The O’Brien Dennis Initiative was formed in 2009 (formally known as the O’Brien Dennis Foundation) out of a need to target and change out of a need to target and change social perception about male sexual abuse. The founder O’Brien Dennis was a victim of male sexual abuse and at age twenty-five wrote an autobiographical book detailing his abuse and how he dealt with the challenges. Out of constant request from his readers, O’Brien realized that it was imperative to create an avenue for men to discuss the abuse, feel comfortable and secure in dealing with the challenges of the abuse.
We have decided to take somewhat of an ecological approach when dealing with, and addressing male sexual abuse. We are moving away from the traditional approach of assuming that our objective is to dictate to survivors where they ought to be. Our aim is to give survivors the tools and resources to empower themselves and live more functional productive lives.
WHY WE DO WHAT WE DO
We believe that by taking an unconventional approach to group therapy we will:
Allow more men to seek help regarding sexual violence.
Empower men by having them run their own support group.
Taking an ecological approach means that each man will be accepted at his level.
Empowering communities within New York, to create an environment where men and boys can speak freely about sexual violence and grow up free from sexual abuse.
To empower male victims of sexual violence to live productive and fulfilling lives in their communities. Educate the New York community about the effects of male sexual assault.
WHO WE SERVE
We serve men who are victims of Childhood Sexual Abuse (CSA), Men who are victims of sexual violence, intimate partner violence and also men who are victims of sexual harassment within the workplace.
FROM OUR PRESIDENT
Male sexual abuse is still a taboo subject topic and no one seems to want to talk about it or even acknowledge that if left ignored the ripple effects on society can have debilitating effects. Male sexual abuse transcends beyond racial, ethnic, social, religious and political lines. Childhood sexual abuse (CSA) has plagued society for a very long time and it is important that we join forces in tackling this social ill.
The O’Brien Dennis Initiative stands unique as it takes on an ecological approach to dealing with men who are victims of sexual violence. Our goal is to show to society that the faces of male sexual abuse are real and by highlighting The Untold Stories, we allow individuals to not only see the varied faces of sexual abuse, but we also highlight some of the ripple effects.
We have created The Conversation; a very unconventional support group for men led by men. The concept is still in its trial phase; however, it allows men to network with each other in a safe space. A clinician or counselor is always present to give support when needed. It is imperative that men share their stories amongst themselves and gather strength and support from each other. As the organization evolves we will have a group for intimate partner violence, support group for men/women whose partners are victims of sexual abuse and they are simply looking for support and a greater understanding of how to deal with their partners. We would also like to create a group for parents, as too often we neglect to realize that parents often blame themselves in believing that they did something wrong and it was their fault. It is essential to understand that sexual abuse cannot happen without trust. Over 90% of children know their perpetrators.
In continuing on our message of prevention we created a training manual that will address childhood sexual violence “Understanding Childhood Sexual Abuse”. Our aim is to train social workers and clinicians on how to identify children who are victims of sexual abuse. Traditionally we have left prevention in the hands of our children, and we need to be practical and realize that children do not have the cognitive skills to fully protect themselves. As adults, it is our innate right and responsibility to protect our children. By giving clinicians and social workers the tools to better identify children who are victims of sexual abuse, we will hopefully allow more children to get the help that is needed.
Recently we decided to address the issue of Male Sexual Harassment within the workplace. Many individuals mistakenly believe that sexual harassment is limited to females. The reality is that this type of experience is just as damaging to men. While the overall number of sexual harassment cases have declined, according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), sexual harassment filing by men have consistently increased and doubled over the past 15 years. We are in the process of coming out with a campaign that addresses male sexual harassment, a training tool for organizations, along with informational packets that address how men are impacted.
Dennis O. Tyson
Courtney A. Graham