Aaron’s story: ‘Support from the Rape Crisis Centre changed my life’
‘My first counsellor at the centre was male and he helped me to trust men again’
“I now have experiences of survival and recovery, too, and not just abuse. That makes me so much stronger.” Photograph: iStock
As a male survivor of childhood sexual abuse, I received the right support from the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre, and it has changed my life. Prior to attending therapy, my feelings about the abuse were too painful for me to cope with. I tried to keep everything under a lid while going to college and starting in my first jobs but I had ongoing suicidal feelings and long-term problems with depression, panic and even alcoholism, which I kept secret. Coming in the door was a huge step at the beginning; my first counsellor at the centre was male and he helped me to trust men again and to understand the very deep impact the past abuse had and was still having on my life. During these times I used the centre’s helpline service frequently, and this was a great support in between sessions.
I then started therapy with a female counsellor, with whom I continue therapy today. Trusting a new person with my story was a challenge at first, but the kindness and support I get makes me always want to come back to therapy. It helps knowing that my counsellor is there to support my needs and at my pace. Although I am stronger in myself now, I still need therapy to deal with the challenges I face, especially in work situations, with family, in all relationships with intimacy. I can talk with my counsellor about anything and she is always an amazing support to me.
I attended group therapy for a time at the centre. My abuse happened within my family. Because of the bond in group therapy and the support from the counsellors there, I learned to overcome some of the deep feelings of shame I was experiencing. I can now be in a group or a meeting at work and not experience post-traumatic stress symptoms.
The centre held an art-therapy workshop, and that really helped me to release feelings that I was not yet able to identify or talk about. I have started to paint since, and this helps me when I feel distressed at times.
Although I still face struggles, I now have experiences of survival and recovery, too, and not just abuse. That makes me so much stronger. The ongoing support from the centre means I have a much better quality of life now. Life now seems possible.
- Aaron’s name has been changed to protect his identity. This is an edited version of a case study from the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre annual report