In preparation for Sexual Assault Awareness Month in April, we’re grateful for a Q & A with 1in6, Inc. focusing on their 1BlueString Campaign. This creative campaign aims to raise awareness aligned with the mission of 1in6 — to help men who have had unwanted or abusive sexual experiences in childhood live healthier, happier lives. 1in6 helps to move these men from isolation and private anguish into active recovery by providing accurate and compassionate information, inspiration, and support. 1in6 offers a dynamic and information-rich web site and other technologies, professional training resources for service providers, and community awareness and engagement programming for a variety of audiences.
Be sure to join in on this wonderful campaign today!
Can you tell us about 1BlueString Campaign, how it all got started and how it all works.
1in6 launched the 1BlueString public-awareness campaign in November 2012, asking guitarists, at all levels, to replace one of their six guitar strings with one of our blue strings, to symbolize the 1 in 6 men who have had unwanted or abusive sexual experiences in childhood.
The 19 million men in the United States who have experienced childhood sexual abuse are at higher risk for a host of physical, mental-health and behavioral issues that may harm themselves and others, including substance abuse, suicide, and violence. Masculine social norms and the stigma many men associate with having been abused discourage men from speaking about, let alone seeking help to address the source of these negative consequences.
1BlueString has proven to be an effective, non-threatening way to create awareness about the prevalence and impact of childhood abuse of boys, begin conversations, reduce stigma and feelings of shame, and to provide access to information and resources.
To purchase a 1BlueString kit, or to get involved in another capacity (purchasing merch, making a donation, sharing on social media, hosting an event), individuals and organizations can visit www.1bluestring.org.
Describe the significance of a campaign like 1BlueString in raising awareness about the issue of male childhood sexual abuse?
Social norms that discourage men from acknowledging vulnerability, experiences of abuse, or need of help pose one of the greatest barriers to engaging men who have experienced sexual abuse to get help. On average, men disclose and seek treatment for the impact of childhood sexual abuse much later in life, often only after many years of failed careers, relationships and struggles with depression, addiction and risky behaviors.
1BlueString was designed as a simple, non-threatening — even fun — way to introduce younger men, and those who care about them, to the prevalence of abuse of boys, to the possibility of healing and to a range of information and resources to work through these important issues before their 30s and 40s. Incorporating music, events that often attract young men, the video and social-media engagement potential, and the low-key approach makes 1BlueString an ideal strategy to engage men in the 18-30 age group.
Can you describe what key elements make a campaign like 1BlueString successful?
The more individuals and organizations involved in the campaign, the more successful we can be. Raising awareness is really about getting the message out there, and we can’t do it alone. It’s amazing how often we hear, “Wow, is it really 1 in 6 men?” And to us, that’s progress. That means the statistic is getting to someone who didn’t know it before, and there’s a good chance they’ll pass that information on to friends, family, neighbors, or their online social networks. That’s what we rely on, as awareness and understanding set the stage for healing.
We are hugely grateful to those who purchase string kits or merch, and also the individuals and organizations hosting events. We wouldn’t be where we are today without those efforts.
How about the campaign’s impact–I’d love to hear some highlights..
1BlueString was featured in the July 2014 issue of Alternative Press Magazine and nominated for an Alternative Press Music Award, which was presented at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and televised nationally on the AXS network. The campaign has been endorsed by prominent musicians including Rod Stewart and Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal. We’ve also had the pleasure of educating and engaging with fans at music festivals such as the Warped Tour and FYF Fest in Los Angeles. The response from artists and fans alike has been truly inspiring, and many have continued to advocate for the 1 in 6 men online and in their communities.
In what ways can organizations and individuals get onboard, and spread the word?
There are many ways to get involved in the campaign! Individuals and organizations can show their support by ordering a 1BlueString kit on the website, or purchasing a 1BlueString t-shirt, bracelet, or 10 string pack. (see links below) Each purchase serves as a donation to one of our partner organizations that provide resources to men and those who care for them. Individuals and organizations can also follow 1BlueString on all of our social media channels, and help spread awareness with a hopeful message or photo/video of their 1BlueString gear in action using the hashtag #1BlueString. Another great way to get involved is to host a 1BlueString event in your community or on your college campus. Examples of past events include concerts, open mic nights, string changing stations, and information tables at resource fairs. Individuals and organizations can find out more about hosting an event by downloading our Event Hosting Guide.
1in6, Inc. has been a leader in raising awareness about male childhood sexual abuse, and creating much needed resources–Do you feel we’ve come a long way in raising awareness about the issue since the organization was founded in 2007–and if so can you elaborate?
Every year, more and more men and their loved ones have been taking advantage of 1in6’s resources, including the online educational resources and confidential Online SupportLine. We’ve also seen more professionals turning to 1in6 for trainings to better serve their male clients. We have certainly come a long way in raising awareness about the prevalence and needs of male survivors, and in including men in the larger work been done around sexual abuse and recovery. Between 1BlueString, the Bristlecone Project, and the many other projects and relationships 1in6 is forging, we feel great progress is being made for the 1 in 6 men and their loved ones.
Does 1in6 and 1BlueString have any plans for 2015 Sexual Assault Awareness Month?
1BlueString has been working closely with 1in6’s Men on Campus Task Force to provide resources for engaging men in college. Many university campuses and local resource centers are hosting 1BlueString events during SAAM, including concerts and open mic nights to raise awareness and destigmatize the issue of male sexual abuse survival and recovery.
What are the plans, hopes and dreams for the 1BlueString campaign’s future?
Support for the campaign grows every day, through individual involvement and engagement events across the country. We hope to continue the momentum and we invite everyone to join us! Share the 1 in 6 statistic with a friend, family member, or your social media network; purchase a 1BlueString kit or merch on the website; or think about hosting an event. Awareness, education, and conversation can be the first step towards opening the door to healing and recovery for men who have endured an unwanted experience. Together, we can help break the silence of boyhood sexual abuse.
Big Voice Pictures encourages you to Join in! Before you begin, read this:
By participating in 1BlueString, you not only help raise awareness about the statistics, you are also in a position to answer questions and start a conversation about the issue with your friends, colleagues, and — if you’re a musician — your audience, and in doing so dispel myths that can be big obstacles to understanding and healing. Are you using the right words? Is your information accurate? Could the language you’re using be triggering to a survivor?
This important blog offers valuable information and guidelines for discussing 1BlueString and boyhood sexual abuse so that you are prepared to answer when someone asks, “Why do you have a blue string on your guitar?” or “What’s that t-shirt all about?” This blog will set you on the right course!
Here are key links to get involved!
www.1BlueString.org – kits can be purchased here for $3.95