If I Told… 1in6 Thursdays on the Joyful Heart Foundation Blog
For the past ten years I have spoken openly and publicly about my emotional, physical, spiritual, and sexual abuse, something I only did in the past in the way of justifying my behavior. I would tell my wife and friends, “If what happened to me happened to me happened to you, you’d be drinking or acting this way also.” Today when I speak, it is not as a victim but as a thriving survivor. I speak as a voice for all the men who feel they have no voice. Today I deliver a message of hope and healing. But it was not always that way.
I have been asked countless times why I never told anyone, why did I not speak up. I have several answers for that question, like the first time my stepfather was literally tearing apart the house. I ran up and down the street trying to get someone to help, only to have every door slammed in my face. Or the time my stepfather told the pastor of our church what was going on between the two of us, and with my stepfather present the pastor told me, “Randy it is part of growing up and you are not gay.” This only validated my stepfather’s actions and the abuse not only continued, but got worse. Why didn’t I tell, you ask?
Every time I had the opportunity to tell someone what was happening, I could not. All I could do was beat around the bush, which only left me feeling frustrated, defeated, angry, scared, and very confused.
I came to the point of acceptance that I was the one who was out of place; I was the one with the problem. I was the one who needed to learn how to deal with a normal part of life that seemed so abnormal. I was the one with the problem and it was time to move on. I believed the feelings and emotions I was feeling were wrong. It was time to grow up and be a man, move on, and get over it.
So I did move on, carrying all the shame and uncertainty with me. Putting my head down and trying to forget all that had happened to me. After all, wasn’t that what a strong man was supposed to do, regardless of how I was feeling?
The voice of past offenses had to be silenced at whatever cost, yet they could not be. They were ingrained in the fiber of my being; I was a useless, no-good idiot whose words and life were just an inconvenience to others. Try as I may, I never felt like I was enough, I never felt loveable, I never felt like I fit in. On the outside, much like when I was growing up and our house and life looked grand, I looked like I had it all together, yet inside I was dying.
If I told then:
- I would lose another father figure and father’s love
- I would not be loved
- I would not be special
- No one would believe me
- I would have been told it was my fault
- My friends would have laughed at me and made fun of me
While all of these reasons felt so real to me when I was a teenager, and the feelings are real, I found out as I got older that I had plenty of people who would have listened to me, believed me, and protected me if I would have reached out.
When I began my road to recovery, when I decided to start telling the truth to the right person (and for me that was my therapist), my life began to turn around for the better.
I found a group of men that felt the same way I did about life; men who had the same fears and believed the same lies about how tainted they were as I did.
I found out that I was not alone and that my voice did matter. The more I talked about my abuse with my therapist and the men who understood me, the better I felt.
I won’t say it’s easy because it was not. However today, I feel alive, smart, intelligent, lovable, and worthy of every ounce of goodness that comes my way.
When I start hearing the voice of shame, I ask myself – Who’s telling you those lies, Randy?
Today I recognize the lies and start feeding myself the truth about who I am, and yes, now and then I must reach out to my wife, therapist, or a male mentor for that affirmation, and that is okay.
I want you to know that there is help for you today and hope for a better life and future. Your voice does matter and there are resources available today – like 1in6 – that will help you begin your journey of healing and hope.
You can read about my journey and the hope I discovered in my book Healing the Man Within, available on Amazon.
By Randy Boyd
Randy Boyd is a licensed California Alcohol and Drug Counselor, the founder of the Courageous Healers Foundation, and an associate of “It Happens to Boys.” He speaks at conferences, schools, and treatment facilities, about the effects of abuse on men, and how men can heal from those effects. Randy is the author of the new groundbreaking book addressing the sexual abuse of boys entitled “Healing the Man Within”, a book for male survivors written by a male survivor.
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