My Name Is Project Update

We’ve had great interest in the My Name Is Project and are waiting with much anticipation for you to submit your survivor video stories in support of this project.

Recently I had the priviledge of participating in the Oprah two-part event on male survivors of child abuse.  The first show aired last Friday and began with an emotional opening where the entire audience of 200 male survivors held up pictures of themselves at the age when they were first abused.

It was a powerful moment, standing amongst all those men, holding up a picture of who I was before my life changed so traumatically.

(Wo)Men Speak Out has an idea based on that powerful moment on Oprah.  We are working on a new video montage which will hopefully include pictures of all of you.  We all have our individual stories.  But we have a collective story of abuse that is worth telling to everyone who has felt trauma in their lives, and to those who haven’t.

So this is a call out to ALL SURVIVORS.  If you are interested in participating in this montage, send us a high resolution picture of you holding a picture of yourself at the age of your abuse under your chin.  Also, include the age of abuse and you can optionally include your name as well.  We will collect all of the submissions and create a video montage telling a shared story of abuse.

We need as many submissions as we can because we want this to show the magnitude of abuse and at the same time the human face of survivorship.

Also, keep your personal video submissions coming in.  We need to create our video community of survivor stories to inspire all of our brothers and sisters who are right now suffering in silence.  The only way we can do it is with your stories.

Thank you for participating in this project.  Break the silence.  To live.

Chris de Serres

christopher@womenspeakoutnow.com

WSO

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My Name Is Project


It’s been a few years since I first posted the video My Name is Chris on Youtube.  I wanted to create a snapshot of my life.  I have been silent about my abuse for over 2 decades and this video is my admission that it has affected almost everything about me.  I wanted that happy childhood dream.  But I finally knew that there was nothing I could do to take my childhood back, to wipe away the abuse.  I couldn’t even pretend anymore that the abuse didn’t exist.

So I made My Name is Chris, and I cry just a little every time I watch it.  Recently I had the privilege of taking part in a two-part Oprah special on male survivors of child abuse.  Oprah wanted an audience of 200 male survivors to show a face to the millions of men who are abused and never talk about it.

Shortly after the filming I received an email from Jarrod Marcum Noftsger.  He was among the 200 men.  He wanted to let me know that My Name is Chris helped his recovery.  In fact, he made is own version of the video, called My Name is Jarrod, as a way of coming to terms with his own horrific abuse.

There are millions of survivors out there who want to tell their stories.  Yet, we feel isolated and unable to express the deepest pain in our lives.  The My Name Is Project is there to provide a survivor a way to express it.

So our project is simple:

1.  Create your own My Name is… video. There are many programs to make nice montages.  I made My Name is Chris with One True Media.  If you have any production questions feel free to email me at christopher@womenspeakoutnow.com.  I’m no video wizard but i’ll do my best to help.  I want your video to be as representative of your voice as much as possible.

2.  Post your video on Youtube as a “response” to My Name is Chris. Our video can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MYBkMzQrknk. This way, we stay connected and others can see all of the videos in the project stream. 

Click here for a quick tutorial for those who aren’t sure how to add a video in response to ours.

3.  Feel free to incorporate what elements you want from My Name is Chris, but your video should have the taste of your personal experience to it. We want to learn about your personal adversity and growth.  It can be happy, it can be sad.  As long as it is real we want it to be a part of this project.

4.  Email Chris along the way with your thoughts, experiences, and questions and to let us know that you have contributed to the “My Name is…” project.

Our goal is to create a community of “My Name is…” videos which tell the collective stories of abuse and trauma in our communities.  The short term goal is 50 before the end of 2010.  50 videos.  Men and Women. Together. Starting with My Name is Chris and My Name is Jarrod.  We need 48 more before January of 2011.  We can only do it with your voice.

Sharing your story is the greatest gift you can give to another survivor.  When I made My Name is Chris I was only trying to heal from my pain.  Imagine the impact our collective montage of stories will have on survivors who need to hear that they are not alone and that their pain matters.

We can only do this with your help.

Chris de Serres

WSO

 

The Man Code

Okay I got hooked on The Bachelorette this season.  Reality shows are sort of like Lays potato chips with me.  You can’t just watch one and be done with it.  Without contaminating you too much into the universe of this show let’s just say they had a ‘reunion show’ last night.  The Bachelorette, Jillian, and most of her male suitors were who had been previously eliminated in the show, were there.

As bad and scripted as they sometimes are, reality shows often reveal surprising realities of how badly men and women can behave and treat each other.

This year in The Bachelorette, more than any other, there was a bit of a controversy.  You see one of the male suitors, Wes,  had an agenda.  He was a country singer who already had a girlfriend.  He got on the show under false pretenses in order to further his career.  Not something exactly new in the land of the reality show, but it wasn’t exactly what he did that struck me as curious.  Apparently throughout the show he would brag to the other men that he already had a girlfriend and how he was going to hit it big with all the TV exposure.

All these guys knew, and kept quiet about it.  They all were vying for Jillian’s love and affection, yet never said a word about Wes.  Even as Wes made it through each ensuing round nearly to the end of the show.  Until finally one guy spoke, only after being eliminated by Jillian.

During the reunion show there was this weird energy among all the men about this one whistleblower, Jake.  They all spoke in a roundabout manner, but I got the impression that Jake had broken some sort of code among men by telling Jillian she was being played by another man. I call him a whistleblower sadly because in the culture of men, that’s what he did.  He went against the convention.

Then the other guys began speaking up, but not condemning Wes’s actions on the show.  They began making excuses for his behavior.  One man even professed doubt that Wes was playing Jillian at all.  Mind you, this is after we all watched video clip after video clip of Wes saying he was there to promote his music and how much sex he was going to have with his girlfriend after the show.

Wes, of course, didn’t attend the reunion show to answer for his actions.  But he almost didn’t have to.  Other men were piling on the defense for him.

So why is this important to us in the abuse community?

Well, it brings to light something that has been going on for quite some time among men.  Men don’t hold other men responsible for alot of bad behavior.  Most often this is out of fear of losing our own social standing in the process. There is this consistent scrutiny among men regarding how manly our behavior is in the eyes of others.  We hold each other to this standard.  We even have our own internal censor which comes as a result of all our younger years trying to live up to the male ideal that all of our early male role models instilled in us.

So we’ll see a male friend trick, manipulate, harass, and maybe even hit a woman and let it pass.  We hold our identity so closely to that of our manhood that we will watch others do atrocious things rather than risk stepping in and being considered less of a man.

One male suitor actually spelled it out for us on the show.  He called it the man code, that most bogus construct we wield to keep each other from speaking out and being our genuine selves.

You really want to know why there aren’t alot of men speaking out about abuse?  Or even the millions of male survivors who won’t speak out about their own trauma?  It’s the man code.

We would rather die broken and wounded than violate the unlivable set of rules which have been passed down from father (and mother) to son for generations.  It’s the reason why men are often reluctant to seek medical attention, much less a therapist.  I always think of the bullrider mystique, when a rider gets bucked off of a bull and, despite broken ribs, fends off medical attention and walks out of the ring of his own accord.  We all clap for that don’t we?  It’s harkens to the code.  When I read of the genocide in WW2 Germany and Rwanda I see the man code all over it.  Some say the man code helps keeps society running smoothly even as we destroy ourselves from within because of it.

I have my own man code.  It’s rooted in men like Ghandi and in the marches of Martin Luther King Jr.  In between all the status quo you can see it sometimes, if just for a second, in the Jakes of the world.  Don’t blink because you may miss it.  My man code is sometimes difficult to execute, as a man, so I try to execute it instead as a human being.

I have learned that physical courage is the easiest kind of courage to embrace.  Moral courage?  That is the most difficult.  It requires true sacrifice.  It requires us men to act, despite society, in order to save society from itself.  From letting boys be boys as they hit, abuse,  and harrass others, each other, and themselves.

Moral courage is the man code.

To my brothers out there, if you see it on display, don’t destroy it.  Don’t try to judge it or censor it into submission.  Get behind it.  Remember there are alot of young boys and men who are watching us and learning how to behave like men should.  Feed them the kind of courage that changes minds, rather than the one that reinforces old destructive habits.