200 Men, Oprah and Releasing the Cycle of Shame
On November 5th, Oprah Winfrey aired a show that gathered 200 male survivors to speak of their experiences of molestation as children. According to researchers one in six men has been sexually abused by the age of 18. This abuse is so widespread it deserves the kind of attention Oprah’s show can give it. She says that 90% of child molesters target children they know.
In so many ways our culture sends men the message that if they share their abuse they will be thought of as weak, less masculine, or not in control. As these stories get repeated and practiced they soon become hardened beliefs. And as Don Miguel Ruiz, author of The Four Agreements said,
“You see everything is about belief, whatever we believe rules our existence, rules our life.”
The belief that we can’t share our abuses and traumas in life keeps us locked in the shadows of our own minds and stuck in an unending and relentless cycle of shame. There are so many examples of this that we walk around day to day unaware of.
What is so powerful about this show is that millions of people can view in and feel a sense of community which has tremendous healing power. In community people don’t feel so alone, in community the hidden face of shame melts away, and in community people bond together and share one another’s strength that can make a difference between not wanting to go on and taking that next step.
There is so much deep shame surrounding being molested as a child because there may have been a sense that you did something wrong and were also complicit in the act.
A major theme on this show in particular voiced by many was the way to move through the shame was through a process of forgiveness. This is the process of getting the burden off your shoulders, not an act in condoning the action.
Part two of this show airs on Friday November 12th where the men’s partners voice their experiences and Psychologist Howard Fradkin, PhD shares his thoughts.
I have no stake in the Oprah show, but this is worth the watch.
As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction creates a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.
Commentary from a male survivor on the Oprah Show - Ophelia de Serres - Nov 22nd 2010
I thought you might be interested in reading the view point of a male survivor who was on the show: http://womenspeakout.wordpress.com/2010/11/19/i-came-forward-on-oprah/