The Power of the Personal in Politics

With our voices united we could turn stories from male survivors of childhood sexual abuse into action.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the phrase “the personal is political” became the mantra of the women’s movement. Fast forward a few decades and the mantra still applies. Regardless of your political ideology, one can agree that the personal and the political are often intertwined.

Recently, the personal stories of male survivors of childhood sexual abuse have been given a lot of media attention yet the issues that affect these survivors rarely make it onto the political stage. This does not mean that candidates do not have a position on these issues or that they do not have a voting record on legislation that impacts the lives of survivors. What it does mean is that other issues have taken over the political agenda.

A united voice, however, could help make the personal much more political. Imagine the voting power of millions of men with histories of childhood sexual abuse and the influence that can have on municipal, state and national elections. With this in mind, here are some steps that you can take as a survivor or ally to ensure that the issue of male childhood sexual abuse does not get ignored by candidates now and into the future.

Voter Education

  • Explore the candidates’ websites to determine their positions on victim/survivor support, holding offenders accountable and their support of prevention efforts. If it is difficult to find a clear, concise position, contact the campaign and encourage them to add language to their website or release a statement on the voting record or position of their candidate.
  • Organize a screening/discussion of the film “Boys and Men Healing” in your neighborhood, school, place of worship or work-place and invite candidates for elected office to attend and participate.
  • If it is safe for you, consider sharing your story with candidates and elected officials seeking re-election.
  • Organize a voter teach-in, candidate forum, town hall meeting, etc.
  • Create Voter Guides to ensure that your friends, family members and/or co-workers have all the information they need to make informed decisions on Election Day.

Voter Registration

  • Register to vote.
  • Register others, especially men who are survivors of childhood sexual abuse.

Voter Mobilization

  • Ask the candidates about their voting record or positions at forums, town-halls, rallies or anywhere on the campaign trail.
  • Encourage the news media to cover this issue and pose these questions during candidate profiles, debates, etc.
  • Donate to or volunteer with campaigns that have taken bold leadership on this issue and other issues that impact your life.
  • Participate in legislative advocacy events and activities.
  • Protest, march, write letters to editors (local, state and national publications) and utilize online petitions.
  • Vote and encourage others to vote!

The aforementioned political actions require that we work together hand-in-hand, break our silence and forge new paths towards living healthier, happier lives personally and collectively.

For those not comfortable or ready to wade into political campaigns at any level, please continue to make a difference with your personal actions by supporting 1in6, Inc. or encouraging musicians in your community to join our 1BlueString campaign.

Emiliano C. Diaz de Leon is a Cultural Capacity Specialist for 1in6. Besides his work with 1in6, Emiliano has more than a decade of experience working for multiple domestic and sexual violence centers in Texas.  Since 2008, Emiliano has worked as a Primary Prevention Specialist for the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault (TAASA) and since October 2011 providing technical assistance to the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) Engaging Men Program grantees around the country as a Men’s Engagement Specialist.

Photo credit: Flickr / MDGovpics

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About 1in6

The mission of 1in6 is to help men who have had unwanted or abusive sexual experiences in childhood live healthier, happier lives. 1in6′s mission also includes serving family members, friends, and partners by providing information and support resources on the web and in the community.

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