Male rape victim tells his story: 'My abuse happened within my family'
As a male survivor of childhood sexual abuse, I received the right support from the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre (DRCC) and it has changed my life.
Prior to attending therapy, my feelings about the abuse were too painful for me cope with. I tried to keep everything under a lid while going to college and starting in my first jobs but I had ongoing suicidal feelings and long-term problems with depression, panic and even alcoholism which I kept secret.
Coming in the door was a huge step at the beginning, my first counsellor at RCC was male and he helped me to trust men again and to understand the very deep impact the past abuse had and was still having on my life.
During these times I used the RCC helpline service frequently and this was a great support in between sessions.
I then started therapy with a female counsellor who I continue therapy with today. Trusting a new person with my story was a challenge at first but the kindness and support I get makes me always want to come back to therapy. It helps knowing that my counsellor is there to support my needs and at my pace.
Although I am stronger in myself now, I still need therapy to deal with the challenges I face. Especially in work situations, with family, in all relationships and with intimacy. I can talk with my counsellor about anything and she is always an amazing support to me.
I attended group therapy for a time at RCC where I met with other people who were dealing with sexual abuse and coping with life struggles too. People shared their stories and this helped me to feel safe and secure at a very deep level with other people.
My abuse happened within my family, because of the bond in group therapy and the support from the counsellors there, I learned to overcome some of the deep feelings of shame I was experiencing. I can now be in a group or a meeting at work and not experience post traumatic stress symptoms.
RCC held an art therapy workshop and that really helped me to release feelings which I was not yet able to identify or talk about. I have started to paint since and this helps me when I feel distressed at times.
Although I still face struggles, I now have experiences of survival and recovery too and not just abuse. That makes me so much stronger. The ongoing support from the RCC means that I have a much better quality of life now. It is really important to know the RCC is there, understanding and supporting me and the other victims of sexual abuse.
Life now seems possible!
If you have been affected by the content in this article, the National 24-hour helpline can be reached on 1800 77 88 88.
*Aaron is not this man's real name. The testimonial was included in the DRCC's annual report on p.16 (www.drcc.ie) and was read by an actor to close the report's launch this morning.