Lasting Effects of Male Sexual Abuse
"It's really important to know that it's absolutely possible to heal and recover completely and fully," says Dr. Howard Fradkin, a psychologist who has dedicated his career to helping male survivors. "It takes a lot of time. It impacts everybody in your life because you don't want to talk. You don't want to share. You don't want to trust that anyone will honor the very things that you've had to keep inside for so long."
John, a sexual abuse survivor, and his wife, Susan, say they haven't been intimate for eight years. Even before they stopped having sex, Susan says John was distant, and despite her best efforts, she couldn't get him to open up. Eventually, Susan started asking herself, "What's wrong with me?"
"I got shut out and shut down," she says. "He withdrew."
Then, a year and a half ago, John told his wife he had been molested when he was a child. But after the words were out of John's mouth, Susan says he began to isolate himself once again. "He said: 'This is what happened and no questions. I'm not telling you anything, and don't ask me anything,'" Susan says. "I've tried. It's like he resents me and hates me."
Tyler tells Susan that John's reaction has nothing to do with her, but despite reassurance, Susan is at a loss. "I don't know how to help him," she says. "I want to help him recover, and he won't go to counseling."
"But this is a beginning," Oprah says. "The fact that John is here..."
"Yes, it is," Susan says. "And I'm so proud of him."