From October 2020 to April 2021, MenHealing and the Men’s Story Project partnered to produce a new public storytelling series where 12 courageous male survivors of sexual victimization, from across the U.S., shared inspiring stories about their journeys of healing.
MenHealing and the MSP started this collaboration with a series of concept sessions where we discussed intersectional masculinities, male survivorship, and ways to employ trauma-informed storytelling for healing and social change. We then co-designed and facilitated a unique eight-session workshop series with the 12 presenters – who were selected via an application and interview process that aimed to ensure they were ready to publicly share their stories.
The eight weekly 2.5-hour workshops included psychoeducational and somatic activities and story circles, and were a space for the presenters to support each other, learn together, share feedback on their works in progress, and build community. The workshops were supplemented with online learning materials, 1-1 story coaching, and a 1-1 buddy system.
After the workshops, the presenters shared their stories via four live, online events in March and April 2021, with 400+ audience members in attendance. These events were recorded to produce the video playlists that are now on Youtube (viewable with English and Spanish subtitles).
We extend our huge gratitude and respect to each presenter for their courage in joining this project and sharing their essential stories!
Heartfelt thanks also to each member of the fantastic staff team who generously dedicated their time and effort to making this work a thoughtful and vibrant reality. Please check out MenHealing’s website and get involved in their programs!
Presenters: Jeff Brandt, Mike Chapman, Mike Davis, Kevin Flood, Jon Gilgoff, Judson G., Michael Guinn, Michael Lain, Rob Vallentine, Kevin O’Donnell, Andrew Vineyard, David A. Washington
Staff team: Joanna Colrain, Murray Dabby, Peter Dimock, Michael Guinn, Sharon Imperato, Lisa Jameson, Sam Katz, Josie Lehrer, Jordan Masciangelo, Trisha Massa, Rich Sims, Jim Struve, Debra Warner, Drew Wiggins, Shar Wood, Peitao Zhu
“The good that I glean from this is that I am not alone. There are fellow survivors; some of whom have had very similar experiences and similar impacts… A profound “thank you” to each of tonight’s speakers and to all who helped make this happen. I hope at some point that I can share my story. Thank you.”
“I feel more connected to other male survivors.”
“[I gained] everything I needed to push me to the next level of healing.”
“The collaborative, safe environment that was provided so the men could share their stories is appreciated. Seeing…men speak with such vulnerability and emotion is so rare, but needed. It will help change the narrative.”
“[I appreciated] how candid, vulnerable, and transparent all the speakers were, and because of that, were able to help educate so many of us. Truth is an incredible healing tool…that was really brought home to me today.”
“I am speechless… cannot wait to share and attend more. So very needed!”
“[I gained] validation of my feelings, and an articulation of some of my own thoughts. More proof that healing is happening. Where else can you get that view first hand?”
“Brave, beautiful, thankful to all. Really, really inspiring.”
– that it is possible to get some healing and some closure.”
– I am not alone. Hope is real.”
– that it’s never too late to seek help.”
– how to better assist our male clients.”
– how society has continued to confine individuals into boxes that can be extremely detrimental to trauma healing.”
“I was very deeply moved. I found it incredibly inspiring to hear the steps each of the men had taken in their healing journey. As they spoke, it was so clear that this production was such a valuable part of their healing journey. In addition, the presenters gave members in the audience who have suffered sexual victimization – or who have a loved one who has – reasons to be hopeful. They told us: “Healing is possible.”
“Very moving. As a survivor I’m touched by these beautiful men. I found this production incredibly powerful… they were all amazing and I feel honored to have been a part of the experience.”
“Reminded me that it happens to all ages, colors, genders, religions.”
“At first I didn’t know what to expect, but couldn’t wait for part two once I absorbed what I was hearing.
I thought it was exactly what I’ve been needing for my healing journey. I’ve done a lot of 12-step meetings, but still haven’t connected with a lot of other survivors… I appreciated hearing the stories and how the guys have recognized the trauma, figured out where the scars are, and how they’ve been able to try and heal from them.”
“The introduction was amazing, as was the inclusion of sign language interpreters and a First Nations acknowledgement/prayer. The diversity of the speakers and their stories really stood out and was helpful.”
“The production left me with a message of hope. Men who have suffered in this way can heal. They can go on to have meaningful, productive lives. As one of the presenters so beautifully expressed, they can find joy. I was left with a desire to see many more productions of this sort happen. They are so much needed.”
“In my work, we train school staff to be more trauma informed. I was sad to see that the survivors were all abused as children, when they were in school. I hope to help school staff members realize there are children in their classrooms who might need their help.”
“I was moved by the sheer courage expressed in the presenters’ willingness to be vulnerable; to share their struggles with hearts on sleeves; and to talk about their healing progress, their hope for continued healing and their connection to each other as male survivors. My gratitude to the six story tellers for deepening my own awareness of these profound woundings in boys and men that often go unnoticed or dismissed by our society. We all need to open our eyes with compassion and respect for their brave-heart journeys, for their stories.”
“Extremely professional, sensitive, and moving. 100/100”
“Reinforced my sense of the immense healing power of speaking, listening, witnessing, and being in community with others, especially other survivors.”
“The speakers were amazing, vulnerable, and made a huge impact on me. I just wish they could have heard me clapping in my living room.”
“I’m authentically surprised with how “uplifted” I am currently feeling due to this experience. Thank you all for such an unexpected gift.”
“[I appreciated] the vulnerability of these men, and their ability, though it might have been hard and go against everything they were taught as young men, to be courageous and share their stories — to help not only themselves heal, but to help others begin or continue their healing journey.”
“I appreciated how well-crafted and thoughtful each of the presentations was, and the impressive honesty, courage and eloquence with which they were delivered.”
“[I gained] overall greater empathy for sexual abuse survivors, as well as appreciation for the resilience of the human spirit.”
“Reconfirms my faith in the process and effectiveness of recovery.”
“It helped me understand the diverse experiences of male survivors of sexual violence.”
“It was extremely well done. Very respectful and moving.”