When being interviewed, I am often made aware of how strange it was to see a woman authoring a book on male sexual abuse…
In case you are curious…here’s an explanation of how I came to care about male survivor issues:
Prior to becoming a psychologist I was an RCMP officer. I specialized in investigating international sex crimes committed against children…aka “Sex Tourism”… where we charged Canadians travelling to foreign countries for the purpose of engaging in sex acts with children as if they committed the crimes in Canada.
The RCMP was in the process of training me to be a subject matter expert. In 2004 (ish), at a training seminar, former pro hockey player Sheldon Kennedy came and spoke to us (a group of seasoned investigators) about why he hadn’t spoken up about his abuse sooner. Some of his reasons included: his career was helping his parents get out of poverty, he knew he had a great chance at making it pro, he felt other parents knew it was going on…but did nothing. He spoke about “leading a double life” He was a pro hockey player but he was being victimized and felt powerless to stop it since “real men” were not victims.
My heart broke and I was left with the profound sense that society had failed him…
I was deeply touched.
Prior to becoming a police lady I’d worked in corrections. I recalled wondering why there were so many men in prison, I mean compared to women, why SO many?
I’d never gotten this question answered…
Then Mr. Kennedy began to speak about how he’d turned to drugs and alcohol to cope. Then I started to see the bigger picture…drugs and alcohol can lead to crimes…as a police lady I knew this was a slippery slope…
Mr. Kennedy stated that at the time when his abuse was occurring, he felt like he was leading a double life. On one hand he was a pro hockey player destined to make it to the NHL; on the other hand he was a victim. On some small level, I felt like I could relate to that part, the “living a double life” part. In my own mind, I too was “in the big leagues” career wise, but I too often went home crying and feeling helpless after being bullied at work…bullying that I too felt powerless to stop lest it end my career. It did.
After losing my career to the PTSD I developed, I was desperate to find another area of work that I felt I could get passionate about. During my MA one of my prof’s mentioned that he worked with male survivors of sexual abuse and it was like a bit of life came back into my deeply depressed state. I knew I wanted to be useful and that I needed to find a new way to help people. I believed that as a psychologist I could make a difference by advocating for boys and men.
Please join me in talking about male survivor issues.
Creating awareness of male sexual abuse makes a difference