What's New? Update – November 25, 2004

I'd like to call your attention to an article that was written about the Conference on Sexual Violence Against Males that was held in Galway, Ireland in September - because of both its content and that it appeared in an unlikely place, the Web site of the Child Protection Service of the Archdiocese of Dublin. Its author is Phil Garland, Director of Child Protection. You can find the article at http://www.cps.dublindiocese.ie/ Who says communication is not possible?

Dates have now been set for most of the events in New Zealand. In addition to the three workshops for professionals, there will be at least one workshop for male survivors. Click on the Events page for further information.

This article appeared in the newsletter of the Colchester (England) Rape Crisis Line. I hope it makes you consider attending one of this summer's events (see the Events page):

Healing the Healers I - June 2004

The nature of the issues that we deal with here at CRCL makes it absolutely essential that we feel supported in our work. To this end, we have a support system in place, which is probably second to none. As volunteers we have a volunteer mentor, who is our first port of call should we need to talk about anything that's troubling us, as well as individual, peer and group supervision on a regular basis. As employees we have a similar structure of support in place. At CRCL we work very hard at not carrying the issues around with us inappropriately (we feel righteous indignation, sadness and anger are often appropriate given our work). To this end, in the past year we have placed self-care at the top of our agenda. Ever mindful of the 'secondary trauma' that can affect professionals who work with people who have experienced violence and trauma, we have introduced a section on self-care into our training schedule, and remind new and existing workers how important it is to take care of ourselves. Volunteers are asked about their support networks and how they look after themselves; how much time they allow for themselves in their busy schedules and what they do to stay happy and well. These are all of the kind of things we ask our service users, so it is only right that we are asking ourselves the very same!

As part of this self-care initiative, six members of CRCL, including our group supervisor, attended the first ever Healing the Healers retreat. It was in June at Scargill House in the beautiful village of Kettlewell in the Yorkshire Dales, organised by Survivors West Yorkshire and facilitated by Mike Lew (author of Victims No Longer and Leaping Over Mountains). The aim of the three days was to bring professionals in this field together to talk about and support each other in the work that we do. All of us from Colchester, who managed somehow to acquire reputations both as Amazons and as "Washer Women", agreed that the event was one of the most powerful experiences ever. Below are some of the comments people from all over the world made about the retreat.

"It was such a privilege, humbling, totally wicked, experience meeting you all."

"Recently because I don't feel able to do front line work, I've become more aware of my responsibility as a trustee with ROSA (a UK survivor organisation)... by this I mean having a proactive supporting role for the people that do it... this includes our whole network, and yes this means us, who were at Scargill House together...it was a time of renewal for me...by that I mean tapping into our collective energies, and reciprocating positive vibes... I have been a survivor for 20 years or so, as opposed to a victim before that, and like most people I have my times of struggle and knowing personally that there are other people like me keeping on keeping on, is a deep joy, humbling, awesome, strengthening, supportive, inclusive, feeling...well, irie!

"There is work to be done, and being with us all at Scargill has helped me to acknowledge that I do have a contribution to make, just like everyone else who was there, and all the people who couldn't be there... part of my own recovery is about being there for people who need this support, and it just felt fab to be amongst us all sharing the vibes..."

"I'm still reeling from the power of the Retreat ...a very special experience."

"I think the most inspiring bit for me was being with people from all over the world who were at different stages of raising awareness of survivor issues in their countries. I was really struck by how isolated some of them were, and how vital 'tapping in' to a network like this is for them. It left me feeling incredibly fortunate to have the support that I do, not only in CRCL but also within The Survivors' Trust."

"I came back really invigorated by the retreat and was already feeling overwhelmed again by the weekend; it’s not the work itself really, it's the bureaucracy, funding shortages and lack of people/other resources which is doing my head in most."

"... a huge sense of connectedness with like-minded others; a sense of it being OK to be oneself; a challenge to me to go beyond my comfort zone (again!) and writing my first poem; laughter; midnight feast; bottles clinking where it was not Ok for them to clink; food being eaten where it was not OK for it to be eaten; rain; nature; beating the hell out of that punchbag with an axe handle; poems; Mike's announcement; visits to the pub; being; learning."

It only seems right for the last word to go to Ken, who awed the Retreat with his Haka, the Maori challenge we are familiar with from the All Blacks rugby team. Ken's Haka was an altogether more intimate and powerful rendition, and the traditional challenge seems to have taken on a whole new layer of meaning in the survivor movement.

"Hi my name is Ken Clearwater, I am Manager of Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse Trust in Christchurch, New Zealand. I am also a victim of childhood sexual abuse. I like to see myself in the third stage of my recovery, first as a victim, then a survivor, and now a navigator in my own healing and the privilege of being able to help other survivors. I met Mike Lew, author of Victims No Longer, two years ago when our agency was able to help get him to New Zealand, and I had the opportunity to meet him again last year at the 10th International Conference on Male Victimization held in Minnesota, USA where he held a workshop. While there I had the pleasure of meeting three amazing people from the UK, Ian Warwick, Bob and Chris Balfour. When I heard that they were organizing a Retreat in England I put my name down, worked hard for funding and headed to England in June this year. When I arrived in England I knew I was going to enjoy meeting my old friends again and did not realise I would meet so many more incredible people, especially the "Women from the Country of Colchester". It is incredible the amount of hard work going on throughout the world to help survivors of sexual abuse and it was great to be able to meet those involved. I attended both retreats, 'Healing the Healers' and 'Victims No Longer'. The people I met, the friends I now have and the knowledge I gained will be with me for life."

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