My thoughts on the Healing Journeys Conference for male victims of abuse

I am the female partner of a wrongly convicted man.

Men who are victims of trauma believe, as a man, they could have controlled the situation but they can’t. Men in prisons suffer trauma intensively because it is much more intense when ones life is fully controlled by prison staff.

Where men were sexually abused, the abuse traumatized them to the extent that it was confusing for them to start a relationship or approach healing from a skilled based perspective. They are drowned in their trauma.

Many men in prison are sexually abused. There was a health Fair at Warkworth Institution and the pamphlets they gave out along with condoms were all about “helping” inmates to protect themselves. The catch phrase on the cover of pamphlet was “Watch your Ass” with the back of a female butt in underwear. (to arouse men in prison no doubt) On the inside, there were 3 glossy colour photos of male buttocks in very provocative form.

They were really just advertising and promoting sexual activity in the prison and using images to entice men rather than just merely warning them of the safety issues, like a REAL Health function would do.

Some of the inmates were actually disgusted and walked away but others of course would think nothing of raping a man 1/2 their age.

Here is a link from 2010 about giving out condoms.

There are many approaches to healing in oneself: such as breathing methods, meditation, prayer stillness, quietness to lower the heart rate. Men are capable and once can use these skills, they can learn to maintain a calm. But in prison, this type of therapy is rare unless they are fortunate enough to have a good therapist at the prison or they have learned to discipline themselves prior to entering the prison.

There are just a lot more issues to deal with when you are living in an institution. When in distress, you don’t know what to focus on so you need to focus on something during this time and once in a cell, it is not as easy as it would be in a better environment in a better visual setting. Also important is getting the right food and getting the right sleep when you are under stress but when you are in a prison you are on high alert at all times.

Prisoners are always on the edge of hell and heaven managing it in an environment that is unnatural so this increases the risk. Managing stress is also linked to having a routine which in some ways (though limited) a prison does actually provide, however chained. Supports are essential, but even professional advice is not always useful unless the man has the community support behind him. Additionally, therapists need to learn the issues that men go through in order to help them. Women can have good insight into helping men but they are not men so can not always look at pain thought a male lens.

When it comes to suicide, men will succeed in a prison. They have the means to kill themselves so this is very dangerous. Isolation is one of the factors that brings men to a suicidal state but if they speak of suicide in a prison, they can be put in isolation so it is very difficult to get help once you’re in an institution. (again it depends on the staff and whether they have a strong inmate committee)
Chaplaincy programs are very valuable for men but prisons are known to cut this off as well. Dealing with suicide properly, whether in prison or not, depends on what type of assessment there is. A good assessment is a tool that is used in prison and hospitals but some of them are not always accurate. I was told by one of the speakers that is a good scale.