"Phoenix Warriors - Beyond The Ashes of Childhood Sexual Abuse"
Donna Bailey and Ján L Frayne met online in the early part of 2012.
Expect the new book during June!
I was approached before last Christmas by a journalist for BBC Wales. She writes for the Welsh language section of their news website. She asked me to share my story.
I've shared my story many times in English, but never in my "mother tongue" of Welsh.
The story was published on January 24th. I've included an English version of the information I sent her below the Welsh.
Dioddef yn dawel
'Nid fi sydd ar fai'
I am a male survivor of childhood sexual, physical and emotional abuse. My story stretches over almost five decades. The impact of what was done to me inmy formative years affecting most of my adult life. I was sexually and physically abused over a period of ten years from about the age of eighteen months old. The abuse was carried out by both family members and their friends.In my teens and early twenties I was sexually assaulted - as a result of what happened to me as a child. The emotional abuse lasted decades. The result of this was that I became a dysfunctional adult. I suffered depression, personality disorders, obsessive compulsions, self-loathing as well as living with the physical legacy of years of abuse. My mind and body were fractured, distorted. I lived with most of this totally oblivious as to the reason. The abuse was so traumatic that my conscious mind blacked out the memories, burying them deep in my subconcious. Being unable to understand what was wrong with me added to my pain. It was only through self-realization and tottering on the edge of sanity that the truthcame out. That was in early 2011. The journey since then has been painful but uplifting. I've been through various therapies, I've had to dismantle my life and putit back together piece by piece. The pain is still there, both emotional and physical, but I know now how to minimize it, to control it even. There are still dark moments; I imagine there always will be. The difference now is that I understand the reasons; I understand that the blame is not mine. The past no longer controls me; instead I have taken control of how I let it affect me. Well... Most of the time.I had decades of stumbling around in the dark. Resources for survivors of sexual abuse were almost non-existent. I knew my entire life that bad things had happened to me as a child, I knew I'd had "naughty" stuff done. I just didn't realize how much, over such a long time and by so many. Writing became an escape for me, a therapy in itself. I was able to express in poetry and prose the horror that my tongue would not speak.
Even today the resources for male survivors of any form of sexual abuse are few and far between. I've spent over four years trying to raise the profile of male survivors, trying to reach out via my first book "Beyond Survivor - Rising From The Ashes Of Childhood Sexual Abuse", via online advocacy and by writing articles for other books and online resources. Male victims of sexual crime are often ridiculed. I have worked to dispel the myths and misconceptions that surround male survivors of abuse. Whilst many of the side effects are not gender specific, there are both subtle and distinct areas of difference. I spent nearly all holidays at my grandparents’ home. This amounted to some 13 weeks a year. My father was frequently working away at sea and my mother ran her own business. Dad had an accident at sea and came home fulltime when I was about 8 years old. Mum had battled with cancer a few times and passed away when I was 9years old. The grandfather was a Tailor and worked in a Gentlemen's Outfitters as well as from home. He was an alcoholic. He and my grandmother did not share a bed, or bedroom. During the vacations I had to share a bed with the grandfather much of the time. My grandmother also worked occasionally at the same business as him and also helped with the sewing at home. She was a very social lady and was frequently out for hours at a time. She also helped cleaning in some local houses and was a companion to some of the more elderly people in the village. She was seemingly oblivious to what was happening. Grandfathers brother was a Calvinistic Methodist minister. He was also one of those that used my body, on occasion at the same time as his brother. The abuse was intermittent, maybe days, weeks could pass. It started when I was a toddler and went on until I was 12 years old. Others were involved, friends of Grandfathers mostly. Grandfather was the "main" abuser. I wrote the following about one particular incident: I can still see the hand on my body, blue veined, fingers stained yellow by tobacco,running over my once innocent flesh with a possession that was almost complete. That foul dirty invading hand slipping under my waistband, I close my eyes, pretend I am not there. The voice, telling me I have to learn new things, I have to understand what happens when I get hard, I have to know what to do when I am a man. The hand again, now invading my most private and innermost areas. My rectum reacts and I am told to relax, it will feel good, it will help me to sleep. Sleep? Sleep and I are not good friends. Sleep makes me vulnerable to the hand. The smell, dirty whiskey breath, invades my senses. The smell of teeth unwashed, hands unwashed, a body fetid. The rope now cuts into my wrists, tightened by the hand. I am helpless, I cannot fight. I do not. I just wait, close my eyes and wait. I am flying now, I am a dragon. My wrists burn, my insides burn hotter. The hand is everywhere. Drunken anger accompanies the hand and its invasion. I hurt, I am ashamed, I hurt.The hand is my enemy, it's fingers sew together my finger tips, it's fingers rip my flesh. It's strength fuelled by drink and a foul passion. The hand once held me as a baby, nurturing me, waiting for its moment. The hand has my blood in its veins. Why is the hand trying to kill me. The hand puts its fingers into my mouth. Foul, smelling fingers, I choke. I whisper to myself “I am a dragon, I can fly.” The hand takes my stitched fingers and I have to hold his member. The hand controls mine. I feel sick once more, I close my eyes, I wait, I hope. Now I see the hand, and I smell the lingering fetid memory. Now, when I should take joy from love, I see the hand and I am reminded of it's power. I cannot relax, dare not sleep, dare not give all of me over. The hand is waiting, if only when I close my eyes, if only when I sleep. The hand and it's friends they took what was me, they ripped it up, they bruised and destroyed, they stole my innocence, my life. In an attempt to stop the thick skin on the top of my fingers being used by the grandfather to stitch my fingertips together I started cutting the skin off the tops and sides of my fingers using a nail clippers and nail file. I chewed my nails to beneath the "quick" anyway, but I also started cutting away the cuticle too. The cutting continued into my twenties at different intervals and I have tried all ways to stop biting my nails and chewing my fingers to this day. A small coke bottle or similar object was used several times over the years to "bugger" me. Always I was tied down, and always insects and or earth worms were placed inside the bottlefirst. Sometimes I'd be tied down over his sewing bench, others I'd be suspended from shackles high up on the wall of his work room. I would be left like that for a minimum of an hour, up to three or four depending on where my grandmother was.. It seems that patterns of abuse emerge when one is able to look back at life with impartiality. Choices I made as a young adult are now, with hindsight, obviously influenced by the conditioning received during childhood. So often in my adult lifeI had placed myself in abusive situations. I was conditioned to be an underdog, to lie, to steal, to cheat to please others and simply to survive. Physical contact from another was nearly always associated with a feeling of being dirty, of having been used, of waiting for the pain to return. I told my sister what had happened when I was sixteen. I also told an aunt. Neither believed me. I had told my Dad when I was 7-8 that I didn't like going to see my grandfather, that bad things happened. He did nothing. I remained mostly silent until I was in my early forties. My Dad died when I was nineteen, the grandfather when I was twenty one. As far as I know all those that hurt me are all dead. Now I am believed. Others have spoken to me and have said that they too were abused by "him". I haven't worked since 2011. My physical health has suffered over the years but the affect on my mental health is the most severe. I am on antidepressants, anti anxiety medications and sleeping tablets. What happened to me in childhood affected me my entire life. Through therapy, mindfullness and sheer determination I have improved a great deal. I spend a lot of time writing, trying to help others and myself. I meditate and try to enjoy the beauty in life. I am still very nervous but that will improve with time. I have hope. Specialised support via the NHS for victims is minimal. For male victims even worse. The same goes in the private sector as far as male victims are concerned. Men are Supposed to be the strong ones. Abuse has no gender, race, or religious boundaries. Those that think it couldn't or wouldn't happen in their locality are blind to the truth. Victims of sex crimes are frequently reluctant to disclose such crimes. Be they adult victims of rape, children currently being abused sexually or adults who were sexually abused in childhood. Our sexuality is the most intimate and personal aspect of our lives. To have that invaded, soiled, and degraded is the most heinous of offences against our person. It takes an immense amount of courage to tell someone that we have been a victim of sex crimes. Fear and coercion is frequently used to try and keep the victim silent and it's not just the perpetrator of the crime that tries to keep the victim silent. Family, friends, colleagues or authority figures often use the "shame" card or simply blunt disbelief to silence the victim. In so doing they are almost as guilty as the rapist or abusers themselves. "Nimby"ism in the most extreme form.. If the victim gets past these negative influences they then have to go through the process of retelling their history in order to try and seek justice, therapy and some closure. There have been some improvements in recent years, but nowhere near enough. The system itself is corrupt. The perpetrator must be seen as innocent until proven guilty. This basically makes the victim a liar until the courts decide they were telling the truth. The system does not work. Perpetrators often get very lenient sentences. I am a strong supporter of mandatory reporting. It should be a crime to not report the abuse of children. Better to have the concern proven wrong than for a child to continue suffering. A great deal of the healing process is about making changes. Changes to how we think, changes to how we respond to various stimuli, changes as to how we perceive ourselves. Some people will no doubt think "why should I change!? I didn't do anything wrong!" Well.. By changing even small things in our lives we can start an avalanche of positive change that could benefit all aspects of our lives. As with any form of therapy, it works much better if you want it too. Acceptance of the fact that you need help is a huge step. Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness. It worked for me, though I am still on my own healing journey. I know that I am safe, that life is far better than it used to be. Again, I have hope. How many men do you know that refuse to show pain, or admit illness? Would they freely admit that they had been "victims" and that they had been rendered helpless and attacked sexually? This is the case for childhood sexual abuse as well as adult rape. Not all men feel this way, otherwise there would be no reporting of sex crimes against men at all. Unfortunately, society still seems to expect men to be the strong, silent, tough guys. Men dare not show weakness. Men should not cry. Men should be the hunter and not the hunted. What total rubbish. This mentality is damaging to men as a whole, and especially so to those that are the victims. I know many men who will not speak out because they are afraid to be seen as weak, that they will be laughed at, that society will consider them "less of a man". These men suffer in silence, keeping the secrets of those that abused them in the first place. This society induced conspiracy of silence that surrounds these men prevents them from seeking the help they need, from sharing their burden with their nearest and dearest, and permits the abuser the freedom to carry on with their vile crimes undetected. I know many men will think that it's better to "shut up and put up" and that they would rather die than divulge the crimes against them. In truth, many boys and men do die. Suicide being preferable to speaking out. The rapist or paedophile wins every time. This has to STOP.