Origins of MaleSurvivor and MenHealing
Jim Struve, Peter Dimock, and Ken Singer first met in 1984. Each were Clinical Social Workers with active caseloads of male survivors. Unable to find peer clinicians in their respective home communities (Georgia, Minnesota, and New Jersey) each had established contact with Faye Honey Knopp (Executive Director of Safer Society). Faye was instrumental in connecting the 3 men and encouraged them to collaborate. Hand-written letters was still the preeminent method of communication at that time, so Jim/Peter/Ken began a process of chain letter correspondence that continued for several years.
By 1987, the 3 men set their focus on a goal to organize a conference that could increase public attention about male survivors. Research about male sexual offenders had been emerging for many years, but there was virtually no attention to non-offending male survivors. In 1988, Peter was able to secure agreement from the Minnesota Department of Corrections for a full day seminar about male survivors as an add-on day for a Sexual Offenders Conference that was already scheduled.
The First MaleSurvivor Conference
That unique and first of its kind event was conducted in September 1988 with an attendance of 200. The success of this event provided confidence to organize a free-standing conference that was fully focused on non-offending male survivors. Jim enlisted 3 competitor private mental hospitals in Atlanta to share their resources and co-sponsor a 3-day Male Survivor Conference. That event was conducted in September 1989 with an international attendance of 450 people representing 14 countries.
At the end of this 1989 Conference, an Advisory Board was established to sustain on-going program planning. A series of successful conferences in subsequent years led to the incorporation in 1995 of a national nonprofit organization to address the needs of male survivors and their allies. That organization – National Organization Against the Sexual Victimization of Males eventually shortened its name to MaleSurvivor, an organization still in operation.
The First Weekend of Recovery
In September 2001, Howard Fradkin and Mikele Rauch organized and launched a successful Weekend of Recovery healing event for male survivors. There was immediate recognition of the need for healing resources for male survivors. The 3-day Weekend of Recovery program thrived and expanded to included also single Day of Recovery events. The program was managed under the auspices of MaleSurvivor until 2017. 67 healing retreats were conducted between 2001 2017.
MenHealing is born
In 2017, the WOR Facilitator Team transitioned to become an independent national nonprofit. This step was undertaken to achieve greater growth and sustainability. This new 501c3 organization MenHealing was incorporated in December 2017. Jim Struve was selected to serve as the MenHealing Executive Director and the entirety of the Facilitator Team remained intact (although a couple of long-standing members retired). Since 2018, the Facilitator Team has greatly diversified and has expanded from 9 to 17 clinicians. From 2018 thru the end of 2020, 16 additional WOR events will have been conducted solely under the auspices of MenHealing, increasing the total of WOR/DOR events from 2001 2020 to 83.
MenHealing has diversified resources our organizational resources to include a robust video series (Beyond Survival: Voices of Healing) that highlights healing journeys of individual male survivors. Financial assistance for male survivors of limited income or financial hardship has grown and healing events are now available virtually with online access in addition to an active schedule of in-person retreats.