In Ján's own words:
I would like to share some of my experiences with you. I will email an ebook version of "Beyond Survivor" to the first five people to comment to this story and to contact me stating so via my email, which can be found on my blog
Beyond Surviving by Ján L. Frayne
My sincere thanks to Elaine for inviting me to guest on her amazing blog.
My name is Ján L. Frayne and I am a 45 yr old male survivor of childhood sexual abuse, emotional abuse and physical torture. This abuse was carried out against my person for over twelve years from before I was able to walk and ended in my early teens. The perpetrators were members of my family and their friends.
So severe was the abuse that my mind fractured at an early age and I developed P.T.S.D and D.I.D (dissociative identity disorder). Most of my memories of those years were buried until almost two years ago. I always knew bad things had happened to me, I just didn't know how many and how severe.
I have never lived what most would consider a normal life. Though normality falls within quite a wide bracket, my life was most definitely outside that bracket. Depression had plagued me from an early age, feelings of not belonging or fitting in anywhere were common. I "lost time" frequently and suffered from many physical and emotional problems. Through all this time I wrote. Writing was my escape and was often the only way I could communicate.
I tried therapy on a couple of occasions, never with much success. The truth behind my problems remained buried. In the spring of 2011 I had a breakdown brought about by general stress and a failing business. To add insult to injury, my memories decided it was time to make themselves known to me again. I felt my world had been turned upside down, I honestly thought I was losing my mind. In early summer 2011 I was referred for sexual abuse counseling.
Unfortunately the waiting list is huge and I am still waiting to be seen. I decided to do something about my problems myself. I read, I ploughed through internet resources and I came across a male only group run by non offending survivors for non offending survivors. Very few support groups or agencies state that they will only help survivors that have not in turn become abusers. This was important to me. There are many myths surrounding male survivors which I hope to help shatter. One is the "vampire" myth. Many people think that if a male has been sexually abused he will go on to be an abuser himself (as in a vampire bite). In truth only a small percentage of abused men go on to become abusers. I spent a weekend on retreat with them, a weekend that changed my life. At this time I also started blogging about my experiences.
My blog has become quite popular with over two million hits. I also started tweeting about my experiences and offering support and advice to other survivors. This reaching out, communicating my feelings and experiences to a wide audience helped me in so many ways. The responses I have had have lifted my soul. The support offered, the friendships forged have opened up my mind to the good that does exist in this world. Late in 2011 I decided to put together many of the poems and stories I had written since my teens into a book.
"Beyond Survivor – Rising from the Ashes of Childhood Sexual Abuse" was self-published in March 2012. It is a collection of writings that takes the reader on a journey through my life. I am currently working on two other books. My autobiography and also a self help book for other male survivors. The response to "Beyond Survivor" has been very pleasing. I am very proud of it.
My life has turned around. Facing the demons of my past has finally freed me and enabled me to heal and become a more complete human being. The unwavering support of my wife and the connections I have made online have indeed allowed me to rise above the ashes of my past. The journey has not been easy but has been more than worthwhile. I encourage anyone who has been abused to seek help and to speak out. No journey will be the same and no course of therapy should be the same. We are all individuals, we all deserve to live happy and healthy lives. I have learnt much in the past year or so, maybe the most important thing is learning that I am able to be happy and deserve to be. Love is an amazing thing, the gift of love perhaps the most precious and priceless we can receive and bestow. I have learnt not only to like myself, but more importantly to love myself.
In the meantime I would like to share with you one poem from my book. A poem of hope and strength.
A New Dawn
My heart's empty hallways echo forlornly,
My eyes but broken windows to my soul,
Blinded by my own fractured self,
So that I would be ignorant to truth.
My flesh aching and writhing in remembrance,
Spirit disfigured and grounded with clipped wings,
Silent tears fall for an innocence long dead
But beneath the chaos a light flickers dimly.
From the all consuming madness comes hope,
A new tomorrow, a new dawn, a new hope,
Out of the ashes of a childhood destroyed,
I will rise, stand firm and be strong.
Questions for Ján:
Bless you for facing your demons of a troubled past and for reaching out to countless others who have suffered. Overcoming a difficult past is often done in steps, the first being the most difficult to make. Had you stumbled? How did you find the inner strength to stand up again and take that second step forward?
I've tried therapy a few times, and given up. This last time, when I was in full possession of the facts and my faculties has been different. I have been able to keep pushing forward, with an occasional stumble. It's only when I realised how badly my life had been affected that I had the strength and determination to keep going. Knowing how many were in the same situation as myself gave me added courage, I wanted to make a difference in my life and hopefully in others.
Speaking of taking the steps to recovery, what advice can you share with viewers in taking that first step?
Do it for YOU! Be true to yourself and take whatever sized steps you are comfortable with.
I too come from a difficult past, but on the emotional level rather than physical. I've chosen to "live with" my childhood ashes rather than bury them, but yet, try not to dwell upon them. Do you encourage one to bury one's ashes of childhoods gone sour or to "live with" one's ashes?
Ashes are ashes. They are part of your life. Burying them doesn't make them go away. Learn to accept them as a part of your past, a part that you now have left behind.
Your wife sounds like the true sunshine in your life. What is her inner strength?
She is a very strong and determined lady. She is a fighter. She wants me to be the very best I can be and to experience life in all it's colours rather than living in grey shadows.
Viewers: Are you struggling with your own ashes?
I am a male survivor of childhood sexual abuse (CSA). I love words, written, spoken, and unspoken. For so many years my voice was not heard, I expressed myself through my writing. As soon as I was able to read and write, I immersed myself in books. I was able to escape through the writings of others and eventually through my own attempts. Writing enabled me to express the pain, and the shame, of what I experienced. It later helped me to cleanse myself, to heal through the medium of writing. I seem to have lived an early life surrounded by abuse of some sort. At a very early age, I was sexually abused by my grandfather. This went on for about twelve years. Others were invited to use me as they wished. There was also mental, emotional, and physical abuse from other family members. My body was almost broken, my mind fractured, but no one seemed to notice. I grew up thinking it was my fault, I deserved it. Male survivors live within a society where a stigma surrounds the abuse of boys. It took me a long time to find my voice, to be able to share the horrors that tormented me for over three decades. I hope my words help you to understand.
You can find Ján at:
The Wounded Warrior Blog (which includes links for help on the subject of childhood sexual abuse)
Follow on Twitter @Beyond_Survivor