Back to top

A Message on Reframing Abuse

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Recently, I was honored to have SCG co-host a special program on Reframing Sexual Abuse: Understanding the Needs of Male Survivors. Developed as a partnership between SCG, the Annenberg Foundation, The Durfee Foundation, the Weingart Foundation, and the Bettingen Corporation, this discussion sent a powerful message to all in attendance about the hidden crisis of male sexual abuse.

The program featured a conversation moderated by Fred Ali, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Weingart Foundation, with a panel of violence prevention experts:

  • Patti Giggans, Executive Director, Peace Over Violence
  • Sandra Henriquez, Executive Director, California Coalition Against Sexual Assault
  • Dr. David Lisak, Forensic Consultant
  • Steve LePore, Executive Director, 1in6 and the 1BlueString campaign

Participants heard the latest on strategies to better support this under-reported and underserved population. Socialized as boys to hide or deny emotions like fear, studies show that men who don’t address those childhood experiences are at a significantly higher risk for a range of negative health and behavioral consequences, which are not often linked in the public or professional mind with untreated sexual trauma in childhood. Some surprising facts and figures about male survivors of abuse:

  • 1 in 6 men have experienced sexual abuse before the age of 18
  • $45,000 of state funding is allocated annually for rape crisis center programs serving both men and women, for all of California ($1.42 is spent per survivor served)
  • 50% of all commercially sexually exploited children are boys
  • Boys are often unwilling to self-identify as sexually abused or exploited due to the shame and stigma

Many of the participants in attendance at this event are leaders in this field, including Judy Miller, who oversaw this year's Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize award to ECPAT International, the leading global network of organizations dedicated to stopping the commercial sexual exploitation of children.

Throughout the conversation, presenters and participants shared a variety of insights, including ways for foundations of all sizes and focus areas to impact this issue:

  • Include a question on your grant application form about male sexual abuse prevention and programs
  • Consider how supporting male survivors of abuse fits into your current funding priorities, or explore potentially expanding your scope of funding
  • Help support outreach and education
  • Talk to nonprofits about changing their name or expanding their services to be more inclusive of men

Male sexual abuse is a critical blind spot among law enforcement and other social service institutions, with a staggering cost to society overall. However, service providers supporting women and girls have helped to pave the way for men to seek help and share their experiences.

On a personal level, I was truly inspired by the creative thinking that the panelists and participants brought to this complex and often misunderstood issue. I'd like to thank the Weingart, Annenberg and Durfee Foundations, as well as the Bettingen Corporation, for bringing this issue to light. At SCG, we look forward to seeing more work done in coordination among funders to support male survivors of abuse.

If you would like to share your organization’s initiatives and research in this area, or are interested in hosting a follow-up session with the broader SCG community, please contact us via email.


Christine Essel

Funding Issue Area & Geographic Regions
News type