A local conference helping male survivors of childhood sexual abuse was held at the ABC Recovery Center in Indio on Friday.
Nearly 200 showed up for the 11th annual “It Happens to Boys” conference.
“It’s a problem that never gets talked about. It’s shrouded in silence and secrecy and stigma,” said Jerry Moe, National Director of Children’s Programs, Betty Ford Center.
The event offered resources and featured speakers sharing their own stories of abuse.
It was hosted by licensed marriage and family therapist Carol Teitelbaum and her husband Robert Teitelbaum, who experienced abuse for ten years as a child. “My perpetrators were people we were supposed to trust,” said Robert.
“Little kids are innocent and they carry the shame but it doesn’t belong to them,” added Carol Teitelbaum.
They explained many men are taught to repress emotion from a young age and never seek help.
“We’re kind of taught to kill off our feelings…rather than really look inside ourselves and see what makes us tick…as men anger is a much more acceptable emotion,” said Christopher Yingling, CEO, ABC Recovery Center.
That childhood abuse and repression often leads to a lifetime of other issues: “People act it out. Road rage, date rape, crimes of violence, sexual assault of their own, alcoholism, drug addiction, criminal behavior, it just goes on and on and on and how do we break the cycle?” said Moe.
“That’s what this conference is for is to say we’re here and please don’t wait until the crisis happens,” said John Lee, the keynote speaker of the conference.
Teitelbaum also hosts a free counseling group for men the first and third Tuesday of every month at 7 p.m. You can get more information on the group and other resources here.