Since assuming my new duties as President of MaleSurvivor I have been reviewing our various operations, including our highly respected website, which is our primary link to the outside world and our most potent tool for outreach to other survivors. I would like to address some concerns you have expressed and clarify how I expect the site to operate.
Late 2001 I was struggling with the isolation I was feeling as a survivor of sexual abuse. Friends and family tried to understand, but that did not break the feeling of being a freak that was consuming me. Then I found NOMSV.org (the earlier name for MaleSurvivor.org). I read the posts and was amazed to find other men like me dealing with all these issues. After lurking a while, I finally registered and tried a few posts. I was welcomed and accepted. Then I tried the chat room, same thing there. Could it be I actually belonged? Was there really a place I was understood and could understand the way other men felt? It was hard to believe, but it seemed that way.
That feeling of acceptance allowed me to begin working on my survivor issues in earnest and start to make real progress on my healing. That is what this site is all about and what I want us as a community to remember. We are here for each other because in so many other places we feel unaccepted and misunderstood. That does not mean that we always agree with each other here, but we do give each other the benefit of the doubt and do our best to understand the struggles we are each facing.
The safety that allows the amazing work that happens has not come about by accident. It is by design and with the work of some very dedicated volunteers. The moderator team has evolved over the years, as have the rules which help us keep each other focused on the work of recovery and our mutual safety. We have also grown and expanded enormously. In 2001 our numbers were in the hundreds; now we have more than 6000 registered users. The number of forums has expanded dramatically and more are on the way. The task of moderating the site has also grown in complexity and difficulty as new technologies have developed and as new constituencies have emerged on the site. Our moderators, all of whom are volunteers with lives of their own to live, nevertheless step up to the plate every time, no matter how serious the difficulty or how long it takes. It is not unusual for a moderator to spend over 40 hours a week just on this site, guaranteeing a safe and secure haven for all the rest of us, and in times of crisis that commitment of time and emotional energy can soar far higher.
But in order to do its job effectively the ModTeam must have the cooperation of the community it serves. I am therefore asking for each of us to commit to being part of a safe community which is dedicated to the work of recovery for male survivors of sexual abuse. What that means is that we understand that sometimes people will need reminded of the rules and if they are unable to follow them to step back until they can again be part of this community. It also means that we must do something very difficult for a survivor. We must trust that there are people in positions of responsibility that are acting in our best interests, even when they cannot share the details of exactly what is happening. We also need at all times to bear in mind that our own personal misgivings can never justify attacks on other survivors or challenges to the work that the ModTeam needs to do.
Moderating a site such of this means that at times the team will have information that can be embarrassing to members and they will need to act on information they are not able to disclose. Because of that, none of the moderators decisions are made by an individual, all are discussed and implemented when consensus is reached. I have recently reviewed many of the moderator discussions and decisions and have been able to see the compassion and wisdom this team uses in keeping this site open and safe. They have my full support and gratitude for the job they do, and if the work of the site is to continue they need the same support from the community at large. Moderators are not supermen who can do all and take all. They are survivors themselves who are far enough along to spare of their insights and expertise so that others may be helped just as they were at one point, but most are still working on their own healing as well. Whatever the case may be, it is intolerable that they should be subjected to provocations or malicious gossip, or that their work should be obstructed or undermined by combativeness or negativity. The healing work that we seek to pursue here cannot take place unless MaleSurvivor is a safe haven, and for that to happen the ModTeam needs the cooperation of all who come here.
I am asking that all members and users of this site remember why we were first drawn to this place. We all need a place to be accepted and to deal with the often painful issues surrounding our histories of abuse. Because of that, I am asking that we be kind to ourselves and to each other. The brotherhood and acceptance of this site has truly saved many lives and allowed many others to move from victim to thriver. Ask yourself why it was you decided to register and begin your work here: what was it that made you feel safe, understood and welcome. All that is what we all have to work to maintain.
I am so happy with the people we have in place to keep this organization going. We have challenges to be sure, but we can meet and overcome them. I will be making some decisions about some new responsibilities for people on the site soon and will notify you when those are in place.
Please commit with me to making this site a place of healing and acceptance. Until the day no more men and boys are abused we must have a place we can come and be accepted and encouraged.
Please feel free to PM me with any concerns or comments.
Everything works out right in the end. If things are not working right, it isn't the end yet. Don't let it bother you, relax and keep on goin
- Michael C. Muhammad
"I get up. I walk. I fall down. Meanwhile, I keep dancing."
� Rabbi Hillel