What's New? Update – October 29, 2003
It has been quite a while since my last entry in this column. The reason is that so much has beenhappening that I didn't have an opportunity to write anything until today. I'll try to make up for that lapse by making this entry longer than usual - to catch you up on some of the highlights of the past several months, along with some suggestions of resources and a few upcoming events:
**First, an update on the second edition of Victims No Longer. Since July, when I reported that I'd received a sample cover of the new edition, a number of glitches came up -- and they took months to resolve. But I'm happy to report that we have come to an agreement on a new cover, different and even better than the one I mentioned last time. In addition, we have finished what publishers call the "First Pass" on the manuscript. This means that we have gone over the material once more, copy edited it, and it's ready to be set in its final form. This is good news and means that we are still on track to have the finished book available in March. Similar to the recovery process, it's been a long, sometimes painful struggle, but it looks like the results will be worth it.
**September was a busy month. The events in England were powerful, and I was impressed again and again by survivors and those who work with them. I got to see old friends and colleagues and meet new ones. Here are some UK highlights:
--Attending the meeting of the board of Survivors Trust, an umbrella organization of survivor groups of all types throughout Great Britain. By pooling their experience and resources, and challenging individual and organizational isolation, they are forging an impressive recovery network.
--Spending time with the extraordinary folks from Fire in Ice, the male survivor peer organzation in Liverpool. They are doing cutting edge work supporting survivors and their allies and educating the police, prison workers and the public about abuse and recovery.
--Working with Bob and Chris Balfour of Survivors West Yorkshire. Their energy, dedication and vision are a constant inspiration.
--The two daylong male survivor recovery workshops - one in Bradford and the other in Swindon. Both were moving and powerful, reflected the diversity of male survivors, and were occasions of frequent displays of courage, caring, and generosity. Participants came from as far away as Scotland, Ireland, and Spain. There was a range of age, background, class, race, religion and ethnicity. The participants supported each other unreservedly, and plans are in the works for more such events.
--The professional trainings in Bradford and Southampton were well-attended and well-received. The Southampton training was sponsored by CISters, a support organization for women who have extended their caring to male survivor issues.
--I was again impressed by the quality of work being done by survivors, professionals, and other allies in many parts of the UK. We proved once again that a light touch, laughter, and fun are no barrier to profound work. Indeed, they make such work possible. I can't list all the impressive people I met on this trip. I hope you know who you are. You give me abundant hope. Thank you.
--A daylong "community event" that included impressive presentations by the men of Fire in Ice, Jazz Kang of the Derby Rape Crisis Centre, Survivors West Yorkshire, and two women from Bradford Rape Crisis. Another example of diverse groups cooperating to overcome isolation and provide mutual support.
-- Many seeds were planted this September. Among them are plans for Thom Harrigan and me to co-lead a weekend residential recovery workshop/retreat for male survivors. It will take place on July 2-4, 2004 in the Yorkshire Dales. I will post information about it on the Upcoming Events page as plans are set. Or for more information and registration, you can contact Bob Balfour at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
--There are also tentative plans in the works (watch this space) for a similar residential workshop for people who work with abuse and recovery issues. This would be a first of its kind. Again, I'll let you know more about these plans as they develop.
**After England, I returned to Boston for about three days and then left for the MaleSurvivor Conference in Minneapolis. Despite low registration numbers, the conference offered many highlights. For me, they inlcuded:
--Another male survivor workshop. This one had participants from five countries, including Australia and New Zealand, and was another expample of diversity, mutual support, courage, and power. The men supported each other through the rest of the conference and on into the wider world afterwards. (I'm still recieving emails almost daily containing reports of strides that the participants are making in their lives.) These connections are indeed real and significant.
--Ken Hampton did indeed make it to the Conference from Alice Springs in Australia's Central Desert. Ken spoke eloquently of the abuses of his Aboriginal community. A third generation member of the Stolen Generations, he talked about the government policy of removal of Aboriginal children from their families to be raised by white families as a means of "assimilation". He also introduced and commented on the Australian film "Rabbit Proof Fence". Listeners were deeply moved by Ken's presentations.
--Isaac Dillard, an African-American male survivor performed a number of his songs and poems at the conference. I recommend his work. Listen to what Isaac has to say; you won't be disappointed. For a copy of his CD send a check or money order for US $12.00 to Isaac Dillard, P.O.Box 5894, Fairlea, WV 24902.(This price includes postage and handling.)
--Important contributions were made by survivor activists like Ken Clearwater from Christchurch, New Zealand and Ian Warwick from Sheffield, England.
--The conference was also the occasion of the world premiere of Ethan Delavan's documentary, "Stories of Silence". See it when you have the opportunity.
There were many more highlights of that weekend, but I hope I've given you enough to encourage you to attend such events in the future.
**After the MaleSurvivor Conference Ken Hampton spent some time in the Boston area before returning to Australia, and he made some important connections with a number of Native American Indian groups here. Lines have been opened around survivor issues in indigenous communities in various parts of the world.
**On the clergy front:
-- Thom Harrigan has become a member of the Victims Rights Committee, a group of professionals working to insure that the treatment offered by the Boston Archdiocese to victims of clergy abuse is truly in their best interest.
-- I have been asked to provide consultation to the Task Force on Human Sexuality of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America at their November meeting in Chicago. I'm pleased that they recognize the need for understanding the issues of boyhood sexual victimzation and recovery.
** Finally, I'd like to recommend theexcellent new Self-Help Pack created and published by Fire in Ice. To get yourself a copy, contact them via the direct link from the Resources page.
There's lots more to tell, but that's all I can write for now. I'll try not to let it go as long before the next entry. In the meantime, please take good care of yourself, and know that you have many allies throughout the world.