It Happens to Boys – Creating Safe Places to Talk About Childhood Sexual Abuse: 1in6 Thursdays on the Joyful Heart Foundation Blog
Speaking about sexual abuse is not a popular subject matter: some people cringe when I ask if we can speak to their organization.
A group of men and I, representing our “It Happens to Boys” program, are regularly out speaking at recovery centers, schools, conferences, organizations. It is my privilege to work with men who are beginning their healing journey. What we have found is that when the men in our group share their own personal stories, it makes it safe for other men to share theirs.
The first night at our group meeting usually goes like this: One of our veteran men share their personal childhood story, adding to it how life has changed since they began their healing journey. The men in our group call themselves “Courageous Healers” not victims, survivors or anything else. It takes so much courage to share feelings, emotions, and ideas when you have been told your whole life to be a “real” man is to keep those things to yourself. Being a “real man” is just the opposite, being strong but attached to feelings.
New men are coming to our free group counseling sessions every week. What we are finding is that “If you build it they will come” is true.
Last month we offered a free community event where we had “open microphone” night we asked community members to come and tell their own story. The room was full. We are seeing that people do want a safe place to tell their stories where they will not be shamed. We all have a story and the stories are healing.
Men new to our group, eyes wide, look around in disbelief. The comment we most often get is, “I thought I was the only one who was going through this.”
It is so comforting to know you are not alone, you are not crazy, yes, you will be believed and no, you will not be shamed here.
What we are finding as we cross the areas of Southern California is that there is a lot more education that is needed. When realistically looked at, the actual required hours of training in the subjects of sexual abuse and substance abuse for a Marriage and Family Therapist in California is only 6 hours. The questions we are asked by professionals about sexual abuse, about sexual addiction and the misconceptions that are out there help us understand how much work there is to do.
We have been at this for many years and we know we still have a lot to learn.
Our 8th annual It Happens to Boys Conference will be in Long Beach. Calif. March 5, 2016
Carol Teitelbaum, MFT
Carol Teitelbaum is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and holds a Bachelors degree in Psychology and a Master’s degree in Education, Educational Psychology, Counseling and Guidance, both from Cal State Northridge. Carol has been a licensed therapist since 1985. Since 1999, she has been in private practice in Rancho Mirage, CA, where she offers individual and group couseling for trauma, mood disorders, anxiety reduction, stress reduction, grief and marriage issues.
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