Silence to Hope Aided

By Heather Travis
The Chatham Daily News
January 25, 2008

The Roman Catholic Diocese of London gave $60,000 to Hope & Healing Associates of Chatham-Kent to help support male sexual abuse victims.

The funding was designated for the Silence to Hope project, which provides sexual abuse support groups, workshops, weekend retreats and education and awareness programs for men living in Essex, Kent, Lambton, Huron, Perth, Middlesex, Elgin, Oxford and Norfolk counties. The program also refers abuse survivors to caregivers and professional help.

The money is not only for sexual abuse victims of the church, said Tom Wilken, project coordinator for the Silence to Hope project.

"We recognize that the problem is very large," said Wilken. "To be quite honest, $60,000 isn't going to provide enough services for all men in this large of an area."

Last year, the Diocese of London gave the project $30,000.

Wilken hopes the government will kick in money to support programs for male sexual abuse victims, similar to the programs set up for women.

Wilken said 37 per cent of all sexual abuse victims under 21 years of age are male.

"When men are coming forward and wanting to get help, there are no services out there," he said.

The lack of community support services, along with the stigma of admitting male sexual abuse, has left many male victims in hiding, said Wilken.

"It's hard for a man to come out and say he is a victim because then he doesn't feel like he lives up to the old view of masculinity," he said.

Wilken said the funding will also allow Family Services Thames Valley in London to run its first year-round group facilitation program for male sexual assault survivors.

"A lot of people would say $60,000 isn't enough for what has happened in the church and they're right. There is not enough money out there to make up for the things of the past," he said.

However, Wilken said the funding is a step towards healing.

"The church is taking a leading role in helping us to provide programs for men," he said. "It's a community problem and it needs to be addressed by the community."

To register in the group counselling programs in Chatham, London or Windsor, contact the Hope & Healing Associates toll free number at 1-877-676-7613 or


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