Photo: George Burns/Harpo Studios
Dr. Howard Fradkin says John and Susan's relationship issues are very common in the survivor community. "When [men are] abused, they learn that they're supposed to keep it all inside," he says.
When a survivor keeps his pain buried deep down inside, these feelings may manifest into other issues. Some survivors begin to feel depressed, suicidal or numb. Others may act out and have promiscuous sex, drink alcohol or gamble, Dr. Fradkin says.
One lesson Dr. Fradkin teaches the survivors he works with is recovery is about "being disloyal to dysfunction and loyal to functionality." "You have to identify what those dysfunctional messages are, like 'I'm worthless,' 'I don't deserve to be loved and cared about,'" he says. "You have to challenge every one of those."
Often, it's difficult to know what these dysfunctional messages are. "We get all twisted up by our perpetrators and by our culture, by what we learn as men," Dr. Fradkin says. "We have to relearn all that and learn functional messages, functional behaviors, which lead to then having functional relationships. It's possible."