I'll be at the event this Monday. We're all very excited about the film and many friends of MaleSurvivor make an appearance.

New local film breaks silence - Victims of male sexual abuse tell their stories

The Salinas Californian

The rarest of documentaries, one that explores unflinchingly the sexual abuse of boys and the consequences of that abuse, will have a benefit premiere Monday, Sept. 22, in Monterey.

Called "Boyhood Shadows: 'I Swore I'd Never Tell,' " the event's proceeds will go to the Monterey County Rape Crisis Center's Child Abuse Prevention Education Program.

"This film won't stop the sexual victimization of boys," Stephen Braveman said. "But it does emphasize that men who've suffered this abuse can and should speak up. Help is available. These men can and do heal."

A Monterey therapist who appears in the film, Braveman has worked extensively with men who were victims of such abuse, especially those who gather at the Rape Crisis Center's Men's Survivor's Group.

"Boyhood Shadows" is a documentary by filmmakers Terri DeBono and Steve Rosen ó founders of Mac and Ava Motion Pictures in Monterey ó in association with the Rape Crisis Center.

"The subject of sexual molestation of boys is so sensitive that, when it comes up, a common reaction is for people to hold their hands over their ears and hum real loud," Rosen said.

Denial, in a word.

Yet people who have previewed "Boyhood Shadows" felt comfortable with the film's approach and enlightened by its contents, he said.

"We want to emphasize that the abuser is not some guy in a dirty raincoat in an alley," Rosen said. "It can be a coach. It can be an uncle, a priest, a scout leader.

"We donít want people to be afraid. We just want parents to be aware."

Because one in six boys is sexually molested by age 16, according to research done by the filmmakers, the warning is urgent.

Victims feel shame, anger

In the film, in nerve-wrenching sequences, the men detail what impacts sexual abuse has had on them, long-term and immediate.

They've suffered everything from addiction to drugs and alcohol to mental illness.

They've been homelessness, felt alienated, suffered family strife and broken marriages.

Shame, anger and the thought of revenge have flared in their souls.

Many experts compare the aftershocks of abuse to the post-traumatic stress disorder that plagues many combat veterans long after they've returned to civilian life.

While several survivors of sexual abuse tell their stories in the film, Glenn Kulik, abused violently and repeatedly at age 10 by the uncle of a good friend, provides the central narrative.

Kulik, now 48, is from Los Angeles, but he regularly flies to Monterey to take part in Braveman's menís group.

Kulik describes the agony of the abuse he suffered as akin "to being stabbed in the brain."

As a teen, he sought to mute the pain with drugs and alcohol. As an adult, he took to the streets. He lived an addict's life.

'Haunted by the past'

Much of his story is told through interviews with family members, who watched their loved one's hazardous downward spiral while oblivious to its cause.

Going public with the long-hidden secret of abuse is no easy step, but the risk is worth it, Kim Allyn said. A deputy with the Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Department, the 56-year-old Allyn was abused as an 8-year-old by a priest.

"To get the word out means to create awareness and understanding," he said.
Corral de Tierra resident Marla Young, an associate producer of the documentary, sat in on several interviews.

"I had to fight back the tears," she said. "You see the pain through a child's eye. It's raw. It's amazing for them to step forward."

Young's former husband, TV newsman Allen Martin, appears in the film. Martin is a survivor of childhood sexual abuse.

Martin worked for KSBW-TV and later as an anchor for KION-TV in Salinas before being hired by KPIX-TV, Channel 5, in San Francisco as a reporter and anchor.
He and Young divorced recently after 22 years of marriage, "haunted by the past," Young said.

In "Boyhood Shadows," Martin tells of his abuse by an older student.

"It leaves you with so much anger and depression," he said.

To help deal with the residual pain, he drank, he said.

"It got worse and worse," he said. "I was in therapy. Sometimes, I still slip into that feeling that I need to be drugged."

Taboo topic

Clare Mounteer, director the Monterey County Rape Crisis Center, applauds the courage of Martin, Kulik, Allyn and all who tell their stories in the film.

"Sexual abuse of boys is still a topic that's pretty much taboo," Mounteer said.

"Women have society's permission to step forth and reveal it."

Society, though, doesn't allow men to express their emotions, she said.

"Yet once you see this film, you'll have your eyes open to something you were unaware of," Mounteer said.

Several men in the film attend the Men's Survivor's Group. That only a few such groups exist in the world speaks to the need for more public attention to the problem, Braveman said.

Several misconceptions hang over the entire issue, he said.

One is that males are tough, and even if they were molested, they should get over it.

That's, of course, false, he said.

Another is the "vampire syndrome," meaning once a boy is sexually abused, he will necessarily go on to be a pedophile, Braveman. That, too, is false, he said.

Hoping to inspire viewers

Besides helping to dispel such misconceptions, he hopes the film achieves other objectives.

He hopes it prompts any man suffering the aftermath of such abuse to seek help. He hopes the documentary prompts at least one therapist to start a menís group-style effort where none exists.

Keeping in mind that the typical pedophile molests an average of 117 children,

Braveman offers one additional goal: "Maybe a pedophile who sees this film will think twice and not molest again," he said.