A need for these groups was identified due to the number of men and women asking for help.
These men and women are the forgotten victims of childhood sexual abuse, yet it has been proved that the abuse can lead to a wide range of serious emotional, family and social problems. There is also a strong correlation between childhood abuse and alcohol, drug and other addictions, as well as mental health and sexual problems. The cost of this personally and to society is enormous. These men and women often face disbelief when they try to tell what has happened to them. They have often been given inappropriate labels such as psychotic or personality disorder or simply been ignored. Many have been to told by friends families and professionals "to get on with their lives" or to just "try to forget it"!
Adults who were where sexually abused as children have usually been pressured into not talking about it and through a combination of fear, shame, guilt, embarrassment and the concern that no one will believe them they have kept the secret for many years.
For many of the adults who have contacted us it is the first time they have disclosed their abuse, as many find it difficult to open up initially to someone who has not been abused. Men often feel they may have the extra stigmas society puts on males, e.g. loss of macho image. Society as a whole finds child sexual abuse an uncomfortable subject, which just reinforces the stigma and the feelings of guilt and shame which survivors experience.
The majority of survivors do not get any regular support due to various factors - lack of therapy services, social ignorance and stigma.
Also survivors may not be able to access therapy /counselling when it is first recognised to be needed for them due to many factors e.g. underfunding of NHS therapy services and long waiting lists, even in the voluntary and private sectors.
HOPE groups aim to support these adults during this difficult time between deciding to heal and waiting for professional help, and to continue that support throughout the healing process.
Many of the men and women who were sexually abused as children are now in their 30s, 40s or 50s and older. Less was known then about the effects of sexual abuse in later life and about the prevalence or manifestation of sexual abuse in families. Their experiences were often ignored, or it was considered best not to talk about them, and there were no confidential helplines like ChildLine (0800 1111) for them to turn to. So they have carried the guilt, shame and pain of what happened to them for many years which makes it all the more difficult to tackle. Unfortunately, not facing up to abuse when it happens or shortly after, can make the symptoms more devastating and long term.
Therefore these adults start the difficult healing process disadvantaged and needing encouragement and support especially from fellow survivors who have been through, or are going through, the disclosure, healing and recovery process.
By raising awareness and reaching out to younger adults sixteen years and over we hope to avoid many of the long-term affects so that they can process their experiences earlier and head off future mental distress, and lessen it's severity.
Survivors are often disadvantaged by mental, emotional, psychological, and physical problems, which can only be addressed by recovery from their childhood sexual abuse.
Many survivors of abuse are isolated and alone because of the effects of their abuse e.g.. Mental health problems, relationship problems, sexual problems and social stigma. HOPE brings them together in a safe environment, where they can make friends and overcome problems and move on in their lives.
Healing Our Past Experiences
Self-help and support services for adult survivors of childhood and or adult sexual abuse
Charity reg no1119389
In the short time since the HOPE groups have become known we have had many people, both male and female come forward asking for assistance with rape issues. Many of these have been raped as adults, many as children. Some of those who have come forward have been confused as to what they were asking for help with, statements such as 'I wasn?t sexually abused as a child, but I was raped when I was 12/14.' This is child abuse.
Many childhood sexual abuse victims, don't know how to say 'no' as adults and as a consequence, end up in situations they cannot handle.
Male survivors of childhood sexual abuse and male rape have, until recently, been the silent, unseen victims of sex crimes; often forgotten by the support services and legal system. About one in 5 adult rape victims are male. Male rape does not only happen in prisons, it also happens in peoples homes, parks, the army, children's homes; in fact male rape can happen almost anywhere. It also matters little how strong you are, it can happen to almost any male.
When men and women receive early support it makes a huge difference.
A fundamental part of the healing process is being able to talk to people who understand.
Article by Pauline Carruthers
It takes strength to be firm,
It takes courage to be gentle.
It takes strength to conquer,
It takes courage to surrender.
It takes strength to be certain,
It takes courage to have doubt.
It takes strength to fit in,
It takes courage to stand out.
It takes strength to feel a friend's pain,
It takes courage to feel your own pain.
It takes strength to endure abuse,
It takes courage to stop it.
It takes strength to stand alone,
It takes courage to lean on another.
It takes strength to love,
It takes courage to be loved.
It takes strength to survive,
It takes courage to live.