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March 1, 2014

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March 1, 2014

Last year I took a course on Investigative Journalism at UCLA. We had an assignment to investigate and report our findings on the financial stats of our favorite nonprofits. I chose Malesurvivor.org as one of my case studies.

I was not surprised but most impressed by the findings of my
research on the internal integrity of MS and the wisdom of its administrators. MS is one of the top few nonprofits well worthy of its contributions and support, and testimonials of its life-changing impact are quite abundant in the worldwide community of male survivors of sexual assault.

MS.org offers retreats called "Weekend of Recovery" that are fully staffed and coordinated by professionals in every area of treatment, therapy, and managing the events. The expenses for these events are reflected somewhat in attendees' registration fees, but MS.org is quite generous and accommodating in providing assistance to those who request help in offsetting the registration fee.

MS.org reserves a considerable amount of money donated and forwards it on to help men attend these weekend retreats. The money goes to help men in need of assistance; this is why MS.org isn't set up with satellite offices and highly paid administrators.

I noticed a review here that accused MS.org of over-pricing its books on Amazon.com; that's Amazon.com, not MaleSurvivor.org. Well-written books on specialized areas of psychological treatment are not found in clearance bins at any store. I cut out Starbucks for 2 weeks and dropped the money in a jar to save and purchase the book I wanted.

Malesurvivor is probably not the place to work if you're seeking a high-paying job; its resources are directed to its cause.

As a resource, it stands out as a resource for men who have been sexually assaulted because:
* men can inquire anonymously
* men can discuss confidentially
* access to, and participation in, the online community (forums and chat) are immediate and require no payment or personal information
* membership is optional
* men meet others who share the experience and its symptoms
* MS.org is the gateway to endless resources
* MS.org is available 24/7, worldwide

I have volunteered and/or worked for several nonprofits over the past 30 years; MaleSurvivor towers above them all in integrity and transparency.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

I would probably seek ways for fundraising to employ more staff. It appears MaleSurvivor has not done this because, again, they direct incoming donations toward the cause rather than making life easier for administrators. They're more concerned with helping male victims of assault and less focused on growth and power; just a LITTLE dash of the latter would help the prior. Being primarily volunteer-driven, MS could use some support from more professionals in the field.

More feedback...

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

Life-changing

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2014

February 26, 2014
3 people found this review helpful

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February 26, 2014
3 people found this review helpful

As an end user, I have a number of problems with the organization/site. I wish I didn't. If you're a volunteer, the most candid, critical reviews are perhaps your best insight. Unlike administrators and staff, end users aren't beholden to the organization, its board or its agendas.

Similar to what one reviewer posted below, my impression is this organization is about money and marketing. "Nonprofit" almost seems a misnomer. Their site hawks overpriced books, CDs and DVDs via Amazon ads (45 bucks for a paperback? Really?). Their so-called "Weekends of Recovery" are expensive affairs, costing each participant $750-1150, depending on number of roommates (Treating adult men, some with SAD or PTSD, like kids at college or children at summer camp? Really?). A membership "donation" entitles you access to a rarely-used Members Only discussion board.

• Though the site was initially helpful to me, homophobic innuendo (or worse) is standard. Moderators rarely confront it, even when asked...and the gay survivor who complains is the one likely to be censored and even censured. The only MS concession is a token GBT discussion area and token gay board member. Otherwise, religious and political bigotry is well tolerated, especially in chat rooms. If you're a gay or bi survivor, this is potentially an emotionally dangerous, triggering site for you. I'd proceed with caution or avoid the site altogether.

• in 12-step programs an oft-heard litmus for dysfunction is whether a person's words and actions are the same thing. What the Executive Director says and does regarding the homophobia are two totally different things. Nice words. Zero action. He ignores it. Any organization's personality comes from the top down.

• My impression is the ED comes off as a slick salesman with a well-polished pitch to entice you to attend one of his "Weekend$". Further, board members - a perpetually closed circle - seem to be encouraged to sell the weekends. To be forthright, I would not attend, not just because of my MS experience, but because it's marketed in a remarkably similar manner to the sham "Experience Weekend" (which was also facilitated by a PhD and about as close to MLM as a so-called nonprofit can get).

• Ethically questionable for any site requesting money, MS says can demand mental health details for site use - yes, it gets stored on their server - under some circumstances, including name/phone of your therapist if you have one. The good news is that any ethical practitioner would cite being bound by patient confidentiality, refuse any MS request, laugh at their arrogance and suggest MS administrators should seek therapy themselves.

• Requests for account deletion are ignored - ostensibly because of "software limitations" - so MS can parade membership numbers. Their much-touted 12,000 membership count is misleading, if not an outright lie. It's the total number of people, since the site's inception, who have ever had an MS account. It does not reflect attrition. It does not reflect active accounts. Realistic numbers are more likely in the hundreds.

In short, this organization needs a reset, a top-to-bottom housecleaning. It's stale, entrenched and complacent. My personal experience, like some other former members who happened to be gay, is that I felt betrayed, invalidated and re-victimized. Despite being somewhat helpful, at its worst, MS operates, ironically, similarly to those organizations (the RCC, Boy Scouts, etc.) notoriously complicit in childhood sex abuse: obfuscation, dismissiveness, minimizing, two-faced, arrogant, untouchable. Even Gordon Ramsay would walk out.

A solid, ethically-operated alternative I found is 1in6.org. From their site:
"Our words are carefully chosen, because we strive to:
1. Respect every man’s experience and point of view.
2. Avoid any definitions or labels that could drive away any man who could use this site to sort through his own unique experiences and options."

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

• Transparency and a touch of humility would be a start. • Change has to come from the top. The ED and current board have to go. • Demands for personally-identifiable medical information need to be eliminated. • Workshops need to be affordable for everyone, not just those MS qualifies for special grants. • Homophobia and political bashing, overt or otherwise and particularly when cloaked by religion, needs to be unequivocally, firmly addressed in their general policies.

More feedback...

How would you describe the help you got from this organization?

A little

How likely are you to recommend this organization to a friend?

No

How do you feel you were treated by this organization?

Badly

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2014

December 31, 2013
1 person found this review helpful

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December 31, 2013
1 person found this review helpful

I suffered from intense PTSD from simply being around women. I was very suspicious of kindness, and especially female attention. What few friendships I had were strained. I was barely holding on to my job. I spent the first few hours of each day just lying in bed. A psychology student pointed me towards Male Survivor. Two years later, I'm healing, have my dream job, and even one of those healthy relationship things people talk about. The support, acceptance, and education were life changing.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Advocate MRM organizations, provide better options for gifts and apparel.

More feedback...

Will you volunteer or donate to this organization?

Definitely

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

Life-changing

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

December 24, 2013

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December 24, 2013

Bear with me as I explain my connection to MaleSurvivor.org.

I'm a single female and while surfing some offbeat websites with chat functions, a man contacted me who wanted to talk with me. He had a photo up and he was attractive, so I chatted with him online. Over time, we emailed
quite a bit, spoke on the telephone and eventually met. But the truth was, although it turned out he was very successful, he was also very erratic in his moods and really didn't like anyone to get too physically close to him. He would make dates then cancel them. This went on for months. He alluded to some childhood sexual abuse, but didn't discuss it in depth.

After about 4 months of this, I REALLY wanted to know what was going on with him, so I started looking for answers. It took me another 4 months to find the website MaleSurvivor.Org, but I'm so glad I did. I went to the discussion forums and read and read and read and read when men had posted about their feelings about their abuse, and the effects on almost every area of their lives. After a bit, I began posting and sending private messages to some of the men, the men who seemed to have the most similar symptoms to the man I was communicating with. There was one man especially, an older gentleman, who had a lot of the same issues who pointed me to about 6 or 7 books to read, and 3 movies, to help me understand. They did help me immensely, and finally, about 12 months after first contacted by my friend, I got a clue. If you haven't been abused, and haven't had a heart to heart talk with anyone who has been, it's impossible to imagine all the problems it causes, just crazy off the wall stuff an unabused person would never think of.

I will say, it was kind of hard to endure some of the remarks from the women in the "Friends and Family" section. They didn't approve of the nature of my communication with this man, and they certainly let me know it. However, when I realized I had a friend with a 12 year old boy inside of him, I couldn't refuse to communicate with the 12 year old. He was lonely and appreciated someone talking with him.

Dealing with an adult who has a child inside him, and enduring the inner conflict this engenders in a man, is no easy task. Takes the patient of Job.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

On their discussion forums, since they focus on sexual abuse, they declined to set up a discussion section for those physically abused as children, such as being beaten. This is unfortunate because I believe these forms of abuse have similar effects. One of the most pathetic men I ever spoke with in my life had been viciously beaten by his father for years as a child. The man was totally broken and lost, and he was DEFINITELY an "underserved" population.

More feedback...

Will you volunteer or donate to this organization?

Likely

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

A lot

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

December 11, 2013
1 person found this review helpful

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December 11, 2013
1 person found this review helpful

This organization is simply amazing. It's an answer to a prayer, nothing less. When I first started to deal with the things that occurred in my past and their effects on my life as an adult, I felt completely alone, isolated and afraid. Thanks to this outstanding group of people, the turnaround in my life has been nothing short of miraculous. The programs they provide are life-changing, and their discussion boards are far better than anything I ever hoped I could encounter. I can recommend no finer group of people for male sexual abuse survivors, period.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

I would not change a thing.

More feedback...

How would you describe the help you got from this organization?

Life-changing

How likely are you to recommend this organization to a friend?

Definitely

How do you feel you were treated by this organization?

Very Well

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

June 23, 2013
3 people found this review helpful

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June 23, 2013
3 people found this review helpful

THis organization has been around longer than any of the others geared to male survivors and it has a terrific group of programs including Weekends of Recovery, an intensive weekend experience with a great facilitator/survivor ratio; conferences every two years or so that welcome both survivors and professionals of all kinds; a Dare to Dream program that has been brought to venues around the country, based on an appearance of 200 male survivors (many from this organization) on Oprah!, which informs the public about the problem and encourages survivors to get help; and a website that in addition to having a lot of resources also offers a chat room and Discussion Forum where survivors can network anonymously and feel less isolated. Several of my patients have gone on a Weekend of Recovery, and the phrase "life transforming" was used by more than one. WIth time, I believe MaleSurvivor will offer services to a wider group of survivors, especially men assaulted in adulthood, as well as family and loved ones (who are, however now served on the Discussion Forum and occasional Weekends of Recovery for men and their partners). All in all, this is a vibrant program with dedicated volunteers that has done an enormous amount of good to an under-served population.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

reach out to survivors of adult sexual assault

More feedback...

How does this organization compare with others in the same sector?

Very Well

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

Life-changing

Will you recommend this organization to others?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

April 7, 2013
1 person found this review helpful

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1 previous review
September 25, 2012

As a survivor of sexual assault I was at a loss trying to find help when I was able to begin dealing the the results sexual assault was having in my life. Fortunately, I found MaleSurvivor and suppor... more

April 7, 2013
1 person found this review helpful

Working on MaleSurvivor's board, I continue to be impressed by the volunteers that support our organization. Professionals from the therapeutic community, survivors of sexual assault, and those who love the men who have been sexually assaulted continue to find ways to encourage healing.

Our 2012 conference brought together all parts of our community to learn new ways to more effectively heal and share our message of Hope, healing and support.

2013 is filled with Weekends of Recovery, more use of the website's discussion board and many opportunities to increase awareness at conferences and Dare to Dream local community events.

More feedback...

Will you volunteer or donate to this organization beyond what is required of board members?

Definitely

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

Life-changing

Will you tell others about this organization?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

September 25, 2012

As a survivor of sexual assault I was at a loss trying to find help when I was able to begin dealing the the results sexual assault was having in my life. Fortunately, I found MaleSurvivor and support of others who have been through similar experiences and could guide me in my search for healing. The Weekend of Recovery program was like a year of therapy in one weekend. The men on the discussion board board served as compassionate mentors. The very fact that this organization exists helped me know that I was not alone in my hurt. I am honored to be able to give back now as a board member.

Photos

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

Helped me find the strength to start a local peer group.

More feedback...

Will you volunteer or donate to this organization beyond what is required of board members?

Definitely

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

Life-changing

Will you tell others about this organization?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

How did you learn about this organization?

Web search

March 28, 2013
3 people found this review helpful

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March 28, 2013
3 people found this review helpful

MaleSurvivor started in the early 90's, when I looked for help in the 80's there was none. When I realized how the sexual abuse effected me as an adult MaleSurvivor was there. I have attended three weekends and it has had a positive impact on my life. The first weekend when I walked into a room of other survivors, no words were needed, we all came to understand ourselves and a connection was make. Thank you for all the men who started this org in the beginning

More feedback...

How would you describe the help you got from this organization?

Life-changing

How likely are you to recommend this organization to a friend?

Definitely

How do you feel you were treated by this organization?

Very Well

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

January 3, 2013
3 people found this review helpful

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January 3, 2013
3 people found this review helpful

This organization really only offers a discussion boards, which can be dangerous and unhelpful if you aren't in the right "clique." Their website is outdated and unhelpful and recently all they do is ask for money.

Aside from their chat boards and a few "Weekends of Recovery," which
receive mixed reviews, they don't seem to do much else.

More feedback...

How would you describe the help you got from this organization?

None

How likely are you to recommend this organization to a friend?

No

How do you feel you were treated by this organization?

Badly

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

November 14, 2012
2 people found this review helpful

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November 14, 2012
2 people found this review helpful

There's no other organization that addresses men's issues pertaining to sexual abuse. MaleSurvivor is made up of caring facilitators and therapists. I participated in two of their Weekends of Recovery and was touched and awed by the high level of compassion, concern and respect. I can't recommend this organization highly enough! Thank you.

More feedback...

How would you describe the help you got from this organization?

Life-changing

How likely are you to recommend this organization to a friend?

Definitely

How do you feel you were treated by this organization?

Very Well

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

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