Please note that all donations to this project are tax deductible.
The Bristlecone Project
David Lisak is a busy guy. For the past 25 years, he’s served as a forensic consultant, professional trainer, and public speaker all over the United States. He’s devoted his professional life to studying the causes and consequences of interpersonal violence, with a research focus on sexual violence, and particularly on the long-term impact of childhood sexual abuse. This is a topic David knows well on a personal level, too; he himself is a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. And over the past three years, he’s found a way transform his grueling travel schedule into an opportunity to document and share the stories of survivors like him.
In cities and towns around the US, he’s met with and interviewed scores of men who have volunteered to share their stories of healing from childhood sexual abuse. David asks each man to describe, in his own words, what has enabled him to reclaim happiness in his life, in spite of traumatic childhood experiences.
David also brings a camera to the conversations. To date, he’s taken portraits of 60 men - each one looking straight into the lens, proudly declaring his wellness.
The collected words and photographs of these courageous men is The Bristlecone Project.
What we’ve learned is that these powerful stories of disrupted dreams, followed by sometimes-decades-long struggles to find a safe healing process, can provide hope and motivation to the 1 in every 6 men in the U.S. with similar experiences.
The next step is to increase awareness surrounding these men's stories by filming their interviews, trimming each interview down, and publishing individual video vignettes for each man's profile on bristleconeproject.org.
I’ve worked for more than 25 years as a researcher, clinician, and forensic consultant. My work has focused on sexual violence, on its impact on the lives of survivors, and particularly on the lives of men who were sexually abused as children.
I’m a founding board member and current board chairman of 1in6, a national non-profit that offers resources and information to help the one of every six men who had some type of unwanted sexual experience during childhood to live healthier, happier lives.
That’s roughly 21 million American men in the United States. But deeply ingrained ideas about “what it means to be a man” discourage men from asking for help. So only a tiny fraction of those men seek out the support that could help them overcome the negative consequences of those experiences.
The Bristlecone Project was born from the need to change that narrative; to confront, challenge, and eliminate the paralyzing stigma that our culture imposes on any man who is sexually victimized. No man deserves to be silenced by that curtain of shame. No man should have to struggle alone.
In that spirit, I created The Bristlecone Project in May 2013. Today, there are 60 men on the website who have bravely volunteered their faces and their full names. They invite the whole world to see them, and to hear them say emphatically: “This is who I am. This is what happened to me. I am not ashamed. Healing is possible”
Overcoming Shame, Discovering Possibility
1in6 believes that providing free, reliable information and support to help men deal with their childhood sexual abuse and its consequences can significantly improve the lives of individuals, families, and communities.
It’s no secret that we live in a society encouraging men to “man up” and bury their emotions. These masculine social norms that discourage men from acknowledging vulnerability, experiences of victimization, or a need for help, pose a great barrier to engaging men who have experienced sexual abuse. Research indicates that most men who have had such experiences don't begin to deal with the negative effects until they are in their late 30s, 40s, and 50s. Postponement of the recovery process can result in a life half-lived. And, far too many men never seek any assistance at all.
Sadly, men who don’t address what happened to them as children are at a significantly higher risk for a host of health issues (substance abuse, self-destructive behavior, chronic health conditions), mental health issues (depression, suicidal ideation, post-traumatic stress disorder), and social dysfunction (failed relationships, impeding of education and career objectives, interpersonal violence).
The Bristlecone Project, an awareness campaign of 1in6, was developed specifically to introduce these men to guys like themselves and in doing so, demonstrate that it’s possible to overcome the shame and stigma of being sexually abused and live a happy, fulfilling life.
What we’re going to do
The Bristlecone Project brings together men who experienced childhood sexual abuse: survivors who have made the courageous decision to be open and public about their experiences.
We’ve talked to and received emails from men from across the globe, men who have visited the site, read the stories of abuse, struggle and triumph, and gained hope, and a feeling of connection. They’ve told us, time and again, that after looking into the eyes of fellow survivors, they feel for the first time that they're not alone.
In addition to still photos and written narratives, David has also begun filming the interviews with The Bristlecone Project volunteers. He's already shot more than 40 hours of raw footage of inspiring testimony, which we plan to condense into brief, 5-10 minute vignettes of individual men. These short video portraits will be added to The Bristlecone Project website and will be featured on the Other Guys Like Me pages on the 1in6 website. Additionally, some of this footage will end up in a 30-minute documentary we're continuing work on that explores the issue from a broader perspective.
The hours of footage we have collected so far, and the material to be gathered from more than 80 additional men who have volunteered for future interviews, pose both a remarkable opportunity, and a daunting challenge.
The project will require the addition of a professional cinematographer, editor, and web design agency. We’re certain that these filmed interviews of men discussing their experiences, without shame, will offer further confirmation on the power of speaking out.
How does Kickstarter work?
Kickstarter is a funding platform dedicated to making creative projects possible with direct support. When you back our project, you’re enabling the project to reach more men across the US in the most effective way possible. We’ve chosen Kickstarter because it’s designed to make donating as convenient as possible. Here’s how it works: We set a funding goal. Our supporters make pledges. If we reach our goal, your pledge will be processed by Kickstarter, and we can get to work. If we don’t reach our goal, our supporters will not be charged for their pledge. It’s all or nothing.
We've crunched the numbers and determined that it will cost us $59,500 to accomplish this ambitious project. We're asking for your support in raising $50,000 of that. Here's the breakdown:
A four-person team of experienced and passionate individuals is dedicated to moving this project forward. Join the team by making a donation!
We can't thank you enough for your support. Our rewards packages are a small way for us to show our gratitude. Check out all of the great rewards below. All donations are tax deductible! Please note that rewards are only available within the United States.
Support For Men and Those Who Care About Them
The 1in6 website contains a wealth of information and support that helps men who have had unwanted or abusive sexual experiences in childhood live healthier, happier lives, as well as those who care about them. Resources include a 24/7 free and confidential Online SupportLine staffed by trained volunteers; a free, anonymous, and therapist-moderated Online Peer SupportGroup; a variety of Online Readings, including Facts & Myths; and an area for Partners, Family, and Friends of survivors. Whatever your situation, you're not alone.
Risks and challenges
One of our greatest challenges is the stigma that surrounds the issue of male sexual abuse. It's an issue that many people don't want to talk about or even believe to be true. It's amazing how often we hear, "1 in 6 men? No way" or "Men can't be abused, only women can." This is exactly why we are here on Kickstarter: to raise awareness about the facts of the issue, and to let men know that they're not alone, and that healing is possible. We can overcome the stigma that silences so many men, but we need your help, whether that means making a donation, sharing the campaign with family and friends, or introducing the issue to those around you.
In addition to the challenges posed by the stigma around the issue, we also face a major financial challenge. We’ve already amassed more than 40 hours of raw footage of inspiring testimony from courageous men, and 80 additional men have volunteered to be interviewed on camera. Shooting the additional footage, editing all of the footage into impactful 5-10 minute video vignettes, and making the videos accessible through the 1in6 and Bristlecone websites will require some new tools and many man-hours. Currently, we don't have the funds to pay for those essentials, but once we reach our goal, we're poised to hit the ground running and bring these important stories to life.
Thank you so much for your support.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (18 days)