In the wake of the terrible sexual harassment allegations against Harvey Weinstein, women all over social media are stepping forward to bravely say the words “Me Too” to show that they have also been victims of sexual harassment or sexual assault. The idea behind this movement is to show how widespread and how prevalent this behavior is, and hopefully it’s a wake up call for many.
This behavior is something I know all too well. I look back on certain events in my past and know I was objectifying women, or treating them disrespectfully. Most of the men I work with have the same issues, and these are some of the behaviors we work through in their counseling. I had to work through them too as part of my own recovery.
But there’s another side to this coin. There are also some men stepping forward to say “Me Too,” and I want to bring some attention to this, because it might be their first step towards living a better life.
Did Something Happen In Your Past?
When I first begin working with a sex or porn addict, I start with a questionnaire. Right at the top of the page I ask them to tell me about sex, from the earliest moment when they understood it. To put it bluntly, at what point did you first realize that your penis was for more than urination?
This is an important question, because for many of the men I work with, this moment isn’t the result of a normal sexual awakening that happened at a developmentally appropriate time. More often than not, it’s a moment of abuse, of impropriety, or of a person who was supposed to protect them overstepping their bounds.
These experiences are the beginning of the end for many men. The point at which they break off from what might have otherwise been a normal life with committed relationships, healthy views on intimacy, and respect for their partners.
Or perhaps the moment happened later in life. Some men I work with had relatively safe and normal upbringings, but then had a traumatic sexual experience in young adulthood. These might include assault, unwanted sexual contact, harassment, humiliation, coercion, or rape. You do not simply bounce back after an experience like that, and if you’ve had such a moment in your life, I want you to begin examining it.
A Fracturing Point
When a traumatic sexual experience happens, regardless of age, a fracture occurs in your life. In your mind you break off from yourself, and your relationship with sex from that point on is altered.
More than likely, what you’re experiencing is a form of PTSD. Not many people realize this, because we tend to associate that with military service, or terrible accidents, but remember that triggering events can take many forms. Perhaps you’ve been able to get on with your life. Perhaps you haven’t seen your abuser in decades, and figure you’re safe and there’s nothing to worry about. But if thinking about your “Me too” moment causes you distress, those feelings are symptoms of post-traumatic stress, and they’re real. They’re valid.
If you don’t feel good about what happened to you, it may be time to work through this moment of fracture with a professional, because everything that happened after that first traumatic experience has been different because of it.
These Experiences Often Come With Complicated Emotions
One of the reasons you saw so few men posting “Me Too” on your social media accounts doesn’t necessarily mean that your male friends haven’t had these experiences. It may be that they’re afraid to come forward.
We have these ideas that men can’t be overpowered sexually, that only men can rape, that male abuse victims are pathetic people who “let” a woman mistreat them, that men are eager and willing participants in any sexual experience – and they are all false and damaging.
Furthermore, men are generally discouraged from seeking out help. Talking to a therapist might label them as “crazy,” admitting they have a problem might label them as “weak.” There’s an awful lot of pressure for men to hide their feelings and suppress their emotions, and that approach simply doesn’t work. Men who try to work through complicated sexual issues alone often wind up taking on destructive habits such as sex or porn addiction.
Men will sometimes convince themselves that they liked their experience because it resulted in an orgasm. Or they’ll re-write the script to make it feel like they had more control over what happened. But when they sit quietly with themselves, when they really allow themselves to explore their feelings about their traumatic sexual experiences, the truth will be there, and it won’t be pretty.
So, you may not want to go running to Facebook or Twitter to share your “Me Too” with the world, but I want you to seriously consider sharing it with someone who can help you.
Remember, this whole movement began because an abusive man did terrible things to women. He had a warped view of sexuality and intimacy, and he hurt and humiliated those around him. And considering the fact that many abusers were abused themselves, I wonder if somewhere in Harvey Weinstein’s past he has a “Me too” moment that was never addressed; a fracture that was never healed.
You can get help before your “Me Too” moment spins out of control, before it further corrupts your views on sex and intimacy, and before it hurts anyone else. You don’t have to shout it on social media, but you can instead face it in a setting of confidentiality. You can begin to heal that fracture, and move past it into a better life.
If you’ve recently had a wake-up call about a “Me Too” moment, pick up the phone and call us.