“I have a dream” is a famous quote by Martin Luther King Jr. His was for racial equality in American. Well, we all have dreams and here is mine:
In 1989, I founded the first agency in Canada mandated to provide recovery options for males who had been victims of either childhood sexual abuse or recent sexual assault. It started with me and an answering machine in my Victoria home. Six months later, I established a second agency in Vancouver for male survivors. Again, just me and an answering machine in the back room of a colleagues suite of offices. I kept both running by commuting between the two cities, a half week in each location. There were other people involved of course, as volunteer Board of Directors; too many to name for now.
From the beginning, I had a dream that went well beyond me and my answering machines. I envisioned a staff of therapist, several departments (therapy; education; research; advocacy, etc.) and several locations. Now 26 years later, much of that dream has come to be. The two original agencies were amalgamated in 1997 to form British Columbia Society for Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse (BCSMSSA). We have 12 therapists (counting me), two Victim Services workers, five Master’s and one Psy.D. student engaged in an eight months internship and of course a dedicated volunteer Board of Directors. From the original one room, two city operation BCSMSSA has grown to five locations: Vancouver, Port Coquitlam, Abbotsford, and Surrey in the lower Mainland, and Courtenay on Vancouver Island. See the list of services on this site, as well as staff bios.
But the dream is not complete. Too many male survivors across the province are alone with their pain. Their fear of not being believed, or judged for being vulnerable, keeps them in isolation. I want to see services for male survivors in every community of B.C., or at least within an hours drive. That is far from the actual at this time. Our next target for a branch office is in the Okanagan Valley, most likely Kelowna. There is a clear and vocal recognition of the need in the valley and several organizations that have stated their enthusiasm for the establishment of a BCSMSSA branch office in that area. What barrier, as is always the case, is funding. A brave and tenacious man living in Kellowna has been scouring the social service and funding community, on behalf of BCSMSSA in the area, to put together a list of possible options for funding. All of these will be pursued in the coming weeks. In the interim, I invite anyone who knows of possible sources for funding to email us. If not that, talk about it with friends and family. Chances are very good that there are men in your life who are waiting for something like this to come into being. Finally, keep checking in with us. In time you will see one more piece of the dream take shape in your community.
Don Wright M.Ed.