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Self-care is an inner revolution!

1in6 Inc., Blog: Including Men In Campus Outreach

Over the course of the past year, I’ve had the pleasure of running “7000 in Solidarity: A Campaign Against Sexual Assault” at UCLA. The campaign is a threefold effort: awareness, education, and advocacy through a coalition of student groups of a variety of topics and communities working together to combat sexual violence. From the beginning and within the campaign’s name, I have purposely worked for the campaign to be gender inclusive, including the statistic of the number of men who have had an unwanted or abusive sexual experience in childhood – 1 in 6.

According to peer-reviewed academic journals, 1 in 3 women and 1 in 6 men will experience a sexual assault or some form of sexual violence over the course of their lifetime. Meaning of the 28,000 undergraduates of UCLA, 7,000 Bruins will be survivors – and most of them before the age of 18. (And, this number does not even begin to account for the number of those who do not identify as either gender and experience sexual violence.) While the focus on universities’ inadequate response to sexual assaults during a student’s time on campus is an important one, most survivors on campus were survivors before they even stepped foot on our quads. Their need for support is just as important as the women and men who will experience assault once on campus.

And, while being a survivor of any gender is a stigmatizing and silencing experience, male survivors of an unwanted or abusive sexual experience in childhood are by far the most difficult to engage and support as a campus survivor activist and campaign. Of the over three hundred survivors who have broken their silence to me through e-mail, phone calls, impromptu campus meetings, and other ways, only a handful have been men. At our on-campus events, men rarely attend unless they are fraternities men incentivized through our Fraternity & Sorority Relations, or a small number of dedicated men who are allies to the cause.

I’ve asked many male survivors who’ve spoken with me why they don’t attend our events – which include lectures, art galleries, workshops, etc. – and how we can do better to attract men. One man gave me a straightforward response: “If I attend, I feel like I would out myself as a victim. Whether I say it explicitly or not, my presence could implicitly say ‘I’m a victim,’ and that’s my greatest fear – someone to know without me wanting them to. And, I don’t think I’ll feel comfortable to come or talk until the silence around this wanes. I don’t know when that will be, but in the mean time, I’ll be quiet.”

We cannot make strides to end violence against women if we do not adequately address violence against men. At least 1 in 6 men on our campuses are survivors, and where can we go from here, if the same events I know my fellow survivor activists and I have designed to be a support for survivors of all genders, aren’t a safe space for male survivors?

We have to make it one. We need to break the silence and break it in unconventional and interesting ways, using techniques to reach communities that are generally not interested in this topic. I have one year left at UCLA, one year of activism ahead of me, and another shot to help the male survivors who I could not support the first year of my efforts. We can’t have a full conversation and work to end sexual violence against any gender if we do not explicitly and specifically work to break the social stigma and silence around male sexual violence. I hope through ideas like a 1BlueString campaign in partnership with our campus radio station, connecting with male-dominated campus spaces to put on events debunking myths about male sexual violence, or putting on art and entertainment-related events, like a spoken—word event about silence and male sexual violence, we can start to create a campus culture that supports male survivors.

Sexual violence is not just a woman’s issues; it’s a community problem, and it’s about time campus communities takes a lead to support our men affected by the issue in hopes of bettering our society as a whole.

Savannah Badalich is a non-profit administrative intern at 1in6, Inc and undergraduate student studying Gender Studies at UCLA. Through her position as UCLA Student Wellness Commissioner - the health representative of 28,000 undergraduates -, she created 7,000 in Solidarity: A Campaign Against Sexual Assault, a multicampus sexual assault prevention campaign that combines education, arts activism, and advocacy work with the help of student governments, campus departments and resources, survivors, and their advocates. The campaign has gotten huge success and has been featured in The Huffington Post, Think Progress, BuzzFeed, and other news outlets, specifically for its photography campaigns such as #AlcoholIsNotConsent.

Great write-up by Hannah Pierangelo at Idobi on the Modern Baseball and 1BlueString AP Music Philanthropic Award nomination!
Modern Baseball are up for the award with the 1BlueString organization. What really strikes me about the blue string campaign is how tangible they have made their statistic, which is that 1 in 6 men are sexually abused as children. By infusing the idea into a common item like the guitar, people can visually see the amount of men sexual abuse affects. As soon as you see that one blue string up on stage, you know immediately how prominent this problem truly is.

It’s a tough call, given all the great bands who support such innovative and influential organizations. Everyone involved is doing remarkable things to help people and animals. Whichever way you vote, you can feel good about helping promote a good cause. (Hannah Pierangelo)

This one gets my vote! Modern Baseball and 1BlueString”

http://idobi.com/news/2014/07/idobi-writers-rock-ap-awards-voting/

1in6 Inc., Blog: The Long Road to Healing

 

Pope Francis’s meeting this week with six men and women who had been abused when they were children by Catholic priests inevitably stirred emotional reactions ranging from gushing praise to outright cynicism. My reaction was a well-practiced “wait and see.” 

Over time, and after many disappointments, I’ve adopted the long view. 

More than 25 years has passed since my first conversations with a member of the Catholic hierarchy about stopping sexual abuse of children by Catholic clergy. As might be expected, I wasn’t happy when they told me they believed the priest who had sexually abused me, who said he was “just horsing around,” and that they intended to leave him in ministry.

Seven years later, the Archdiocese of Boston contacted me to say they’d “made a mistake,” and that the priest was now suspended. More than 10 years after that, he was defrocked, permanently removed from the priesthood. That leaves me in a small minority of those who were abused by clerics of any faith, who have seen the person who abused them held to some measure of accountability. 

Although I definitely benefited from the validation I experienced by his removal, I realized that the punishment itself – the sense of “getting even” — was not what brought me comfort. Instead, it was the sense that finally, I’d been believed and that the priest, in some small way, was now less able to hurt another child. That covered two of the three things I’d demanded from the Archdiocese back in 1987. As far as I know, my third demand, that the priest be given treatment to address his abusive impulses, remains unfulfilled. 

There is little comfort for those children who are being sexually abused today in my story of validation or in the emotional words of apology from Pope Francis. All of us adults, the Pope, myself, anyone with the slightest bit of power or influence, are responsible for protecting those who are at risk from abuse, and also for supporting those who have already survived abuse to heal. Both protection and support requires positive action, positive change – not words or good intentions alone. 

“Both protection and support requires positive action, positive change – not words or good intentions alone.”

I work every week with a group of men, who have been violent with an intimate partner. My goal each meeting is to help them understand that the fact that, they may have been punished with time in jail, or that they’ve  apologized for their abusive actions, does not re-establish safety for the person they hurt; does not undo the feelings of betrayal inherent in abuse; does not automatically restore a sense of trust

We encourage the men to believe that their violence is something they’ve done, not who they are; and that their harmful behavior is something they have the power to change. 

We help them see that if they can move past their defensive shame, they can begin to understand and validate the hurt they inflicted in a meaningful way; that they can empathize deeply with the person they harmed and appreciate what will be necessary to restore a sense of safety; and that trust can only come over time, through repeated demonstration of different, more healthy responses. 

In the past, some members of the Catholic hierarchy, like some of the men in my group, have at times expressed surprise and confusion that a sincere expression of regret and sorrow, and a declaration of future good intentions doesn’t close the book on their previous mistakes. 

I’ve always believed the Catholic Church was in a unique position to become a model for all institutions, and even families, for how individuals can hold themselves accountable for past failings involving sexual abuse and embrace actions that will assure a safer world for children and those who are suffering from past abuse. 

For years, various advocacy groups have offered steps that the Catholic Church and other faith communities might take to better protect children. 

Pope Francis made some significant pronouncements this week about confronting a culture that allowed sexual abuse to run rampant in the Church.

I and billions of Catholics and non-Catholics alike will “wait and see” if he actually seizes the opportunity to create a safer world for kids in a meaningful way.  

- By Peter Pollard

Read more on the 1in6 Blog 

Peter Pollard is the Professional Relations & Communications Director for 1in6, Inc. Peter previously worked for 15 years as a state, child-protection social worker and was the Public Education director at Stop It Now! Since 2003, he has served as the Western Massachusetts coordinator for SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) and also does work for a Certified Batterers Intervention Program. See Peter’s portrait in The Bristlecone Project exhibit.

1bluestring:

Earlier this month, Big Footprints Records and Property of Zack released The Big Comp II, an 85 band compilation album benefiting 1BlueString and The Nature Conservancy. Among the bands featured are Big Bad Buffalo, an indie/rock trio featuring drummer Alex Staninger, bassist Silvio Damone…

makeadifferencetogether:

Take care of yourself and be an inspiration to others.

makeadifferencetogether:

Take care of yourself and be an inspiration to others.

1in6 Inc., Blog: Reusing Pain

I hate it that I was sexually assaulted and physically beaten as a child. So many times I’ve wished it hadn’t happened. But it did happen.

Despite the fact that I’ve been on the healing path for years, I continue to learn about myself and how my painful childhood has carried into my adult years.

One significant fact has emerged from struggling with my past: I’ve learned to reuse my pain. That may not be a sophisticated way to say it, but it helps me to think of it like that. Recently, people have said many nice things to me about being a good listener, encouraging them, and being compassionate.

For a long time I tried to stop them and say, “That’s not who I am.” I knew my heart and when I thought about qualities such as compassion, I’d grade myself about a C minus. I’m sure that’s because I still struggled with my lack of self-esteem.

Over the years, I’ve learned to listen to the compliments from others—especially when I hear them more than once. For instance, about ten years ago another writer named Rhonda Ray called me sweet. Her words shocked me. Immediately I thought of the unkind, harsh things I’d said about others. I shrugged and reminded myself that Rhonda didn’t know me well.

Shortly after that encounter, a woman who had been a member of a church where I had pastored  for ten years said, “You are really a gentle person.”

Gentle? Me? That word just didn’t fit my self-image, because I knew myself too well. Over the next few months, people described me as kind and thoughtful.

One day I asked my wife, “Have I changed drastically within the past few months?” I told her about some of the comments.

Shirley laughed and said, “They’re true. You’re finally learning to believe those things about yourself.”

I’m extremely uncomfortable even now in writing this, but from the compassionate words of others, I’ve learned that some of them know me better than I’ve known myself.

Or the way I think of it, I’ve learned to reuse my pain. That may sound like an odd jump in logic but it works like this. I received little kindness as a child. Or perhaps I hurt so much, I was afraid to believe or trust anyone who showed any kindness.

One day I had one of those moments of enlightenment. I realized that I gave to others what I wanted others to give me. As simple as that sounds, my thinking changed dramatically. How can I do that? How can I embrace others when I can’t embrace myself? And yet that’s what I was already doing.

My biggest moment of insight came when I looked at what I’ve done as a professional writer. My most successful books are those I’ve written about other people.

What I hear from others is that I know how to get into the heart of those about whom I write. That still shocks me because I have no idea how I do that but I assume those who say such kind words mean them.

Thus I’ve reused my pain. As a child, one way I learned to avoid regular beatings from my dad was to become sensitive to his moods. I was probably too young to figure out that Thursday—the day before his payday—was the worst time. My dad was a functional alcoholic. Each day when he came home from work, I could tell just from the way he walked and the expression on his face whether I needed to hide. I couldn’t have put that into words but intuitively I knew. That was part of my coping.

As a collaborator, I’ve often been drawn to the stories of underdogs, of those who shouldn’t have achieved, but they do. As I listen and try to put their emotional responses in print, I sometimes smile and say to myself, I’m reusing my pain to help others.

Read more on the 1in6 Blog

By Cecil Murphey 

Cecil Murphey Image

Cecil Murphey wrote, When a Man You Love Was Abused and Not Quite Healed with survivor Gary Roe. Murphey is the author or coauthor of more than 130 books including international best-sellers, 90 Minutes in Heaven and Gifted Hands: the Ben Carson Story.

Posted by 1in6, Inc. More information available at www.1in6.org.

The mission of 1in6 is to help men who have had unwanted or abusive sexual experiences in childhood live healthier, happier lives. 1in6s mission also includes serving family members, friends and partners by providing information and support resources on the web and in the community.

1in6 Inc., Blog: Hope Wins! An Ancient Lesson About Overcoming Fear

I was reminded recently of an important lesson about trauma recovery. The teacher was the son of a friend, a young man who spoke at his bar mitzvah about the competing motivations of fear and hope.

The example he gave was based on a story from the Bible. I’ve never been a reader of the Bible and my appreciation of the young man’s wisdom had nothing to do with the religious aspects of the story, which I’d never previously heard.  (My apologies in advance if I distort any details in the retelling).

What impressed me was his understanding, that for many who experience trauma, when visualizing happiness, fear is often a stronger force than hope – at least for a time.

In my work with men, I’ve found this can be especially true for men who had unwanted or abusive sexual experiences in childhood, though it is also often the case for those who experienced physical and emotional abuse as well. The prohibition imposed on boys at an early age against expressing emotions like sadness, fear, and vulnerability makes it particularly difficult to feel safe enough to address the range of negative feelings that often result from childhood abuse. The fear of shame,disbelief, or ridicule can outweigh hope and the belief that healing is possible.

According to the story, after the Israelites escaped from slavery in Egypt they were stranded in the desert.  Moses sent out twelve “spies” to determine whether the land of Canaan could be conquered and become their new home. Ten of the twelve returned, overcome by fear of what they imagined would be necessary to successfully achieve the Promised Land.  Some even thought it would be better to return to Egypt and the familiar experience of captivity rather than face the unknown. Only two, Joshua and Caleb, believed that happiness and success was worth the struggle.  On that day, fear and despair prevailed.

We all heal at our own pace. As I understand it, it took the Israelites another 40 years wandering in the desert before they were able to move past that fear and take the steps necessary to establish a safe, productive homeland. In the meantime, the ten had died. Even Moses had died. Caleb and Joshua finally led the Israelites into the Promised Land with their message of hope.

I waited 20 years before I found the courage to face the effects of having been sexually abused as a child. I’ve met many men, who waited much longer — some 40 years or more.  Each man, each woman must choose his or her own timeline. What I learned in the process of healing was that, as difficult as the struggle seemed in a given moment, every step toward recovery was better than remaining enslaved by my past.

The task for the rest of us, when supporting those we love, is, like Joshua and Caleb, to steadily, patiently, nurture hope over fear. 

Read more on the 1in6 Blog

- By Peter Pollard

Peter Pollard is the Professional Relations & Communications Director for 1in6, Inc. Peter previously worked for 15 years as a state, child-protection social worker and was the Public Education director at Stop It Now! Since 2003, he has served as the Western Massachusetts coordinator for SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) and also does work for a Certified Batterers Intervention Program. See Peter’s portrait in The Bristlecone Project exhibit.

Posted by 1in6, Inc. More information available at www.1in6.org.

The mission of 1in6 is to help men who have had unwanted or abusive sexual experiences in childhood live healthier, happier lives. 1in6s mission also includes serving family members, friends and partners by providing information and support resources on the web and in the community.

1in6 Inc., Blog: Question: “ARE WE THERE YET?” Answer: “WE ARE ON OUR WAY.”

I decided to go to New York City recently, to join in the celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Joyful Heart Foundation (JHF).  I am so glad I did.

Peace Over Violence and Joyful Heart have been partnering since the founding of JHF by Mariska Hargitay  in 2004. I have been privileged to watch the growth of the organization as it tackled and impacted serious issues. Mariska’s passion and commitment to these issues inspires so many, and I count myself among them.

The first nationally successful impact by JHF  was the innovative programming on vicarious trauma that JHF brought to the practioners in the violence-against-women’s movement: the “Heal The Healers Project.” Next was the advocacy brought to the national rape kit backlog crisis.  Following that was the championing of the NO MORE campaign. Next was the partnership between 1in6 and JHF on the issue of engaging men and male survivors.

At the JHF gala on May 29th, which had the title of “Are We There Yet?”, set the tone of how far we have come in dealing with the issues of  sexual and domestic violence over the past 40 years. The dining room at Cipriani’s New York was decorated with banners marking the milestones that have been accomplished such as the first shelter for battered women and the VAWA policy among many other amazing advances.

In ten short years the Joyful Heart Foundation under the able leadership of Maile Zambutto and of course Mariska’s vision and passionate advocacy along with an obviously skillful staff and dedicated board has brought added value to this ever winding roadmap to bring trauma healing to survivors and strength to the movement.  The main course at the Gala was inspiration and energy to keep on going, to stay the course and keep the vision of love and healing in view as we travel the road together by inviting everyone to get involved. The roadmap metaphor reminded me that by coming together and collaborating we can one day put these violences in the rear view mirror!

If inspiration and celebration was the main course of the evening, the dessert was the showing of the NO MORE campaign with new spots debunking the myths that it can’t happen to men and boys. 1in6 was inspirational to the production of these spots focusing on men. When these spots aired during a Law & Order SVU marathon on the USA Network in April, the 1in6 website broke all records for website users.

Cleary, the time has come for men who have experienced abuse to receive compassion, respect and help. Clearly,the  time has come for the stigma to be de– stigmatized, for the myths to be debunked and for the truth to be told. The road is ahead of us, not easy but doable. 

The answer to “are we there yet?” is, “not quite yet, but we are on our way.”

With the support, partnership and leadership of Joyful Heart Foundation on this issue and as leaders in the movement to end intentional violence, we will get there!

By Patti Occhiuzzo Giggans

Patti Giggans POV E.D. 40th Gala

Patti Occhiuzzo Giggans is the Executive Director of Peace Over Violence. Peace Over Violence is dedicated to building healthy relationships, families and communities free from sexual, domestic and interpersonal violence. She is also the Vice-President of the Board of Directors for 1in6. 

Posted by 1in6, Inc. More information available at www.1in6.org.

The mission of 1in6 is to help men who have had unwanted or abusive sexual experiences in childhood live healthier, happier lives. 1in6s mission also includes serving family members, friends and partners by providing information and support resources on the web and in the community.

1in6 Inc., Blog: Telling the Family

Even after men start talking about their sexual assault, most of them face one formidable obstacle: Telling their family of origin. I’m no different. For three years, I had been able to talk to most people about my childhood. I had gotten past the place of tearing up.

“How do I tell my siblings?” I asked myself many times. My parents were both dead, but I had five siblings.

As I struggled and talked to others, I realized that families have unspoken taboos about discussing certain topics, especially those dealing with sex. As a child, neither of my parents even used the word pregnant. They would say, “She’s that way again.”

Even as a child, I understood what that meant. And that’s how most of us  absorb the safe and unsafe topics. Quite early, we know whether it’s permissible to bring up such matters. Only in retrospect did I realize that I felt unsafe in talking about my sexual assault—because that was taboo.

Until I had some understanding of the dynamics of my own family, I faced increased trauma because of my inability to articulate my pain to my family. That inability brought more shame and isolation.

Deep inside I sensed I had to tell my siblings and I didn’t know how, or what they would say. Even though I hadn’t lived near any of them since I graduated from high school, they represented my past—and something of a shared past. I hear similar stories from many men, and it has nothing to do with whether they’re in regular contact with their families. It has to do with breaking the silence of molestation in the family. Sometimes there was only one child who suffered sexual assault. Often there are others.

About two years after I began to face my childhood, I finally told my two younger brothers, whom I suspected had also been molested by the same female relative. Neither denied it but neither wanted to talk about it. Their negative reaction was so strong it made me even more reluctant to talk to my three older sisters.

When I analyzed the situation, it seemed silly to be afraid. “Either they accept my experiences or they don’t,” I told myself. I tried to reason my emotions into conforming. It didn’t work.

I’ve since heard many men speak about the trauma of telling their families of origin. And some men never mention it to them. But I knew I would never be fully healed from my molestation unless I told them.

One day the pressure became so intense, I spoke to one sister on the phone and said, “I have to tell you something.” Without giving her a chance to respond, I told her the facts.

“I didn’t know that,” she said, “but I’m not surprised.” She went on to tell me that the female relative had been sexually assaulted by her father for nearly four years—from the time of his first wife’s death until he remarried.

The relief was immense. I visited my hometown a month later and told my other two sisters. One of them said, “We didn’t know about things like that when we were kids.” And to my surprise, both were supportive.

For a time afterward, I chided myself on being so fearful, but then I realized I had done more than break the family silence, I had taken a major step in my own recovery.

Of all the conversations I have had about my sexual assault, nothing was as painful as talking to the family. But no single event has been so liberating. Because I could (finally) tell my siblings, I can tell anyone. I have broken all the barriers to secrecy. Now I continue to move forward in my own healing journey.

Read more on the 1in6 Blog

By  Cecil Murphey

Cecil Murphey wrote, When a Man You Love Was Abused and Not Quite Healed with survivor Gary Roe. Murphey is the author or coauthor of more than 130 books including international best-sellers, 90 Minutes in Heaven and Gifted Hands: the Ben Carson Story.

Posted by 1in6, Inc. More information available at www.1in6.org.

The mission of 1in6 is to help men who have had unwanted or abusive sexual experiences in childhood live healthier, happier lives. 1in6s mission also includes serving family members, friends and partners by providing information and support resources on the web and in the community.