Paths to Healing Press Release (2014)

Chris Anderson, Executive Director of MaleSurivor, at the first Paths to Healing conference in 2013.  Photo by Callen Harty.

Chris Anderson, Executive Director of MaleSurivor, at the first Paths to Healing conference in 2013. Photo by Callen Harty.

For the second consecutive year several Wisconsin organizations have partnered to put together a one-day conference on surviving childhood sex abuse that will be held this year from 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. at the Sheraton Hotel in Madison on Thursday, June 19.

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

Conference organizers are very pleased to present Dr. David Lisak as the keynote speaker. Dr. Lisak is an internationally known and respected researcher, author, and forensic expert who has studied the causes and consequences of interpersonal violence for 25 years. He has conducted workshops in all 50 states, is often called on as an expert witness in court cases, appeared in the film Boys and Men Healing about surviving childhood sex abuse, and is one of the founding members and current Board President of 1in6, a non-profit agency that assists men who were sexually abused as children. In addition to the keynote address he will also conduct one of the day’s breakout sessions and give concluding remarks.

The day will start with socializing and networking from 8:00-8:45 a.m. That will be followed by an introduction by Kelly Anderson, Executive Director of the Rape Crisis Center at 8:45 a. m., and then a welcome from Dane County Executive Joseph Parisi. Senator Julie Lassa, sponsor of the Child Victims’ Act, will speak during the luncheon.

Throughout the day there will be breakout sessions geared for both professionals and for survivors. The afternoon will close with a community discussion on responses and ways to help Wisconsin survivors that will be led by leaders of some of the area’s sexual assault advocacy organizations and sponsors of the conference.

Breakout sessions include:
“Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse: Impact and Coping Patterns”—Dr. David Lisak
“Survivor Activism”—Callen Harty
“The Triumph of Forgiveness: Restoring Self-Worth”—Dr. Gayle Reed
“Healing the Children Most Harmed: A Developmental and Attachment Play Therapy Approach”—Rainbow Marifrog and Michelle Ayres
“Proud Theater Workshop”—Brian Wild/Proud Theater
“The Creative Path: Art and Drama Therapy with Survivors of Child Sex Abuse”—Lucy McLellan and Owen Karcher

The conference started last year when survivor Callen Harty decided he wanted to bring the Boys and Men Healing film to Madison. He approached Anderson at the Rape Crisis Center and together they decided to expand that idea into a one-day conference on survival. He then contacted other organizations for sponsorship and support and several decided to partner to put on this important event. Harty, Anderson, Peter Fiala of WCASA, and Angie Rehling of OutReach comprised the planning group this year.

All of the involved organizations are non-profit so funding is still needed to ensure expenses are covered. Donations may be mailed to OutReach, Inc., 600 Williamson Street, Suite P-1, 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 account.

The cost of the conference is $30 in advance or $40 at the door and covers the entire day, including 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.

For additional information or questions contact Callen Harty at (608) 469-6686 or Peter Fiala at WCASA at (608) 257-1516.

— 30 —

Addendum: Further information on breakout sessions

The Next Wave: Emergence of the Wounded
David Lisak, Ph.D.
Board President, 1in6.org

We are in the midst of a momentous cultural shift in our collective perception and definition of masculinity, and that shift is being driven in part by once-silenced men who are now willing to speak out about their experiences of sexual victimization. We are being confronted with, and finally acknowledging, something that has been utterly obvious but which nevertheless has long been denied and actively suppressed: boys, like all children, are vulnerable and therefore are targeted by sexual predators. And they are sexually abused in vast numbers.

There has been a widespread misconception that males are rarely victimized sexually. This misconception has been fostered by society’s deeply-held beliefs about men, masculinity and sexuality, as well as by male victims’ profound reluctance to disclose their victimization. Yet research over the past two decades indicates that the rate of sexual victimization of male children is far higher than society recognizes. Approximately one in six males are sexually abused during childhood. Sexually victimized men comprise one of the most unrecognized and under-served traumatized populations who suffer the full array of trauma symptoms but who rarely receive any help in coping with them.

Driven by an unending series of public scandals – clergy abuse; Penn State; the Citadel; Horace Mann – and by the public disclosures of individual men, once silenced men are now emerging into visibility, and they are seeking help in increasing numbers. Their emergence confronts us with an urgent question: Do we have the infrastructure in place to respond to them?

Survivor Activism
Callen Harty

One of the organizers of the conference Harty is a male survivor who has become a well-known activist in the survivor community. The session uses his experience to explore the many ways of activism, from silent activism to being out there front and center. Not everyone is comfortable speaking in public or in front of television cameras, but there are many, many ways to take action to fight child sex abuse and to help survivors.overcome it. It emphasizes how each survivor can be an activist in many ways, even when they don’t want to identified as a survivor in public. The presentation was first given this past year for Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault’s Survivors and Allies Task Force and was expanded for Paths to Healing.

The Triumph of Forgiveness: Restoring Self-Worth
Dr. Gayle Reed, RN, PhD

As we talk about the definition of forgiveness and the steps of forgiving we will see that forgiveness has many psychological benefits. Release from pain and from the bondage of the past is an important part of these benefits. In forgiving a person can create a new life narrative or survivor story in which he is no longer defined by the wrongdoing and the wrongdoer’s destructive choices but instead by his/her courageous choice to forgive. The forgiver triumphs by practicing a virtue and choosing what kind of person he will become and in doing so reclaims his self-worth. He can develop a new purpose in life and a new identity. This can bring freedom and even joy. Join us to talk about the possibilities together.

Healing the Children Most Harmed: A Developmental and Attachment Play Therapy Approach
Rainbow Marifrog, MA, LFMT and Michelle Ayres, MS, LFMT

Have you ever worked with a child who was so hard to reach or aggressive that you felt helpless or unsure of how to help them? In this session you will learn about Developmental and Attachment Play Therapy as a model for treating traumatized children and their caregivers. Using real case examples, we will give you tools and resources to better address the fragmentation, developmental delays, and aggressive or dissociative behaviors so common with severely abused children. These tools center on the therapist’s appropriate use of self, how to incorporate safe and joyful touch, as well as how to provide a reparative attachment experience. While our focus is on severely abused children, the tools in this workshop are applicable to all clients – children, teens and adults.

Proud Theater Workshop
Brian Wild, Proud Theater Artistic Director, Executive Director of Art & Soul Productions

Proud Theater is a 15 year old LGBTQ youth theater group that uses art, heart, and activism to change the world through the power of theater and theater arts. Youth in the group create theatrical stories, monologues, spoken word pieces, music, and dance out of the stories of their own lives. The unique approach to creating these pieces can be used by others to explore many different kinds of issues. In the workshop Proud Theater members will guide attendees through the process of sharing stories, finding the common thread in the stories, and creating theatrical pieces from those stories. The process is powerful and cathartic both for those exploring their stories and for the audiences with whom they are ultimately shared.

The Creative Path: Art and Drama Therapy with Survivors of Child Sex Abuse
Lucy McLellan and Owen Karcher

In this 75 minute workshop, participants will explore in both experiential and didactic form the ways in which drama therapy and art therapy techniques bypass cognitive processing and instead access the symbolic and sensorial areas of the brain in which traumatic memories of sexual abuse are stored. Participants will gain concrete skills for clinical use and will learn specific art and drama therapy techniques that can be utilized in group therapy and adapted for individual therapy use.

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About Callen Harty

Originally from Shullsburg, Wisconsin Callen Harty is the author of Empty Playground: A Survivor's Story, a memoir about surviving childhood sex abuse. His first book was My Queer Life, a compilation of over 30 years worth of writing on living life as a queer man. It includes essays, poems, speeches, monologues, and more. Both are available on Amazon.com, Kindle, or can be ordered through local bookstores, He has written almost two dozen 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 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 also won a Community Shares of Wisconsin Backyard Hero award for his sex abuse survivor activism work. 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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