Abuse survivor faces fear and loneliness
BY Ask Amy
Saturday, September 29, 2012
9/29/12 at 4:17 AM
Dear Amy: I am a single, Christian male in my mid-50s. I was molested and raped from the age of 11 to 12 by a man who was a community leader and a family friend. Though I have struggled with disabling depression for as long as I can remember, I realize that it is probably a mistake to attribute all of my pain and dysfunction to this unfortunate history.
An antidepressant I have taken for 10 years or so has allowed me to function at home and work, but I am still unable to tolerate the physical touch of another human being. As you might expect, this has presented a serious obstacle to establishing close relationships, particularly with women. (My last therapist recommended a sexual surrogate, which is not an option.)
Must I resign myself to a solitary life? - Damaged Goods
Dear Damaged: I am not a clinician, but a sympathetic observer, and I am so sorry for what you have been through.
Professional help is vital. It is possible that you may have misunderstood the purpose of using a sexual surrogate, or the function of such a surrogate. In your case, it would not be for sex but to gradually introduce being touched by another human being.
Touch is a necessity for emotional and physical health. Most touch is not sexual, and it seems logical that you should start with simple, brief and benign experiences involving touch - having a hand or a foot massage, or having your feet washed at church, for instance (this experience can be profound).
Check out the sexual abuse support group malesurvivor.org. This strong network of survivors can refer you to a local or online support group.
Dear Amy: "Heartbroken" wondered whether to invite her estranged (combative and drinking) father to her graduation party. I was in her shoes. My dad, an alcoholic, was in and out of rehab.
While I was discussing graduation details with my mother, I had her put my dad on the phone while he was (relatively) sober. I told him that I wanted him to see me graduate, but that he had to be sober the entire trip because I had no intention of worrying about him while I was celebrating a major life achievement. I told him to stay home if he didn't think he could stay sober during the visit.
He came, he stayed sober (at least as far as I know) and everyone had a wonderful time. He eventually returned to rehab and was sober when he died. Tell Heartbroken to be honest with her dad in terms of her expectations. - The Graduate
Dear Graduate: I think it's very wise to lay down extremely clear and reasonable expectations.
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