We Need to Talk about CSAMon 25 Jun
As a small boy Matt Carey loved to ride his bike, play football with friends and to laugh. He loved life and was always smiling. When he was eight years old, he was targeted by a group of predatory paedophiles who subjected him to 18 months of horrific sexual abuse. He was too ashamed and scared to tell anyone what had happened...not his parents, friends or family. In his new book, A Small Boy Smiling, Matt tells a remarkable story of survival and overcoming the trauma, guilt and shame of childhood sexual abuse, teenage alcoholism, and post traumatic stress disorder. His lifelong search for peace, love and healing culminates in personal spiritual awakening and a desire to help other survivors of child sexual abuse to discover their own healing.
"The psychological and emotional trauma of the abuse I endured as a child has served a much greater purpose than I could ever have imagined. It has become a powerful catalyst for my recovery and spiritual growth. I wouldn’t wish what I went through as a boy on anybody … but the experience of having been abused by different men at different times compelled me to seek recovery and a positive experience of life through spiritual and physical travels, which I might not otherwise have undertaken.
At this point, I feel I should warn readers that I have described the abuse exactly as it happened. To have done otherwise would have been to dilute the impact of my story. One of the reasons I have written this book is to try to help others who may have gone through a similar hell, and to highlight the long-term consequences of child sexual abuse (CSA). I would also like to use my story to call attention to the need for more resources to support survivors of CSA. This book has first and foremost, however, been written for me, as I have needed to;
- Reclaim my childhood from the sick men who abused, molested and raped me, and in doing so tried to destroy me in body, mind and spirit.
- Learn to love the amazing, ten-year-old boy who somehow managed to survive – a boy I have for many years of my adulthood despised and rejected as weak and pathetic.
- Release the blocks within my mind which have crippled my hopes of becoming a loving partner, a good father, and of having a family of my own.
Finally, I am writing my story in the hope that fellow survivors of sexual abuse, of which there are estimated to be well over a million in the UK alone, might find encouragement and strength to get the help they desperately need to heal. I am very grateful to Sarah Paton Briggs, my psychotherapist, who has written a chapter, Soulful Space: Reflections On My Therapy Work With Matt. Sarah brings her considerable expertise and offers a professional perspective to my journey of healing, therapy options, and practical advice to fellow survivors of sexual abuse who may be considering professional therapy.
I include two sample chapters on my website [see the link below].
I recommend reading the Soulful Space chapter for anyone considering therapy for the trauma of PTSD from child sexual abuse.
In "Soulful Space", the therapist Sarah Paton Briggs brings her considerable expertise and offers a professional perspective, and practical advice to fellow survivors. Sarah has played a key role in my healing which is why I was so pleased when she agreed to pull back the curtain of client/therapist confidentiality and write a chapter about my therapy sessions with her from the therapist's perspective. I did so as I want other survivors of child sexual abuse who may be wary about working with a psychotherapist to understand how therapy works, and the benefits it can offer.
The chapter entitled "The Disgusting Rusty Tin" describes what actually happened to me during the sexual abuse, and how the paedophiles manipulated and threatened me physically, emotionally and psychologically. I explain why I felt so deeply ashamed about what took place; how they made me feel that I was wholly responsible for what happened; and why I felt compelled through crippling shame and fear to remain silent for many years. Whilst this chapter was hugely painful to get down on paper, it was hugely rewarding to do so. Instead of being the frightened child reliving the horrendous trauma of the abuse, I am now (for the most part) the adult remembering what the child went through. This sense of distance and change in perspective has brought about immense healing for me. For many years, the toxic shame was such that deep down inside I loathed and despised the young Matt. I have released the shame that used to cripple me; I know I am not responsible for their crimes against me, and I can now honour and love the child within me who experienced the horrific abuse.
My hope is that my story might also help you in some way to heal as well."
Article by Matt Carey.