BENNINGTON -- A documentary on the impact sexual abuse of boys has on individuals, families and society will be screened on Monday, May 12.
The Bennington County Child Advocacy Center and Protect Against Violent Encounters will be bringing in the producer of "Boys and Men Healing" to discuss the influence of a sexual abuser for the film’s screening at 11:45 a.m. at the Vermont Veterans’ Home, 325 North St., in the Luke Crispe Room. The public is welcome, but registration is required.
The event, titled "Taking a Closer Look," features two parts: The impact of sexual abuse and the process of manipulation used by an abuser. More than 60 people are already registered to attend. Individuals from United Counseling Services, the Department of Children and Families, PAVE, BCCAC, the Southwestern Vermont Medical Center, as well as private practice counselors and therapists, are taking the training as a professional development opportunity.
One in six men have experienced unwanted or abusive sexual encounters before age 16 according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.
"So not only will this allow us to say to our community that we need to be looking at this, but it also gives us the opportunity to identify resources, and train other professionals in understanding what it is like for a man who was sexually abused as a child," said Linda Campbell, the executive director of PAVE.
The film itself is about 50 minutes long.
Maria Gallagher, Master of Social Work, will hold the second part of the event. She will moderate a discussion to help individuals understand the key relationships in the abuser’s manipulation process in grooming the victim and his family.
Gallagher will talk about how the offender assesses his or her environment, chooses the most vulnerable child and figures out how he/she is going to get close to that child and gain his trust.
"Oftentimes when you have a victim of sexual assault, you wonder how could that family let their child be abused?" asked Joy Kitchell of the BCCAC. "What happens is that the offender is a very skilled individual. While he is grooming his victim, he is grooming the victim’s family."
It is part of PAVE’s and BCCAC’s mission to make sure health care professionals are sensitive to victims of abuse, whether children or adults. PAVE is not only a resource for women, although they may not be thought of as a resource for male victims of domestic violence or sexual abuse. "I think this is a great opportunity to dispel that myth Š any of our services that we provide to women, we will provide to men," Campbell said.
The majority of men who report sexual abuse from childhood are between 30 and 50 years old.
Following the June 2012 conviction of former Pennsylvania State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky on 45 charges of sexual crimes against children, Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin put legislation into place in June 2013 that allows sexual crimes committed against a child in this state to have a 40-year statute of limitations. Because men are unlikely to come forward until later in life due to trauma, abusers can now be held responsible for crimes they committed up to 40 years ago in Vermont.
"I think that our society doesn’t allow for men to come forward," Campbell said. "Who are you going to talk to about that? It’s not as though there is a wealth of resources."
Campbell said it’s important to understand that unlike victims of domestic violence, victims of sexual abuse don’t necessarily become an abuser in adulthood.
The event was meant to be held in April for Sexual Violence Awareness Month. PAVE wasn’t able to get a hold of Weinberg until May. If any private-practice professionals or members of the public would like to register for the screening, they must do so by Monday, May 5. Call Joy Kitchell at (802) 442-5107 to register.
PAVE offers a hotline 24 hours a day for victims of sexual abuse or domestic violence, available at (802) 442-2111. For more on "Boys and Men Healing," or to see clips of the documentary, visit http://www.bigvoicepictures.com/boys-and-men-healing/.
Contact Tom Momberg at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @TomMomberg.