There is immense sorrow and tragedy in the death of Linkin Park lead singer Chester Bennington by suicide last week. But perhaps Bennington’s life, death and the attention they received will empower other male childhood sexual abuse survivors to speak out about their own abuse and get help.
Bennington was publicly open about being sexually abused as a child and how the abuse tormented him. He shared that he used drugs and alcohol excessively to try to cope with the abuse trauma. His raw, intense singing style and often dark lyrics now seem to have directly telegraphed how haunted he was.
Childhood sexual abuse survivors are at greater risk of suffering from myriad psychological, behavioral, medical and sexual disorders, according to Joan Cook, a Yale University associate professor and president of the American Psychological Association’s Division of Trauma Psychology. Writing for CNN, Cook notes that sexual trauma is related to post-traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse, depression and suicidal behavior.
The consequences of childhood sexual abuse are traumatic and life-changing for male and female survivors alike. However, in light of Bennington’s death, Cook notes that boys and men who were sexually abused tend to have been especially “overlooked, neglected, minimized or stigmatized by society, and at times, by the health care community.” Men are taught to downplay vulnerability, be tough and not cry or show emotion, Cook opines. The abuse makes them feel “tarnished in terms of their maleness,” blame themselves for failure to prevent it and often question their own sexual preference, according to Cook. Some men minimize the impact of the abuse or deny it occurred and do not come forward about it. Many turn to drugs, alcohol or worse to try to cope.
If you are struggling with childhood sexual abuse, there are resources for help. One organization, MaleSurvivor, works to help empower male abuse survivors to come forward to seek help and get the professional support they need. Another helpful organization for all survivors is RAINN.
If you are feeling suicidal, please know that you are important and loved. There is hope! We urge you to talk to medical professionals or someone you know about your feelings immediately. In addition, The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number is 1-800-273-8255.
If you know someone who talks about suicide or otherwise appears to be suicidal, take them seriously, talk to them and get them professional medical help immediately.