New? Update – October 21, 2005
Well, I’m going to stop apologizing about not keeping up with these updates as efficiently as I’d like. I’m busy and life has a way of taking over, so I will do the updates whenever I can.
Again, a lot has happened since the last one. I have been doing some traveling, meeting many impressive people, and preparing for upcoming events. I also have some new resources to tell you about.
The brief workshop I did for the staff at Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York was interesting. In the midst of this bastion of serenity, I met a number of survivors, make and female, and their allies. The topic of recovery from sexual child abuse – and of male survivors in particular – is not one usually addressed at this venue. Omega is primarily focused on more meditative pursuits. Still, it is a beautiful setting and I appreciate the opportunity they gave me to relax, meet some lovely people, and take time for myself.
That week of relaxation was followed by another wonderful male survivors weekend workshop at Kirkridge. Thom Harrigan and I facilitated the event, which was the 15th annual workshop I have done at this retreat center in the Pocono Mountains of Eastern Pennsylvania. Thom and I were joined on the ridge top by 41 powerful men who came from many parts of the US - from as far as Arizona and Texas. We had about equal numbers of new faces and folks who had participated in past workshops. As always, there was a range of age, background, and life experience, but these distinctions soon became irrelevant. The work done this year seemed to be especially profound and courageous. Thom and I speculated that, as we all learn more about and have more experience with recovery for male survivors, it becomes more possible to move quickly to the core of the work. That said, (as in past years) the weekend also included a great deal of creativity and fun. The Kirkridge staff was, as always, helpful and supportive. They celebrated the 15th anniversary of the workshop by providing us with a huge, colorful, and delicious anniversary cake. Next summer’s dates have been set for the Kirkridge weekend: August 18-20, 2006. For more information check the Events page.
If you don’t want to wait until August – and feel like trying a different environment, the dates have also been set for two events in England. Healing the Healers 3 (July 17-20) and Victims No Longer 3 (July 21-23) will be held in Wiltshire, UK. There is more information about these on the Events page. They will be updated as needed.
We are also considering holding a weekend workshop for men and women survivors together in the UK, either in 2006 or 2007. I will co-lead it with Fay Maxted of Rugby RoSA (Rape or Sexual Assault). Fay is a force of nature, and I am delighted by the prospect of working with her. This project is in the very earliest stages of discussion, so details will follow at a later date.
Speaking of Rugby RoSA, they have just published an impressive resource book for survivors, allies, and professionals. One of the RoSA board members wrote: “...a charity in Rugby, UK, RoSA, that works, supports, and campaigns for and with people who have been traumatised by sexual assault, rape or abuse, be it current, or historical...we work and support both men and women...with the help and financial support of the local Soroptimist Society, we have been able to write and publish a book simply entitled The Survivors Guide: To Recovery from Rape and Sexual Abuse ISBN 0955103703 it costs £15.99 and is available from Amazon.uk direct (Note: I tried to find it on amazon.co.uk and couldn’t. I hope you have better luck. Mike)...enquiries concerning bulk orders (over 10) please email me: firstname.lastname@example.org This project has been a huge undertaking for a voluntary organisation working with just volunteers and we are justifiably proud of what we have achieved...it's an important book...spread the word, and buy!”
A final UK resource to tell you about is a new support group in London formed by several participants in last summer’s male survivor weekend. It meets every Thursday night at 7:30 in the Parlour Room of the Methodist Church, corner of Hinde Street and Thayer Street, London W1U 2QJ. The meeting runs until about 9:00, and there is the opportunity to meet afterwards for coffee. The organizers wrote,”We've established a new survivors self-help group here in London and would openly and warmly welcome any of you that can attend. It's a drop-in structure, so feel free to use us if you happen to be in town or if you feel you can attend regularly then we'd love that too. We've taken the format of a 12 step meeting but removed the steps and the obvious God parts and created a safe space for men recovering from abuse to commune and to share and and to grow from shared experience. Hope to see some of you here in London and that we're all going from strength to strength, fighting the good fight and looking after ourselves.” For more information, contact Michael at email@example.com
In the previous update I mentioned reading The Tricky Part, Martin Moran’s excellent memoir. In late August I had the opportunity to attend the one-man play that inspired the book. Martin Moran performed “The Tricky Part” at Shakespeare and Company in the Lenox, Massachusetts. It was a wonderful evening: the play is moving, funny, sad, insightful, and hopeful. Moran is a skilled actor who engages the audience from the onset, employing lightness and charm to keep them from being overwhelmed by the serious subject matter. He offered a “talk-back” after the performance, and responded to questions and comments will similar down-to-earth intelligence, honesty, and charm. If I sound like I’ve become a fan, yes I have. Moran is currently performing the play in California, at the San Jose Repertory Theater through November 15th. If you are able to treat yourself to a performance, you won’t be disappointed. You can find more information at http://www.sjrep.com/plays/anniversary/tricky-part/
Another resource that many will find helpful is the recently released book, Strong at the Heart: How It Feels to Heal from Sexual Abuse by Carolyn Lehman. This book is a collection of statements by teen and young adult survivors of sexual abuse. It is moving, clear, and hopeful. I recommend it.
The two conferences I attended in September and October (in Delaware and Oklahoma) were interesting and unusual. Both were primarily sponsored by law enforcement agencies (including the Delaware Criminal Justice Council and the Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office). This meant that the people attending my workshops were not only therapists, counselors, and victim advocates (although these were certainly in attendance). And I must admit that it is still a little disconcerting to be at a conference where so many attendees are carrying guns. It makes one want to think carefully about what you are saying. I enjoyed both conferences, and look forward to returning to both places for future events. I was especially impressed that the Oklahoma organizers included a major workshop track concerning male survivors in a conference that was about domestic violence against women.
Among the people I met in Oklahoma was someone who works in Alaska. She told me that there is great need for male survivor resources in Alaska, and that she will try to set up something there. So watch this space for news of possible workshops and trainings in the northland.
And speaking of far-flung places, the blokes in Perth and Darwin, Australia, are still working on creating workshops there in 2007. I will give you more news when I have it.
In the meantime, there is now a weekly men’s group meeting in Darwin, Northern Territory (this is truly an impressive accomplishment) and there is soon to be government funding for a male counselor (also a first for the Territory). For more information, contact the ASCA (Advocates for Survivors of Child Abuse) coordinator for Darwin and the NT, Geoff at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Perth (Western Australia) men’s group continues to meet regularly. For information about it contact Prem Tej at email@example.com
I’m very excited about the prospect of returning to these wonderful places in 2007. Some men in the USA, the UK, and New Zealand have started saving their pennies to join me there.
So you see this has continued to be a busy time. I’ve also undertaken some “expert” work connected with a clergy abuse lawsuit. Sooner or later institutions will have to take responsibility for the actions of their employees. Courageous survivors are helping this come to pass.
Please continue to take exquisite care of yourself.
All the best until next time