“I think I was very conditioned to not expressing myself honestly emotionally with people. I could do it through a script…”
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It was an acting mentor who betrayed and profoundly harmed Tony, but it was acting itself that saved him. What at first seems paradoxical is not. Tony Edwards loves acting, deeply. He loves the honesty, the deep connection that can be attained between actors, the trust that is necessary to attain it. He knew this about acting even as a child. When the mentor betrayed Tony’s trust, and preyed on him and other boys whom he had groomed, Tony was pulled into the predator’s orbit of fear and conditional love. But what he experienced in acting enabled Tony to protect that part of himself that is the human source of trust, of connection, and of love.
Like so many survivors of sexual abuse, Tony cordoned off the traumatic experiences and focused his heart and soul on acting. He forged a successful career in television and film. He married and raised his children. He put aside his acting career for a decade to be a full-time father.
But there are internal magnetic forces that resist compartmentalization, that demand integration, that strive for wholeness. In 2013, allegations surfaced in the media about Tony’s former mentor, and suddenly Tony’s inner landscape shifted. With the help of therapy and connection with other survivors, Tony confronted the legacies of what he had suffered in childhood: the betrayal of love and trust that sent filaments across the decades of his life.
In November, 2017, Tony published an article disclosing what he had endured. Soon, other men came forward with their own testaments to the predations of their common mentor.
Healing is not simply restoration. It is reconstruction, reconstitution. When the harm of betrayal is identified, when its filaments are recognized, trust is once again possible. And out of that healing is born a commitment to work on behalf of other survivors, the one in six men who have been sexually victimized. “Let’s change that statistic.”
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.