I received a Facebook message from a guy who had read my book; “The Boy Behind The Door”. For the sake of anonymity, let’s call him Stephen. The most important thing you need to know about Stephen is that, he suggested the title to my book, “The Boy Behind The Door”. Oh yes, he did! He made the suggestion when I posted a solicitation of ideas concerning the title of the book on a group called, “Autistic dads” The title just hit me when I saw it. Sharing what inspired the title made the title come to life so much more. He said, “I suggest the title Boy Behind The Door because I watch my autistic son and I see him as the boy behind the door. A lot of boys his age do not like playing with him. So he has gotten used to that. He hardly draws close to them while they play. He’d always stick by my side and while they played outside, he’d always stay behind the door at home.” That was very real…a few months after the release of the book, I received a message.
“Hi Richard. I can see a lot of resemblance of your story to my life. I had never shared this with anyone but I want to share it with you. I was sexually abused by an uncle for 5 years of my life. I was scared and unable to tell anyone about my abuse. I kept it a secret and that secret has been killing me for years even now that I am old. I struggle with coming in terms with it but now I think I am finally ready to get some closure about what he did to me. At family gatherings, I see him and almost all the time, I am filled with the urge to ask him why he did what he did but I can’t. I just think receiving closure is the only way out of this pain and burden that I carry around everyday.”
I then share with him what I have been doing in the area of male sexual abuse and creating awareness and giving support to victims. I went ahead to share stories and experiences I have come across working on this subject. I realized how relieved he was and how excited his diction became as we continued to have a conversation. I then told him the reality that many men face in our parts of the world. Our problem with CLOSURE. Men who were sexually abused as boys in our parts of the world hardly consider closure. In fact it is never a thought in their minds. When he realized how important closure was for him in his recovery, he also appreciated how blessed he was in the society he finds himself to even have the opportunity to talk about it, confront his abuser or seek help. Many men do not have that opportunity so they become bitter and abusive; that becomes a vent that eases the pain and effects of abuse for them.
He continued to share how much he loves his autistic son. And how hard it is for him to imagine him in an environment that are as ignorant to mental conditions such as represented in the book. Even though, knowledge in mental health is increasing, I think the pace is not admirable at all.
We can only do our very least in contributing to the creation of awareness. Because whether you see it or not, mental health is important for us all.