There Is No Shame In Being A Survivor
I think that male survivors carry a great shame with them. As a female survivor, I know that I have. I personally believe that what male survivors carry with them is far greater than ours as women.
You constantly hear people telling survivors, “It’s not your fault.” How often do we tell that to children who survive abuse, or whose family is breaking apart? We all know it to be true . The question is: do we know it in our hearts?
As a fellow survivor, I am here to tell you, “It’s not your fault.” You need not carry any shame; just as a child should not carry any shame from surviving childhood abuse. I know, that is far easier said than done.
Let’s take away gender for a second. Let’s pretend that we are all asexual beings – there are no genders. If one being assaults and violates another being, is that not wrong? Of course it is! So why would it matter what the person’s gender is? We’re not talking about gender, we’re talking about people. You are a PERSON, therefore, you are a survivor, and you have no reason to have any shame.
Regardless of your gender and who you are, you are strong. All survivors are strong, each in their own way. You need to credit yourself for having endured the trauma. You need to realize that you have endured much, and you need to not downplay that. Now is your time. It is your time to own your life, and to own your healing. If you acknowledge your trauma, recognize your strength, and understand that there is no shame or culpability in what you have experienced, you leaping forward in your healing process.
As survivors, we tend to feel shamed and dirty because of what happened to us. The reality of the situation is that we are NOT dirty. Nor do we have anything to be ashamed of. As a man, the shame may be more of a burden than to your female counter-part, again due to social stigmas. You are a strong, brave man. There is no reason for you to be ashamed of your assault. According to the American Heritage Dictionary, the definition of shame is:
a. A painful emotion caused by a strong sense of guilt, embarrassment, unworthiness, or disgrace.
b. Capacity for such a feeling: Have you no shame?
2. One that brings dishonor, disgrace, or condemnation.
3. A condition of disgrace or dishonor; ignominy.
4. A great disappointment.
I want to go through these one by one.
First we have guilt. You MAY feel guilty about your assault. That’s a very common emotion. However, you did absolutely nothing wrong. You have no reason to feel guilty. This was done to/against you. You have no responsibility in this; therefore you cannot have any guilt. I know it’s easier said than dine: stop beating yourself up and feeling guilty. As emotional as something like this is, you need to approach it from a logical perspective. If someone you knew & cared about said they felt guilty, you would tell them that they had no reason to, right? Why would you be any different. It will take some time, but just change your perspective by the slightest angle, and you’ll start to see things in an entirely new light. In that new light, you can begin to heal.
Embarrassment. With the current social stigmas we face, it is absolutely understandable that you would feel embarrassed about your experience. That is why I have written this book. To take away the embarrassment from male survivors. To help raise awareness on a social level. To help you feel safe and confident as a survivor. You have nothing to be embarrassed about. You are an incredibly strong and brave person who endured one of the worst travesties that one human being can inflict upon another.
Unworthiness. There is nothing here that deems someone unworthy. We are all humans deserving of the same rights. Therefore, you are worthy of the rights not to be attacked or violated.
Disgrace. This is a tough one, especially when certain cultural or familial beliefs come into play. I often felt disgraceful, until I started changing my perspective. Disgrace can only come when you do something bad. You might have made some bad choices that led up to your assault, but you did not do anything that warranted being violated. You cannot be a disgrace, because you did nothing wrong. Someone preyed upon you. There is no disgrace in that.
Dishonor. Honor has always been extremely important to me. In fact, I have a tattoo that reads, “Death before dishonor.” Yet, I felt so dishonorable after my rape, and the termination of the resulting pregnancy. Like disgrace, dishonor has to come from your actions. You are in no way culpable for what happened to you, therefore it is impossible that you could be dishonorable.
A great disappointment. Your experience was by far a great disappointment. Anyone who endures attacks like that can become greatly disappointed. We become disappointed in people, especially those that hurt us the most. We become disappointed with the darkness and selfishness of this world. We may become disappointed with the legal system should we try to press charges. A rape changes everything, and can cause us many disappointments. However, we ourselves, as survivors, are not disappointments to ourselves or anyone else. We are the brave, the strong ones who made it. You cannot be disappointed by a hero’s courage.
I hope that by looking at those definitions and words, you have found peace in your heart, and that you no long carry shame with you. There is no reason for you to feel shameful. You are a survivor.
If a friend (regardless of gender) told you that they were assaulted, would you blame them? Of course not! So, stop blaming yourself! Living in shame, carrying blame – all that does is continue to hurt you more and slow down your healing even more! Do you really want your assaulter to have that kind of control over your life? No! They don’t deserve it! Take back your life. This is your time to live a full life as a man.