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Progress in Pittsburgh: Lessons From NSAC: 1in6 Thursdays on the Joyful Heart Foundation Blog

 

NSACIt’s been my sense at conferences about sexual assault in the past, that there hasn’t always been a widespread commitment to focus on helping the 1 in 6 men that have experienced childhood sexual abuse. My experience last week at the National Sexual Assault Conference (NSAC) in Pittsburgh convinced me there’s been a shift.

I saw a broadened awareness that men are affected by sexual trauma in ways beyond being the ones who commit the acts of sexual violence or being in a position to stop it.  From repeated conversations with providers, I learned that men are knocking on doors for help for all sorts of issues and more and more professionals are seeing them through a trauma- informed lens.

For me, the NSAC is a family reunion of sorts. I am always happy to see colleagues and grateful for the opportunity to make new connections. Having worked many years on the East Coast (now on the West Coast) it is bittersweet to reunite with old friends and mentors. You’re always hoping they are proud of the work you’re doing. It is especially poignant to receive their validation when you’ve decided to focus your efforts on supporting men after having dedicated so many years to the needs of women and children.

I was thrilled to hear that seventy-five professionals pre-registered for our 1in6 workshop “Engaging Men Sexually Abused in Childhood”, co-presented by Peter Pollard, 1in6 Communications and Professional Relations Director and myself. More and more people are interested in how they can best engage men with resources and various support services.

Nearly 100 people packed the room, participated in the activities and asked thoughtful questions on how they can raise awareness and help men heal. If you have ever presented at a conference, you know an audience staying engaged until the very end is a major accomplishment. (Humor and candy prizes help as well.)

Numerous other individuals and organizations present at the conference were also actively engaging in a male-inclusive dialogue. The National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC), one of the sponsoring organizations, led by example with a presentation by Eric Stiles “Orienting Our Agencies to Working with Male Survivors.”

This year’s keynote presentation by Scenarios USA, included a short film about a young man dealing with the effects of an unwanted sexual experience.  THIS IS A BIG DEAL! The keynote was inclusive of men! It is a big deal because it is a turning point towards inclusivity.

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1in6, Inc. partnered with Scenarios USA for Sexual Assault Awareness Month 2014 as part of the, “I Will End Sexual Violence” (#Iwillesv) and the 1BlueString collaborative campaign. Helping 1in6 reach out to a younger male population.


My colleagues and I were struck by the high number of military representatives requesting information and collaboration on the issue, recognizing that for many of the men and women who experience sexual assault in the military, the trauma may be a repetition of a childhood experience of abuse.

Conferences celebrate accomplishment and promote collaboration. (Sure, we tweet a lot of pictures and take workshop selfies too.)

Program coordinators from around the world are working diligently to create services for survivors and resources for the professionals working with them. We share, we learn and we plan joint efforts to improve our services for men. As we increase in numbers we can celebrate our collective growth and educate others on how they can respond to the existing need.

We look forward to developing more tools and supporting more service providers, educators, and countless other professionals helping men and their loved ones heal.

Thank you for including the 1 in 6 men. See you next year!

– By Martha Marin, Managing Director for 1in6

1000731_10200609203126609_2110494218_nMartha is a Colombian native raised in L.A. and South Florida where she received a B.A. in Business Management from the University of North FL. She brings us a unique set of skills acquired from many years of for-profit management and a deep dedication to human rights. As a Program Coordinator for the Women’s Center of Jacksonville and FL Dept. of Health, she taught thousands of students on topics related to the prevention of sexual assault including cyber bullying, LGBTQ/sexual harassment and teen dating violence, as well as human trafficking. Martha is a public speaker, consultant and professional trainer.

Most recently she served as the Chair of the Northeast Florida Human Trafficking Coalition. Her international projects include a large-scale bi-lingual internship for the USAIDScholarships for Education and Economic Development at FL State College at Jacksonville. 

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