Philly conference focuses on support for male survivors of sex abuse

    Child sexual abuse continues to be in the news, but for many victims the issue remains shrouded in shame and silence.

    An all-day conference at Widener University Saturday will address childhood sexual abuse — focusing specifically on male survivors.

    The conference aims to spark conversation on this difficult topic by evaluating the impact of childhood abuse on men’s lives or discussing how perceptions of masculinity shape survivors’ shame and guilt.

    It was organized by the Joseph J. Peters Institute and Widener University as the second annual conference in their “Deepening Men’s Relationships” series.

    The conference also aims to get men to open up about past abuse, to begin a healing process.Another goal is to teach mental health professionals how to recognize signs of past abuse, which victims often do not disclose, said Dr. Robert Garfield, a psychiatrist who helped organize the conference.

    “This happens so often with patients that I see that will come in with problems of depression, or marital problems,” he said. “You begin to hear that there is a story behind the story.”

    Garfield says the information will also be important to physical health professionals because many survivors have health problems such as stomach issues.

    “Problems are actually carried in the body of the persons themselves, so it behooves health professionals in general to be able to be tuned in when they take a history to be able to read behind the symptoms that sometimes other things are going on,” he said.

    For more information about the conference and to register, go online or contact JJPI’s Peter Simonsson at 215-701-1560.

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