When he was nine years old, Kevin Sibley was sexually abused by a man he trusted.
Although he’s accomplished much since then, the memories still haunt him.
And they contributed to a decision he made in 2011 to end his life.
Sibley has since sought help and found it with trauma counsellor Margaret Mauger at the Colchester Sexual Assault Centre.
“I’m trying to figure out the effects now,” Sibley said. “I started seeing Margaret … in February, and she’s helped me a lot. I learned stuff that happened over my life originated in childhood abuse. It’s a trail of things that have not gone well for me, because of decisions I made based on certain beliefs I formed because of the abuse.”
It was 1969 when he was abused, a time when there was little public awareness around childhood sexual abuse. The man involved was in a position of authority at the time.
“Sometimes it involved two of us,” he said. “It happened repeatedly and I didn’t know what to do.”
He took the courageous step of telling his parents. His father immediately spoke to someone who held power, and the man was removed from the organization. But there were no legal steps taken.
“It was all swept under the rug, but I’m still hurting on the inside,” said Sibley. “I know he abused two others, and I wonder if there are more. I’ve seen him over the years, and I’m concerned about people like this still being out there.”
He feels the abuse he experienced made him especially sensitive to others who are suffering.
“I can’t stand by when someone is being abused in any way,” he said.
Sibley was beaten and bullied at school – until he sprouted from 5-ft. 4-in. to 6-ft. one summer.
He went on to play hockey, at minor and university levels, played baseball, drove race cars, and become a professor at Dal AC and a community volunteer. He married and has a family, but inside there was still a young boy who had been abused.
“All my life, I’ve been submissive,” he said. “To a lot of people that may seem contradictory, because it appeared I had it all together, but I was hurting on the inside.”
In April of 2011 he considered suicide.
“The abuse contributed to the decision, but there were also workplace issues at that time, and I had no hope.”
He had a plan to end his life but an appointment with his family doctor that day proved fortuitous. He doesn’t know why, but his wife accompanied him to his appointment, and while there she learned how he was feeling. He was sent to be assessed, and then admitted to the psychiatric ward. He was diagnosed as having major depression with suicidal ideation.
“The treatment I received then set me on the right path,” he said. “I started seeing a psychiatrist and learning more.”
He still struggles with depression but tries to help himself by doing something he considers fun – like driving at Atlantic Motorsport Park or landscaping. He also feels supported by his wife and children.
“I want people to understand that sexual abuse happens to a lot of males; it happens to all genders,” he added.
“I highly recommend that anybody who has any issue, seek out advice from someone they trust, and who is knowledgeable in the area they’re having issues with, and then go from there…”
FACTS ON SEXUAL ABUSE
- Most males who have been sexually assaulted, have had the experience as children or teenagers.
- In most cases of sexual assault, the offender is known to the survivor.
- Most sexual assault offenders appear to look and act “normally.” Many are living with a partner, have children and are considered responsible members of their community.
- Sexual assault is about power and control, not sex. It violates not only a survivor’s personal integrity, but also his or her sense of safety and control over life.
- Most male offenders who sexually abuse or assault other men identify themselves as heterosexual. Some offenders target males because it gives them a greater feeling of dominance, power and control than abusing a woman.
- Survivors often experience depression, anger, anxiety, confusion, fear, numbness, self-blame, helplessness, suicidal feelings and shame.
- Colchester Sexual Assault Centre