In preparing to publish today’s interview by Ray Charles, I watched a video Ray created in collaboration with Shatterboys UK, a respected peer run support network for male survivors of sexual abuse. The video is Ray’s story, in his words. It’s not an easy, feel-good listen; however, it is one of the most raw and truthful depictions of what it is like for survivors of sexual abuse I’ve ever heard. It may be triggering for some, as it was for me, but by the end it was hope I was left feeling.
We are so honored to have Ray’s participation in this series. His story and the responses to our questions offer such insight in to what adulthood and fatherhood are like for abuse survivors. Ray’s dedication to raising awareness by using his own experiences are incredibly selfless and admirable. We thank you, Ray.
1. Before becoming a father, did you look forward to becoming a parent?
I was kind of numb about it. At the time of both my kids being born, I was undisclosed and in a dark place, sometimes light but surrounded by what I know now as triggers. I never gave as much love as I should have. I didn’t have it to give.
2. How did you feel when you first learned you were going to be a father? Did you have any specific fears and/or joys?
Obviously, my fear was that my kid would be exposed to this shit world. I was happy at the prospect but the whole thing was beyond my comprehension. I was an island really.
3. Were there any triggers that came up for you while your partner was pregnant?
It’s tough to answer as it was 25 years ago and I was really fucked up back then–drinking, being super selfish. I guess I did fear the event happening, mainly because I knew I wasn’t worthy. The pregnancy didn’t hold any specicfics that I recall.
4. What has surprised you most about parenthood?
How much I regret missing them grow up. How much of an old turkey they think I am! How much I love my grandson..like melty ..slushy ..tear inducing love. He’s just the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. I KNOW he will be safe!!
5. What acts of parenting have led you to be triggered? Examples could be disciplining, bathing, showing affection/touching, etc. Have you learned anything from these triggers about your own fears, or the parts of you that still need healing?
Can’t say I had issues with any of these. I was/am strict, which at the time seemed harsh to them and their mother but… they didnt know what I knew.
6. What is the greatest lesson you have learned from your child(ren)?
I genuinely do not know. I’ll think about it for a while.
7. What would you tell another survivor father who is expecting their first child?
You have 9 months and counting to help yourself to try and climb out of your own issues (sounds easy, its not). This little person will need you forever. Seek help. Be open with those around you about all and any issues you may have — bathing, touching, affection — because you cant run away from them. If I’d have had some kind of advice back then who knows what would have been different. You are a survivor. Your kid will love you regardless of your foibles. It’s a great opportunity to heal some more and be happy.
To hear more about the unique challenges parenting survivors face, get your copy of Trigger Points: Childhood Abuse Survivors Experiences of Parenting, available on Amazon.
Here’s what readers are saying:
“The book so many of us looked for and craved and ached for. And couldn’t find.” ~Christine W.
“I work as a psychologist and a researcher. …This book made me a better researcher because it gave me dozens of hints to study different aspects of abused parents’ emotions.
But most importantly, it made a better father because it helped me reflect on my experience as a parent through the memories of my own childhood.” ~Luca
“This book has been a life changing revelation for me!”
“What I find most impressive – aside from the raw, honest writing – is how the editors chose to include journal prompts and several different types of resources for readers. This is a workbook, really. Incredibly well-written and thoughtfully arranged.” Beth T.
“Finally a book where parents who have experience CSA can go from essay to poem to essay and say “me too.” ~Lara