Tuesday Evenings – 7:00 PM till 9:00 PM
Lockside Cove Cafe (near Lock #1)
649 Bunting Road (Lakeshore Rd), St. Catharines, ON
|Current Member Of the Niagara Group|
My name is Grant Joseph. I am a sexual abuse survivor. I am also a grateful recovering alcoholic, contented gay man and suffer from anxiety/clinical depression.
What does this all mean to me? How did this culminate into a wholly and consistently happy 31 year old man?
I would love to say that it was one thing for me – one person’s advice, one self help book read, one 12 step fellowship meeting or a magical prescription. Alas the phrase “You are no longer alone” beckons my attention when looking back.
I was sexually abused by my biological father around the ages 5-7. The abuse started right after my parents divorce and ended when, I am assuming I got too old. Three years or three decades in measures of quantity is irrelevant – abuse no matter how long in duration or how long ago lasts a lifetime. I was fortunate to be placed in foster care and therapy soon after the abuse ended.
At 31 years old and after an eleven year whirlwind alcohol addiction, I found myself having to turn over every stone in my (now ) rock quarry of potential core issues. I found myself at the doors of Wayside Niagara where I was introduced to Glenn Allan and the Tuesday night support group for survivors of sexual abuse held at the house.
Even though I had gone through the therapy as a child, it was imperative in my recovery to revisit the abuse with my developed adult mind, emotions and feelings. After only a short time in the group it is helping me revisit the abuse and express my emotions, feelings and how it affects me as an adult today. Most importantly I learn so much from the courageous men who share there past, healing presents and optimistic futures. I personally get the most out of realizing that these men are our fathers, sons, brothers, uncles, nephews – men that society stigmatizes into impenetrable heroes
Through this group I was able to turn over perhaps the most important stone of all – my sexuality. I knew I was different throughout my teen years and came out when I was 20 to myself and close friends. It was short lived however as I drifted in and out of the proverbial closet for work or one reason or another for the next 11 years. Revisiting the abuse allowed me to simultaneously look at the affects of growing up as a closeted teen (and in and out in my 20′s) when my emotions, feelings and identity were being shaped. Dealing with my sexuality mirrored dealing with my abuse in some ways. For instance I had tremendous shame, guilt and internal oppression avoiding my sexuality much like my abuse. Alan Downs book titled “The Velvet Rage” sums it up best for me today.
“Our lives are a unique blending of testosterone and gentleness, hyper-sexuality and delicate sensuality, rugged masculinity and refined gentility. There is no other group quite like that of a gay man”
I questioned my sexuality in accordance with Myth #5 of this website – Boys abused by males are or will become homosexual. – I can assure you that even though I did not come out until my twenties and again more less when I was 31, I knew I was different at a very young age. The group and my support system at Wayside allowed me to face the demons of shame, guilt and internal oppression towards both the abuse and my sexuality head-on. I have to get comfortable in the uncomfortable so my healing journey can truly begin. I hold the unwavering belief that something as beautiful as compassion and romantic love for another person cannot be bred from something as evil as sexual abuse.
Did I drink because of my abuse? Was I gay because of my abuse? Questions like these give less power to more important ones such as:
How can I heal while helping others in similar situations? How can I embrace the unique challenges that my abuse has placed in front of me?
I passionately live and answer these questions everyday. I am blessed to have amazing people and organizations in my life because when I was ready, I reached out for help and they reached back.
I am truly no longer alone and hope is plentiful today. Life is too beautiful to mull around on my own. I only ask for a few needed moments to myself but the rest of it is anyone’s to share, understand and learn from.