"Men and Boys Healing": Speaking Up On Sexual Abuse
by Mary Beth Coudal
Oprah Winfrey will talk with male survivors of child sexual abuse on her television show on Fridays, November 5th and 12th. To research the topic, the television producers viewed the film, "Boys and Men Healing," a documentary to which the General Board of Global Ministries contributed funding.
The office of Global Ministries dedicated to women, children, and families helped fund the Big Voice Pictures' earlier movie, "The Healing Years," about women and girls surviving sexual abuse. Once the poet Dr. Maya Angelou promoted that film, "There was a giant momentum…. But over the years, we discovered a new need when rape-crisis centers started calling us, asking, 'Do you have a movie like "The Healing Years" for boys and men?'" remembered Simon Weinberg, co-producer and outreach director of Big Voice.
"Uh oh, we have another crisis here. We didn't want to do it, but we were getting hundreds of emails a week. One day God touched Kathy [Barbini, founder of Big Voice Pictures] and me and said, 'You've got to make this film. You've got to do it.' Getting the funding was really hard four or five years ago. That's when I called Joanne Reich [of Global Ministries]. She said, 'I don't have much, but here it is.'"
Through the office for women, children, and families that Ms. Joanne Reich staffed at the time, Global Ministries provided $7,000 in funding over the course of two years.
"It wasn't a lot, but it was a lot to the producers," said Ms. Reich, presently the child protection and community assistance officer for the General Board of Global Ministries. In 2005, the General Board of Global Ministries created the child protection and community assistance officer position, thereby establishing child protection policies as a priority of the agency. (To learn more about the child protection office, link to: gbgm-umc.org/about/globalministries/childprotection/)
Co-producer Simon Weinberg applauded the sponsorship by the General Board of Global Ministries: "They came through for us when we did not know if the movie would be made. In particular, Joanne Reich has been a shining star in our organization. We love her so dearly. She is truly a saint."
"Our commitment extends to women, children, and families, and too often the voices of male survivors of child abuse have not been heard," Ms. Reich said.
Researchers estimate that as many as one in six boys has been sexually abused. Boys who are non-white, disabled, from lower socio-economic, and divorced families are at special risk. Men and boys are far less likely to talk about the traumatic experience because "they want to forget about the event, want to protect the perpetrator, and fear the reactions by those told about the abuse," according to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).
"It's helpful for men to reach out for support--not to feel ashamed. At Global Ministries, we care about both boys and girls who've experienced child abuse. Abuse does occur. When it does, people should reach out for help. It takes courage to talk about it," said Joanne Reich, who is a deaconess of The United Methodist Church. "We applaud those who do talk about it in their churches and communities and become advocates for truth telling and beginning the healing process. We, as adults, need to provide safe places and opportunities for children and adults to come forward."
Ms. Reich invites small groups in United Methodist churches, community centers, counseling centers, and schools to join the more than 700 groups--including rape centers, military units, and colleges--to view the movie and begin a discussion, one of the first steps in the healing process.
When the Utah Coalition Against Rape recently showed "Boys and Men Healing" to a teenage boys' school, several boys stood up after the movie to testify that they had been abused. "It's great when you heal an adult, but when a teenager comes forward--that disclosing opens up a path of healing," said Mr. Weinberg.
"These are stories that are not told. These are voices that are not heard," Dr. Larry Hygh, communications director of Global Ministries, said.
Another alliance bringing United Methodists together to address domestic violence and helping survivors to achieve faith and justice is the partnership between United Methodist Men and United Methodist Women. United Methodist Women has funded a January 2011 ABC-TV documentary, "I Believe You: Faiths' Response to Intimate Partner Violence."
Other funds to sponsor the earlier film, "The Healing Years," originated in contributions from United Methodist Women. United Methodist Women can designate giving to Ministries with Children and Their Families through their United Methodist Women treasurers.
The Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline 1-800-4-A-CHILD is dedicated to the prevention of child abuse. Serving the United States, its territories, and Canada, the hotline is staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with professional crisis counselors who, through interpreters, can provide assistance in 170 languages. The hotline offers crisis intervention, information, literature, and referrals to thousands of emergency, social service, and support resources. All calls are anonymous and confidential.
If you or someone you love has been abused by someone entrusted with a ministerial role in the United Methodist denomination, you can report the sexual misconduct, abuse, and harassment. According to the UM Sexual Ethics: " The people of The United Methodist Church are committed to being agents of God’s justice, mercy, and grace when one of our own sinfully violates another’s sexual well-being…. We want to support you as you seek justice and healing." (www.umsexualethics.org/)
To learn more about the Big Voice Pictures' films, "The Healing Years" or "Boys and Men Healing," visit their website at: www.bigvoicepictures.com.
The General Board of Global Ministries will conduct all its ministries, both program and personnel, in ways that seek to ensure the physical and sexual safety, emotional well-being, and spiritual health of children, youth, and adults.
Date posted: Nov 05, 2010