I had the privilege of speaking again at St. Joseph's College in Long Island in November. I really love this school and their commitment. The staff is committed to dealing with sexual assault prevention and response head on.
They realize that this is not just a box they can check on a checklist and declare it "handled."
They have a lot of great speakers throughout their semester. And they have Father Frank. This is the coolest priest I have ever met. He teaches at the Long Island campus; he speaks, and he helps run a halfway house and a church. I don't think he sleeps much. He is one committed guy.
The contact I had the honor of working with, Bryan Gill, who is the director of Student Activities and among many other responsibilities. Bryan told me Father Frank does an amazing talk about his life experience and about making choices and choosing to count your blessings. Several other students told me that Father Frank's talk was not to be missed, so I hope that I will get to see him "do his thing" soon.
I have been in the personal growth and development world for over 20 years. There are many good-hearted, hardworking, committed people in helping professions. I have worked with more women than men. I am a big believer that if a person helped you, even if it was just for a day or a week, then be grateful. I am grateful that I am open to men and women.
The more I study gender, media, addictions, recovery, and sexual assault, I have more and more compassion for men in our society. I think that the way females are socialized is not healthy or empowering and needs to be reformed.
And now, I deeply, truly believe that the way males are socialized can be even more horrific. I do not condone all of the "sexual assault/rape/misconduct/etc.", but I have more compassion for all sides of the issue now.
In fact, one of my points when I speak on college campuses is that this prevention of sexual assault on campuses is not just a "female" issue or just an "athlete" issue or "fraternity" issue.
It belongs to all of us. We are all swimming around in this culture and there are many components that make up our culture. Some of them we inherited. Some we are not even aware of... yet.
Which makes me feel so grateful for the men who work with this issue. Father Frank helps people with addiction and recovery, so I am sure he also hears about sexual abuse. The two go hand in hand often. And I know that some men feel comfortable confiding and working with another man in ways that they might never be able to with a female.
And then there is David Lisak. He has dedicated his entire life to the study of assault and interpersonal violence. Not only does he train and speak around the world, but he has created a community for men who were abused sexually to be able to connect, identify, and heal. He has created 1in6.org as a tremendous resource for men.
And his other project is: Bristlecone, which has the pictures of men with their stories, bravely out there in the world. Because of their willingness and courage to speak their truth out loud, they give others permission to do the same.
One of the worst things about being a sexual abuse survivor is carrying around the secret and the shame. It feels so isolating. And dark. And dirty. And so I salute Father Frank and David Lisak for the work that they do. When we take our secrets out into the light, they lose their power. Love it.