|Glenn In the News …
By Susan Clairmont of The Hamilton Spectator
Glenn Allan Speaking Glenn Allan, a survivor of childhood sexual abuse,
attends a peer-support group which he runs at the Men’s Withdrawl Management Centre.
“Suck it up, Buttercup.”
Glenn Allan says it with a wry laugh.
He is repeating a message society has sent him many times since he was sexually abused: Men are not victims of sexual abuse. Keep quiet. Get over it. Move on.
But men are victims. Indeed, one in six boys is sexually assaulted before the age of 17. For many, acknowledging that fact makes us uncomfortable — if we’re willing to acknowledge it at all.
Male survivors of sexual abuse have long been invisible victims. Now a new provincewide pilot project funded by the Ministry of the Attorney General is focusing a bright light on the issue by providing free counselling to men who need support. Here, the service will be provided by the Sexual Assault Centre of Hamilton and Area (SACHA) in partnership with the Centre de Santé Communautaire Hamilton/Niagara and the Hamilton Regional Indian Centre.
Sessions with three specially trained counsellors became available in September and already there are 15 to 20 men participating. All were abused as children.
“This is huge,” says Allan. “There has always been more counselling for the perpetrators than for the victims. Now the men — the victims — have somewhere to go.”
Allan was 7 or 8 when he went skating at a Stoney Creek arena with his sisters. He fell and hurt his knee. A male supervisor took him — alone — to the first aid room. To inspect the boy’s injury, he had him pull down his pants. Then the man masturbated.
Later, that man became Allan’s hockey and baseball coach. The abuse continued until Allan was 15, but the effects lasted much longer.
Allan became addicted to cocaine and alcohol, overdosing on the eve of his abuser’s trial. The coach was convicted of sexually assaulting several players.
Now, at 47, Allan has become an outspoken advocate for male survivors of sex assault. For the past six years he has facilitated a peer support group in Hamilton once a week and has just started another in Niagara.
“There is so much stigma around male sexual abuse,” he says. “It’s dirty. It’s taboo. I think a lot of people are afraid of it.”
People often think a male who has been violated must be gay, he says. Or they are weak for being impacted by it. Or men should never cry.
“For men, you don’t talk about this stuff. You don’t cry,” echoes Lenore Lukasik-Foss, director of SACHA. In some regards, the issues that male and female survivors face are exactly the same, she says. In other ways, they are very different. Even the fact men are less likely than women to go to a doctor can affect the support and care they receive following abuse.
Until now, there have been no specific publicly-funded counselling programs for male sex abuse survivors in Hamilton, she says. In fact, there has been little progress at all in the awareness of the issue “despite the face that we have seen increased awareness for girls.”
While this new face-to-face counselling is a step forward, the project does not address any other areas related to male sexual abuse, such as public education, outreach or building bridges between counselling and the justice system.
The pilot project is funded based on fee for service and will run for 18 months. But Lukasik-Foss is already looking beyond that in the hopes funding will continue.
“This is so important,” she says. “This will demonstrate to this province that there is a need out there.”
And the message to the men?
“You are not alone and there are supports.”
Susan Clairmont’s commentary appears regularly in The Spectator.
By Cheryl Clock Standard Staff firstname.lastname@example.org
|He prepaid the hotel room for three nights.After work on a Friday, a limo rolled up to the Holiday Inn Express in Stoney Creek and dropped him off .His plan, on Monday, was to check out in a different way.In a body bag.These days Glenn Allan is a 47-year-old husband and father of three, a guy who is sports to the core.His grandfather, Stu Allan, was a long-distance runner and held a Canadian running record for 25 years. His father, Fred, began his 50-year TV/radio broadcasting career behind-the-scenes at CKTB. And he had an uncle who travelled with Team Canada to Russia in 1974 when the World Hockey Association took on the Soviets.
As a kid, growing up in Stoney Creek, he starting playing hockey and baseball as young as he can remember. He loved the outdoors. Fishing with his grandfather and dad. And often ignoring his sister’s pleas to come home as he played ball hockey with his buddies.
He’s been a chaplain for the Hamilton Bull Dogs. He’s a little league T-ball coach. And he works as an executive producer and host, creating his own TV programs.
Glenn lives for sports. It’s part of his very being.
It was also so inextricably wrapped up in the worst, most degrading time of his life.
Glenn is a guy who talks as openly about his attempt at suicide as he does about any sports topic you throw at him. So, on this day, as he sits in a room inside the Niagara Region Sexual Assault Centre, he shares a story that he knows many other men had lived.
Glenn was sexually assaulted by the man who was his hockey and baseball coach.
A man who these days, Glenn calls The Abuser.
“He has nothing to do with me today,” says Glenn.
“I didn’t ask for him to be part of my life.
“I stopped giving him that power a long time ago.”
That weekend in January 1998, Glenn was 33 and already dead inside.
He’d just come from an interview with Ron Lancaster, CFL quarterback turned head coach of the Hamilton Tiger Cats, for a program on Cable 14.
Fact is, Glenn had enough alcohol and cocaine to kill himself. He orchestrated a web of lies so no one knew where he was. He did not want to be saved.
Somehow, on Sunday, he was still alive.
Glenn is a survivor.
Something only he can explain happened in that hotel room that weekend. He is protective of the story. Suffice to say, he’s put his faith in God for saving his life.
Early Monday morning, police arrived at his hotel room to investigate a noise complaint.
He was taken to hospital. And lived to help himself. And others.
These days, he lives in Burlington and runs a support group in St. Catharines and Hamilton for adult male survivors of childhood sexual abuse. And he speaks to Niagara boys in grades 7-8 about male victimization through a pilot program of the Niagara Region Sexual Assault Centre.
“I want to let people know they don’t have to live the way I was,” he says.
“If you’ve been abused, you don’t have to live in the trap.
“There are places and people who want to help you.”
* * *
The 1971-72 season was an odd time for Glenn. In his words: “A lot of things changed.”
He lost his baby-of-the-family status with the birth of his little sister.
Paul Henderson scored the winning goal in the last seconds of play for Team Canada to beat the Soviets in the Summit Series.
And the ice monitor at the arena molested him.
Glenn was seven.
He was at a public skate with his two older sisters. He fell, banged his knee on the ice then slid into the boards.
His sisters were helping him back up when the ice monitor, a man in his late teens or early 20s, came along.
He offered to take Glenn to the First Aid room to check out his knee.
He led Glenn to the room and pulled the door shut. He asked Glenn to take down his pants to have a better look at his knee.
Then he pulled down his own pants. And underwear. And masturbated in front of Glenn, at some point pulling down the boy’s underwear, touching his genitals.
When he was done, he offered: “‘C’mon, we can do the same for you.”
Glenn was frozen. “I’m just a little boy who wants his dad,” he says.
“I felt dirty. Just a feeling of filth.”
He told Glenn not to tell.
* * *
Glenn did tell. Twice.
The first time was to his sisters, in the arena. They told their parents. Nothing was done.
It’s still an awkward, sensitive point between them.
The sexual abuse didn’t end in the First Aid room. The ice monitor became his hockey coach, his baseball coach.
He partied with boys on his team, including Glenn. Invited him to his van to drink alcohol and flip through porn magazines.
Glenn went along with it. His coach was well liked in the community. Years later, after he was charged and convicted, parents of kids he’d coached wrote letters of support to the judge. He had power over him.
He sexually assaulted Glenn in the van. On the baseball diamond at night. In hotel rooms on road trips. In the passenger seat of his car as he drove Glenn to a game.
“There’s a control,” says Glenn. The second time he told was
It was to an assistant coach.
Nothing was done.
“When you’ve told, especially as a young person, and no one did anything, what message did that send to me?
“My words weren’t validated.
“Nothing matters. Nobody cares.”
Glenn was desperate to play
hockey. He had dreams of making pro. Didn’t want to get kicked off the team. “No one was taking my back,” he says. He was caught.
“What was I supposed to do? In order to play the game I loved.”
He to major midget. The next year was juveniles. The man would once again be his coach.
By then, he was fighting at school. Drinking. He needed to stop what he calls the noise between his ears. “The guilt, the shame.”
And he was very, very angry.
* * *
On the outside, he was brute force. Big. Tough. A schoolyard bully.
“He took power from me and I tried to regain that power by picking on other people,” he says.
On the outside, he was athletic. Cool. A leader.
He tells a class of grade 7-8 boys: “In Grade 7, not one person knew I had been sexually abused.
“As much as you think you know someone, you don’t know.”
He looks at pictures of himself from back then. He’s about eight in his red-white-and-blue hockey jersey, hockey stick parked on the ice. Again, a similar shot at age 12. There’s his Grade 7 school portrait. Grade 10.
Glenn sees who he really was. On the inside.
His self-esteem was broken. His self-worth, zero. He desperately wanted to fit in, but never really felt that he did.
“I was a follower deep inside,” he says. “If you took an X-ray of me, what you’d find was a scared little boy.”
* * *
That scared little boy became a scared adult man.
Only, the external facade fool everyone.
He was a sports broadcaster. Had his own shows, Sports Wrap, on Cable 14 and radio CHML in Hamilton. He rubbed shoulders with big-name sports personalities.
He kept an emotional distance in relationships with women. (A “jerk” by his own admission.) “You might find out stuff too close, you might make me vulnerable and I can’t have that,” he says.
He acted tough. Looked tough. He was the loudmouth who never turned down a bar brawl.
It almost got him killed. In December 1987, he was stabbed in a bar fight. He watched as air bubbles came out of his chest.
All because he just couldn’t leave well enough alone. He was 23.
“I reacted like I was still in Grade 5,” he says.
“I couldn’t have people think that I just walked away.
“I needed them to like me.
“If people didn’t like me, then what would I have? I would be left with me. And I didn’t like me.”
* * *
It would take a second brush with death — this time by his own hands — to turn his life around.
His dry date is Jan. 19, 1998 — the Monday that he planned on being dead.
He did detox, a drug and alcohol treatment program and spent more than five months at a recovery centre for men.
He started to take care of that scared little boy inside him.
“That little guy didn’t have to worry anymore because the big guy had his back,” he says.
“That little guy wasn’t going to get hurt anymore.”
He found mentors, many who are still his friends. He attended Bible studies, prayer groups. He met his wife, Colleen.
He puts it like this: one hand was with God, the other in recovery.
He tells boys that it’s OK to ask for help.
“Don’t listen to the macho BS,” he tells the class. Then, he adopts a deep, rough voice and adds, half-smiling, “Men never talk.”
* * *
The classroom of boys is silent. Transfixed on his every word.
The conversation turns to bullying.
He tells them how he’s met a few people whom he bullied in the past.
“You know what tough is?” he asks.
“Tough is when you walk up to them, put your hand out like a man and tell them you’re sorry and you won’t do it anymore.
“Got the jam to do that?”
The room is silent as he continues. “I don’t make fun of people today,” Glenn tells them, then adds with emphasis to dispel any lingering doubt, “I’m serious.
“Because I’m OK with me.”
* * *
For more information on the education programs in the schools, call the Niagara Region Sexual Assault Centre at 905-682-7258. Visit the website at www.sexualassaultniagara.org to watch videos of Glenn and other survivors.
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IF YOU ARE BEING SEXUALLY
Remember that it is not your fault. The abuser is always to blame.
It is important to tell an adult you trust to get you help. If you tell someone and that person doesn’t get you the help you need, tell an adult at your school.
If a friend tells you he is being sexually abused:
Let him know you believe him and it is not his fault.
Tell him to get help from a trusted adult to stop the abuse. Offer to go with him to tell an adult about the abuse.
Be a good listener if your friend wants to talk about it.
WHERE TO GET HELP
Niagara Regional Police. Call 911 if you are in danger.
Kids Help Phone. Call 1-800- 668-6868 or go to kidshelpphone.ca
forwww.variousissues including abuse, drugs, suicide. It’s anonymous.
Your school. Talk to your school counsellor, a teacher or principal.
Family and Children’s Services (FACS). Call 905-937-7731 to report abuse.
Crime Stoppers. Call 1-800- 222-8477 to report abuse anonymously.
For questions and answers
about male victims of sexual
abuse, see Cheryl Clock’s
article on our website: