If you are or know a victim/survivor of childhood sexual abuse, I hope you will find something of value on this website. It has evolved over a couple of years since I first put it up. I created it so I’d have a place where people could read my intermittent and inconsistent blogging, mostly on the topic of the Child Victims Act (“CVA”).
Soon I was adding links to coverage of our lobbying efforts on behalf of the CVA. At times I got quoted from an interview or got lucky, and a letter to the editor or op-ed was published. This website was where I collected all that stuff.
The other main reason for creating briantoale.com was to tell the story of my sexual abuse in high school. If I was to write and speak on this topic, I wanted to show my hard-earned qualifications to do so. If for no other reason than to show there can be hope, recovery, and healing while describing how it happened for me.
Those efforts have now paid off. The CVA “look-back” window opens at midnight tonight! It ushers in a new era for survivors in NY. And so, I’m going to try and shift the focus of this website to one of helping victim/survivors on the path to healing from sexual abuse, by providing links to information and services that can hopefully help negotiate the journey.
We can choose how we wish to move forward, but not have to do it alone.
Brian R Toale
August 13th, 2019
In a word, this site is about exploration. I’ve been an explorer, in one form or another, whether I was aware of it or not, for my entire life. I used to think of myself as a searcher and on a quest of some sort. Maybe I was. But now those terms don’t feel quite right anymore. In those days I was looking for something I thought I needed in order to be OK. Something outside of myself that I could take hold of and use to make up for some lack in me.
Today I like the word explore better. Exploration is a process that needs no goal other than itself. When I looked up the word explore in a thesaurus I found words like study, investigate, survey, and terms like look at, and delve into. That’s what I’m doing now, not because I need to be fixed or made whole, but because I want to learn and understand things as they are.
By some standards I haven’t had the easiest life, at least not in terms of feeling OK, but I’ve always managed to have a job and therefore a roof, a meal, and a bed. I’ve never been seriously wanting for anything in terms of my survival or physical comfort and safety. And compared to many it’s been a life filled with blessings. After all, it brought me to this place and time in my life that I wouldn’t trade for anything. For that I am very grateful. But it wasn’t without struggle, and at times often more than was actually needed.
I’ve learned a lot about myself along the way. How things that happened affected me, how I chose to respond/react, what I believed about what was happening and about myself, what I believed others were thinking about me, and what I believed being OK would actually look and feel like. That was the exploration, and still is. The difference being I now can do it while being OK rather than in order to become OK.
Along the 64 years I have been exploring, I have uncovered some talents, inclinations, preferences, prejudices and values, combined in a way that is uniquely my own. Being OK with this constellation of personal characteristics, exactly as they are today, is how I realize my purpose in life and consequently my healing.
One question that has always played an over-sized role in my life is “Who the hell do I think I am?” It started as a defense, became a judgement, and now is my exploration. It will necessarily always remain a work in progress, because that’s also what I am.
p.s. I will start by focusing on what is most immediate in my world right now, and that is my recovery from childhood sexual abuse and my advocacy to get the Child Victims Act passed in New York State.