Counselling for Abuse Survivors; Program Aims to Help Males Victimized by Church Reps

By Ellwood Shreve
The Observer [Canada]
May 30, 2007

The Diocese of London is investing in a program to help male sexual abuse survivors who have been victimized by a representative of the Catholic church.

The Hope and Healing Associates has received $30,000 from the diocese for the Silence to Hope and Healing project to establish counselling groups in Chatham, London and Windsor.

The funding "gives us a pretty good start," said Tom Wilken of Erieau, program co-ordinator.

He said he knows there are a lot of male sexual abuse survivors in general, but getting them to talk about it is not easy.

"The difficulty with men is providing a safe and supportive environment where they will come forward," Wilken said.

The free program is just beginning, and those interested in taking part in group counseling can contact Wilken at 519-676-7613 or toll-free at 1-877-676-7613.

He is hopeful this isn't just one-time funding, noting he's received assurances from the diocese that it plans to continue to do what is in the best interest of the survivors.

For someone who has been sexually abused several years ago and have several issues to work through, Wilken said, "10 weeks of counseling isn't going to do it.

"We've put our faith in the church," he said. "I've quite honestly told them, we wouldn't be interested unless we could make a commitment to the survivors."

According to the National Clearinghouse on Family Violence, 37 per cent of all sexual abuse victims under the age of 21 are male. And the vast majority of sexual abuse victims within the church are reported to be male.

Millions of dollars are spent on sexual abuse programs for women. However, Wilken, who is the author of Rebuilding Your House of Self Respect: Men recovering in group from childhood sexual abuse, said there are very few programs for men.

He credited the Catholic church for coming forward to address the issue and provide funding.

"I've been impressed with the direction the church has taken," Wilken said.

"There's a long way to go (to helping survivors), but it's a step in the right direction."


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.