The Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center is looking for a few brave men.
Jim Kreider, a social worker at the center, is forming a group for male survivors of childhood sexual abuse.
Many men, Kreider said, never come to terms with their childhood experiences. Instead of confronting their feelings, many men who were sexually abused as children suppress their feelings and don't seek help. Society often does not find it acceptable for men to show their feelings, Kreider said.
"Our culture values men who can think and do," he said. "A `real man' doesn't talk about these things. A `real man' doesn't hurt."
But Kreider believes that it is courageous to share one's feelings.
"BEING OPEN is a sign of being strong," said Kreider, who hopes the group will begin meeting early next month.
So far, two men have expressed interest in the group, Kreider said, adding that a group of six to eight men would be ideal.
"We know the men are out there," Kreider said. "There's just not a lot of good data yet."
One estimate says that one in seven men has been sexually abused, Kreider said, and another estimate says one in 10 has been abused. Although sexual abuse "is damaging for anybody," Kreider said it presents unique difficulties for men.
For instance, he said, men who've been sexually abused by other men often think "Why me? Did I do something to encourage it? Am I gay?" Because society is still struggling with homosexuality, Kreider said, such ponderings can have a profound impact for men.
If the abuser is a woman, "it's even more damaging," he said.
Men who are sexually abused by a mother, sister or other female family member or friend often are confused about how they should feel about the abuse.
"OUR CULTURE views males as the sexual aggressors," Kreider said. "Men are supposed to like any kind of sexual contact."
He said survivors of childhood sexual abuse both men and women often enter adulthood "with emotions that are blocked off." Relationships and a healthy sexuality often are difficult for victims of sexual abuse, Kreider said.
Kreider said groups often are beneficial for victims of sexual abuse because of the similar experiences that are shared. The shared experiences affirm for the victim that "yes, these things do happen," Kreider said.
The group, Kreider expects, will meet weekly for about 12 to 14 weeks. He said members of the group who wish to keep meeting would have the option of doing so, but he would like the group to meet for a limited time to keep it focused.
More information about the group is available by calling the center, 843-9192.