survivors manchester

Expert Advisory Panel

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Survivors Manchester takes the views of male survivors seriously and since day one, has always ensured that male survivor voices have the ability to influence our work and the direction of travel.

Our EAP (Expert Advisory Panel) is made up of a number of people who have either used the services or are currently using the services and give their opinions, advice and guidance on how we can continue to meet male survivors needs.

The EAP meets bi-monthly and each panel member holds office for 1 year. Every 3 months, the EAP meets with the Chief Executive Officer to engage in discussion, debate and feedback on the organisation and recommendations are made that are then fed into the governance structure of the charity.

The Chief Executive Officer is then responsible for making a timely response to each EAP recommendation and ensuring that a space is given at our annual conference for EAP presentation of their discussions that year.

For the last 4 years I’ve been engaged with Survivors Manchester as a service user.

What services have you used at Survivors Manchester and what is your honest experience of them?

I have accessed trauma focussed therapy to help me understand the nuances of my own survivorship and to work through the emotional collateral damage I experienced when my ex partner broke his silence publicly whilst we were still together.

Why did you decide to become a member of the EAP?

I decided to become a member of the Expert Advisory Panel to give a voice to two groups of Survivors who I feel are currently underrepresented. Firstly, partners of Survivors who are Survivors themselves. This is a complex situation that requires appropriate support. When my ex partner broke his silence publicly, I felt in that moment that I would be silenced forever. I was devastated but Survivors Manchester helped me find my voice. Now as a proud Survivor, I’d like to see others offered the same opportunity.

Secondly, it has taken me years to truly accept that I am a Survivor. The words “abuse” and “perpetrator” didn’t feel like a part of my story, yet I knew something had happened to me as a child that wasn’t right. I believe I was sexually exploited and emotionally harmed as a result. Despite this, I couldn’t find it in myself to demonise the person who exploited me as they were only a few years older than me at the time. In the eyes of the law, they too were a child.

Through the great work of both my counsellors, I’ve been able to accept that Survivorship isn’t a title that is only bestowed to those who were abused by aggressive perpetrators. There is a whole spectrum of sexual abuse, exploitation and harm. I’ve also been able to accept that age differences are irrelevant – sexual abuse, exploitation and harm is about a misuse of power.

I felt like a fraud when I first accessed the services of Survivors Manchester, but their knowledge and professional support lead to a recent breakthrough moment in my journey, meaning I now proudly and publicly own my title of Survivor. I was trapped in silence and shame for over 20 years. What happened to me affected my relationships, friendships, family life and work. Through the EAP I want to share my story to help the organisation support others like me, so they can own their stories, claim their survivorship, establish healthy relationships and let go of their shame.”

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What services have you used at Survivors Manchester and what is your honest experience of them?

The services I have used at Survivors Manchester are one to one counselling, the drop in and also the Safe Room.

Why did you decide to become a member of the EAP?

I became Expert Advisory Panel member because I am passionate about the good work Survivors Manchester do. Also because I am a client of the service I can see the good work they do in helping others and i’d like to be part off helping shaping the company in the future.

What do you like about Survivors Manchester?

What I like about survivors Manchester is that its such a mixed bag off people from all walks off life who come together to tackle what is a very difficult subject matter and handle it with dignity.

What things do you think Survivors Manchester can improve on?

Survivors Manchester could improve itself as it already is by expanding and branching off into other areas off the country to help more people.

What would you like to achieve as a member of the EAP during your term of office?

I would like to achieve as being part off the panel, a deeper understanding of working with others to achieve common goal.

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What services have you used at Survivors Manchester and what is your honest experience of them?

I’m not sure the official name of the services I made use of but I imagine it was called trauma therapy? My experience was honestly really good. Thankfully I had a therapist who was pretty similar in age to myself, and for me that was a little daunting at first, but then I came to really value that about the therapy. It meant there was room for a mutual understanding on certain things. Also, it was really good to go through therapy with somebody who has suffered through some of the same things I had; that was important, because previously I’d met with therapists who have had no idea what I’m going through. There was no pressure in the sessions either, which I really liked, because some days I just came in and didn’t really say much. That was sometimes because of where I was at emotionally (or psychologically), but either way my therapist was respectful of that. All round my experience was fantastic.

Why did you decide to become a member of the EAP?

At first I didn’t really know how I wanted to be involved with Survivors Manchester, I just knew I wanted to support their cause in some way. When Duncan heard I was looking to become an ambassador and get involved in some way, he called about the EAP. It sounded like a perfect role for me, mainly due to my first hand experience of their services, but also I think I have a lot to offer in other ways. I’m excited to see how the EAP can help Survivors Manchester grow and enhance their services to those who really need them.

What do you like about Survivors Manchester?

I love that it’s available in Manchester. There needs to be a service like this available in every city in the country, honestly! It’s actually difficult to think about those outside of Manchester who may be missing out on the help I received. I love how personable the team are, and how completely understanding they are of the issues people bring into their therapy rooms. They’re not ignorant to the problems survivors of sexual abuse face, and that’s so important! I feel so grateful I was supported by Survivors Manchester.

What things do you think Survivors Manchester can improve on?

I think there are many ways Survivors Manchester can reach people and make their services more accessible. Whether that be through having a presence on the streets in the city centre informing people about the service, or maybe even having more frequent evening classes/group sessions to give people who are suffering a safe space to spend a little time in.

I think it would be brilliant to somehow make therapy sessions more accessible to those who are in full time employment. I know during my sessions it was sometimes difficult to arrange my next session due to work commitments. I’d love to see the services grow enough in order to provide more sessions maybe on weekends or even just later evening sessions.

I’d also love to see some way of incorporating “significant others” in the service. For instance, maybe allowing some way for those close to the survivors who don’t really understand what’s going on and what abuse truly looks like to be enlightened somehow and informed on what some people have encountered and how they can be supported in their journey of recovery.

What would you like to achieve as a member of the EAP during your term of office?

I’d like to see the service become more well known in the city and even use my creativity to somehow inform others of why people may need to use this service. For instance, using music/theatre to make it less of a taboo topic and hopefully encourage more people to come forward and talk about things freely, in a safe place like Survivors Manchester. I wish I had come across a service like this when I was a lot younger, but sadly I was in my mid 20’s when I finally spoke out about my abuse. I’d love to see more young people come forward and find a little freedom. ​

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I’m Sam, a 24 year old DJ from Newark, Nottinghamshire. In 2017 I shared my story worldwide in the hope of encouraging other men to break their silence and this led on to me becoming an Ambassador for Survivors Manchester. In addition to becoming an ambassador I joined the EAP as well as becoming a trustee of the Male Survivors Partnership. I’ve also recently started at university studying Law.

What services have you used at Survivors Manchester and what is your honest experience of them?

I’ve had two courses of one to one therapy, once about 6 months after the attack and then for another short period about a year after that. I also used the ISVA service once my case had been given ’No Further Action’, this was so that I could meet and speak with the investigating officer about how that decision had been reached.

Why did you decide to become a member of the EAP?

I decided to become a member of the panel because I wanted to give back to the organisation that helped me. I think that Survivors Manchester is a fantastic organisation but like with everything there will always be room for improvement. I’d like to have my say in making those improvements for the future service users to have the best possible service available to them.

What do you like about Survivors Manchester?

I like how supportive service users are of one another. There is this real sense of belonging and I think that the staff and Duncan have worked really hard to embed that in the culture of the organisation.

What things do you think Survivors Manchester can improve on?

I think that more work should be done to engage with the other people that are effected and not just the individual. Already there is some support available to family members but I think more could be offered, or it offered in a different way. A support group for mothers, online resources, reassurance that they are helping, ‘instruction’, etc.

What would you like to achieve as a member of the EAP during your term of office?

No idea.

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The EAP hope to be able to engage with as many individuals that use our service, be more visible to individuals and really help Survivors Manchester #BreakTheSilence on the sexual abuse, rape and sexual exploitation of boys and men.

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