From the Executive Director's Desk


In most of my writing, I usually try to share messages of Hope, Healing & Support. Tragic news, troubling statistics, and gloomy research on the long-term impacts of abuse need to be countered with positive messages. Therefore I consciously choose to share hopeful information and offer concrete suggestions for things we can do either as survivors or supporters of survivors to help people make progress on the healing journey.


Today, I do have good news to share - in a few weeks we will be holding our first professional trainings and Dare to Dream events in Los Angeles. If you are in the Southern California area (or can get there) I hope you'll join us for one of these excellent events. For more information on these events and/or to register for one of the trainings, please email Trisha Massa or visit this page.


However, sometimes in spite of good news we may not be happy or hopeful. For men it is especially important that we be empowered to speak openly about our troubles. Even though we all get overwhelmed at times, we are rarely given permission to talk about our diffiulties. Our email inboxes overflow with unanswered messages while challenges at work and home hang heavy on our minds. Worse, triggers are all around us and can push us into darker emotional spaces and sap our resilience. Too often, men shy away from openly talking about these darker feelings, not because we want to, but because we fear the repercussions of seeming "unmanly."


Men are expected to keep moving and keep our mouths shut, not ask for help when we feel lost or vulnerable. Most men internalize pressure ("never let them see you sweat" as a once common advertisement chastened us).

Dry Idea commercial with Dan Reeves
Dry Idea commercial with Dan Reeves

But what happens when we follow that advice? Eventually the strain of all our burdens will overwhelm even the strongest man. When overwhelmed, many of us begin to shut down or disconnect. We pull back from the world and turn to any distraction that takes us out of the present unhappiness. But disconnection comes at a high price. It often leads to a sense of passivity. Passivity, in turn, leads to feeling trapped, powerless, and without hope. From there can be a pretty short step to destructive behavior unless we find a way to seek out the help and support we all deserve.

Is Rambo really a good role model for trauma recovery?

For men, asking for that support is not easy. "Strong men" are expected to vanquish their fears and conquer their enemies without empathy and compassion. Many men refuse to speak of the harms they've suffered for fear of being stigmatized or ridiculed. In certain hyper-masculine cultures, disclosure of any kind of weakness or vulnerability can actually put a man at risk for serious harm. In many communities, when a man does find the courage to ask for help, he is told there are no resources to support him. It can be exponentially more difficult to get help when the perpetrator of harm is female.


The harm caused by abuse and trauma does not discriminate, nor can we in the work to help ALL survivors heal. Trauma and abuse are staggeringly common experiences. The Adverse Childhood Experiences Study has shown that 2/3 of the population reach adulthood having experienced at least one significant form of adverse harm. And a growing wealth of research shows that the changes in the brain caused by abuse and trauma (especially when experienced as children) won't be overcome by being tougher and stronger, but rather by becoming more connected.
Toxic Stress Derails Healthy Development
Toxic Stress Derails Healthy Development

The depression and anxiety borne of trauma and abuse do not give way to strenuous effort; we cannot simply will our way out of these dark places. The man's mantra to "be tough" is terrible advice that actually increases suffering by keeping us isolated from others who might be vital sources of support. Real healing does not happen in isolation.


During MaleSurvivor's Weekends of Recovery, we learn that speaking openly about our pain and vulnerability is an important part of the healing process. It helps us shatter the stigma that a wounded man is less of a man. It also helps us to authentically connect with other people. But it is never easy. Being open and vulnerable runs counter to what we've been taught is "manly." It also requires us to do today precisely what may have led others to taunt, bully, and abuse us for in the past.


Some of us are lucky. We have family and friends who support us, even though it may be hard for us to stay connected sometimes. Some of us also have something that far too few men have - excellent mental health support including great therapists who can help us process these challenges and give us tools to be better able to fight through the dark times. When I am confronted with bouts of depression, I know I will make it through because I've lived through these cycles before, and because I have others in my life who help lift me up. However, there are far too many of our brethren in similarly dark places who need help seeing the light.


We cannot continue to accept a paradigm of masculinity that praises silent suffering while stigmatizing those men who courageously seek help. The way out of the darkness requires men to be open, vulnerable, and "unmanly." Smashing outdated stereotypes won't be easy, but we have no choice if we want a world with less pain, less trauma, and less abuse. The strongest and the most powerful men I know are NOT those who impose their will on others. Rather, they are open to their pain while remaining connected to the world. That is compassion, and that is a source of real power to which we can all connect.

The power of compassion and empathy


Have any thoughts or questions you'd like to share with me? Drop me an email at 

MaleSurvivor Training and Awareness Programs

Join us in Los Angeles 
SHARE! Culver City
6666 Green Valley Circle
Culver City, California 90230
If you are a professional who works in any capacity with male survivors of sexual abuse this training will help you better understand the challenges male survivors face and give you the tools you need to help survivors in your community.

6 Hours of CE's Available*
Group Discounts Available. 
MaleSurvivor experts Dr. Howard Fradkin, Mikele Rauch, LMFT, and Executive Director Christopher Anderson will be conducting the trainings at SHARE! in Los Angeles. 




LA D2D flyer  



Join courageous male survivors of sexual abuse as we share our stories of hurt and healing. We will also be screening  the "transformational" documentary "Boys and Men Healing" and hold a community conversation on healing from sexual abuse and the resources available for male survivors and their loved ones. 


"Boys and Men Healing," is produced by Big Voice Pictures.

For information on how to bring a MaleSurvivor training or Dare to Dream event to your community, please contact Community Outreach Director Trisha Massa at 


**This conference is co-sponsored by The Institute on Violence, Abuse and Trauma (IVAT) at Alliant International University. IVAT is approved by the American Psychological Association (APA) to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. IVAT maintains responsibility for this continuing education program and its content. IVAT is recognized by the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC) to offer continuing education for National Certified Counselors (Provider #5659). IVAT adheres to NBCC Continuing Education Guidelines. IVAT is approved by the CA Board of Behavioral Sciences (PCE #33) to offer continuing education for LCSWs and MFTs. This conference meets the qualifications for up to 6.0 hours of continuing education for MFTs and LCSWs as required by the CA Board of Behavioral Sciences. IVAT is approved by the California Board of Registered Nurses to offer continuing education for nurses (CEP #13737). IVAT is approved by the State Bar of California to offer Minimum Continuing Legal Education for attorneys (#11600). IVAT is approved by the California Association of Alcoholism & Drug Abuse Counselors (CAADAC) to offer continuing education for certified alcohol and drug counselors (Provider #1S-03-499-0215). CE credits approved by CA agencies are accepted in most states.

For information on continuing education, contact

MaleSurvivor is now on YouTube!
What Is MaleSurvivor?
What Is MaleSurvivor?

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