This page is devoted to the voices of men who have been sexually abused. I have great pleasure sharing with readers poems and reflections written by participants of the recent Men’s Group at Northern CASA, Melbourne. Stuart and Steve have generously allowed me to share their thoughts and other men have agreed to share images of their works.
I invite all participants in this group, as well as men who have experienced sexual abuse, to share their creative reflections for the benefit of others who may have experienced abuse also. It is in this sharing that healing can happen, silence broken and some deeper understanding gained.
If you would like to contribute, do email me: firstname.lastname@example.org and add your comments to this page.
There are other blogs on my site about this project which may be of interest.
This was my first challenge piece. It pushed the limits of my skills in this media and it pushed my limits as far as the group went too. In a lot of ways, this was a dare. I dared myself to do something more than average and I dared everyone else to react like people would have back then.
At school, I had learned that I got extra treatment if I brought attention to myself for anything. Initially it was pretty easy to do as I couldn’t read or write until later in grade 4. Later on I discovered that trying to be really good also ended in the same manner. My only option was to fly under the radar. My work had to be mediocre, Good enough to pass, Not good enough to gain distinction. This was a very hard thing to achieve and definitely much harder than trying to get a high grade. I found that I had to really know the work so that I could throw the right amount of questions to drop my mark without accidentally failing.
The Croc was incredibly hard to start for me and I fluffed around and kept undoing what I had done. I was having real trouble visualising what I wanted and how it would turn out.
In the end I think I just focused on the work and let happen what would.
The comments by other group members were supportive but I was still apprehensive and worried. It took a while for it to sink in that nothing bad was going to happen. I intellectually knew this because I was doing a therapy group but that didn’t allay the fear much. I think that this piece really challenged my boundaries around expecting to be abused for drawing attention to myself.
More than a Dare, this was my line in the sand.
The Struggle of Process Vs Outcome
For Anne by Stuart Murphy 9th October 2013
To pot or not
What pot to pot
Is it a vase or a bowl
A symbol, or your soul.
Who can tell, who can care
Is it me, or is it you there
Only the wheel know’s
And only the potter throws.
Who brings the clay
Who owns this day
The potter the pot or the wheel
A Pottery experience
For Cameron, by Stuart Murphy 9th October 2013
An Ocean of choice
A mountain of history
Glasses to see far
A head to look at the stars.
Where is the tree of hope
Where are the bee’s, the flower, the water, the wine
A seed appears, Alive and new
The seed knows, it knows what to do
Time will bring the seed to life
A Tree can grow,
To shelter new life…
Much more than simply a place to draw water, a well has become symbolic of the life that is held within. Given that water is the source of all life, it is easy to see why a simple well, the holder of the water, can represent this. This symbolism has filtered through every aspect of our lives and is not limited to quenching thirst, “Draw from the well and be nourished”
We even refer to some people in these terms, “He is a well of Knowledge”
In some cases a well is even seen as a magical place where Deities reside and will grant you a wish in exchange for a few coins, or immortality, should you drink the waters. This symbolism is very strong and permeates through literature, religion, myth and entertainment.
Another symbolic meaning of the Well is support, “Draw your comfort from me” and “Let me slack your thirst”
This is an important connection to make and can be seen here where Survivors of all manner of abuse drag themselves out of their respective desserts. Thirsty and exhausted, they lean on the solid walls and take in the life giving draught that you draw for them
The End of the Beginning
For the journey, by Stuart Murphy 9th October 2013
Laughter, tears, sniffles, and cheers
Light, hands, warmth and peace.
A new friend, a family a sense of peace.
New dreams, new hopes, laughter and light.
The circle complete, the story begun. The world an oyster, a clam, a shell, a pearl, a treasure a salty taste.
A cautionary tale begun.
Go in stillness.
The wind of change (a lover’s embrace)
by Stuart Murphy 2nd October 2013
If I gave you my soul, would you cry ?
If I gave you my fear, would you hold it ?
If I gave you my faith can I trust ?
If I gave you me, would it help ?
No My Child, I cannot help, I cannot lead, I cannot show.
I can only hold the promise of hope,
The faith for the journey, and my love for the trip.
The journey is both short and long, happy and sad, a trouble and a victory.
Fear not the trip, the shadows, the crashes and the dreams.
Your soul is here, your faith absolute;
If you trust in the fear, the pain the signs of suffering, you have found the path.
Breath gently, do not judge
If it gets to much, take rest in the breeze, the lightness of its touch.
You are hear, we are hear, the fear will pass, and the breath of the wind will carry us forward in its loving embrace.
Tiny Spartan Warrior
This piece represents the need I have to wear armour. It wasn’t for protection against the abuse, it was for protection against people knowing.
My Abuse started with Bullying and as is fairly typical, this wasn’t taken seriously by those who I tried to tell. My parents were more concerned by damaged uniforms than by the bruises I had. When they did complain to the school, the principle would yell at the grade and give a couple of them token punishments like lines or a lunchtime detention. Once or twice they got the cane but that was rare. As soon as they finished their punishments, they took it out on me for dobbing. One time a teacher really pressured me into telling her what was upsetting me so much and when I blurted it out I got a detention for the language I used and told that they were willing to listen when I was prepared to discuss it in a mature way.
It became obvious to me that telling was the best way I knew of getting hurt more. It therefore became imperative that I hid the evidence. I had to develop an entire personality in order to do this. I have come to call this personality my armour.
Outwardly I was active, funny and easy going. That was the armour at work. But it took so much effort to turn off the pain and act like nothing was wrong. The act of putting the armour on was as bad as anything that was being done to me and it took all my effort just to wear it.
This piece is a reflection of how much strength is needed to just wear the armour. It is far too big for the child. This is my way of showing that someone else should have been wearing it for him.
Tiny Spartan Warrior
Brave upon the field
Wearing Spartan armour
Hefting Spartan shield
You are a Spartan warrior
As true as can be
You have a Spartan’s Courage
Plane as plane to see
True Spartans would have shunned you
On Taygetus you would have died
But no true Spartan would deny you
When they saw what was inside
Mighty Spartan Warriors
All tested and true
Shake their heads in wonder
When they look at you
You do not have their training
You do not have their build
But when it comes to battle
It is you who will never yield
A Prayer for hope
For Channa, by Stuart Murphy 1th October 2013
What does it mean to give a life a hope, a chance an opportunity for peace?
What does it mean to hold a candle in a breeze, a light, a sign in the dark ?
What does it mean, to offer hope, a rope, in a well of suffering ?
Life’s lost, struggles found, hopes dashed.
What would you give for a chance of a doorway, a light a guide ?
What would you give.
My Everything, My Fear, My Me
For Bali, by Stuart Murphy 1st October 2013
The stillness of the night,
The welcome of first light
The warmth of the morning kiss,
The beauty of the morning mist.
Water in the Air, Butterflies on the stairs.
The shroud of silence like a blanket as the call to silence is made.
A journey a passage a trip into time,
A chant a prayer to welcome this time.
The moment is now, it will not last
But the doors to tomorrow have arrived at last.
We will have a couple of goes together, then you can have a crack by yourself.
This piece is a tribute to my grandfather. I don’t actually remember him doing this but I know that he did. I can remember the hours and hours as he would bowl for me down the beach. First underarm, pitched just perfectly so that it was hard to miss. As I advanced, so did his bowling. I can clearly remember his saying, try to hit this one. He would pick a hole in the sand and bounce the ball right on the edge. The only way to play them was aggressively, Six or out. He used to chuckle as I hit them but guide me when I missed. He was constantly drawing comparisons to Sir Don Bradman and kept telling me how I had, “The knack” As with so many things, he would guide me and then let me try for myself. Even when telling me off for doing something wrong, there was always credit when credit was due. A thrown rock was naughty but he would admit that it was a good shot.
These memories are really powerful and it is interesting to see their affect on me. I have a complete hatred of Aussie rules football. It was used as an excuse to hurt me, apart from the obvious excessively hard tackling, there was the things they did to me when I hit the ground.
The first time they raped me I was playing cricket. I was batting and they were bowling body shots. Knowing where the ball was aimed makes it easy to hit and I was able to cart them. I was crash tackled from behind kicked, stripped and raped with the wickets. This memory hurts just like all the rest yet I have been able to separate it from the game. As bad as they were, they just can’t diminish the good memories of my grandfather our beach cricket.
GALLERY OF ART FROM ALL PARTICIPANTS