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‘It Happens to Boys’ conference aims to educate public about childhood sexual abuse

Written by ZEN VUONG

Reprinted from Pasadena Star-News


Respected experts in the fields of sexual abuse, addiction and recovery will come together for a two-day conference next Friday at the Pasadena Hilton.


The sixth annual “It Happens to Boys” symposium has traditionally been held in Palm Springs, but founder Carol Teitelbaum said she chose to host the educational event in Pasadena because she said it’s a great city, is full of life and has plenty of younger people.


“When people think about (sexual) abuse, they immediately think about women,” said Teitelbaum, a licensed therapist. “When men are abused at an early age, they are taught to ‘don’t be a sissy.’ They are made to feel that boys are strong, and they should protect their siblings. … So they hold all of (their feelings) inside, and it turns into rage, domestic violence, drugs and alcohol. It’s a huge cost to all of us.”


Nonprofit Creative Change Conferences will host the two-day gathering, which will focus on the psychological impact of sexual abuse on both boys and girls. The $250-conference hopes to become a catalyst for the long healing process that results once people admit and talk about the sexual abuse they endured, Teitelbaum said.


Guest speakers include Dave Pelzer, child abuse survivor and author of bestseller “A Child Called It”; Patrick Carnes, expert in the subject of sexual addiction and author of “Out of the Shadows”; and Jerry Moe, the director of children’s programs at the Betty Ford Center in Rancho Mirage.


“While (“It Happens to Boys”) explores the trauma associated with childhood sexual abuse, it offers real, tangible hope in the form of courageous healers who bravely tell their personal stories and paths to health and wellness,” Moe said in a press release. “Professionals not only learn about early warning signs indicative of such abuse but are also empowered with effective tools and intervention strategies to gently guide individuals and their families to recovery.”


One in three girls and one in four boys are sexually abused by the time they’re 18, Teitelbaum said. The grooming process that precedes sexual molestation can take years, so early recognition is the key to preventing sexual predators from harming children, Teitelbaum said.


“If you haven’t been abused, you know somebody who has,” she said. “You know somebody who might be (on the track to getting abused). So why not educate yourself so you can help?”


Lifelong depression and downward spiralling behaviors that may end in shattered relationships, substance addictions, despondency and suicide are the unfortunate side effects of sexual abuse, a press release said.


Some 250 people attended the “It Happens to Boys” conference last year. These people included victims of abuse, therapists, social workers, physicians, nurses and recovery counselors.


“If we don’t heal the men, they’re going to continue to hit the women,” Teitelbaum said. “So we have to go to the core so that we are able to help the people who are not able to help themselves.”


Pasadena Star-News

Tickets can be purchased online or by calling 760-346-4606.

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