Researchers have found that 1 in 6 men have experienced abusive sexual experiences before the age of 18. This is probably a low estimate, since it doesn’t include noncontact experiences, which can also have lasting negative effects.
The 19th November is International Boys and Men’s Day and its core message this year is Stop Male Suicide. The UK arm of the campaign’s – key message is “Making a Difference for Men and Boys”.
Survivors West Yorkshire is proud to publically launch Ben’s Place on 19th November. Ben’s Place is named after a West Yorkshire male survivor of childhood sexual abuse (aged 10-13) who took his own life shortly after his 23rd birthday. The mission of Ben’s Place is to deliver a specialist support and advice service to adult male survivors (currently aged 16 plus) who are ready to discloser their experiences of the sexual crimes committed against them and who would like support to explore the options for understanding what was done to them. Simply knowing you’re not alone is very powerful and very healing for many male survivors especially given societies denial of sexual violence- abuse very often.
Ben’s Place will commence a phased roll out of its service offerings from early December.
** (It will not offer a crisis service but will offer emotional support and advice during its operating hours. Operating hours will be changeable and we aim to increase them as funding allows).
Ben’s mother said:
“I am moved that the life and memory of my son will not be forgotten in Ben’s Place. I am also overwhelmed that Ben’s Place will be a free service to help, support and counsel male survivors of sexual abuse “.
Ben’s Place is a prototype cloud focused service. It will initially offer free-phone, text, chat and email support for as many hours as it can. As it phases in its virtual service during 2017 it hopes to expand them to offer secure virtual counselling – combined with a range of off-line workshops to support male survivors to live a thriving and healthy life beyond the experience of sexual violence -abuse.
Male survivors are no longer alone in West Yorkshire. They now have a safe and confidential specialist place to seek support and advice.
Ben’s Place has been made possible with the help and seed funding of the West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, supported by his team:
Mark Burns-Williamson West Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner said:
“I welcome this as a further important step forward in improving services for survivors of sexual abuse in West Yorkshire. The needs of victims will always come first and I am delighted to have been able to support Ben’s Place and the work of Survivor’s West Yorkshire in providing this distinctive service.”
Its development has also been supported by the specialist Rape Crisis services of West Yorkshire who via the West Yorkshire Specialist Sexual Violence Action Partnership (WYSVAP) have fostered an environment where collaboration is now a key strategy for synergising evidenced and nationally agreed standards for this under supported population of crime victims male, female – child and adult.
Ben’s Place has also been welcomed by other male services in the UK and we’d especially like to thank Ben’s brother service across the Pennines, Survivors Manchester and their CEO Duncan Craig for his proactive support. Survivors Manchester’s ‘BlueString’ awareness campaign is especially inspiring as we begin our new services operations .
Such support has been replicated as far away as Australia and Living Well’s Gary Foster deserves thanks for helping us to offer one of the best male survivor self help-guides in the world to West Yorkshire. The 2016 guide can be downloaded from Ben’s Place.
The founder and CEO of Survivors West Yorkshire, Bob Balfour said:
“After nearly 20 years of lobbying and building proactive partnerships with key stakeholders. A professionally sustainable and innovative service for male survivors is now going to be available. I hope the community and its leaders will support its rapid development – so we can collectively reduce the negative outcomes experienced by many male survivors across West Yorkshire.
Ben was a child of our community and he deserved our support both in childhood and adulthood to avoid taking his own life to end his emotional distress.”
Survivors West Yorkshire believes when people hear the stories of recovering survivors they will want to support the amazing courage males show in breaking their silence to recover. ‘The Bristlecone Project’ captures the power of such recovery journey’s from the lived experience of male victims of sexual crime.
Here is their website available from December 2016: http://survivorswestyorkshire.org.uk/