A new group created by Penn State’s Center for Counseling and Psychological Services will be made available for male students who have suffered from sexual abuse.
The group, named the Male Survivors group, is structured so men can use it as a way to openly discuss their feelings on what they went through and how it has affected them. The group will be led by CAPS staff psychologist Andrea Falzone and doctoral trainee Jamie Graceffo.
“By providing a safe space where men can experience support and validation, we will help men learn that the abuse was not their fault, dispel whatever shame they may feel, build healthy coping strategies, and begin to see themselves as resilient and whole,” Falzone said in a media release.
The sessions are free of charge to Penn State students, and they will be held every Thursday from 4 to 5:30 p.m. CAPS is hoping to have the group available for students to sign up by mid-October at the very latest, Falzone wrote in an email.
“Over the past year at CAPS, potentially related to the heightened media attention to the issue, we have seen an increased number of students, particularly male students, who have come forward disclosing a history of sexual abuse,” Falzone wrote.
Still, however, there is no direct relation showing the group was made in response to the Sandusky case. Rather, its primary goal is to provide resources that will help men heal, Graceffo said.
CAPS support groups are kept relatively small in size.
“Traditionally, a group is comprised of about four to eight members, but if there is more demand we will do everything we can to get the students the resources they need,” Graceffo wrote in an email.
While the group is independently run, the group has been in contact with 1in6 and MaleSurvivor, two organizations that work with men who have been victims of sexual abuse, Falzone wrote.
Male students, particularly, are very reluctant to seek out help, 1in6 Managing Director of Programs Todd Eckel said. 1in6 was able to help CAPS with the beginning thought process of creating the group.
“Especially in the aftermath of the [Jerry] Sandusky trial, we felt it would be good to reach out and offer services,” Eckel said.
The group can help male students provide support for one another, Falzone said.
“The key is really outreach and education,” Eckel said. “The more information they can put out there, the more successful the group can be.”