1 in 6 Men on Campus

This month the Your Voice, Our Future series continues on the SAAM Blog with a guest post from Martha Marin and George Pritzker of 1in6, Inc. Today’s post discusses supporting male survivors of childhood sexual abuse on college campuses.

How to create SAAM events inclusive of the 1 in 6 Male Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse 

Image of 1in6 logoGroups organize events, trainings, speak outs, and walk a mile in heels to raise awareness about sexual abuse. Often these events forget about an underserved population: male survivors of childhood sexual abuse. Research points to how trauma and adverse childhood experiences can increase a person's risk of future trauma and negative coping mechanisms like risky sexual behaviors, addiction, depression, PTSD and other challenges. The effects of trauma and unhealthy coping practices can make relationships with parents, teachers and romantic partners more challenging than average. Providing safe spaces for healing and support are vital to give all students the opportunity to develop a healthy sexuality and an overall positive experience on campus.

SAAM is a way to encourage survivors to seek help and resources. Many schools have support services dedicated to survivors. Yet, are we sure events and resources are inclusive of the 1 in 6 men on campus that had an unwanted or sexually abusive experience before the age of 18? In the U.S. alone there is an estimated 19,000 million men dealing with the effects of sexual abuse. Will they feel safe to disclose? Will men be accepted as survivors who are worthy of compassion and support?

The 1in6 college campus campaign looks to highlight the experiences and needs of male survivors on campus: 

Typically men wait until their 30’s, 40’s or even later before beginning to deal with the negative effects of unwanted or abusive sexual experiences in childhood. By reaching out to young men on college campuses YOU can encourage them to begin their recovery processes earlier in life, before negative behaviors and thinking become adult habits.

Inclusive outreach

What can your school do to be more inclusive of the 1 in 6 male survivors of childhood sexual abuse on campus?
•    Analyze the language in your support literature and discussions: Is it Inclusive? Does it create a safe space for men?
•    Adapt awareness activities to be more inclusive. Many campuses use wearing the color teal to represent 1 in 4 women experience sexual assault. Make every sixth t-shirt BLUE to represent the 1 in 6 men who are survivors on campus. 
•    Create a Peer Support Group for Men.
•    Host a screening of the film, Boys and Men Healing by Big Voice Pictures and follow it up with an expert panel discussion.

Serving male survivors 

Meeting the needs of male survivors means more than just outreach. Making sure adequate resources are available is just as important as outreach.
•    Attend a training or webinar that focuses on clinically sound information regarding male survivors of childhood sexual abuse.
•    Host a training or workshop at your next conference to increase your schools capacity to help men heal.
•    Connect with partner organizations and resources. Schedule a 1in6 Virtual Awareness and Q & A session for a class or club.

1BlueString

1 Blue String logoHosting a 1BlueString awareness event is a fun and approachable way to get the word out about the 1 in 6 men in your campus community. Whether it’s an open mic concert, poetry reading, art show, or other creative exhibition, your awareness event can be a gateway to hope and healing for survivors. What is 1BlueString? 1BlueString is a campaign that asks guitarists to replace 1 of their 6 strings with a blue string to symbolize the 1 in 6 men who have survived childhood sexual abuse.

How can you bring 1BlueString to your campus?
•    Host your own 1BlueString event or other Inclusive awareness event such as a guitar string changing station or photo booth.
•    Request a kit as an individual by visiting 1BlueString.org/get-the-kit or contacting info@1BlueString.org for bulk string requests
•    Distribute 1BlueString kits and information at a concert or lecture on campus
•    Share your blue string photos on social media with the hashtag “#1BlueString” or the 1BlueString photo share page. 

Whatever you choose to do to raise awareness about the 1 in 6 survivors, your efforts will bring your community one step closer to inclusivity and healing. It can start with 1 blue string or your very own unique idea. We encourage you to bring your specific talent and enthusiasm to the cause!

Martha Marin is Managing Director at 1in6, Inc. George Pritzker is Creative Projects Manager for the 1in6 projects 1BlueString & The Bristlecone Project.