New? Update –January 7, 2008
I wish you a safe, healthy, and joyous 2008. Happy New Year.
This will not be one of those long holiday letters. I prefer to focus on the present and future. However, I’ll begin with some highlights (and a few low lights) of the last part of 2007.
When I last updated this column, I was looking forward to the MaleSurvivor Conference in New York City. The conference is over (25-28 October 2007), and I think it exceeded everyone’s expectations. Each person who attended has his or her own special memories of the event. Here are some of mine:
-- The way that the organizers put together an event that was diverse, professional, and healing. Tony Rodriguez, Trisha Massa, Curtis St. John, and the many others who supported them were models of humanity. They set a delightful tone for the conference, cheerfully overcoming every obstacle and doing it with a smile. This was no easy or simple task: they had to juggle the needs of professionals, survivors, partners, and others - people from many countries, cultures, linguistic backgrounds, and areas of interest. They pulled it off with panache and grace.
-- The daylong male survivor workshop that we held as a pre-conference institute was profound, moving, and fun. 27 male survivors participated. They came from all over the United States and a number of other countries. There was lots of laughter along with tears, fear, and rage as these brilliant, courageous men allowed themselves to risk, to trust, to be open - and to support their brothers in doing the same. They formed an extra support group within the larger conference. I have been particularly impressed by the way the connections made at the workshop have been sustained afterwards. Participants continue to write, phone, and e-mail one other, sharing the good times and the challenges that they are facing. This is a vital step out of the isolation of abuse.
-- In addition to the many therapists/counselors who presented talks and workshops, there was a solid representation of the creative arts. I was fortunate to attend a workshop and reading by three excellent writers: author and poet Richard Hoffman, poet Peter Covino, and novelist Alexander Chee. I had read Richard’s brilliant memoir, Half the House, several times aa well as his excellent books of poetry, Without Paradise and Gold Star Road. The workshop reminded me of what a treat is can be to hear authors read their own work. And it introduced me to two more. Since the conference I’ve read Alexander’s novel, Edinburgh, and Peter’s book of poetry, Cut Off the Ears of Winter. Read them all. You won’t be disappointed.
-- And speaking of creativity, we can’t leave out Martin Moran’s superb one-man performance of his Obie award-winning play, The Tricky Part. This was the third time I had seen Marty perform this work, and it lost none of its power to delight, inform, and challenge.
-- Moderating the International Panel on the last day of the conference moved me to tears. (Those of you who know me know that this is not all that unusual, but I know I wasn’t the only one so moved.) The panel grew to be larger than anticipated. It boasted a range of presentations and a great mix of styles. The panelists (in order of their presentations) were Torbjørn Herlof Andersen (Norway), Caroline Benamza (France), Steve Bevan (United Kingdom), Max Clarke (Australia), Ken Clearwater (New Zealand), Naoko Miyaji (Japan), Werner Tschan (Switzerland), Alastair Hilton (UK, working in Cambodia), Christine Steverson (Scotland), and Benoit St. Jean (Canada). Available time only allowed each panelist to make a 5 minute statement. These were followed by audience questions and comments. The standing ovation at the end was testimony to how much can be accomplished in five minutes.
-- The conference gave me the opportunity to see old friends and colleagues and to make new ones. It reminded me of the joys of doing this work.
I was not the only one at The Next Step to attend a conference that weekend. Thom Harrigan was in San Francisco presenting a workshop at the Annual Program Meeting (APM) of the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), an accrediting body for schools granting BSW, MSW and PhD degrees. It is a large conference showcasing programs, research, publications and initiatives by individuals and programs from across the country.
Among the shocks of 2007 was learning that our friend and ally Laura Davis, co-author of The Courage to Heal, currently is using her courage to battle breast cancer. You can learn more about Laura’s ordeals and triumphs - and send her a message if you wish - by registering at Care Pages and visiting the LauraDavisJourney page. She is an inspiration.
On a happier medical note, Peter Dimock, a pioneer in the field of male survivor recovery, and one of the founders of MaleSurvivor, is greatly recovered from a severe life-threatening illness. We wish Peter and his loved ones continued good news.
The 12 Step organization Survivors of Incest Anonymous (SIA) is celebrating its 25th Anniversary. We celebrate their commitment to helping and healing. You can learn more about them at http://www.siawso.org or send them best wishes at email@example.com
I saw a staged reading of Body and Sold, presented at Brookline (Massachusetts) High School. It is part of the National Campaign to Raise Awareness about Sex Trafficking of American Children and Teens. You can learn more about their work at http://www.bodyandsold.org/index.htm
You might want to check out (Wo)men Speak Out, the new Web site started by Christopher and Ophelia de Serres at http://www.menspeakoutnow.com/about.html
And another new site: Standing Against Global Exploitation (SAGE)
The Australia and New Zealand itinerary has finally fallen into place. I’ll be Down Under from March 21st through April, and will be busy most of the time. There will be lots of male survivor workshops, professional training days, and two Healing the Healers retreats. We have events scheduled in Melbourne and Maldon (Victoria), Sydney, Brisbane, Darwin, and Christchurch. Click on the Events page for more information and contact links for registration.
While I was writing this update I received an email attachment of the flyer for the August workshop and retreat in Uri, Switzerland. So I guess that makes it real. You can find out more about these events and also link to the organizer, Werner Tschan, by clicking on the Events page.
I’ll update this site when there are major changes to report. In the meantime, please continue to take the very best care of yourself.