Below are selected words of wisdom and encouragement that were sent to Mike Lew and published in his book, Leaping Upon the Mountains: Men Proclaiming Victory Over Sexual Child Abuse.
The men and their words are real, as are their ages and where they live. Only their names have been changed.
These men gave Mike Lew permission to publish these “victorious messages” for the benefit of others, and he has given 1in6 permission to publish them here.
Not all of these men will speak to your situation. As always, take what you need and leave the rest.
Al, 21, Ontario, Canada
Don’t run. Face the fear.
Chris, 22, Texas
You’re not alone. Even though no one has been through exactly what you may have been through, the recovery is all similar.… The process is not quick. The occurrences will never go away. But you can move on.… We are not abnormal. We have simply been through something that some men have not. Don’t let it cripple your life.
John, 24, New York
When I have the urge to numb out, escape, return to addiction, withdraw, or not take care of myself, I imagine all the people who abused me lined up in a row, cackling at me – a piercing and sobering reminder that, when I honor myself, the abusers have no power over my new life. In short: LIVING WELL IS THE BEST REVENGE.
Angelo, 25, Massachusetts
Recovery is a process, not an event. It may take time, but recovery is a reality. I have gone through a lot of pain and legitimate suffering in order to heal. There is nothing like the joy of recovering yourself.
Steven, 26, New Hampshire
There is someone out there who accepts you as is – not what they want you to be – but as is!
Dan, 28, Massachusetts
Don’t ever give up. Remember that you are a good person and what happened was not your fault (not our fault). It’s OK to love yourself. There are more of us out here ready, willing, and able to help.
Steffano, 29, New York
Recovery and healing are possible for us. Trust in the process. You will experience great freedom!
John, 30, New York
It is possible to recover love and trust again.
Henry, 30, Illinois
I have found myself healing faster once I accepted the fact that the recovery process is just that, a process; it will not end the way the need for it began – in an abrupt, single event. This has allowed me to replace the anxiety and panic my self-imposed time frames “getting better” evoked with the positive feelings of hope and trust that I will get well.
Mark, 30, Indiana
Don’t be afraid to face the fear that is deep within. Healing and cleansing come from getting it out. Also, consider telling others about [the] abuse when you are ready. The abuse uses the victimizing power of silence.
Ross, 30, Georgia
Follow your heart.
Pete, 30, California
Take care of your physical health! Stress, depression, and repressed anger can take a big toll on you!
Julian, 30, Hong Kong
The more I open myself, the more I feel refreshed.
Warren, 31, Ontario, Canada
The positive changes that I am now seeing in my life are worth all the pain that I have gone through and all the struggles yet to come.… It hurts, I know. But it IS worth it.
Sam, 31, Nigeria
Now I can recognize a safe place when I am in one. So can you.
Keith, 31, Quebec, Canada
A message I… have for others who are on this journey of recovery/rediscovery is not to rush. I heal of my pain only when I am ready and strong enough to uncover it, and not before.
Geoffrey, 32, Colorado
I would encourage [others] to do whatever it takes to keep themselves out of denial. It would be great if I had never been sexually abused, but there is no more pretending. My goal is to continue to integrate this knowledge of my past into my current awareness of my being, without getting stuck in the abuse itself. I will always be a man who was sexually abused as a boy by my father’s buddy. With conscious knowledge of this today, I make myself clean, whole, and proud to be male.
Frank, 34, New York
We are, unfortunately, many. You are not alone. Seek out those who can play a part in the healing. Step by step, I’ve tried to come into the light. So far, it feels warmer here.
Lawrence, 35, New York
It gets much better if you just stay with it.
Kevin, 35, Pennsylvania
Please don’t judge yourself or your actions, past or present.… Accept that you’re trying to heal the pain.… I’m learning to respond to love and let go of the abuse.
Patrick, 35, Rhode Island
Read Victims No Longer. Get a good therapist.… Arrest any addictions through going to the appropriate Anonymous Programs available.… Give yourself a break – and break your silence. Talk therapy works.…
Rick, 35, Montana
Don’t go it alone. Find someone you can talk to and share your thoughts and, more importantly, your feelings.
Randy, 36, Tennessee
Life isn’t perfect, but it keeps on getting better.
Pete, 36, New York
Once you truly believe it is possible to heal, it starts to happen.
Timothy, 37, Alabama
While the pain for me hasn’t gone away entirely, it has become infinitely more workable. Still have difficulties with PTSD [posttraumatic stress disorder] and dissociative issues, but better and better. Still scary, but OK, too, in a weird sort of way. Life is good. The war is over. Take time out to go to the woods. Chop wood. Wax the car. Cook dinners with patience. Lean into the Silence and see what it has to say.
Will, 37, Pennsylvania
The most difficult thing for me… has been to separate the physiological response I had during the abuse – my own arousal – from the victimization.… For years I could not see myself as a young man who had been victimized because I had felt pleasure… My anger at this is something I am… now able to deal with…
Tony, 38, Florida
Take a step back to visit the past so you can move on with your life – and remember it’s not your fault!!!
Michael, 38, Ohio
That you are not alone, that abuse happens to boys more than anyone would care to admit, that there are networks and chat rooms and groups of your brothers and sisters meeting somewhere near you right now. We must protect and defend one another, especially when men are first coming to grips with the impact of the abuse on their lives, when they are most vulnerable. In providing strength and support to one another, in protecting one another, we are creating a safe community in which we ourselves, the protectors, will also be protected.
Bob, 39, Pennsylvania
Keep on moving ahead. Don’t be discouraged by setbacks.
Michael, 40, New Jersey
Everything that I lost or thought I lost is coming back to me as I find the courage to keep in the open that which has been kept in the dark for so long.
Roger, 44, Florida
Learn all you can about the consequences of the abuse. The abuse is not our fault, but recovery is our responsibility. Good luck.
Charles, 45, Illinois
You have the right to heal. There is help available. You can find a support network. Recovery takes time but is worth it. Do this for yourself.
Hamid, 52, Denmark
I will continue my own process; hopefully it will be not too turbulent. I have a kind of inner optimism. There will be ups and downs. The more I can accept what my childhood was really like, the better the inner quality of my life will become.
Ali, 53, Egypt
Some days I wish that change would come faster. Yet I know that for a tree to grow takes time – to sink deep roots – to spread among branches. Have patience. You, too, will grow stronger.
Will, 55, Alaska
I’m getting better. Life is worth living. You can do it, too.