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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

SAAM: A plea for active male bystanders

From Sexual Assault Awareness Month - Home
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month

"The month of April has been designated Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) in the United States. The goal of SAAM is to raise public awareness about sexual violence and to educate communities and individuals on how to prevent sexual violence. Each day, people witness a continuum of behaviors that range from being respectful and safe, to sexually abusive and violent."

If you are reading this blog, I am assuming you are not a bully, abuser or violent criminal. Maybe you are, like me, a loving husband, protective father, or proud son; a man angry that others who share our gender are violent. We have a responsibility to stop sexual violence perhaps even greater than those bad ones. But, don’t be frightened away here; a law of nature dictates that small actions can have a big effect. So, what can we do? I have two ideas.

First, understand the Bystander Effect. If you are not a bad guy or a victim, you are a bystander; the audience, those present at or near the scene of violence. They are those who support or deny support to the bad guys. Bystanders create the back-drop for sexual assault. The behavior bystanders take or do not take determines how far bad guys can go. A harsh reality I know, but WE allow sexual assault to happen. But again, what can we do? A simple example: When you tolerate degrading speech (even innocent seeming words) about women, you are tolerating these statements towards YOUR wife, YOUR daughter, or YOUR mother, and encouraging the devaluation that leads to escalating violence. Stop participating with these words and stop tolerating it. In this way, we contain and restrain bad behavior and become active bystanders rather than bystanders colluding with bad guys.

Second, as men, we can help empower the women and girls in our lives. Empowerment results in more power and control over events; in this case, more power and control over the contexts of sexual assault. An empowerment process created by consists of:
Rationally understand threats
• See where you can impact those threats
• Take action to mitigate threats, and take action against threats
• Connect with others who face similar threats (and allies)

By rationally understanding the threat of sexual assault, women and girls can become more aware of the contexts and realities of sexual assault. By seeing where they can impact, each individual can begin to explore where they can impact this threat. From these first two steps, individuals can learn to take action to mitigate sexual assault and take action to protect themselves from this threat. And, by connecting with other women and girls as well as the men and boys who choose to be allies, a safer community begins to establish itself around and in us all. Finally, by developing more power and control, women and girls in our society can be safer from violence.

Together, we can create a community where a new generation of boys grow up interacting with protective dads and empowered girls. We can create a community where boys learn to be respectful and safe rather than sexually abusive and violent. Man Up! and help create this community.

Man Up! Volunteer Jim Doyle –Founder,

Monday, April 18, 2011


For over 35 years, MOCSA has been providing therapy, support and advocacy for victims of rape and sexual assault, whether children or adult, regardless of their gender. So why does it still feel like this is a “women’s only” issue? Take a look at the public persona of this vibrant, wonderful organization, as it relates to male sexual abuse:

• Rare (but growing) instances of male sexual abuse are reported through the MOCSA hotline at (816) 531-0233 or (913) 642-0233, and fewer still through the robust hospital advocacy program offered by trained MOCSA staff and volunteers;
• There was one male participant in a group of 30 women during a recent volunteer training session;
• One adult group therapy session currently exists for male victims of abuse; and,
• Only a smattering of men participate in the organization’s Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) events annually.

Now granted, there are more girls than boys who are sexually abused in childhood (estimates are 1 in 4 for girls vs. 1 in 6 for boys), and clearly, not everyone who volunteers or supports MOCSA is themselves a victim of abuse. However, applying this statistic of male sexual abuse, I would expect the face of MOCSA to look something like this:

• 37% of all MOCSA hotline and hospital advocacy requests would be for males;
• In a volunteer training class of 30, I would expect about 11 of the attendees to be men;
• There would be multiple male victim support groups happening on different days of the week, at a variety of times; and,
• Nearly half of SAAM attendees would be men.

So, what keeps men so quiet? Maybe what keeps men away from MOCSA (and other sexual abuse support services) is the increased stigma and shame that we place on boys and young men not to ask for help, not to admit victimization, and not to feel their feelings. Maybe it’s fear that they are the only one who has had this happen, and that no one else can possibly understand what they have experienced or what they continue to face every day of life since the abuse happened. In short, I suspect what silences our boys and men is the fear of being alone!

Over the past several years, many celebrities have stepped out and bravely shared their painful secrets of childhood sexual abuse – from NFL player Laveranues Coles in 2005; to actor, director, producer and writer Tyler Perry in 2010 (incidentally it was his sharing that led to a subsequent and historic Oprah Winfrey 2-part show dedicated to this subject, featuring 200 adult male survivors in the audience); to the recent book and interview on “60 Minutes” by Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown this past February. Interestingly, regarding the recent 2-part Oprah show that aired in November of 2010, there were initial concerns that they wouldn’t be able to find 200 men who would be willing to come on national television and be identified as victims of sexual abuse – they were surprised to receive thousands of applications!

Closer to home, beyond the rich and famous who have courageously come forward to tell their stories, there are unfortunately thousands of men right here in our own community who share membership in this ugly brotherhood – and they may be your husband, your boyfriend, your father, your brother, your boss, your co-worker, your friend, your teacher, your teammate, or YOU! Sadly, chances are excellent that you know at least one man who has suffered sexual abuse and who may right now be suffering alone; desperately needing to know that they are not the only one, while being equipped with the tools and resources to help them heal and get well.

For whatever reason, it seems to me that far fewer men than women seek the help that MOCSA is ready and qualified to provide. If you (or someone you know) were sexually abused as a child, regardless of your gender, check out MOCSA and the individual and group therapy services that are available – at no charge to the client. Beyond MOCSA, other places for men who have been sexually abused to go for help include:

At a future MOCSA Community Luncheon, the big annual party celebrating all the good that an organization such as this one does in the lives of so many people in our community, I’d love to see groups of men sitting at tables with signs that say, “MOCSA is for men, too”!

By Mike Eggleston, MOCSA Volunteer

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Sexual Assault Awareness Month ..... MOCSA Events April 6-15

April 6th
Kansas City Kansas Community College: "Open Mike"
1pm at the Intercultural Center

April 7th
Kansas City Kansas Community College: "T.A.K.E Self-Defense Training"

MOCSA Volunteer Happy Hour
5:30pm at McCoy's in Westport

April 10th-16th National Crime Victim's Rights Week

April 11th
Teal Ribbon Campaign with Law Enforcement

Gladstone declares April Sexual Assault Awareness Month at 7:30pm

Rockhurst University displays Clothesline Project

April 12th
Precious screening and discussion

April 13th
Victim's Rights Display
10am-2pm at Johnson County Courthouse

Victim Awareness Fair
10am at Johnson County Courthouse

UMKC Sexual Assault Awareness Table 11am-1pm

April 14th
Health Fair
8:30am-11:30am at Kansas City Kansas Community College

VictimeNet Closeline Display and Survivor Speakers

Kansas City, Missouri declares April Sexual Assault Awareness Month

April 15th
CAPA Awareness Display
7:10pm at Royals game

Annual Kansas City Kansas Community College Poetry Slam and Reading
12pm at Jewell Student Center Deli Area

Lathrop and Gage, LLP Denim Day