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In the rough

Sometimes the things people most need to hear are the hardest ones to talk about.

This video is about one of those things.

It’s not often men open up like this, partly because when they do, they get mistreated for it; ridiculed, belittled, emasculated, almost never understood.

What Shawn says here really, really ought to be understood.

No other reason should be needed than that men and boys are human, and that harm done to them is harm done to human beings who deserve our compassion and consideration the same as we show when harm is done to women or girls… but all too often, to get that kind of compassion and consideration for men, we have to mention, as Shawn did, that harm done to boys messes them up and affects their behavior toward others.

That shouldn’t be the only driving force behind interest in preventing or ending the abuse. It’s wrong when that’s what it takes to head off the knee-jerk shaming and blame men often receive for caring about their own welfare when one talks about his experience of abuse.

It’s not wrong to talk about those effects. It’s not wrong to talk about how the damage done to an abused individual ends up hurting others as well. That’s necessary, in fact, in discussing the support needed by abused boys and men, not because they don’t matter in their own right, but because their ability to experience good relationships with people, to love and be loved, matters very much. Acknowledging that means realizing the nature of the abused boy’s wound isn’t just temporary, and it isn’t shallow, but in fact robs him of something that is fundamental to being part of a family, a social group, or a community. It’s a basic human need.

It’s a hard thing for anyone to realize they’ve allowed a loved one to be cut off from that, even pushed him to accept that loss, social norms notwithstanding. That push is essentially a continuation of the abuse, a guilt to which nobody would want to admit, yet how could we end that cycle without recognizing and dealing with it?

Sometimes the thoughts people most need to share are the hardest ones to hear.

Sometimes, in fact, how hard they are to listen to is a measure of how important it is that we do.

Find it rough? Don’t ask him to toughen up. You do it. It’s very often the only way we get the opportunity to do better for our loved ones.

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