"Something always felt awkward or weird. It was like, this doesn’t feel right, but I didn’t know what to do."
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At age eight, Mark was abused by an older male cousin. The abuse ended when Mark defied the abuser’s threats and told his parents.
Mark channeled his emotions into other pursuits. He excelled in track and field, earning a college scholarship and then a bachelor’s degree. Then he went on to graduate school and earned his master’s degree in animation. In graduate school Mark began to confront the legacies that had haunted him since childhood.
Mark still struggles with self blame, and he still contends with the anger. But Mark also has an arsenal to draw from as he pursues his path to healing. His sharp and fluid intellect, which allows him to observe his own reactions, and to understand his personal struggle in the context of the larger forces that influence him.
And he has his art. From early in his childhood Mark found an outlet for his emotions in his art. He drew incessantly and his talent emerged. Mark has used those talents to help his own healing process. He also draws on his talents to express his feelings about the killings of Black men and women by police officers. He is working on a series of portraits of victims, including one of Matthew Ajibade, the brother of Mark’s friend who was killed in Savannah, Georgia.
“That’s what I’ve done my whole life. I’ve just figured stuff out…I’m at the point where I can talk about it. It’s still really painful. I still get pissed off…But if I keep talking about it, something will click…”
And it is. Mark is speaking to high school students about his experience, simultaneously healing himself and opening a door to healing for other young men.
1in6 is a national nonprofit organization supporting the estimated 1 in 6 men who have experienced sexual abuse or assault. At 1in6, we believe that the tens of millions of male survivors who have had such experiences deserve to live whole, meaningful lives, but we know that isn’t always easy. Entrenched myths about masculinity, the stigma and silence around the issue, and a lack of male-specific services are just some of the barriers men face to seeking help and addressing emotional wounds in a healthy way.
Men who feel unsafe to disclose and seek help may risk exposure to social dysfunction and mental and physical health issues, including but not limited to: depression, PTSD, suicidal ideation, addiction, isolation, fear of intimacy, confusion about sexuality, interpersonal violence, and feelings such as anger, guilt, shame, and distrust.
We help men overcome the negative effects of past experiences and reclaim their lives by offering information, outreach, and free and anonymous services for men and their loved ones, as well as service providers working with men.
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