Sometimes, especially when you write on difficult issues like sexual violence, you wonder about the positive to negative impact ratio. There is soooooo much hate attached to telling your story publicly, while there are many survivors who benefit by feeling validated and less alone. Sometimes you make a much bigger impact than you could have ever anticipated. This is one of those times.
In addition to being a rape crisis worker and Vice President of Men Recovering from Military Sexual Trauma, I am also a vocal survivor/RAINN Speakers Bureau member and occasionally interviewed for media stories. In 2013, CNN did a story about my own experience as a survivor and Marine in 1990. I was on active duty when it happened, but I did not report it as in 1990, male survivors had almost zero support and I likely would have been forced out or even disciplined myself. I found out recently that the Marine Corps is actually using my experience from the CNN article as part of their Marine Corps Leadership Development program for their Bystander Intervention training under the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response training program.
It was a bit overwhelming when I found this out recently. My inability to seek help in 1990 may actually educate a new generation of Marines in 2015. Speaking out is hard and shaming is very prevalent for those of us who go public. I know that all too well. To see that it makes a difference, helps to put into perspective the backlash and ugliness we experience as speakers and advocates.
Changing minds is real work and takes time. I am humbled to have been able to make a contribution to improve the service that was not there for me in my time of need.
Guided Dicussion – Bystander Intervention
The article adapted for the training:
CNN: Against His Will Female on Male Rape
Marine Corps Leadership Development website
If you are a speaker as well, you have my utmost respect. I know what you know about the price we pay.