Author:Paul Gilmartin

High-Fiving Male Sex Abuse Victims

We’ve all seen the familiar story.  Hot teacher and young teenage male student.  One newspaper  used the word “romp” to describe a 24 year-old woman and a 16 year-old boy.

I click on the links and read the stories even though I know the reader comments will make me sad and angry.     The majority of men wanted to high five the boy and are focused entirely on the physical appearance of the woman.    What a profound example of the ripples of objectification.

Sad to admit that I used to be one of those guys who thought a minor was lucky to have sex with a “hot” female adult.

I’m also so happy that most women know its damaging and stick up for the male victims despite the hostility and ignorance of the men who want to high five the kid. I think most women probably know because so many have had the confusing combination of excitement from attention and physical arousal yet their soul telling them something is wrong.

Subconsciously the soul knows its being tricked but in the height of the moment doesn’t care. Often times the weight of the abuse doesn’t hit victims until they are the age of the abuser and see a child that was their age when it happened and it suddenly hits them how fucked up it was. They know their abuser was sick and what happened to them was sick. And it cannot be overstated how crushing this is to a persons soul and self esteem when the truth begins to dawn on them.

Children cannot consent to sex. To truly give consent you must know the ramifications of what you’re doing which children don’t. And puberty doesn’t make you emotionally an adult.

Just because a child wants to drive a car doesn’t mean they’re equipped to do it.   Why would exposing their soul to someone who is sick be any different?  Because it gives you an erection?   Do we high five kids for driving a car before they’ve learned what’s at stake because the car is sexy?

I have talked to countless men who had such experiences which they enjoyed physically at the time but now as adults struggle with self-esteem, emotional intimacy, performance anxiety, thoughts of suicide and sex addiction (either extreme promiscuity or extreme aversion).

I want to scream at the men who want to high five the boys but I try to remember I was once one of those ignorant men.

I hope some day the attitude about this changes as it makes recovery for these victims so much more difficult. I didn’t even understand what happened to me was wrong until decades later and when I did, the pain was so intense, I wanted to die. It has taken me several years to heal and one of the biggest stumbling blocks was blaming myself because I didn’t understand that what the soul and body experience can be totally separate.

And thank you to the people (especially the women) who call out the ignorance and stick up for us. Your support has really helped me.

If you want to read some of the victims/survivors accounts click the links below.   Notice how the effects of the ones that were clearly abusive are similar to the ones that aren’t.

Maybe you won’t want to high-five another boy.

Here’s one from the woman’s perspective.  She was 40 and he was 16 and it was via Skype.  Imagine their sexes being reversed.





Laurenne Sala

What happens when the Homecoming Queen takes off her popularity mask and deals with the pain of her co-dependent mom and the suicide of her gay father?  One of the most compassionate and truth-seeking guests we’ve ever had.

Some links for Laurenne: (for writing and work) (taboo tales!) (cadaver training program) and @laurenne (twitter)

SquareSpace sponsored this episode.  For a Free Trial and 10% off, go to and use offer code MENTAL.

Audible sponsored this episode.  For a free 30 day trial and a free audiobook, go to .


I Didn’t Believe in Addiction: Guest Blog by Marcus Freestone

I’m a 42 year old writer, musician, comedian and podcaster from Wales (the small bit to the left of England where they make Doctor Who and Sherlock, and where seagulls carry umbrellas). I discovered the show in February and have since listened to about 90% of them. It has helped me in many ways but one has come as a complete shock to me; it has overturned one of my longest-held opinions. Brace yourself Americans: until a few months ago I DIDN’T BELIEVE IN ADDICTION.


I’ve always taken the existential view on life: we have freewill, we just usually choose not to exercise it out of fear. I have always believed that alcoholism, drug addiction, eating disorders etc are not clinical conditions in and of themselves, rather they are epiphenomena – symptoms of an underlying depression or anxiety, and it is that which needs to be treated. I believed that people made conscious decisions but then denied it to themselves. I saw addiction as a cop out that lets people carry on doing something they want to do and say “It’s not my fault.”


It’s not as if a tractor beam drags you to the pub or off-licence – you CHOOSE to go. If we think nothing is anybody’s fault then we have to get rid of all prisons and courts. I once said this to a social worker and she agreed with me. However, I now believe addiction does exist, that I have several of them, and I think I understand the root of my previous opinions.


I was a ‘mistake’. My mother frequently used this word to describe my conception for as long as I can remember. She wasn’t a nasty person by any means. But still, it made me feel that I didn’t belong – not just to any particular group or faction of society, but on the planet at all.


My father left when I was five months old so I never formed an emotional bond with him. The first time I remember going to spend the day with him at the age of 3 I didn’t know who he was, or indeed what a father was. I thought I was being punished for something and that my mother was leaving me permanently with this stranger. I never called him ‘dad’ or anything because it felt fake.


Around the same time, my mother went into hospital for a routine operation. I must have half-seen ‘Logan’s Run’ or ‘Solyent Green’ on TV because somehow I had formed the idea that hospital was where you were taken to be killed when your ‘number came up’. I couldn’t understand why she seemed happy to be going to her death; I clung to her leg and screamed my head off as she was going out the door.


You won’t be surprised to learn that I have severe abandonment issues, and to this day I still see rejection everywhere. I acquired a step father at age 7 who was a total piece of shit and constantly told me I was useless and lazy. I was often blamed and punished for things I hadn’t done and he took a sadistic pleasure in upsetting me. My mother never stood up for me in all this – more adandonment issues.


This constant stream of negative opinions about me, bullying in school, and the feeling that my mother often sided with my step father over me has led to a lifetime of alienation, depression and the feeling that everything is my fault, that there is something fundamentally ‘wrong’ with me. No wonder I always thought that my addictions were just my inherent greed and laziness.


In junior school I ate 5000 calories of chocolate a day, plus several bags of crisps, normal meals, huge pieces of cake after every meal and 3 litres of coke. I would shoplift sweets or steal money from my mother’s purse to buy them. At 10 years old I was 10 stone, twice that of some of my classmates. How I don’t have type 2 diabetes or worse is a miracle, especially given my adult intake of alcohol and cigarettes.


My stepdad always said I was greedy (despite him having type 2 diabetes from drinking, smoking, terrible diet and zero exercise), and I agreed with him because I had zero self-esteem. Other than being fat, I never had any health problems from my diet, and I just thought it was normal. I never considered this an addiction or something that I shouldn’t be doing: I had very little comfort in my life, I hated being at school and I hated being at home, so I ate at every opportunity because it was all that was then available that made me feel better. It simply became a reality that I never questioned.


I will share one other relevant snapshot from my childhood. When I was 12 my 11 year old friend died and I went to his funeral. I was already an ardent atheist but after this I became a total nihilist. My life suddenly seemed unreal – if he died then so could I at any moment – and I became incapable of imagining any kind of future for myself.


Even now, it is rare that I can think about more than two weeks into the future without experiencing a complete blank, as if I might not exist beyond that point so what’s the point in trying to do or achieve anything? As a result of this worldview, I have followed the path of least resistance my whole life, gone where the simplest choice has led me or often failing to make a choice. I’ve never been able to plan for the future or achieve things that others seem to find simple.


I’ve also recently realised that his death may have been the source of my suicidal mood swings. After all, he was in every way better than me. He would have had a better life than I’ve managed and I think on some level I feel guilty that he died and I lived, that I don’t deserve to live.


I have lived my life almost entirely in the present, which of course is one of the prerequisites of a healthy mind and an enjoyable life. This has allowed me to be creative and highly prolific. However, as well as the aforementioned problems with future planning, I’ve also had a problem with assessing the passing of time and the passages of my life. I have great trouble seeing beyond my current mental or environmental state and being aware of changes within them.


Therefore, it is only relatively recently that I realise I engaged in the same negative behaviour or thinking for months or years at a time. The repeating patterns of my addictions have only become clear in retrospect now that I’m middle-aged and reflective – at the time I just couldn’t see them because I lacked an overall perspective on my life.


I loved alcohol from an early age and would raid the drinks cabinet whenever I was alone in the house. By the time I was 17 I would go to parties and drink anything I could get my hands on, usually ending in a blackout.


In my early thirties I embarked upon my heaviest period of drinking – I got hammered every night for 18 months. I worked out once that I was drinking 200 units a week (equivalent to 100 pints of beer or 100 single spirits). If I went to the pub I’d have six or seven pints of Guinness and then six or seven double scotches. One night I had 3 pints, 16 shooters (whisky, brandy and baileys) then another 9 pints. I didn’t fall over or make myself ill, I just got a takeaway and walked home; it was just a normal night out.


If I stayed home I’d have two to three bottles of red wine (which one night resulted in me nearly drowning in the bath). On the weekend I’d have three or four bottles of red wine or a bottle of neat scotch. Once again I experienced no health problems and held down a full-time job throughout. Once again I never thought I was an addict or alcoholic; this was just how my life was at the moment. 90% of the time I was having a blast.


I still drink now, though nowhere near that much, because I still enjoy it. These days, though, I am more discerning: I don’t touch spirits and I only drink real ale, Guinness or one bottle of wine. I’m very sceptical about genetics influencing behaviour, so I question the relevance of the fact that my father’s brother drank himself to death aged 49 and their father was a very heavy drinker (thankfully, my father wasn’t). I believe we learn rather than inherit our behaviour, and I didn’t grow up amongst alcoholics or addicts.


I started smoking at 25 when I was first put on anti-depressants. For years I could take or leave them – I’d smoke 20 a day for a week under stress and then nothing for three months. During the last few years the gaps between packs have become shorter and shorter (although overall my life has got better and better) and I now become anxious when I get to the end of a pack if the shops are shut or I’ve run out of money. Sometimes recently I’ve found myself shaking like a junkie when I have to go a few days without them. I often hate smoking and don’t enjoy it, especially as it greatly exacerbates my eczema, but I continue to do it because, volte face, I am now chemically addicted to nicotine.


I’ve smoked cannabis a few times (who hasn’t) but I never had the money or supply line to smoke it regularly. If I had, I would certainly have become a daily smoker. Fortunately, other drugs, for whatever reason, have simply never interested me.


I still often eat when I’m not really hungry or stuff down huge bags of fatty, salty snacks just for the sake of it. I’ve always thought it was OCD that made me incapable of putting aside a bottle or packet or bag of anything until it was empty. Now, through listening to the podcast, recognising so much of myself in others’ stories, and doing a lot of thinking about my life, I’m forced to admit that I’m addicted to smoking and over-eating.


I’m also addicted to sleeping during the day and staying up at night, getting out of commitments/obligations (even when it’s something I would enjoy), avoiding humanity, changing decisions within one second of making them, checking my keys and wallet for anything from 5-50 minutes before I leave home, and constantly checking I still have them when I’m out, trying to destroy anything good in my life (probably because I still don’t believe I deserve anything good), talking to myself out loud, picking at my skin…


There are more but you get the picture. The point is that I now accept that I have multiple addictions, rather than “I’m a lazy, useless piece of shit.”


Part of that is that Paul’s repeated entreaties to “have compassion for yourself” have finally got through to me. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to say that I love myself, but now I don’t hate myself and, more importantly, I don’t BLAME myself. I accept that I have solid reasons to feel abandoned and cut off from people, that my step dad’s verbal abuse obliterated my self-confidence and it’s only in recent years that I’ve got it back. My often not being able to get out of bed is the result of insomnia, chronic pain and depression rather than laziness.


I’ve been listening to a lot of old episodes of the podcast recently, and have realised something surprising: I am no longer beating myself up. Hearing so many people conclude their interview by saying that they still struggle made me realise that I have recently removed that particular weight from my shoulders. I no longer feel that my depression is MY FAULT. Along with accepting the existence of my addictions, I have also come to accept that the things that get to me are real things that would get to almost anyone. I now believe that my depression and addictions are a ‘valid’ reaction to the life I have so far lead.


I also believe that my failure to achieve my lifelong dreams has resulted from my depression and addiction, and not from me being shit at everything. I’ve also realised that I have in fact achieved many more of my ambitions in recent years than the negative parts of my brain ever allow me to realise. I’ve improved hugely as a writer and musician over the past few years and am now finally getting noticed. I can also now also envision a future for myself, one where I achieve my goals and have a stable life rather then repeating the same self-defeating patterns ad naseum. So a final thank you to Paul and everyone I’ve interacted with on the forum. I can’t say that I’m ‘cured’ (if that’s even possible) but I now know myself so much better than I did a year ago. I don’t blame the podcast guests for their problems and struggles so why should I blame myself for mine?


Marcus’ website is Check out the podcast and free e-book positive thinking and the meaning of life



Dr. Peace Amadi

The clinical psychologist shares her insight and experience in working with The Ruby Project, helping girls who have been sexually abused and/or involved in sex trafficking heal though group workshops and artistic expression.


Laura House (Live @ LAPodfest)

The meditation teacher, standup comedian and writer (Samantha Who?) talks about her struggles with alcohol, food, weight, low self-esteem, relationships and what she gets from support groups and meditation.   Recorded live @ LAPodfest.   To watch this episode and all the other podcasts (lots of great ones) from LAPodfest go to and use offer code Gilmartin to get $5 off ($25 is full price).   The episodes are available to view until Oct 17th.

And by the way, this is a picture of her bitter old granny.



Freedom From Childhood Trauma Part 3: A Guest Blog by D.P

Freedom From Childhood Trauma part 3


With guidance from the 12 steps, help from my AA sponsor and from my grand sponsor I chose to go with Plan B. I would take any and all proceeds from an impending financial windfall and use it to go into treatment.

I returned to therapy and asked her to hold me accountable for the decisions I was to make about my life, help me find a treatment program and have complete access to all my records during treatment. I did not want to leave treatment until there was full agreement between my therapist and the counselors on staff that I was done, that I had done the work to resolve my trauma. I did not want to leave treatment on my own accord.

With the help of my therapist I found one of the best trauma programs in the country, one I would never have been able to afford in this lifetime. I’m just a poor white boy, born on the wrong side of the tracks and would never, never have had the opportunity to go into this type of treatment program without AA’s Promises coming true for me (Google AA’s promises).

I went into treatment sober, stayed sober and left sober.

So off I went, absolutely prepared for what I thought would be the Olympics of The Mind to find a way to release my childhood trauma once and for all and experience freedom!

This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me. I realized that. I arrived in treatment ready, willing and able to do the work. And I was excited about it.

It’s really atypical, probably extraordinary that an alcoholic, addict or co-addict would be thrilled to have the opportunity to go into treatment. But, as a trauma survivor I told you I was a little bassackwards about things, but there it is, I did it backwards. No one was forcing me to go, no one was even suggesting it.

I was so highly motivated it was difficult for my other brothers and sisters in treatment to be around me. Most of them were struggling with their first exposure in recovery with process addiction (food, sex), substance addiction (alcohol, drugs) or co-addiction (co-dependent).

I learned something quite revolutionary right away; the trauma I sought to resolve was not in my mind but in my body! This was not to be the Olympics of The Mind. Although I had done a lot of work, trauma is a medical problem. I needed a medical solution to a medical problem. It never occurred to me to look somewhere other than my mind.

But I did have a very serious problem in my mind, one of over–thinking to extremes. You might say that I was an over-thinkers’ over-thinker. My AA sponsor almost banned me from thinking. The solution to this is actually in the 11th step – meditation. Fortunately I had a reasonably solid meditation practice. My sitting meditation took me to a place inside of myself I describe as, “the place before words.”

So I began treatment by getting out of my own way, taking down my walls to intimacy (being known)… excuses, defenses and quieting all the noise that would come out of my mouth whenever it was open.

The treatment counselors were on to something that none of us could understand. We struggled to connect with our emotions (egad!) and our body sensations. “What are you feeling?” This is a difficult question for an addict.

Fortunately I received guidance from the voice inside of myself, the voice that we learn about by working the steps, the voice of a power greater than myself. That voice said, “Stay present.” My only responsibility in treatment was to stay present. Be emotionally available, physically available, and spiritually available for whatever was to happen every minute of every day.

I had no idea addiction counselors were trained to be confrontational. They push every button you’ve got. With my years of preparation I was ready for them to “bring it on.” The most surprising thing that happened to me, and it happened more than once, was when a counselor I never met before would sit next to me and in the space of two or three minutes tell me more about myself then I knew about myself. Shocking.

Well my time finally came, my primary counselor pushed a button and I went nuclear. Although I didn’t show it at the time, man I was outta there. Ready to pack my bags, tell this b** off, and be done with it. Forget my years of preparation.


Then… I sat down, took out my tools and started working out what was going on inside of me. Where had I failed to communicate where I was coming from, misunderstood what was being asked of me, or failed to mirror back my understanding or misunderstanding of this conversation? That night, it took me several hours to work this out. I had a private session scheduled with my primary counselor the very next morning and was very apprehensive. We began this private session, and I think it took me not more than a minute or two to put this issue on the table. Then we spent most of the remaining hour laughing and enjoying the humor in our misunderstanding. This is the first time in my life, ever, that I was able to work out a major difficulty with someone face-to-face and resolve it in such an esteemable way.

Little did I know that I was also on my way toward an end date. This was growth.

One treatment that overwhelmingly enhanced my recovery was EMDR (look it up). I had several sessions of EMDR with my therapist before entering treatment and discovered another gift – an aptitude. I actually enjoyed EMDR sessions! Some time in my third month of treatment I was trying to find the source of my codependency issues and went in for an intense EMDR session. At the end of the session my counselor suddenly jumped up and said, “Oh wow, you did a 600! What the heck was a 600? So I asked and it is probably some kind of big deal. But it’s not as big of a deal as knowing that you’ve done the deal – when your counselor gets really, really excited about the results. Yeah, I was on my way.

Treatment was so busy that we really never had time to think about what our experiences would be like afterwards. We worked about 12 hours a day six days a week and barely had a day off. Actually we were still doing the work while sleeping. My primary counselor said it was a 24-hour a day program.

I still had work to do, and the energy to do it, and continued to stay in treatment. Once again I was very, very committed. This was a once-in-a-lifetime deal for me and I was going to get everything out of it I could.  Around 90 days it became obvious that most of the staff thought that I was done, that I had done the work so I began inquiring as to my transition back into the real world. I set an end date. I was thoroughly exhausted. This was the most intense experience of my life and I feel that I got everything out of it that I could.

I slept for almost 30 days straight after treatment just to recover from the intensity. I really had not spent any time discovering internal changes or checking to see if I had released the energy behind my trauma.

I spent the next three months amazed, absolutely amazed at the differences inside of me. I felt 90% lighter. There was no need to over-think things, actually no need to think at all. My family of origin story literally vaporized. No need to go back because being in the present moment was so new. Every minute was new. Every minute was fresh. Every minute was a discovery. I was present for my life.

For those of you who’ve done therapy and sat in a session painfully recalling an event from your life only to hear your therapist say, “That’s interesting.” Well that’s what happened to my story. It’s “interesting,” but not relevant at all. My family of origin story isn’t about me at all.

I no longer re-experience trauma when a thought about my family history comes up. Instead I am sad at how sick they were and sad they never chose to get help. But that’s still not on me, I have healthy boundaries in place.

I think it’s important to do adequate family of origin work to take away the power story has over our lives. I think AA and Al-Anon’s middle steps 4,5,6,7,8, and 9 are immensely helpful. But there does come a time when there is no further benefit to go back and try to figure out the past with the past. I now look at my family of origin story like a fun-house mirror. Ultimately, there is no sense to be made out of this level of dysfunction.

Two years later I am still relatively trauma-free. Not a perfect recovery, but damn good enough! Most every experience is actually quite new. Today I am learning to be comfortable living in the question. If I’m living in the answer I’m not present, I am somewhere else, usually my head, and that’s not healthy.

I haven’t recovered to some mystical state of perfection. I describe my recovery as ordinary. I’m now an ordinary person with ordinary problems who makes ordinary mistakes. Who wins some, loses some and really is okay with pretty much everything that’s happening.

My relationships with other people, particularly women improved drastically. I hear some words frequently, words I never heard before in regard to me; “Thank You”

Really? You’re talking about me?

People like having me around! I love to be present for myself and for other people around me without condition as long as I’m connecting with safe people with healthy boundaries. This is what life is like for me today.

I really became the change I wish to see in the world.

Oh, and what about the question, “Do you know anyone who has worked through trauma and is now a happy functional adult?

Well, yes. I do.

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Cheryl Klein

The breast cancer survivor opens up about her lifelong battle with hypochondria, OCD and anxiety.  She talks about the emotional toll of infertility, having a miscarriage and the ensuing depression as well as her double mastectomy and hysterectomy (she has the BRCA 2 Gene)  and the perspectives she gained by having gone through all of it.   Not a downer, I swear!