Men: Look to Your Past. Do You Have a “Me Too” Moment?

CS blog header me tooIn 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.

 

4 thoughts on “Men: Look to Your Past. Do You Have a “Me Too” Moment?

  1. Kate

    Thank you so much, for writing this very important blog post, and for all that you do! I’m just beginning to read about your work, and I’ll be ordering your book(s).

    I have been dating a man (off & on, since at times he’ll break up with me by saying he’s afraid of hurting me, and he’s incapable of loving me in the way that he should) for 3 1/2 years. I feel very certain that there is one or several “Me Too” moments in his past. There have been times when I’ve been certain he has had a triggering experience, like when the movie Spotlight came out, and I noticed that he was crying when an ad for it came on TV. I asked some kind of mundane question while the ad was on, and he choked getting the answer out. I asked if there was something upsetting him, and he said no, then denied that he was upset, so I let it go figuring he had to be ready to share. I live close to Boston, and there are some wonderful support groups for victims of sexual abuse perpetrated by priests (which I’m not sure is the case with my boyfriend, though it is certainly a possibility given that he went to Catholic school and the ad for Spotlight seemed to be a trigger). I spoke to a facilitator of one of these groups and went to some group meetings, to prepare myself if that was what may eventually be revealed. I gained insight and admired the people I met through that group so much, but eventually I felt I couldn’t do more until my boyfriend was ready to share more with me.

    He’s the epitome of stoic masculinity, but with a very sensitive, empathetic, caring, nurturing core. He is so protective of any vulnerable person, so compassionate, but when it comes to nurturing himself he doesn’t seem to feel he deserves self care or care from others. Often the root of him dumping me follows me doing something showing my appreciation for him, which makes him uncomfortable, then I he usually gets distant (I think he likely has sex with someone else, or does something sexually impulsive that he is later ashamed of), usually the ways he intermittently connects with me during that time involves some pretty extreme fantasies he has that involve castration (I honestly can see where those fantasies might come from, given that I believe he has a sexual addiction that could be an escape from memories of a traumatic experience, and he is clearly ashamed of many aspects of his hyper sexuality and his fetishes. I have no judgement of this extreme fantasy, but it does frighten me because it could be very dangerous and seems to come from a very self harming/loathing place). He then breaks up with me, and I don’t focus on the pain of being dumped, but rather the fear that he will harm himself.

    One time I was so concerned that I reached out to his mother, sister, and best friend. I feared he could be suicidal, but when I told him I felt scared he would harm himself he admitted depression, but denied that he would harm himself. He assured me that he would seek help is he felt out of control, or like he would hurt himself. Reaching out to his family and friends was a tightrope walk, since he doesn’t tell them when he breaks up with me, and I know he puts on a happy face for them (as much as possible). I said that he was down on himself, and asked them to be aware of that. He knows now that I reached out to them that time (I told him), but I don’t know much about that time apart from him. He told me he saw a therapist, which may be true, but I’m certain didn’t get to the depth of his self hatred, though he did seem much better when he reached out to me again.

    He has a lot of shame surrounding his sexual impulsivity, but doesn’t admit to an addiction. He has been involved in swinger type circles, and has friends from that community. He says (& I believe) that he wants a marriage, trust, monogamy with some shared more sexually open experiences (which I am open to, and enjoy, but I’m not sure what might be harmful given what I feel is an obvious addiction on his part). I feel nervous when we are apart, that other sexual partners may not care, or be aware of, his vulnerability, or worse, they could take advantage of it. And, yes, I make sure that we both are STD tested regularly. He is very good about safe sex ppractices when it comes to diseases, which some might find unbelievable given other self harming behavior, but I have never had even the slightest scare from a disease perspective.

    I struggle to figure out how I could be enabling, versus my intent of creating a safe place (with me). My hope is that eventually he will feel able to share his pain with me, though I’m aware of the likelihood with many addict experiences of needing to hit rock bottom. I love him very much, and I know he loves me too. Though there is a lot of pain, it still feels very worthwhile to stick with him.

    My plan is to read your books now, to gain insight. I hope my sharing this story may be helpful to someone reading it, and I am open to any advice you may have too.

    💞💞💞

    1. Compulsion Solutions Post author

      Kate, Good to hear from you. Glad you liked the blog. It would be BEST for you and/or your boyfriend to read our two books and for him to call here and talk over what’s going on for him. He needs some professional help. I’d be happy to do a free phone assessment of his situation with him. We do phone and Skype work with men from all over the world.

      Best, George Collins, Director
      (925) 932-0201

      1. Kate

        Thank you, George! I know he would absolutely benefit from professional help, but I also know he needs to be ready and open for that. I will read your books, and will do all that I can to support him, but I’m at a loss since I know only he can set himself on a path to recovery. Can you tell me if you have anyone in your practice who has dealt with being patient and supporting a partner, and building a safe place in a relationship, prior to recovery? It’s not something many therapists deal with, as they all seem to take the path of leading people into recovery through intervention. I do not feel my boyfriend can be pushed, and in fact pushing/encouraging leads to burying his repressed pain further, by my observations. I do not want to enable, but I would like to approach with love and support rather than acting like he “has a problem”. I don’t see him as having a problem, rather I see him as in deep pain and isolation.

        1. Compulsion Solutions Post author

          Kate, Sex addiction is a miserable way of being. I know. I lived it. Hopefully, you’ll be able to influence your BF. If not, have the smarts to move on. There are a lot of good men who would be happy to have a dedicated and thoughtful woman like you as a partner.

          Best, George

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