Telling Is Healing: 1in6 Thursdays on the Joyful Heart Foundation Blog
“I never told anybody.” I wonder how many times other men have said that to me. The conversation usually starts when I talk openly about my own sexual assault as a child.
“I was too,” is the most timid way other men say it. They have trouble even saying those first words. I try not to push them and “I never told anybody” is often the next sentence. If we’re alone, tears often flow. When others are around, they often hold back.
Three times within the last month, men have opened up to me. Their words vary slightly, but the approach is similar. They finally say aloud the deep, hidden secret—and for them to utter such words makes them feel ashamed, worthless, and vulnerable. That’s the worst part about opening up the first time.
The best part is that it means healing begins. Until a man can talk about his sexual assault, he hasn’t healed. Instead, he carries it, deep inside, sealed in a tight compartment. He may try to tell himself, “I’m over it,” or “It hasn’t affected me.” But if he keeps quiet, he’s lying, and probably knows. His childhood was stolen or at least damaged.
If you’re really over it, why can’t you talk about it?” I asked one man.
“It’s still painful,” he said.
“Did you hear what you just said?” I blurted out, not very diplomatically. “If you’re over it, there is no pain.”
Although I don’t remember exactly what he said, he admitted that he wanted it to be over.
“We all want to be over our past and beyond it,” I said. An old saying goes, “The only way to get over pain is to go through pain.” I like to say, “You’ll never conquer your pain until you allow yourself to experience it—to feel it.”
And, as I often tell those who hurt, telling is healing. Read more on the Joyful Heart Foundation
By Cecil Murphey
Cecil Murphey wrote When a Man You Love Was Abused and Not Quite Healed with survivor Gary Roe. Murphey is the author or coauthor of more than 130 books including international best-sellers, 90 Minutes in Heaven and Gifted Hands: the Ben Carson Story.