A dear friend and inspirational author of ‘Beyond Survivor,‘ Jan Frayne, has kindly answered some questions about his recently published book and memoir.
Jan, can you explain to people who don’t know, what ‘Beyond Survivor’ is about?
Beyond Survivor is a collection of writings I have made over some thirty years. As a child I was unable to speak out. As a young adult I tried but was met with incredubility and mistrust. I love words. Words have power. My writing things down gave me a vent for the emotions and words I was unable to vocalise.
Roughly a year ago I was in therapy for stress issues. During this period many memories flooded back from my childhood. Though I knew I had been an abuse victim, I did not know the extent or depth of the depravity I suffered and endured.
“Beyond Survivor” is an attempt to share my story and to show the devastating effects that childhood sexual, physical and emotional abuse can have on the victim. It is not a “life story” in the traditional sense, but it does tell much of the story of my life. It tells how I felt during and after the abuse I endured.
What type of book would you describe it as? It has both poetry and prose, which is a unique approach.
That’s an easy one to answer. “Beyond Survivor” is, as advertised, a collection of writings. A collection of poetry and prose that have been created and evolved over the years during the abuse and living with the aftermath of the abuse.
What was your reason for publishing your writings?
Firstly, writing was the only avenue I had to express myself and to expose the most innermost workings of my fractured mind.
I had no-one I could talk to.
Writing was my “pressure relief valve”, it gave me a way to both record my feelings and to give vent to my anger and frustrations.
Secondly, there are so few resources available to male survivors of childhood sexual abuse in the U.K. It is known that this horror happens to females. So few men feel able to come forward and state what happened to them. Whilst there are some resources that cater for both sexes, male only support groups are few and far between.
I hope that my voice and my writing help to shed light on the subject of male childhood sexual abuse. This includes incest, ritualistic abuse, physical and emotional abuse.
During therapy I was taught that there is no shame in being the victim, male or female. If I had not found the AMSOSA UK (Adult Male Survivors Of Sexual Abuse) group last year I would still be waiting to be seen via the NHS. AMSOSA are based in Swindon. I live near Swansea. I am ashamed that Wales does not have one support group run by male survivors and therapists exclusively for male survivors.
What do you hope readers will gain from your writings?
Understanding. Compassion. A sense of unity and knowing that they are not alone if the reader is also a survivor. Men are expected by society to be strong, silent and “unemotional.” The shame of abuse belongs firmly and absolutely with the perpetrator, be the victim male or female. Being a victim does not mean that you are less of a “man” or that you are weak. Some of the most courageous men I have met have been victims of sexual abuse.
I hope that readers will gain a better comprehension and realise that there is NO shame or stigma in being a male victim. Most victims appear to carry with them a sense of shame. This is how the perpetrator has power over their victims. By standing strong, by knowing that they are not alone, by knowing that there are others out there just like themselves I hope to show other survivors that they can speak out and that life can be theirs for living again.
Abusers want the abuse to be a “special secret.” This secret is often accompanied by threats of what will happen if that secret is divulged. Again, this is an abuse of power. I say it’s time to turn the tables, expose the abusers for the scum that they are. The fear imposed by the perpetrators of abuse must be turned back on them. The more people who understand, the more that step forward, the better our understanding will be and the better able society will be to recognise these vile monsters and to deal with them accordingly. Punishment for abuse is far too lenient. Abuse is far too often a life sentence for the victim. The same must be applied to the perpetrators.
You have made a courageous step in publishing your writings and in allowing the reader into your world. Did this ever feel risky to you, or are you now in a place where you feel able to be an ‘open book,’ so to speak?
I began publishing my “words” online ten months ago. It was a big step and I was uncertain of the results. Once again I drew strength from Steve and fellow survivors at AMSOSA and also knowing that I had the love and backing of my family now enabled me to stand up and be counted. I had a few months where I was expecting the hounds of hell to come after me… I have indeed become an open book. I hope that by doing this, other survivors will feel able to derive courage and hope. Each circumstance is different and I do not try to pretend that I have all the answers. Since I started writing online my blog hits have gone from a few hundred a day to over ten thousand a day recently. Much of my life has been ruined by what was done TO me as a child. I refuse to let the abuse have power over me anymore. It’s not easy and some days are better than others. I’m getting there, we can all get there. Surviving or existing is not enough, I deserve a life. So do all that have suffered as I have. I just want to fit in, not feel like an outsider looking in at my life. I want to make a difference.
Patricia McKnight, author of ‘My Justice,’ said that “This collection of outstanding poetry and prose is a must read for all as inspiration to prevail against the challenges put forth in the battle to obtain our own freedom.” Do you feel you have obtained your own freedom? Has this book been part of obtaining freedom?
Patricia is an inspirational lady. I feel so honoured to have come to know her. I have “met” many inspirational people over the last ten months. Through these people, my family, the AMSOSA group and my renewed faith I am gaining my freedom. Will I ever be “free” of the past? I don’t know. What I do know is that I will endeavour to live as “normal” a life as I am able and that I will not stop campaigning for better understanding and acknowledgement of the effects that childhood sexual abuse has and how it affects the future of each individual. I feel I have the freedom to speak out now and I will fight unto death my right, and the rights of others to do so.
Where can people get a copy of your book?
Google me! The book is in the early stages of release and is available as paperback, hardcover and eBook. It is being distributed by AuthorHouse and can be obtained through their website as well as Amazon and most online book stores. It is also available to order through more traditional means such as Waterstones, W H Smith, Barnes & Noble and Tesco. There is a link on my blog to both Amazon and Authorhouse.
Is there somewhere readers can comment or rate your book?
Amazon and Authorhouse both have customer review sections. Also, www.Bookfinder4u.com has a review section for “Beyond Survivor.” I would appreciate any feedback, good, bad or indifferent.
If you can dream; you can fly. If you can fly; you are dreaming.
Find me at: http://whatislove-2010.blogspot.com/