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The flyers about the 17 Percent of Men and its purpose have been sent out to all the GP surgeries in Herefordshire. Our aim is simply to allow men to talk of their childhood abuse in a safe and supportive environment.

Men who have been sexually abused need to make sense of what happened to them as children in order to move on. Sometimes abuse is not dealt with for 5, 10, 20, 30, 40 years or more after the event. The blame isn’t ours and the shame isn’t ours, although for many years it felt like it was ours and it still does in those vulnerable moments. Our abusive childhood drags us down and pulls us along the barren emotional landscape that we inhabit because of the childhood sexual abuse. We can, at times, be emotionally remote because life somehow seems safer that way. This numbness separates us from being close to others and stunts our ability to open up about who we really are because we are scared others might see us as less than.

Trust is something that can be mostly absent from the lives of men who were so fundamentally betrayed when they were children. Trusting someone else and forming relationships is difficult for many men who are survivors of sexual abuse. Intimacy can be difficult because an unexpected touch can trigger an abuse memory. This is because ‘the body keeps the score’ (Van Der Kolk).

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