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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

No one should go through this alone!

It’s 7:30 a.m., and Taylor is in a strange town, laying on a hospital exam table, totally exposed and vulnerable, with a medical professional conducting a very invasive examination, and a policeman waiting outside the room wanting to ask some questions about an “alleged” sexual assault…Taylor is feeling scared, embarrassed, ashamed and hoping that family and friends will never find out. How did Taylor end up here?

Taylor came to Kansas City on business, staying overnight at a downtown hotel. After a day of meetings, Tayor decided to accept an invitation to join some colleagues for drinks at a bar in a popular, local entertainment district. These are co-workers that Taylor just met that day; and after a long day of meetings, having a drink or two and unwinding seemed like a good idea. After only a couple of drinks, Taylor started feeling light-headed, and the colleagues showed genuine concern and offered to help Taylor back to the hotel room, which was greatly appreciated. When they reached the hotel, Taylor blacked out. Upon awakening at 5:30 a.m., alone and naked in the hotel room (which was trashed with some personal items missing), Taylor’s body is aching and the friendly colleagues are nowhere to be found. Taylor is married, has never experienced anything like this before, and is scheduled to fly home the next day. While tempted to let it go and save the embarrassment of uncomfortable questions and possible disclosures to family, friends and employer, Taylor knows the best chance of seeing justice served for the suspected crime committed is to be examined immediately by a medical professional and by filing a police report. Dazed and confused, Taylor drives to the nearest hospital, where police are notified. Within the space of half an hour, Taylor is on the hospital table being examined, with the police waiting outside.

Did I mention that Taylor (not the victim’s real name) is a guy? Everything described above actually happened, except Taylor didn’t know what resources were available to him in Kansas City, and he didn’t want anyone to find out, so he didn’t seek a medical exam or file a police report that night; no, instead, Taylor caught his flight home the next day, vowing never to discuss it with anyone. Weeks went by and Taylor was haunted by what had happened to him and felt violated and wronged – he called a local agency in his hometown for help. They, in turn, called MOCSA here in Kansas City to provide Taylor with advocacy services and morale support when he returned to file a police report.

Had Taylor gone to the hospital or notified the police, chances are very good that MOCSA would have been notified immediately and a volunteer Hospital Advocate would have been dispatched to the hospital to meet with Taylor, to figuratively (and literally) “hold his hand” throughout the process - from the medical exam, interview with the police officer and filing the police report, should that be Taylor’s decision.

In the past, the MOCSA Hospital Advocate would have been a woman, and don’t get me wrong – any friendly face at a time like this is welcome; however, MOCSA has recently decided to allow men to act as Hospital Advocates for other male victims. There have been instances where male victims have expressed some hesitation to share the details of their sexual assault with a female advocate, out of concern for the advocate’s discomfort and their own embarrassment. Hopefully, by providing male advocates to victims, it will encourage these men who have been assaulted to get the help they need following such a horrible event. To simply “be there” for the Taylor’s in this world, during one of the scariest, most embarrassing and uncomfortable experiences of their life is a good and noble endeavor. In order to act as a MOCSA Hospital Advocate, you must complete the in-depth, 40 hours of volunteer training and become accepted, but what a small price to pay since I think we can all agree…

NO ONE should go through this alone!

by Mike Eggleston

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Funny or Sexual Harassment?

Conan gets caught staring at his guest's chest in this clip below. He makes a joke of it and plays it off but I'm left wondering if Nicole Scherzinger felt respected by Conan's behavior. What do you think?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Looking For A Few Good Men...

About a year ago, Tyler Perry appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show with 200 men that shared devastating stories of being molested and sexually abused by family, friends, and trusted adults. According to national studies, 14% of reported rapes involve men and boys as victims and 1 in 6 reported sexual assaults are against males. Unfortunately, studies also report that less than 2% of male victims ever seek services. This show opened a door to a conversation many are fearful to process or admit: that men can be victims. There are many false beliefs out there that male victims are gay or tend to be weaker or inferior. The truth is that sexual violence, whether the victims be male or female, is motivated by the desire to dominate and use sex as a weapon against the victim. Moreover, the majority of perpetrators are heterosexual men.

Certainly, it was challenging for the viewing audience to see Mr. Perry and those 200 men speak out about how other men took advantage of them. We are often socialized to believe men are strong, invulnerable, and in control of their bodies, which creates a culture that narrowly defines manhood and excludes men as victims. This is the reason so few male victims seek services or much less share what has happened to them, even with those they trust. Still, male victims experience feelings of guilt, powerlessness, shock, anger/rage, flashbacks, humiliation, concerns about sexuality, and finding sufficient resources or support.

At MOCSA over this past year, we have seen a steady increase in male victims showing up at hospitals, seeking support on our crisis line, and requesting counseling services. Maybe it's related to Oprah's show and maybe not. Regardless, we want to make sure these victims/survivors are provided the same opportunity for support as we have been able to provide for women over the years. We are in great need of a few good men to volunteer and be trained as male advocates to meet this growing demand. MOCSA's next volunteer training starts October 17th and provides over 40 hours to prepare volunteers for supporting victims in crisis and hospital situations. If you are interested, please contact Beth Schild at 816-285-1373 or follow this link to apply online to volunteer for MOCSA. As our motto goes, "Someone you know needs MOCSA, and MOCSA needs you."

Glory Days?

Hey, you’re _____. Good to see you! So what are you up to these days?” That was the question that got asked a lot at my last high school reunion. No wonder – 25 years have passed since we were all 18, and a lot has changed in our individual and collective lives: gains and losses, triumph and tragedy. But would there be enough commonality to connect us? I was curious about how these people – who came to the reunion voluntarily as opposed to a forced-fun situation -- would interact: would cliques be intact? Would the former debaters huddle and talk politics? Would the jocks boast about the glory days? Would the “nerds” be CEOs? Could the cheerleaders have sustained peppy personalities for a quarter of a century?

Moving from conversation to conversation, I noticed a gender-relevant trend: almost without exception, the women tended to relate via their life stage situation: “I’m a single mom now, and I’m helping take care of my aging parents.” Whereas guys seemed to define themselves by their job or major life changes: “I gave up music once I finished my engineering degree”; “Now, I’m ready to settle down with the right girl…not easy, ‘cause I’m a single dad”; “I’m still in the military, but now I teach strategic leadership courses”; or “I’m still in the insurance business, and I coach my kid’s soccer team. They’re 4-1”.

Unlike our 5-year reunion, where everyone was riding the wave of being out of college (or at a solid job), or our 10-year reunion (where people felt compelled to justify their progress or barriers), the 25-year reunion had a certain calm about it. Could it be that we, the rowdy Class of 1986 had actually settled down? Yes. Even the former rebels, punks and self-proclaimed ‘freaks” were pretty easygoing. A unifying commonality was the willingness of people to open up to catch up. The women were in their natural element of emotional connecting; the men had retired their braggadocio and were comfortable enough in their own skins to relate as current contemporaries, not shells of former selves.

But what really took me by surprise was how many people had used Facebook as a portal for connecting personally: They offered condolences on my mother’s death; they asked if I was dating anyone, and asked me how the house remodeling was coming. The overall feelings was one of relief – that we somehow made it 25 years and were brave, able and willing enough to come back home – and reconnect as alums, regardless of where we are on life’s path individually, as a bunch of dudes, or as just people. Life as we knew it is no longer; the Blue Ridge Mall and Bannister Mall that defined our social lives have been torn down. Male or female, “popular” or not, we were all there, together, if but only for brief chats. “Remember when we…?” was often followed by a “Yeah, I think…”

So where do you stand: firmly in the present, longing for the past, or focused on your future? If you knew then what you know now, would you have lived your “glory days” differently?

by Derek McCracken

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Mentoring Starts at Home

In my opinion, by talking with and listening to our young men, we can make a difference in how they view what is true and healthy manhood. To add to this, you as their mentor, have to be what you preach. It is not just about saying the right thing but doing the right thing by example as well. As part of that teaching and communicating you must be brave enough to ask the young man some straight forward questions and listen carefully to his answers. Sometimes young men’s replies may be shocking but it provides room for teachable moments

Let me give you an example. My step-grandson was visited my wife and I one weekend. He began telling us some of the things he had learned from his friends about relationships. At some point he stated that he was not worried about getting a girl pregnant. My eyebrows went up into my worry lines as his grandmother asked him to explain, we braced ourselves for the response. As we listened we became increasingly concerned that our grandson had picked up some misinformation from his buddies and potentially was embracing harmful attitudes towards young women in his life. We explained that in the real world such behavior was not only disrespectful but it would be considered abuse towards the girl to do such a thing. This of course led into an entire discussion of respecting women and not using them as sexual objects. We talked about his friends’ exaggerating or even lying about having sex. A week later we were very pleased when we heard he had confronted one of his buddies about an exaggerated sexual encounter.

In the many discussions we have had with our grandson we have never yelled or acted condescending in correcting his misconceptions about relationships and intimacy with possible partners. We want him to be able to talk with us about anything going on in his life without fear of a scolding or scoffing. Our goal was to make him comfortable asking tough questions no matter how sensitive a question was or for what to do in a pressure situation. I have shared with him some of my own missteps and mistakes in how I treated partners as I grew up. Especially those I made during the teen age years when I had no one to talk with about these things.

Teens are not stupid even when they sometimes lack wisdom. They need straight, honest talk from their mentors. They need to be able to respect you as a mentor because you are who you say you are and you act accordingly. The more men that “man up” and help young boys get through these difficult developmental years with the right mindsets about what is to be a man the less abuse there may be in our children’s future.

By Terence E Ross