I almost always write about books I’ve read in the past… peppered with a few new ones as I come across and read them. Today is an exception. I bought this book because of my blog. And this one is for men and the people who love them.
I would be remiss, at this point not to mention the Possible Trigger Warning.
Victims No Longer by Mike Lew is “The Classic Guide for Men Recovering from Sexual Child Abuse” and I can see why. I certainly don’t know for sure but it certainly seems as if it should be! It is a resource book that should be in every therapist’s collection… because, as we know, little girls and women are not alone in having been sexually molested or abused.
As I was doing research for this post, I ran across this site called Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP). I mention it for obvious reasons but it’s also the “In The News” part of this post. Just when we’ve “forgotten” about it, another case bubbles to the surface. I can only imagine how many men are silent.
Of course, it isn’t just priests abusing boys and young men… it’s coaches (all too prevalent), teachers, scout leaders, family members… the list goes on and on, just as it does for women.
And of course, some of the results are the same for both genders. Lew, a psychotherapist who has worked with both men and women, compiled a list of the current effects of sexual abuse in men. Among the substantial list: Intense, violent nightmares, Fear that everyone is a potential attacker, Flashbacks, Compulsive behaviors (with food and sex, for example) and so much more.
Lew says this book “challenged [him], taught [him] and changed [him] profoundly” and I can see why. It is the most comprehensive guide — and I call it a guide, he doesn’t — to this topic. His hopes for the book are clear:
- Validation and honoring the survivor
- Assistiing those who care about male survivors
- Guidance and reassurance to those who are new to healing
- Growth and healing for all
The book is presented in five sections:
- Abuse – Myths and Realities
- Survival and Aftereffects
- People (Partners, Family & Friends) and Other Resources
This book is so thorough and extensive that it includes a 12-Step Section, as well as sections for Native American/Indian Survivors, Clergy Survivors, Jewish Survivors and so many others.
You may notice I’m not giving you the “meat” of the book and there’s a reason for that. Actually, two reasons. The first is that it would require several thousand words and nobody wants to read that much from me (grin) but more importantly, as a person who insists on honesty and ethical treatment of all the subjects I discuss, I leave this to the expert — in this case, Mike Lew.
Do I have a history with this subject? Yes, I sadly do. My son’s story has been told in bits and pieces throughout this blog and while I’ve been very careful and mindful of his privacy, I’ve shared a lot. I know he wouldn’t want me making him a poster child for abuse and disabilities. So, all I’ll say here is that he was sexually molested by a family in our church, as our oldest daughter was, as well. Both he and his sister suffered and continue to suffer in certain (sometimes similar, sometimes different) ways.
Just consider this, for example… and I can include myself in this one because of my own childhood sexual abuse (previously discussed here):
One of the effects of childhood sexual abuse is sexual acting out. For girls, this often leads to promiscuity and/or a desire to use sexuality to get something in return (whether it’s love, gifts or money). She is soon labeled a “slut” or “whore”. For a man, it’s the same thing with the sexual acting out… but… he just seems virile, passionate or that old standby “boys will be boys.” Yes, some of it is pure sexism but some of it goes straight to what society has long-believed: She’s dirty, used goods… He’s, at worst, a Lothario. You see how that works?
This book is written in plain, simple English and very easy to follow. It is NOT light reading, obviously. It definitely provides a safe space where men who are victims can begin to regain their personal power and build strong relationships with others; especially their life partners.
Will this book save your life? It might… if you haven’t dealt with abuse from your past it is a starting point … a first step. Yes, you’ll probably need help and Lew discusses that, as well. In fact, he discusses absolutely anything you can think of with regard to this subject.
EXCELLENT, EXCELLENT, EXCELLENT. My seal of approval on this one!