Second Annual Healing Journeys Conference
October 20-21, 2016

The Healing Journeys Conference was a huge success. This is the only Conference in Toronto that focuses on all aspects of men and trauma. Since this was our second annual event I was particularly pleased that we experienced a growth in attendance (about 60 people over the course of the day, as compared to under 40 last year) as well as a much more comprehensive treatment of men and trauma. This year we did a better job covering both sexual violence and domestic abuse, as well as including a deeper focus on the intersection of trauma and mental health.

I want to thank our amazing sponsors. Our Silver Level sponsor Gene C. Colman Family Law Centre and our Bronze level sponsors Rochelle Cantor Law and our own member Vijay Rajan. My gratitude also to all our speakers and to our volunteers for making the day a success. I am so pleased at how the CCMF has come together with 3 other amazing agencies – Lynne MacDonell and Associates, the Canadian Centre for Abuse Awareness and The Gatehouse – to make these unique events a reality!

Here are my notes from the sessions, for those who may be interested in this level of detail:

Helping Men Panel
how to get men to engage in help seeking behaviour?
what works and what doesn’t?
Dustin – 70% of those who survive a suicide attempt will not attempt again
Rob – frame men’s recovery as building skills – skills based on goal -oriented targets cause men are project oriented and problem solving
80% of social workers are women, staff at distress centre mostly women
Adam – when you’re in distress you don’t know what to focus on, men cut themselves off from reading their own bodies, interplay of the mind and body is key
Have whole class stand up and do stretching when anyone is in distress
Dustin recommends Columbia Suicide Severity Rating Assessment Scale

Simona Jellinek
helping survivors proceed through legal process as easily as possible
50% of calls from people who never went to therapist first – maybe because its more formal or less personal to talk to a lawyer
It is a journey
max compensation is $25K for pain and suffering, $10K/year for loss of income (criminal injuries compensation board)
you need to have been employed at the time and had to leave to get loss of income pay
childhood abuse sometimes they pay for loss but rare
Another option is lawsuit – orgs can be sued – this can give power back to the victim
eg. CAS (for abuse foster parents), religious institutions, children’s orgs eg. Scouts, Big Brother/Big Sisters, School boards, other orgs or gov institutions, hospitals eg. nurses who abuse
2 things need to be proved – somebody did it (helps if there is a criminal conviction) and the person was hurt
Recommends psychological assessments – helps court understand how abuse changed person’s life

Agencies panel
Michelle – LAO identified gaps in how DV clients were being treated and how their services would effect clients at home
traditionally 7-8% of victims men now last 6 months up to 17-18%
they are doing screening for men and women – 2 hour family violence program

Tracy Clarke, Victim Witness Assistance Program
they support “vulnerable victims”, their program started with DV victims only but is now broader
once someone claims to be a victim other party will not be provided support – what happens in case of mutual violence?
VMAP – does not assist falsely accused

Survivors of sexual abuse panel
survivors try to reenact the situation to try to control the outcome, but it only causes more pain
the group experience allows me to work backwards merely by listening to other guy’s stories
we may be on a different place on the arc of healing
the severity and longevity of the abuse isn’t as important as how it effects you

Yvonne Bergmans
the role of trauma in thoughts of suicide and self injury
trauma-informed – research by Tara Brach, 2011
emotions are based on our own unique history, experiences, biology
trauma – overwhelm a person’s ability to cope and/or integrate emotions and ideas related to that experience
now as its acknowledged witnessing violence can be as bad as experiencing it directly
developmental – child abuse and neglect, witnessing violence in the home
child protection services are quite new
what magnifies trauma – when “helpers” are insensitive in ways that add shame or blame, being told you asked for it, ignored bruising, not being believed, denying coping mechanisms
eg. self harm not recognized as such
effects include depression and anxiety
particularly for men – depression and anxiety might come out in agitation, anger, being prickly
anger like an umbrella – protective but also can be a weapon or used to hide pain or hurt
predictability and safety not always the same
men often socialized not to ask for help and some of that is really hurting our men in a big way
distinction between non suicidal self injury and behaviour that is intended to kill you
need to ask what is the behaviour for – to keep safer, to show others how badly you hurt, to practice for actually committing suicide, to get high on drugs to make suicide easier later
“we can’t know what we don’t know”
“help I’m experiencing too much joy. what do I do with it?” – no emotion is good or bad but they may be less comfortable
a lot of people don’t have the language of how to ask for help – help people to help you, you need to give people direction, eg. asking hospital for help to deescalate instead of saying you want to commit suicide
write a letter while not in distress to present to hospital when you arrive in ER – it’s harder to find the words when you’re in crises