Paths to Healing 2015 press release

Paths to Healing.  Poster design by Steven Montagna.

Paths to Healing. Poster design by Steven Montagna.

For the third consecutive year several Wisconsin organizations have partnered to put together Paths to Healing, 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 Goodman Community Center in Madison on Thursday, June 11.

Sponsored by Solidarity with Child Sex Abuse Victims/Survivors, Rape Crisis Center, Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault (WCASA), OutReach Inc., Canopy Center, Proud Theater, and UNIDOS 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 Matt Sandusky as the keynote speaker this year. Sandusky is a motivational speaker, child sex abuse survivor, co-founder of Peaceful Hearts Foundation, and an advocate and activist for the issue of child sex abuse. He is the son of convicted child sex offender Jerry Sandusky, a former assistant coach at Penn State University.

The Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal was one of the most highly publicized sex abuse cases in history. During the trial Matthew Sandusky disclosed that his adopted father, Jerry Sandusky, had sexually abused him between the ages of ten and 16. His disclosure interview to police was leaked by the media and he and his family were placed in the center of the media firestorm. After that traumatic experience he decided to take on the role of advocate for sex abuse survivors.

Matthew Sandusky works to give survivors a voice to raise awareness of an epidemic that is still mostly silent. He also shows survivors there is hope and that healing does happen. By speaking publicly he hopes to bring more awareness to the fact that males are sexually abused and that help is needed. As the co-founder of Peaceful Hearts Foundation, along with his wife, Kim, he works to promote stronger statute of limitation laws, education for children and adults, stronger mandated reporting laws and other legislation, and has created a survivor fund to help alleviate the costs of treatment for child sex abuse survivors.

The conference will open with socializing and networking from 8:00-8:45 a.m. That will be followed by an introduction to the day’s events by Dane County Supervisor Kyle Richmond at 8:45 a. m. Matt Sandusky’s keynote speech will follow and officially kick off the day’s presentations. Throughout the day there will be breakout sessions geared to both professionals and survivors, with a lunch midway through the day. The afternoon will close with a community panel discussion, which Sandusky will also join, on engaging and empowering survivors.

Breakout sessions are split into a community track and a survivor track. Attendees are welcome to choose between tracks.


Latino Survivors, by Veronica Lazos/UNIDOS Against Domestic Violence

Transgender Survivors, by Michael Munson/Forge

Human Trafficking, by Tyler Schueffner/Briarpatch


Coping Skills, by Lucy McLellan and Owen Karcher/Canopy Center

Mindfulness Meditation, by Amanda Hellenbrand/Red Tail Hypnosis

Healthy Boundaries, by Shelby Mitchell/Safe Haven

The conference started in 2013 when survivor Callen Harty decided he wanted to bring the film, Boys and Men Healing, to Madison. He approached Kelly 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, Angie Rehling of OutReach, and Peter Fiala and Naomi Takahashi of WCASA comprised the planning group this year.

The sponsoring organizations are non-profit so funding is always 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 $40 in advance or $50 at the door and covers the entire day, including lunch. For more information on the conference please visit the WCASA website ( and click on the events link or visit the Facebook event page, Paths to Healing. Advance registration is through the website or contact WCASA directly. Some scholarships are available.

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

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About Callen Harty

Originally from Shullsburg, Wisconsin Callen Harty is the author of four books and numerous published essays, poems, and articles. His most recent book is The Stronger Pull, a memoir about coming out in a small town in Wisconsin. 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. Empty Playground: A Survivor's Story, is a memoir about surviving childhood sex abuse. His play, Invisible Boy, is a narrative with poetic elements and is also an autobiographical look as surviving child sex abuse. All are available on (and three of them on 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 started as an actor, writer, and director in 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. In 2016, Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault named him their annual Courage Award winner for his activism, writing, and speaking on sexual assault.
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