Recently programmer Bill Zeller took his own life as a result of repeated sexual assaults during his childhood. Zeller’s suicide letter (warning: this letter is unedited and very disturbing) explains the extended impact and emotional toll that this assault took on him and his development as a person. Zeller describes these overwhelming feelings of depression, isolation, and despair as a “darkness” which inhibited him from creating real human connections as well as ever feeling fulfilled, satisfied, or worthy of love from others and from himself.
Zeller’s story is one of immeasurable sadness but also of regret. In his letter, Zeller discusses feeling unable to speak of his abuse and also of an inability to trust those around him, even medical professionals. Many organizations that focus on abusive relationships and violence are viewed as “women’s centers” which might inhibit men from accessing their services for help. This is unfortunate because many of those centers (like ours) serve both men and women. Traditional notions of masculinity might also limit men in being able to voice vulnerabilities or fear in abusive situations. When we attach stigmas of shame to abuse we make it impossible for those victims to heal and live full and meaningful lives, whether they are children or adults.
Here at FVPC, regardless of gender, we advocate for victim’s rights to share their stories and to move forward in their healing. We work with male clients including men in same sex relationships as well as men suffering from abuse from their female partners. The Orange County Rape Crisis Center serves victims of childhood sexual abuse as well as victims of rape, regardless of gender. If you or someone you know is a victim of abuse of any kind, please call our hotline at 919-929-7122, visit our website at fvpcoc.org, or come into the office to speak with a trained advocate. Violence of any sort is unacceptable. Hopefully one day society will see violence as the equal opportunity crime that it is and in doing so, make it okay for both men and women to get the help that they need.