Paths to Healing: Conference on Child Sex Abuse Survival

Paths to Healing.  Poster design by Steven Montagna.

Paths to Healing. Poster design by Steven Montagna.


For Immediate Release
Paths to Healing: Conference on Child Sex Abuse Survival
10:00 a.m., June 20, 2013
Sheraton Hotel, Madison, Wisconsin

Several Wisconsin organizations have partnered to put together a one-day conference on surviving childhood sex abuse that will be held at the Sheraton Hotel in Madison on Thursday, June 20.

Sponsored by Solidarity with Child Sex Abuse Victims/Survivors, Rape Crisis Center, Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault (WCASA), OutReach Inc., Family Sexual Abuse Treatment, Canopy Center, Proud Theater, and Friends of the State Street Family the day-long conference will focus on healing and survival, particularly among male victims, an often underserved population in the sexual assault advocacy community.

The conference will start with an introduction by Kelly Anderson, Executive Director of the Rape Crisis Center at 10:00 a. m. on June 20 and will culminate at 6:00 p.m. with “Dare to Dream”, a program of MaleSurvivor that includes the film “Boys and Men Healing”, followed by a panel discussion led by MaleSurvivor’s Executive Director Christopher Anderson. MaleSurvivor is a nationwide organization based in New York City that is committed to preventing, healing, and eliminating all forms of sexual victimization of boys and men.

In the morning there will be a breakout discussion for survivors facilitated by two survivors and an introduction to survivorship led by Stephen Montagna of WCASA. The afternoon will close with a community discussion on responses and ways to help Wisconsin survivors that will be led by Kelly Anderson, Executive Director of Rape Crisis Center; Jude Edmonds, Oasis Clinical Director; Chuck Stonecipher, Executive Director of Family Sexual Abuse Treatment; Pennie Meyers, Executive Director of WCASA, and Nic Dibble, Education Consultant with the Department of Public Instruction. There may be a couple more panelists added at a later date.

Afternoon breakout sessions include:
• “Ten Things You Should Know About Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse”, by Christopher Anderson, Executive Director of MaleSurvivor.
• “Healing Families: When Sexual Abuse Hits Home”, by Chris Wirth, LMFT and Rainbow Marifrog, LMFT, therapists at Canopy Center’s Oasis program for the treatment of sexual abuse.
• “Choose Your Difficulty: Survivor Activism as a Path to Justice and Healing”, by Peter Isely, Midwest Director of Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP).
• “Healing through Creative Expression”, by playwright and Proud Theater/Milwaukee Artistic Director Callen Harty.

Harty initially decided he wanted to bring “Dare to Dream” to Madison after seeing an e-mail about it from MaleSurvivor. He approached Anderson at the Rape Crisis Center and together they decided to expand that idea into a mini-conference on survival. He then contacted other organizations for sponsorship and support and several decided to partner to put on this important event. Harty, Stephen Montagna of WCASA, and an adult survivor who prefers to remain anonymous comprised the planning committee.

A benefit concert was held in March to help raise funds to pay for the conference and individual donations were also sought. All the involved organizations are non-profit so funding is still needed to ensure it is all covered. Donations may be mailed to OutReach, Inc., 600 Williamson Street, Madison, WI 53703. Checks should be made out to OutReach but must be marked for Paths to Healing to ensure the funds go to the right program.

Cost of the conference is $30 in advance or $40 at the door and covers all of the sessions and lunch. For more information on the conference go to the Facebook page “Paths to Healing: Conference on Child Sex Abuse Survival” or to the WCASA website (www.wcasa.org), and click on the events link. From the Paths to Healing page click the link for registration to sign up for the event in advance. A limited number of scholarships are available and can be applied for at the time of registration.

For additional information or questions contact Callen Harty at (608) 469-6686.

– 30 –

Addendum: Further information on breakout sessions

Session 1A: “Ten Things You Should Know About Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse”, by Christopher Anderson, Executive Director of MaleSurvivor.
This presentation touches on ten essential points to be mindful of when working with a male survivor of sexual abuse. Presented from the point of view of the survivor himself, this presentation is appropriate for both clinical and non-clinical audiences. Informed by his own personal experiences, and the insights of therapists and other survivors, this talk will help attendees better understand the unique challenges and pressures felt by male survivors. In addition, participants will leave with some concrete suggestions for how to more effectively communicate with and assist male survivors in the “hard work of healing.”

Session 1B: “Healing Families: When Sexual Abuse Hits Home”, by Chris Wirth, LMFT and Rainbow Marifrog, LMFT, therapists at Canopy Center’s Oasis program for the treatment of sexual abuse.
Is it possible to find healing when abuse shatters a family? This workshop will focus on the treatment of male victims who have experienced sexual abuse within the family. Using real case examples it will explore the impact of incest on family dynamics, including issues related to guilt/shame, powerlessness, family alliances, sexuality, and grief/loss due to family separation. In the context of best practice models it will look at prevention, reconciliation, and the special healing necessary when the perpetrator is a family member.

Session 2A: “Choose Your Difficulty: Survivor Activism as a Path to Justice and Healing”, by Peter Isely, Midwest Director of Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP).
It’s difficult for survivors to keep silent; it’s difficult to speak. While there may be no choice about the difficulty, each survivor does get to choose which difficulty to embrace. For survivors who have chosen to come forward and speak, organized public action, activism and service with fellow survivors has created a powerful path from childhood trauma to personal healing and social change. For two decades survivors of childhood sexual assault by clergy and religious authority figures have waged a highly visible and successful public campaign to hold clergy sex offenders and religious institutions accountable for the sexual abuse of hundreds of thousands of children around the world. Survivors in Wisconsin have faced a particularly daunting task with a network of state laws and court decisions which have explicitly granted legal immunity and protection to ordained child molesters and their supervisors. Yet, survivors and their allies have succeeded in prosecuting dozens of Wisconsin church child molesters, forced the release of tens of thousands of pages of secret church files detailing decades of criminal activity and cover up, and assisted thousands of survivors, not just of clerical sexual abuse, to come forward and press for justice, including a large number of men abused as children, the latter forever changing how society views child sex abuse with reference to gender. This presentation will tell the story of these intrepid survivor activists, the lessons they have learned over the years, how they have organized and succeeded against great personal odds and social obstacles, and the work and change that still needs to be accomplished, particularly in Wisconsin.

Session 2B: “Healing Through Creative Expression”, by playwright and Proud Theater/Milwaukee Artistic Director Callen Harty. Harty is the author of more than 20 plays, including Invisible Boy, a drama about surviving childhood sex abuse based upon his own experiences growing up in southwestern Wisconsin. The presentation will examine the healing power of creative energy using examples from his own writing experiences, as well as other artists who have used their art as a mirror to look into their own souls and find their voices and ultimately healing from writing, painting, and other forms of artistic expression.

About Callen Harty

Originally from Shullsburg, Wisconsin Callen Harty is the author of more than 20 plays and 50 monologues that have been produced. Most of them have been produced at Broom Street Theater in Madison, Wisconsin where he has been an actor, writer, and director since 1983. He served as the Artistic Director of the theater from 2005-2010. Monologues that he wrote for the Wisconsin Veterans’ Museum won him awards from the Wisconsin Historical Society and the American Association of State and Local History. He has also had essays, poems, and articles published in newspapers and magazines around the country and has taken the top prize in several photo contests. His writing has appeared in Out!, James White Review, Scott Stamp Monthly, Wisconsin State Journal, and elsewhere. He has had several essays published online for Forward Seeking, Life After Hate, and The Progressive. Callen has also been a community activist for many years. He was the co-founder of Young People Caring, UW-Madison’s 10% Society, and Proud Theater. He served as the first President of Young People Caring and as the Artistic Director for Proud Theater for its first five years. He is still an adult mentor for the group. In 2003 he won OutReach’s Man of the Year award for his queer community activism. OutReach is Madison, Wisconsin’s lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender community center. He has been invited to speak before many community groups, at a roundtable on queer community theater in New York City, and has emceed several events.
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