiting line for my meds , abandoned by nearly everyone .
I still cry most days 10 years on at seeing my childrens faces on twitter or facebook , moments I can never get back .
I worked with asbestos and dust and bird shit through my adult life so my lungs are slowly failing me and I don't think ill make it past 65 im dead good riddance really .
I spent fathers day quite manic this year , abusing all the world leaders saying happy fake fathers day ?
The World press ignored me they don't want a spastic pissing on there lovely family photo,s hugging there children ?
Ive been laughed at all my life whats another day of being laughed at and ignored , I use to think when walking into a room will they like me , I now think do I like them ?
Everyone thinks im a freak for opening up and being outspoken im some kind of cunt for spilling the beans ?
Which should be documented ,
My ex served me one morning when our children where young a bowl of cereal with insects crawling in them , she found it funny when I was being sick ?
The Wedding photos where just utterly heart breaking our son was with his elbow on the Altar looking bored , us all stood next to a barb wire fence and other sickening poses , my sister who raped me even got her tits out to my mother in law at the wedding reception , I didn't even want to be there I just wanted to go a brothel , I knew it was security for her and the kids and I was the lamb to the slaughter everything was fake she proposed 3 times and I called it off twice all I could say at the altar was iiiiii ddddoooo ?
Since I was young at family gatherings I was always insulted in some way over my speech or nervous disposition , it felt like locked in syndrome my abuse going round and round in my head a tape that's been playing all my life .
I spent that many years wanting to escape reality .
Im happy your wife and sister made contact with your lost father it must of been so beneficial for everyone concerned I don't like this about taking sides and parental alienation syndrome .
Ive been made out to be a dirty little liar who comes up with all kinds of fantasies in my head trying to ruin peoples reputation ?
As for death
Its the final chapter I do not fear as ive lived on deaths door since a child and had lots of attempts on my life I class death as a switch on a television , no one in this entire world can call me a bad father .
I wasnt the perfect husband but she wasn't the perfect wife ?
I don't think ill ever find true love as im to damaged now xxx
I don't mix with toxic people anymore , I have a safe home where if I feel if anyone is being unpolite to kindly leave .
Im not being a dogs body for anyone anymore ive been treated like a dog all my life .
Take care
Jonathan x
Hi. I am a 42 year old male survior. I came out and told my wife of 13 years. 3 years ago what happened to me and my stepson also. Some people say it happens with in the family. Mine wasn't the case. I was raped by a Catholic Preist. From 8 to 9. From 10 to 12 I was molested by a teacher. I am a poster child of the kid that never told and kept my anger in side. I constantly got into fights in school because of people bullying me. My senior year was even worse. I was working as volunteer emt. I got called to a murder of a girl who happened to be my girlfriend. I was on a down hill slide when others were looking forward to finshing school. I became quite and was put on a sucidal watch by friends and family and teachers. What killed me in side more was the guy who did it was a elder at my church who I looked up to.
I fight ptsd, Panic attacks, Depression, and hypervigilance. Scents coming out my wife has been very supportive and my son. Sometimes I don't even know how they deal with me.
Wow reading the last few posts are so telling how families and people shun those suffering from the effects of CSA. Unlike a physical illness many do not rally around the silent illnesses. I too have experienced and continue to experience the hard truth of how people perceive and deny the impacts of CSA. At one point, a wise doctor had me put together a list of all the good I did for each child--an amazing list if I do say so myself. How much was given including time and no expectations and yes a list of where I failed or was too harsh. These I am truly sorry for. He said this list tells a different story than the one woven by your family and former family. He also said he was happy one item was not on either side of the list--my CSA and it impact. He asked me to describe what my CSA did to me, how I felt and any other effects the CSA had on me. We talked in depth and he then asked how did my family treat me when they heard. I told the truth. He said it shows your children have learned what I did for them was insignificant, and they have little appreciation for what was done. Instead they focus on the CSA without learning about the CSA. It is easier to say it is a lie than face the reasons they cannot face the truth. He said they say you were shitty and he said that are pretty shitty kids. I said I think they are just lost and running from their past and their issues. He said no, they are classic cases of ungrateful and misguided children. I got mad and he said he wanted to see my reactions. He said they have good but they have not acted as humane beings. It made me realize, I cannot control their behavior and only they can. If they see fit to deny the list of what I had done for them over the years and see only the bad without seeing the other parties culpability in the destruction of me and our lives, then they have blinders. I decided I have to live my life and their lives are theirs to live. I am more content and do not fear each day I will have to face them and hear the attacks, their denials and unwillingness to listen. They are all knowing, but they are not knowing in the important facts of my life. I said I will always love them but their lives will not control my life. The doctor said their lives are controlled by a parent and in turn they attempt to control. He also said a husband and wife that fail to work together and put each other first will destroy the relationship and the children's relationship with one or both parents. He said their lives are not happy and fulfilling lives and that comes from their need to please a parent, and it is not me.

Paul has talked often of what he has lived in the long term due to his mother's leaving and emotional needs as well as the needs of her family. I only attended a few PAS meetings and this is a common theme I heard. I also learned once the child is ingrained, indoctrinated into this way of thinking it is difficult to change. I also learned most of these children do no lead happy lives. Sad, failure to talk, failure to face issues, failure to let go of grudges, failing to accept the truth can be so destructive. TheWarrior your words exude pain and I am so sorry for you. You need to lead your life and let the children lead their lives because in the end they will face something far more devastating, the truth about themselves. For me I immerse myself with friends and activities. I am happy and as I have said I, by not being near them I do not have fears of being attacked verbally, denounced and their ignoring me is a sign they are ignoring their own lives. He also warned how a child reacts to a parents death is influenced how the child is controlled and not so much loved by the parent. He said their world falls apart, depression, taking to be, addiction, controlling their children. He asked how did the children's mother react to the death of her mother. We spent time talking about this. He said it is a vicious cycle and the cause for much dysfunction in the family.

TheWarrior we are here for you and please remember you much to offer. Focus on yourself, healing and finding an outlet that lets you enjoy. I have lived your feelings and nearly ended my own life. Wise and kind people helped me to see that ending my life because of others was not the right answer. I know the truth about my CSA, the abuser, what was done and that is all that matters. The world is full of ignorant people. I do not want to be one. I now understand and accept each person will live their life as they choose.

I'm a survivor, and this is what I have to say to me:

Every single person in my immediate family is toxic. Even the sister who somehow managed to show what appeared to be empathy is pure toxin.

As of today I have no family. Seriously, fuck each and every one of them with a pitchfork.

My narc ex has stalked me here at MS despite promising to move on and leave me alone. She hasn't so I've filed a restraining order. July 5th is the hearing. This game is over.

So, whew! I'm a man, alone, taking care of myself. I have no idea why God chose to throw me into this mess but it is what it is.

I'm out guys. This isn't a victory for ex, she'll soon find out the law is on my side, not hers. But I can't and won't feed her empty soul by her seeing my posts.

Face it, no one gives a shit and this struggle belongs to us and us alone. I've disowned my entire family at a time when they need me most. Good. All the fear, obligation and guilt (aka FOG) is gone.

It's all about me now. Unfortunately the narc ex is getting supply from me here so with that said, goodbye.

I wish you all well with your recovery.

I'll leave you with a lovely poem my Momster used to force me to recite:

When I was a little boy just so high,
Momma took a little stick and made me cry,
Now I'm a big boy, Momma can't do it,
So Daddy takes a big stick and goes right to it.
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Hi ...

I don't know what a 'narc' is but I presume it's not a flattering pejorative.

Are you saying that she is harassing you here in MS?

If so you can block all contact from her ... no messages. You can find that in your 'My Stuff' but I can't remember how it's done.

I hope doing that will alleviate your need to leave MS.

Best of luck ...

CIDT, if you leave this site, I will be mad at you! No, not really mad, but I will miss you. I'll be thinking of you and your affirmations.
I'll be back in full unstoppable force once the protection order is in place and the hearing completed.
Hi Shyshark,

A "narc" is a person with narcissistic personality disorder.


That's a good summary of what 10 years of my life was like.