What's New? Update – April 13, 2007

I know I said I'd stop apologizing for the length of time between updates, but this is my first one since last November. My only excuse is that life takes over. So much has been happening since November. I've decided to begin writing the update, get as far as I can, post it, and leave the rest for another time.

First, I'll tell you about some recent and upcoming events, and then move on to other topics:

In mid-February I delivered a keynote address at the regional conference of SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused By Priests). I was impressed by all the people I met there, and their dedication to understanding, healing, and reclaiming power. Topics addressed were widespread, and not limited to the Catholic Church. The talks by leaders of the organization, Barbara Blaine and David Clohessy, were right on target - no punches pulled. Perhaps the most emotional part of the conference was a panel of relatives of people murdered by priests and nuns. I was honored to be asked to address this group, and look forward to participating in their National Conference in Washington, DC, July 20-22. For more information about the July conference, see: http://www.snapnetwork.org/snap_conferences/WashDC_2007/preview_announcement.htm

I just returned from a month Down Under, doing male survivor workshops and professional trainings in Melbourne and Perth, Australia and Christchurch, New Zealand. As I expected, I met many interesting, powerful people and reconnected with a number of old friends and colleagues. But the events greatly exceeded my expectations. Here are some highlights:

Melbourne, Victoria:

The trip began with a residential weekend for male survivors held in a town called Maldon in rural Victoria (the bush, in Australian parlance). 25 men attended the weekend, the first residential event I've done in Australia. As in other such events, the participants were from a wide range of backgrounds, native countries, ethnicities, and abuse histories. They traveled to Victoria from all over Australia. They all displayed astonishing courage, creativity, and humanity - and, as usual, many were surprised at how much fun was had in the midst of the difficult, emotional work of healing. I'm not the only one looking forward to future weekend workshops in "Oz".

The men's workshop was followed by a day long training for professionals held in Melbourne. About 70 people attended, including counselors, staff of sexual assault centers, medical personnel, teachers, student, and police. The quality of those attending and the level of their experience and commitment left me with high hopes for the future of services for male survivors in Australia.

The Melbourne events and the trip as a whole were primarily organized by Maxwell Clarke and Carolyn Worth of SECASA (South East Centre Against Sexual Assault) - http://www.secasa.com.au/ They pulled off a minor miracle in getting this trip to happen despite many obstacles along the way. These special people have my deepest thanks and love.

After the training, Carolyn (the manager of SECASA) suggested the possibility of making this trip an annual event - and Max volunteered to organize it. We also discussed the possibility of offering a version of Healing the Healers, the residential workshop/retreat for people who work with trauma survivors (that we held in the UK the past three summers). I'm more than ready to do it. If anyone in Australia or New Zealand wants to sign on to help or to organize something in their area, contact Max at Maxwell.Clarke@southernhealth.org.au or Carolyn at Carolyn.Worth@southernhealth.org.au

It's not too soon to be thinking about 2008 - it takes time and planning to create a successful workshop or training.

Christchurch, New Zealand:

The day after the Melbourne training I flew over to New Zealand to participate in the celebration of the 10th anniversary of Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse Trust (MSSAT), the primary organization for male survivors in that country ( http://www.survivor.org.nz/ ). The weekend consisted of a day long conference, an anniversary dinner dance, and a day long male survivor workshop. Ken Clearwater, the manager of MSSAT, and his colleague John Prince hosted an impressive international gathering that was also a lot of fun.

In addition to my talk, the Conference featured a keynote by Werner Tschan, MD of Basel, Switzerland, an engaging and illuminating presenter. Further international presence was added by Steve Bevan of Survivors Swindon (United Kingdom). Steve is a pioneer in the development of services and advocacy for male survivors in the UK. ( http://www.survivorsswindon.com/ ). Ken was inundated by well-deserved messages of support and appreciation from all over the world. It would be even better if he didn't have to struggle so hard for recognition in his own country - but Ken is a force of nature, and not one to be deterred by a challenge.

18 men attended the male survivor workshop. It proved once again how much healing can be accomplished in just a day - when people are dedicated to recovery and humanity.

If you want to help with the creation of future events in New Zealand, contact Ken at waikuku_kk@yahoo.co.nz or John at princes@paradise.net.nz .

Perth, Western Australia:

Due to a number of glitches, the Western Australia part of the trip almost didn't happen. But the eleventh hour participation of Elizabeth Sachse of Trauma and Stress Specialists Centre (TASSC) - http://www.tassc.com.au/ - and the Western Australia chapter of the Australasian Society for Traumatic Stress Studies (ASTSS) - http://www.astss.org.au/site/ - (with the support of Phil Drayson and Prem Tej Sacha) - pulled it off brilliantly. I am in awe of what Elizabeth accomplished in such a short time.The Perth events included a day long male survivor workshop and a professional development day.

The professional training, held on the campus of the University of Western Australia was similar in tone and energy to the Melbourne training - highly experienced and dedicated professionals. I also had some of the flavor of Christchurch: Ken Clearwater and Steve Bevan also traveled to Perth to lend their support and skills to the events. Their contributions were consistently excellent and relevant. The international support network of survivors and their allies continues to grow and strengthen.

The men's workshop the next day drew 16 participants ranging in age from 21-69, and from many parts of the country, and as with the Melbourne weekend, there was great diversity among the participants. The event recharged the energy of the Perth male survivor support group, and I look forward to hearing great things from them.

As in Melbourne and Christchurch, there is talk of repeating the events in Western Australia, perhaps with the addition of a residential male survivors weekend. Anyone interested in helping to organize or support future events in W.A. can contact Elizabeth at elizabeth.sachse@tassc.com.au or Phil at pdrayson@glc.com.au or Prem Tej at premtej@bigpond.net.au .

Despite massive jet lag and the amount of work that accumulated during my absence, I'm looking forward to returning to this wonderful part of the world.


Plans are well underway for the two professional trainings in Pennsylvania (in May) sponsored by Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape (PCAR) and our 17th annual male survivor weekend (in August) at Kirkridge Retreat and Study Center in Bangor, Pennsylvania. See the Events page for details of these and other events.


Although there will not be a Healing the Healers Retreat in England this summer, there is still possibility that I will be there in early August for a 4th annual Victims No Longer Male Survivor Weekend. Steve Bevan and his colleagues have applied for funding for the project. I'll let you know as soon as it is determined. If you know of sources of funding, contact Steve at: malesurvivors@gmail.com


Earlier this year male survivor Curtis St. John showed his work as part of an exhibition at the Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase College, State University of New York. As part of his presentation he wrote:

“I’m the happiest person I know
With the help of Family, Friends, and others like me I’ve become the person I was meant to be
In 2001 I stepped out of the shadows where I was stigmatized into silence and onto the path of recovery
From 1979 – 2001 I was in pain and didn’t know why I couldn’t be happy
I was sexually abused when I was ten
But now I’m the happiest person I know”

Please remember that one out of four men were sexually abused before the age of sixteen, so if you know or work with more then four guys this issue affects you. Recovery is possible, and if you know anyone who may benefit from seeing these pictures, please pass them on.
Cheers!Curtis St. John
President Elect MaleSurvivor: NOMSV


I have recently received - but haven't yet been able to review - four books and a DVD.

The books are:

Mother-Son Incest: The Unthinkable Broken Taboo Persists by Hani G. Miletski, Ph.D. (2007 - Bethesda, MD: East West Publishing).

If the Man You Love Was Abused by Marie H. Browne, Ph.D. with Marlene M. Browne, Esq. (2007 - Avon, MA: Adams Media).

Overcoming Childhood Sexual Trauma by Sheri Oz and Sarah-Jane Ogiers (2006 - Binghamton, NY: Haworth Press).

What Ever It Takes, God by John Oarc (2006 - Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse).

The film is Locked, a Juli C. Lasselle film (Mandorla Pictures, Los Angeles, CA). It is described as "the courageous, personal journey of Anna; who is locked in her history, her memories, and her silence... story of one woman's struggle to tell the truth about her childhood and live freely in the present".

I did get to read Stuart Howarth's remarkable memoir, Please, Daddy, No (2006 - London: Harper Element). It is not an easy book to read. Much of it is raw and painful, but it offers hope for survivors and is well worth reading. Stuart is an amazing individual. I was pleased to see six copies of this book in a book shop in Perth, Australia. Perhaps people are starting to pay attention.

And another book and film that lots of male survivors have mentioned to me is Mysterious Skin. It's well worth reading and viewing. The book is by Scott Heim and the film is an excellent adaptation of his novel, and is available on dvd.

Speaking of Perth, if you are in the neighborhood, there is a powerful exhibition at the Art Gallery of Western Australia. Called Raised by Wolves, it features many artists' representations of abuse and interpersonal/family violence. I suggest that you not visit this exhibition alone, but if you see it, it will stay with you.

That's all I have time for now. Please continue to take care of yourself.


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