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Mountain of Emotions.

Awating stronger and higher with views and heights of mountains. Where every move, turn, moment and hour, poised new sights. On a change of (inner) altitude all can feel but can't explain, an emotional embrace is called for in this (Alta) place.

Mountain after mountain wakes up a calling. A strenght of named breath of flowers, with flames ignited candles from far away places, forming healing plateaus of community-ecosystems.
Where we survivors were healing 'back ourselves' n 'our ladies'.

Abandoning feelings that safety will be slow to gain, as it was once violated nor attained. Utilizing tools to express an art needed to recreate.

Emotionally entrapped with submisivness and ab-usive in-timacy, echoing chants of smallified boundaries. Tissue throwing closeness, with an antidote of compassion soothing a long awaited need of nurture and love.

With dance that was not in vain, as it cracked and busted shame. A quiet eulogy of positive affirmation whispers, appealing dearing emotions of funeral symptoms.

You've taken me up so I can stand on mountains... You made me breathe so more I can heal... You raised me up, so more "I can be".

Testimonial from Alta 2015 participant

First, I'd like to thank you and the Team for yet another powerful and healing weekend! There are still so many areas I need to work on; I even recognized a few I didn't know I had. But, I was able, I feel, to make some real progress through some, and identifying the others is a first step in the right direction.

I can't find words to fully express my gratitude for the love, acceptance, compassion, understanding, and community I found this weekend, nor for all of the above plus the support and insights you and the facilitators always bring to the table!

Testimonial from Alta Advanced 2015 participant

I was excited about but also very reluctant about going. After all men were the reason I am in this mess ,I don't even like myself and why would I want to be around someone like that . But I paid early to force myself to go. It was enjoyable but not easy at times and sometimes completely uncomfortable. The small group was what made it for me ,to hear there stories allowed me to trust these men a bit , gave me the faith to tell my story that I had kept a secret for over forty years ,it really helped a lot . That alone made it worth it. Yes I would recommend it , and I would do it again and hope to someday.

Sequoia 2015 WOR Participant

An experience that allows you to open your heart to the possibility that the past will not define my future. The supportive nature of the weekend allows freedom to express fears without worrying about the stigma of being a male survivor.

Sequoia 2015 WOR Participant

A true gift. This weekend was powerful and transformative in ways I could NEVER have anticipated or imagined. The tools learned, friends made and support have been a boon and balm in the challenging weeks since the retreat. The experience resonates loudly in my daily life. It is awe inspiring what can take place in just a few short days. It is worth every penny, and more. I don't think there is a pricetag for the weekend.

Sequoia 2015 WOR Participant

Life changing, safe, honest and a milestone in my recovery.

Sequoia 2015 WOR Participant

I had high expectations for the weekend, and the result far exceeded my expectations! It was my first experience with other survivors. I have never felt so safe, understood, and supported in my life.

Sequoia WOR Attendee, March, 2014

Again, if you have had these horrible things done to you and you are scarred and looking for the path to peace, freedom, and real healing, you CANNOT AFFORD NOT TO get to these weekends! For the FIRST time in 33 years, I feel hopeful about my recovery, and am determined to see it through. Prior to the weekend, I had contemplated suicide 30, 50, 100 times per day...not once since I left my WoR. My wife and kids even say I look different! I have a long way to go yet, but, again, for the first time, I believe I WILL get there. To know peace? That is a concept I never expected to even, as we say, "dare to dream;" now, I know one day it will be my reality.

Sequoia WOR Attendee, March, 2014

Dare to dream really is the most accurate description of the weekend. I became used to thinking I would always have the weight of my abuse as something sad and a source of continued shame. Through the weekend, I have found I can actually find happiness and a feeling of relief I never knew was possible!

Sequoia WOR Attendee, March, 2014

Before attending the WoR, I was on a crash course with disaster. My marriage and family were bearing the weight of my abuse! Processing the experience makes me thankful the facilitators care so much! I felt like they guided me personally off the tracks of destruction! The deep dark hole of depression and self loathing have very little power over me now! Get to the next WoR, you'll leave the past where it belongs!

Hope Springs alumni, October, 2013

I travelled to WOR with feelings of uncertainty and apprehension, knowing I was finally doing something proactive about the abuse in my past, but scared at the same time. I was very moved by the introductions early on in the weekend and could already feel a bond being formed with the men I had such a profound and personal past experience with. Throughout the weekend I felt a strong sense of belonging, calm, and peacefulness. The facilitators were all very understanding, knowledgable, kind and caring. I truly believe that WOR was the perfect place for me to be to start my road to recovery, and I took away valuable lessons and tools that continue to help me on a daily basis. One of the best decisions of my life!

Hope Springs alumni, October, 2013

I was scared and anxious the week before WOR, and was physically shaking as I checked in for the weekend. My experience was nothing short of transformative. The facilitators brought us survivors together in safety, allowing us to meaningfully connect with other survivors. We shared our stories, learned and helped each other in various activities, and played like children in a way most of us probably felt we lost. I will always be grateful for the sculpting exercise and the knowledge that working through an issue I was stuck on also helped others. Finally, I left with new group of supportive friends who continue to inspire me with their stories of progress in the months since WOR.

Hope Springs alumni, October 2013

The WOR is a weekend full of emotions from being scared of the unknown to the feeling of knowing that you matter by the end of it. I was touched on how comfortable I felt from the minute I arrived. I was met with smiles and I left with those same smiles saying goodbye. The weekend is priceless. Everyone from the staff at Hope Springs to the facilitators give you an experience that is life changing. You leave with new outlook on being a male survivor. You leave with having a brotherhood that a small group of men only understand and that is empowering! I am a new man by attending. PRICELESS!!

Hope Springs 2011 Alumnus

Although it was only one weekend, it felt like years of recovery took place in those few days. It truly was a generative moment in my life and on my road to recovery.

Hope Springs 2011 Alumnus

I left my family on Friday morning not wanting go. I could never have anticipated the courage, the love, the understanding and the strength which I witnessed. I can honestly say, with complete conviction that this weekend saved my life and opened my eyes to a future I and my wife did not believe existed for us. I began the weekend a frightened man, full of shame, anger, guilt and doubt. A man longing for the little boy inside me, I left that Sunday, a little boy embarking on a journey to discover the man I was. Thank you to my brothers and thank you to the facilitator team. Thank you, I am free to play now. Thank you.

Hope Springs 2011 Alumnus

The weekend gave me an opportunity to share my experience with others and break out of my isolation. It reminded me that being a victim is a choice and that I can choose to be a survivor instead.

Hope Springs 2011 Alumnus

I went into the weekend skeptical of what changes could take place in 48 hours.....I left without the weight of shame and self-loathing. I left with a piece of my brothers to cherish, with a full heart, much lighter (almost floating), I left holding my inner childs hand, throwing wide open the inner cage that held so much pain. I am amazed with how much I really left with and now fondly think back with a smile on that weekend at the freedom I was given.

Hope Springs 2011 Alumnus

Although it was laden with pain, tears and sadness, it one of the most supportive and affirming experiences of my life.

Hope Springs 2011 Alumnus

There are not words to describe how wonderful the Weekend of Recovery is. Don't let your fears keep you from attending, by far the most mentally healthy weekend I've ever spent. Great people, beautiful location, fantastic food, I didn't want to leave.

Hope Springs 2011 Alumnus

Weekend Of Recovery was like group therapy, camp, and a personal retreat all in one weekend. I enjoyed and learned Nov 9, 2011 9:15 AM so much from the counselors, my fellow brothers, and from myself.

Hope Springs 2011 Alumnus

MaleSurvivor Weekend of Recovery helped me in so many ways. I discovered that I am not alone...that I don't have to escape reality to 'live' my life. Coming away from the weekend, I found myself becoming more and more present in my life. I gained invaluable tools I can now employ to help me out of some really dark places. I feel like the experience saved- -and salvaged--my life.

Hope Springs 2011 Alumnus

Be prepared to face the realities of the world as that is what the Advanced WOR has done for me. Triggering at first but yet empowering after completing the exercises and projects during the weekend.

The Weekend of Recovery is the single most powerful recovery tool I have ever found. The man I am today and the joy I have in my life is in large part due to my participation in this program.

I learned the difference between feeling safe and being safe plus how to ensure I am safe.

The MaleSurvivor Weekends of Recovery have been a place where I have found great freedom in my life, allowing me to open up and share with other men the truth of my life. The Weekends represent a sacred space, and I honour and treasure this space within my heart.

I'm glad I came all the way from Denmark, it was worth every cent and I've advanced to a higher level of awareness and enjoy the effects everyday, thanks!

The WoR's That I have attended have been a life changing experience for me; extremely crucial to my recovery. I feel blessed to have been able to attend. The facilitators team are well trained to help us in understanding any issues that may arise during the weekend. The bond created with other survivors is indescribable. My life have definitely changed for the better. Thank you MS for putting on such a wonderful and well organized program! You will always have my infinite appreciation.

Every single WOR has seemed perfectly timed to address a pressing issue for me and has given me, I swear, helpful tools for addressing those issues. Every time. And none were as scary as that first time.

WORs have been essential to my recovery. The combination of associating with other male survivors along with the insights of the facilitators is a tremendous healing experience.

The most amazing three days on your path of recovery!

It was a gift to my recovery to be in a safe and supportive environment with other healing men - knowing that we have survived the worst and can heal together

To All, You dared me to look inside myself. You dared me to share what I saw. You dared me to become aware of my feelings. You dared me to share those feelings with you. You dared me to hear another man's story. You dared me to connect with him and share his pain. You dared me to tell my story. You dared me to share my pain with you. You dared me to connect with little Matt. You dared me to let him play. You dared me to dream!

Ever since I started this journey last November I have been taking steps. Baby steps, medium steps, large steps, backwards steps, sideways steps. Always steps, but never more than steps. At Hope Springs 32 men and 3 women held my hand and dared me to leap. I leapt, landed safely and leapt again. Each of you have a special place in heart. Each of you brought and shared something unique. Each of you were individuals. Together you were my family. I will always remember and celebrate the 4th weekend in October as my rebirth day.

Your friend and brother,
Hope Springs alumnus 2011

I operated my entire life since age 9 in the shadow of a shame that I didn't know existed. I thought I was a unique individual with unique thoughts, unique feelings and though I tried to act differently, a unique lonliness that was mine and mine alone. I didn't even notice my inability to have a relationship, with ANYONE, let alone my wife of 23 years, that wasn't built on humor and sarcastic remarks. No real concerns, no real caring, no real intimacy, no real feelings. Welcome to my wall. In the words of Pink Floyd - I was Comfortably Numb.

I've never felt as connected, at peace and understood as I did with each of you. I felt an honest and real connection with every interaction, whether it was a shared story, a comment on something I said or a simple look into the eyes of someone else, one of you, that simply said, "I know, me too".

I changed last week. You were all instrumental in that change. Every word that left your lips either inspired me, gave me clarity, gave me reassurance, gave me hope, gave me strength or gave me an overwhelming sense that things would NEVER be the same again.

I too cried on the way home and could not speak as I choked back a lifetime of shame and fear that belonged to a boy that needed someone to finally come his aid, and suddenly realized that help came in the form of a circle of chairs and open hearts. The boy was me, the circle (unbroken and strong) was you, and the words being choked back were being spoken to my wife, in the most honest and open exchange I ever allowed myself to have.

A collective empowered spirit was created through the opening of each of our hearts last weekend. A wellspring of strength that each of us poured into and can now draw from whenever we need it. I am so truly grateful for each of you. Every last one.

Enjoy your morning. Enjoy your day. Enjoy your life. I will truly honor each of you by enjoying mine.

I just wanted to send a quick note of thanks to the MaleSurvivor Weekends of Recovery Facilitator team for the incredible Weekend of Recovery. And it was just that. I came in skeptical that my abuse measured up to everyone else's and that there was no way possible that I would make a real connection to my emotions or to other men. The weekend blew me away. All my fears and skepticism were answered and I truly believe that it's ok for me just to be me and that I don't have to beat myself up for those things which I cannot control. I made that emotional connection to my inner-self and now understand how the abuse impacted my life. I feel included. I understand there other men just like me and I feel loved for who I am.

Thank you for giving me back my life.

- Dahlonega Alumnus, May, 2011

I've been thinking about sending this email since we returned from Alta, I have just felt like I have so much to say and maybe not all the words. Thank you. Seriously, I am so grateful that you all agreed to have this conference include couples, and that you put so much time and effort into making it an incredible experience. It was life changing for me and for my husband and for our relationship. I felt like I really took my heart home with me. The whole weekend felt like all these little experiences for my heart to feel and express and open up in safety. It was a kind of stealth operation you all put into action; I did not even know it was happening...it completely included my mind, heart and body and went oddly deep, breaking through many blocks I didn't know I had. It was a very challenging experience for me, and so very real. I feel like I am experiencing a new life right now...a very true life if you will, one that I've been longing for with myself and my husband. The 'body work' and 'shame busting' was the most profound, but I feel they would not have been nearly as impacting without all of the other components. And...I was not an immediate believer. I was super iffy about our small groups being both survivors and partners, even though it actually ended up being amazing and diverse and enlightening. I wasn't sure I was going to identify with anyone else, and it ended up not mattering AND I identified more than I thought. SO, the short of the long is thank you...a profound thank you. 'Cause I really feel like I caught just a glimpse of the concentrated time and heart it obviously took for you all to put this weekend together. You have full-time jobs and full-time families and it was such a precisely thoughtful retreat (as I'm sure all of them are that you put on). I am a grateful recipient, an honored recipient...I will truly never forget this experience, it has sprung me into a new realm of life, freedom and confidence.

- Participant, Alta 2010

My Weekend of Recovery at the Kempenfelt Conference Center was all that I expected and more! I learned so much about myself and am going way with such a peace and clear vision for what I need to continue to work on. In addition, I left a huge chunk of my anger towards one of my abusers. The sculpturing activity enabled me to find, identify and work on that anger. Also, I felt a huge weight lifted off my shoulders when I shared my story with my small group. At this weekend I felt for the first time that I was truly understood. The connection I made with other survivors was immediate and profound. There is an understanding between survivors that is magical and healing! Thank you so much for supporting these weekends. I am already planning on attending the 2011 weekend in Santa Cruz, which will be in my time zone this time!

- Participant, Kempenfelt 2010

Not what I expected at all. To describe the acceptance, the drive to validate and secure survivors, the deep sense of compassion and empathy felt there, a smile just started inside of me, and is still growing. I am in a commity of fellow survivors, I am accepted, I am retaken from the abuse and the resentment. I floated all the way home, and still find it difficult to touch the ground. Just go

- Participant, Dahlonega May 2010

I had to overcome my own resistance to come to the WOR. I had a need to minimize my experience: That's for folks who are really far gone…..I’m OK, I get by, my abuse, if you can call it that wasn’t so bad,etc……….Anyone who has begun to acknowledge that CSA may have happened to them or that theynare struggling with issues involving of anger, intimacy, commitment, feeling alone unloved or unlovable, restricted in relationships, difficulties in job or career, or making healthy decisions for himself owes it to himself to consider coming to one of these workshops. In the healing process there is no substitute for a caring, supportive community and Howard and his team are consummate in their creation of a safe environment in which each can benefit from the others. They know that the power of the group is greater than the sum of its parts and they facilitate an atmosphere where healing can and does take place. Every aspect of the workshop was attended to with care and concern for our safety and well-being. It was one of the most beneficial and powerful few days of my life and now - a full month afterward, I am still in daily correspondence with those who were complete strangers to me before the weekend.

- Participant, Dahlonega May 2010

I know I'm still being very gentle with myself- I'm still feel healing unfolding inside me like a flower opening to the sun.

I'm still full of amazement at the courage and healing I saw in all of you guys too.

And still absolutely floored that our facilitators provided this space and opportunity for us. My therapist had attended a presentation by Howard once and told me that it was clear to him how much thought and care goes into the weekend and how much the facilitators care. It helped me feel safe to make take the risk to come. But even then I didn't have any conception of what my experience with them would be like- how healing. Never have I let anyone so close (well outside of individual therapy and that didn't happen until last year- after 7 long years with him) and I knew my trusting them was safe on a deep fundamental level. That they do this without monetary compensation touched me deeply from the start and served to increase my trust. They were there because they care and want to be there. They had no agenda other than to be there for us. They wanted nothing from me other than for me to get what I needed for healing. Period. Who knew that there were such people in the world?? I never knew. You could have described such a person to me and I wouldn't have believed you.

I never knew life could be like this. It's as if I lived on a cold, barren island, scraping out what little sustenance I could, never knowing anything but that existence, never even being able to imagine that there could be anything other than that. I got in a boat- what seemed like a risky boat- and sailed to a lush, verdant, peaceful mainland. I feel my inner child saying "you mean I can live here? are you sure?? will it last?" My adult is saying "yes, we can live here. It's not a perfect land. There will be work to do: tilling land, protecting myself from certain things, days when there will be clouds. But still in all, where we can live now offers so much sustenance, warm sunshine, beauty and we wont be alone anymore." All my life has been a struggle just to stop hurting. I would have been happy to just not hurt. That there is so much more to life- its a revelation.

- Participant, Dahlonega April 2010

Special people like the Dahlonega facilitator team make the world a brighter place. My warm appreciation for all you’ve given of your time, your energy and most of all yourselves. Your wisdom and caring from the heart helped lifts spirits and guide us in a new direction of hope, joy, love and fun. Its wonderful people like you that shine in our lives with warm rays of sunshine. This warmth of compassion has empowered me to discover my own personal truth that will undoubtedly be painful before giving me freedom. Your gift helping survivors truly allows us to dream, breakdown the walls of our inner prison of confusion, fear, and depression. Most of all, the emotional discovery I experienced at WOR opened my mind and enhanced my awareness about the truth of our unique histories of our childhood traumas. Also, I learned how to better connect with my feelings and my inner child. I have deprived my little boy way to long of love, caring, and keeping him safe. I no longer will I have to carry this heavy burden of CSA for that I have found a brotherhood that will provide me support and hope. We share a common bond in which there are no judgments or prejudices’, just caring and compassion. Nothing inspires gratitude like a kind heart and a caring spirit. Thank you all so much!

- Participant, Dahlonega April 2010

"The weekend was the best thing I could have done for myself. I wish I had done it a few years ago. The facilitators created an atmosphere of trust and openness and felt our pain along with us. A wonderful bond was formed with other survivors and I now have understanding friends that I can help support and will help support me. The weekend passed too quickly and ended too soon but I left feeling like a great load had been lifted and with new energy to move forward on the road to recovery."

- Participant, Hope Springs 2009

"The MaleSurvivor Weekends of Recovery have provided me an opportunity to step away from the distractions of life to focus on my healing. Working with an incredibly caring team of facilitators and sharing my recovery experience with other survivors has been among the most powerful experiences of my life. To be in an environment where you have no need censor your life story, no need to be ashamed of what others did to you, and to be accepted for the individual you are is absolutely amazing. This nurturing, healing environment is something every survivor should experience."

- Participant, Hope Springs Level I, October 2009

"I feel so fortunate that I learned about the Male Survivor organization when I did. I did not realize that there are so many other people in this world who understood how I felt as a male victim of sexual abuse. My participation in the Weekend of Recovery retreat has had a huge positive impact on me. From the moment I arrived at the retreat I felt supported, protected, respected, and honored. The facilitators were phenomenal. Very caring, knowledgeable, and intuitive. The whole weekend is built around creating a safe environment that allows each participant to share and participate as much as they choose. Mixed in with the small and large group meetings was time for quiet walks, mindful meditations, personal time to reflect, and conversations over good meals."

"I left the retreat a new person, a person with new vision of healthiness. A person who has a renewed courage and the strength needed to continue walking on the challenging path toward healing. I cannot thank the Male Survivor organization and especially Sandi, Rob, Don, Mikele, Andy, Jim, Paul, and Howard enough for sharing this wonderful gift. If you are a male victim of sexual abuse do not be afraid to attend a Weekend of Recovery. It will change your life for the good."

- Participant, Hope Springs WOR, Level I, October 2009

"I came to the weekend skeptical that anything could be done for me. I figured what did I have to lose. Oddly, after standing before an unknown group of men on Friday, something that would normally terrorize me, and introducing myself at the safety/introduction exercise, was something that became rather easy for me to do. Maybe I actually felt more safe than I thought I did at the time. All of the exercises we worked at on Friday and Saturday were hard. By the middle of the day on Saturday, while sitting in my small group I felt I almost couldn't take anymore, I was so overloaded with new thoughts of what might be. I was ready to run. I spoke with one of the facilitators (thanks Mikele) and she encouraged me to stay and encouraged to speak about my feelings in my small group. Wow! My small group came to support me, and stuck with me through what I was sure was going to be a scary Saturday night. It was the best time of my life. For the first time, I got to be a little boy. And for the first time, I got to play with other little boys and we all accepted each other. It was AWESOME! Weeks later, I remember the weekend like it was yesterday. I re-read my notes, remember what I learned in my small group (thanks, Jim, our last meeting on Sunday was mind-blowing). I also remember to be mindful and to breathe, and when I feel unsafe, to step out until I do feel safe in any situation. My journey is still long, but I will never forget the eight facilitators, who gave up three days to help me start my journey, and those who taught me things about myself that I never knew. I wonder, now, what else is out there for me. I am thankful."

- Participant, Hope Springs, October 2009

"I can't go without thanking you for all your caring efforts and commitment to providing such a safe place for survivors to heal within. I want to thank you and all the other facilitators from the bottom of my heart. In so many ways I learned, grew, and healed as a result of this past weekend. I gained many insights about myself in the small group and certainly healed much while I was there. The WoRs are an invaluable resource for us survivors. I cannot thank you enough for what you do Howard. I hope to see you again."

- Participant, Hope Springs, October 2009

"The acknowledgment of what was done to me, the nurturing environment in which I felt held and protected, the care, respect and trustworthiness of the facilitators and staff, and the acceptance I felt from my fellow survivors throughout the whole weekend all had a great healing effect upon me. I have changed for the better as a result of those 51 hours I spent at Hope Springs. It was the best thing I've ever done with 51 hours of my life by far. Take it from someone who's been afraid of his own shadow for most of his life, you can do this, and you won't regret it when you do. It will be a challenge to each survivor in his own way I'm sure, but doing this one thing for yourself and for your recovery from sexual abuse will mean so much to you. It is a gift which would be great for all male survivors to give to themselves at least once in their lives. If this testimonial makes it to the website and you're reading this, please consider giving that gift to yourself if you can. Best regards, from a fellow male survivor and alumnus, Hope Springs 2009 WOR."

- Participant, Hope Springs, 2009

"The most important thing that I learned, or perhaps accepted in my heart, was that I am not alone with my experiences as a male survivor of sexual abuse. I was able to share my experience without judgment and open up a bit more with some of the men who attended. I also met some wonderful people who helped me overcome some of my fears in regards to relationships with other men. I know the journey will provide more challenges along the way but keeping in contact with other men from the weekend has already helped a great deal - and the retreat was only a couple of weeks ago! I actually loved the fact that the weekend wasn't geared toward just gay men or just straight men, that sexual orientation was irrelevant. Yes, that was a challenge for me on some level but male sexual abuse isn't about sexual orientation and I appreciated the fact that it just didn't matter. It was simply great to have 23 men share one common bond and experience healing in one place. Thank you!"

- Participant, Hope Springs, 2009

"I was scared going up to the retreat but once I got there I felt safe. I felt taken care of. I met a lot of great guys and learned a lot about myself and them. My WOR was transformative - probably the most transformative retreat I have ever been on, and I've been on a number of them. The facilitators were excellent - caring, competent, loving, encouraging and inspiring. They are very accepting and able to challenge you when you need it. Their insight is extraordinary. It was a time for me to stop everything I was doing and everything in my head, all the negative thoughts and just breathe and be there for myself and by doing that I was able to be there for others. The retreat wouldn't exist if there were not survivors to attend."

- Participant, Kempenfelt, July 2009

"I just wanted to let you know how grateful I am to you and the other facilitators for the gifts that you have given me. The weekend was so important to me I can't really put it into words except to say that I've never felt so good about who I am. I'm so full of hope and love that I'm ready to burst. I know that life will continue to throw challenges my way but I truly believe that I'll never look back. The courage and kindness that I felt throughout the weekend has touched me deeply. I now know what it's like to love and be loved unconditionally and if I get hit by a bus tomorrow I will die a happy man. Thank you just doesn't seem to be enough."

- Participant, Kempenfelt, July 2009

"I am still flying high from the weekend. I just can't put into words how meaningful the last few days have been in my life. I finally found what I was searching for all of this time: true brothers. Men like me. Men who get me. Men who have had similar life histories and who have dealt with it courageously. I am proud, honored, and strengthened beyond what I thought was possible just to know you all. I am a new man because I have you as my brothers. I will always honor the bond we share and hope you will all stay in touch. I promise I will do the same. I am always here for each of you."

"And I wanted to say thank you again to Howard, Jim, Rob, Lee, Lynne, & Sandi. What an enormous gift you have given me! I can never thank you enough for volunteering your time and your hearts to help me heal. I will never forget it. THANK YOU! A MILLION TIMES THANK YOU!!!"

- Participant, Kempenfelt, July 2009

Imagine, you find a place where you all share a bond. It doesn't matter what designer you wear, what car you drove, or race or religion, or sexual orientation; but a place where people cared, a place where you could breathe and be heard.

Imagine, you are all united, laughing, crying, sharing, and caring. Imagine there are facilitators that want to listen and they truly care! Imagine, just taking time for yourself and no one will judge!

Imagine leaving here with a renewed hope, knowing you have true brothers who care, and mean it but want nothing in return, but to know you are well.

We all deserve this!

- Participant, Sequoia WOR, March 2009

I was anxiously looking forward to the WOR for over three months. I had heard of its impactful benefits from several Survivors who had been to WORs. I needed to hear what others have experienced, how they have dealt with their issues, in a totally safe and nurturing setting. I wanted to know if I was just an outcast in my feelings and experiences.

What I found was a treasure of rewards. The ratio of facilitators to Survivors was very reassuring and added a far more personal touch than I expected. It was clear that a tremendous amount of thought and planning had preceded the WOR.The flow of the weekend was easy, almost rhythmic. The music was a great touch and helped open my feelings and prepare me for each event.

The small group sessions was where the real meat was. I have been in a number of forums similar in size and hoped for comraderie, but none came close to the emotional high of this group. The level of bonding and empathy was something I have never experienced with any group. We cried , we laughed, and we learned and gained strength from one another. The saddest part of my whole weekend was saying good by to my small group friends. But, I came away from that group a healthier more inspired person.

The setting in the spectacular redwoods was the perfect venue. As they reach for the sky, so did we. In short, the take home value of the WOR was enormous. I am still, a month later, feeling its positive effects.

- Participant, Sequoia WOR, March 2009

"One of the best FIRST THINGS I could have done for myself. After being so alone for so many years with my secret, it was and remains such a positive experience for me. I felt NORMAL for the first time. I am Normal (ok, a bit off maybe) What was Done TO me was not normal, and in that I am one member of a brotherhood of men who unfortunately share the same experience. We are normal. Not just me, but WE."

"I emerged from the WoR empowered to take back my life, and to use that power to help other men. I grew from the experience of meeting other men like me, and wanting more opportunity to meet and know men like me. I'm no longer afraid of meeting men like me. I learned from the WoR how to focus the process of my healing. I learned that its ok to feel again after so many years of being numb. I felt connected."

- Mysthaven Participant, November 2008

"Go. Attend one of these workshops. It has changed my life for the better. Period. It no doubt will be hard and difficult work to participate, but the organizers and facilitators understand this by making it a safe and comfortable environment. To see by the end of the weekend, how we all grew in some way, in some fashion, is a tremendous sight. You will be guided if you will let yourself to be guided. You will grow if you let yourself grow. Take the chance and let yourself experience all that a WoR has to offer. I and others have taken this small step and so can you. We are not alone anymore. I now have all of the wonderful faces of my fellow attendees, my Brothers, anchored in my mind forever."
- Kirkridge Participant, 2008

"The more that time passes, the more that I realize just how great of an experience was the WOR. Everything was so well thought out from the opening to closing ceremonies. I noticed a lot of nice little touches and appreciate them all. The best part of the WOR is that at no time whatsoever did I feel judged in any way. I cannot recall ever being in such an atmosphere before. I learned and benefited a lot through connecting with other malesurvivors. Things have opened up for me and my recovery is accelerating."
- Mysthaven Participant, November 2008

"With this being my third weekend of recovery. I notice that people arrive apprehensive and leave strong. It is truly beautiful to see people starting to reclaim their lives at these weekends of recovery! If you truly want to take control of your life, invest a weekend. I have never met anyone who went to any of these weekends who regretted it. Not one person! I would like all the facilitators to know how much I truly appreciate the sacrifice they make to attend these weekends. Never mind all the preparation that they do before and after! Most have practices and take their own time to help others. They are heroes in my world."
- Mysthaven Participant, November 2008

"I really wanted to thank you and your team. You guys are truly hero's. Yes you are doing and giving what you have to give. Yes you have all of your stuff and getting through it takes just as much of a lifetime in some ways. Yes you put one leg of your pants on one at a time(notice I didn't say socks). But seriously, you guys are the dark night--in a way. You will be whatever is needed for me and everyone else to heal. You will be that light for me and others--as well as for yourselfs. I admire the shit out of you guys---and I generally don't "admire" much--stand and appreciate--yes--honor--yes---hero type feeling and awe---not so much. But you guys are really doing something special and amazing and I am so grateful for you guys. The will it takes to create that weekend and get in as much as possible--simply mindboggling. With all the resistance and fear--all the "trust" stuff. Seriously you guys kick ass like a seal team of recovery(I love using masciline terminology)."
- Alta 2008 Advanced Weekend of Recovery Participant

"It was an amazing weekend. All the the workshops, and the energy and insights of everyone was really supportive and inspiring. I loved all of it. The weekend helped me to see what I always had within me, but I was unaware and/or afraid to embrace it. Not feeling entitled or worthy or deserving enough or capable of claiming my personal power. But that has changed. I'm beginning to find my center of balance. I now embrace my personal power. I am beginning to establish, assert, discover, recognize, accept, believe in, realize, rely on, be secure in my sense of personal power. I have a right and responsibility to it. It is very freeing to know this. Good-bye to the guilt and shame that crippled me for years. That weird sense of duty and obligation that I had to take care of others before taking care of myself, or they won't like me or hurt me in some way. I want to give because I WANT to give, not because I feel I HAVE to. I can only give freely when I learn to give to myself first. The simple act of saying no when I mean no, yes when I mean yes. Feeling confident that I will not abandon myself. I will always be there for myself. Taking care of myself in a healthy way. Being real. Being genuine. Being honest and true to myself. Being authentic and loving myself for it. It takes guts sometimes. Courage. Faith in myself. Part philosophy, psychology, and sprituality. Very deep stuff."

"I had always been a bit apprehensive when it comes to participating in the WORs, but it feels so secure and all of the other participants are there for the same purpose, to work on healing. I've been able to open up and discuss situations in my life that are troubling for me; things that I've not discusses openly before. The feeling of safety at the WOR is so all encompassing that participation is effortless. The facilitators are so caring and compassionate and really understand the problems that so many male survivors of sexual abuse face on a daily basis. I've gone to a few of these WORs and every time I've come away with some new tools to help me in my everyday life and help me heal and move forward with my life. I've become more open about my feelings, more comfortable sharing both my successes and my failures. I am no longer ashamed of what happened to me. I was just a boy who did the best that he could done and survived. I've moved from simply surviving what happened to me to being empowered by my own perserverance to overcome a lot of the obstacles that I've put in the way of my healing."
- Participant, Alta 2008 Advanced Weekend of Recovery

"First of all, I would have to say, "Attend the very next Weekend of Recovery if there is anyway possible." The weekend of recovery is well worth the expense and effort involved. Consider if you would the amount of pain and shame you deal with from day to day. Also consider how much time, if any, you have spent in therapy. I personally have spent years in therapy and I can tell you in all truthfulness that this one weekend help me in ways that therapy never did. Not only did I truly learn that I am not alone, I also learned that I am a worthwhile person. Because there was a whole group of men who placed value on me. If I were not worthwhile, they never would have done that. I also learned more about myself and am convinced that I am a loveable person."

"I want to thank all the facilitators for your courage, your spirit and your generosity which was reflected in every aspect of the weekend. I came here hesitant and hopeful, unsure of what to expect or even if I could trust anyone enough to allow myself to be helped. I have been deeply changed. For brief moments I have caught glimpses of what healthy is. I've seen it in the joyous, loose laughter around me, and I've felt it in the small, almost atomic scale vibrations of hope and faith awakening in my soul. Thank you for providing this opportunity."

"It was the safest retreat I've ever been to. I never felt, for even an instant, that anyone was at risk. The process was empowering and supportive. I connected with other guys powerfully. I'm still corresponding with most of them in a supportive and nurturing way. These people (MaleSurvivor) really care about us! Our boundaries were respected, defenses were respected, and the ability to take a time out to get grounded was respected and supported. I thoroughly recommend this retreat to anyone wanting a fuller, happier, healthier, more fulfilling life!"

"What an incredibly powerful, healing experience. I'm so grateful that I went, in spite of how uncertain I was that something like this would work for me. I got so much out of being with a group of amazing men really dealing with these hard issues, and caring about and supporting each other. The facilitators were amazing, caring, affirming, sincere. I never imagined that I'd be able to be so open and I got in touch with stuff I had never been able to get to in therapy. I left with a feeling of peace and joy, and have a real sense of excitement about the work I need to do next to deal with the many ways that my sexual abuse has impacted my life."

"Prior to this weekend, I thought the best I could hope for was learning to live with my pain and alienation. I now know that not only is recovery possible, it is something I will achieve. Thank you for making that possible."

"My weekend at Pema Osel Ling had a powerful impact by allowing me to deal with the pain and emotional scars of my abuse and is an essential part of my recovery. Today, I'm not afraid to say to my therapist and group in Seattle, that I'm a Survivor of Male Sexual Abuse. But most of all, I have the right to express my grief with tears and yet still be proud of myself as a man."

"The challenges you will face attending one of these weekend are not insubstantial, but the rewards you will reap from having the strength and the courage to open yourself up to this experience are immeasurable. I came in feeling nervous and scared, and left feeling stronger and more confident than I can ever remember feeling. I know it sounds like magic happens at these weekends, but in reality, it's not magic, it's a magical combination of hard working and courageous men, highly skilled and overwhelmingly supportive facilitators, and a natural setting that allows for peaceful contemplation of some very difficult emotions. I know now that I am not alone, I spent a weekend getting to know 28 other men who I could look at and recognize parts of myself in. It was humbling, it was uplifting, and it was overwhelming at times. If you are considering signing up, don't let your fears or skepticism turn you away. Give yourself the opportunity to at least experience the people and the power of all that healing in one concentrated weekend. It could change your life. Without question, this was one of the most important experiences of my life. I achieved every goal I set for myself, and still feel the positive effects of my experience. The facilitators were outstanding. MY small group was perfectly picked. And I am still in close contact with a number of my brothers from the weekend"

"This was one of the hardest decision I have ever made about attending. But it paid off big time in my life. I have never felt as whole as a man until I heard from other men who experienced what I did as a child. I no longer wondered if I was crazy or weird. I found hope." Hope Springs participant, October 2008

A letter to the Weekends of Recovery Chairperson:
Just a brief "Thank You" for such a wonderful, life changing weekend of recovery at Sequoia. The greatest growth in my life has always surfaced from the greatest pain. You are such a blessing to all the male survivors who dare to journey down that path. You and your team have created an environment of trust, safety and accountability that has forever changed me. I spoke with you and told you I didn't feel I could handle the journey because of my personal life. I challenged myself and I am so proud of myself for doing that. I had numerous breakthroughs and came home a changed MAN. I entered Sequoia with the heart that I didn't MATTER. I left knowing that I MATTER! I could go on and on with my gratitude, I think you get my point. The passion that you and your team share with the insider survivors is priceless!! I Matter!

Participant, Sequoia Weekend of Recovery, March 2008
This testimonial was received also from a Sequoia Participant, March 2008, on his arrival home:
Words truly fail me. I cannot thank you all enough. Please convey my gratitude, my sincere thanks to Mikele, Sandi, Ernesto, Bill, Lee, Jim and Dale. I honestly did not know what to expect coming into the weekend. I was scared, I felt alone, I was skeptical. And now, sitting here at home on Monday afternoon, I feel like a whole different person. I feel alive. I feel strong. I feel hopeful. I feel loved. I feel worthwhile. I feel good enough for me. This was truly a transformational weekend for me. The energy, the blessed life giving energy we created among ourselves was nothing short of miraculous and life-giving. I believe I had at least 6 separate and distinct breakthroughs this weekend. More than in many months of therapy. Tonight I will sit down with my wife and go through the weekend, go through what I learned, go through what I experienced, and most importantly go through my "bridge to home" worksheet. I have already had contact with my new brothers, and I and we will maintain that. Perhaps my greatest fear was maintaining and fostering this healing energy upon return home, but I now know that I can and I will.

During the weekend, I wrote:

On Friday: A dark corner of Hell
On Saturday:
No, I did not turn out okay.
I am a husband, not a son.
I am a son, not a husband.
And you were never a parent.
On Sunday:
My pilot light is rekindled. I am flying towards recovery on powerful wings.

This weekend has been THE most powerful, positive influence in my life. We all did the work, the facilitators, the participants. I know that the facilitators have to re-integrate from this powerful experience into their lives as well, and I really wanted to communicate with you each and all how very, very wonderfully important this has been for me and how changed I am. My wife said to me when she saw me this morning:
"you look lighter. Lighter physically, and there is a light in your face, and there is light coming from inside you."

I began anxious and nervous and was weepy from the start. Probably because being there meant I was acknowledging that I needed help with this. I was not doing well going alone. I kind of saw that as a person failure and was very sad that my life needed something this drastic. After it finally started and I began to realize I was not alone in that feeling as well I felt better. As the weekend continued and the changes began to form in me I began to feel hope and peace for the first time. It was amazing and it happened with out my doing anything about it. It just developed inside me. At that last small group I was able to shed some pain and shame and I have not been able to do that in 50 years. I don't even have the words for what I felt. Maybe joy for the first time. Acceptance and like I was not a freak or different anymore.

I have been back a few weeks and have calmed down a bit. Seen my T a few times now. According to him I seem to have gone from the 'Getting Over' stage to the 'Getting On' stage since coming home. That should tell you something.

To say that the Sequoia WoR was helpful to me is to say wings are helpful for birds. I have never felt so human, so real, so alive, and so free in all my life. I still have some darkness in the corners but you have taught me how to light candles.
- Participant, Sequoia WOR, March 2008

"I attended the Alta 2007 WoR...it changed my life...the past 4 months has been a rollercoaster, but only because I left there with the first real hope that my life would be different...I still have a ways to go, but at least I am now headed there, instead of being stuck, like I had been for years."

"I attended with great fear and anxiety and really enjoyed it. I think anyone considering a WOR but scared should tuck the fear away and go. It helped move my recovery forward leaps and bounds. There was so much (safe) love in the room/weekend that it was so healing for me."

"I attended the Alta 2007 weekend as well. I can usually only describe it as a "life altering experience" because the number of ways that it changed my life for the better is simply staggering. There are so many positive things that I took out of it. Establishing trust, shame busting, and forging friendships are among the biggest for me. If you have the opportunity to go, I highly doubt you'll regret it. The weekends are a truly amazing experience."

"I've attended 2 weekends of recovery - I, like many others, highly recommend them - there are many different aspects to the weekend (and no 2 weekends are exactly the same - many here have been to multiple weekends) - they do work in large group and small group settings - they use many different therapy methods (some even include art, music and body movement) - there is a team of over 10 facilitators there all weekend to keep things safe and focused - they even have a safe room that you can go to if things get to overwhelming or you just need to get away and talk 1 on 1 with a facilitator - the settings they hold their weekends at are just beautiful and very peaceful (I've been to Peebles, Ohio and Alta, Utah - both are simply beautiful settings for being able to open up emotionally and feel safe) - the food is always excellent - I could go on and on...
- it's just such a life changing experience..."

"For me, I got more out of 1 weekend of recovery than I got out of a year and a half of Therapy.
I remember how nervous I was about this going into my first recovery weekend - but... you know what? - the other guy in my room was just as scared as I was - I guess our mutually being scared just kind of melted the fear between us both very fast as we realized that we were both there for exactly the same reasons and both had the same fears - we both slept great that weekend.
The facilitator team there is very good at noticing those who are struggling in any way and will work with them 1 on 1 to help them through it."

"I was so nervous, I almost turned around twice, while driving to Ohio. When I decided to go to Peebles, all the fears came rushing at me. I had spent almost 8 months in my house. When I finally got to the center, I put on a great front. No one would see just how nervous I was. As the first group meeting started, it was clear that everyone there wanted all of us to feel safe. The staff allowed us to set our own rules, they asked "what will make you feel safe?" That was a big first step, we got to set the rules, based on our fears and worries. They write them down and post them for the whole weekend. From that point on, we started to try and open up. It wasn't easy, but I have to say, I loved it. Yes we had awkward moments, we had some free time and that forced me to socialize. The staff has done these WOR's 19 times, I promise you, they have dealt with all the possible problems that may come up.

By the end of the weekend, I had become so comfortable, I didn't want to leave. It truly was a life changing event in my life. I hope you will sign up for a WOR, you will not regret it. Do everything you can to get to one. It will not be the end of recovery for you, but it can be a major stepping stone."

"I was at the weekend in Peebles, OH, last year too. It was very positive and I was very scared on the drive over! The feeling of being in a room full of survivors who all looked so normal was amazing. I suppose I expected everyone to be like I fell/felt inside :-) I was worried about how I'd react to having an unknown roommate in an unknown place too. Someone suggested that I talk to him about it, so I did - and he told me he'd watch out for me! How wonderful to know there was an adult man there who knew what I'd experienced and knew how important it was to feel safe.

I think that was the best part of the weekend for me. Everyone understood, there was no need to hide from "it," and we all made safety a priority - watched out for each other and our selves. Pretty amazing!"

"I attended the weekend at Peebles in 07. I was very nervous. I found that it was well worth the temporary feelings I was having. What I found was that there is no where else that healing of what we went through as boys can be dealt with but by people who understand it and have gone through it too. The level of healing and help is beyond what anyone can explain. You set the rules to make it safe for you, speak up and say what you need. YOU'RE worth it. Go for it."

"I went in full of anxiety and fear of bringin up too much that I would leave more damaged than I come in. But, actually I learned more than I ever imagined about sexual abuse and the people who are survivors. I was amazed at the age ranges, sizes, shapes, and experiences that were at the meeting. Any idea that somehow "I caused this to happen" was immediately impossible to concieve, because there were way too many variables and experiences with hundreds of separated situations. My shame was engulfed by 28 survivors who allowed me to experience myself without shame. Now, I can do it without them. I'm not the kind of person that emails everyday, but I feel the "kindess" of the group as part of my pschye now, and know without a doubt, I am not alone. Highly recommend to anyone, no matter what they're situation."
Participant, Sequoia WOR, March 2008

"Attending the WoR was a HEALING EXPERIENCE FOR ME. I don't think I ever felt more at ease around other people/survivors/men/guys/gals/people in authority. I felt loved, I felt believed, I felt like a REAL PERSON. I am a good person! I just never believed these things about me. I have a purpose and it will be worth all the time and effort it takes on my part to find that purpose."
- Sequoia WOR Participant, March, 2008

"Each man on the weekend has a different experience. Some call it transformative. I think of it like being given a roadmap and some tools to travel down it. It's kind of like AAA for survivors. By being very present to my own feelings and the feelings of the men there, I was able to explore some of the deepest pain I've ever felt related to my abuse. From there, I've been able to open myself up to healing. Oh, and expert to make some great friends."
- Participant, Sequoia Weekend of Recovery, March 2008

"This has been one of the peak, most dramatic, most helpful and life giving experiences of my life. I made at least 7 breakthroughs that I know of at the WOR. I made friends, real, true friends, that I will have forever. I shared my life and experience with other men in an environment of safety and support that is unlike anything I could have imagined. I busted shame, I learned to communicate with my inner child, and I learned to breathe. I learned that I was good enough for me, and that was something that I had not known. I learned that it is my life, and I get to decide and make my own choices about how it will go. What I accomplished and experienced at Sequoia was miraculous. I was so scared, and so sceptical about going, and I made myself do it, and I am so pleased that I did. I moved light years in one weekend, and I will always be thankful and grateful to my facilitators and fellow participants for the incredibly positive changes this brought about in my life. I would say to any survivor, the best thing you can do for your recovery is to GO, and don't find an excuse NOT TO!!!"

We hope these men's experiences may motivate you or someone you know to consider attending a future MS Weekends of Recovery. The Board of Directors of MaleSurvivor is deeply committed to the success of these weekends, and we hope you or a survivor you know will have the opportunity to participate.