Adelaide writer David Paul Jobling is undertaking a task not many, it seems, have undertaken before him.
He is writing a handbook designed to share insights into the court process and experience for men who are dealing with childhood sexual assault or abuse.
Jobling is an established writer, actor and educator in South Australia and is creating The Post Abuse Handbook for Boys to share his advice, having gone through the process himself.
“After my seven years in court, I searched for some Australian resources and found nothing much that was directed towards men. There may be stuff out there that I don’t know about, but I couldn’t find it and was less than impressed with the way I was treated by volunteer support people through the trial process,” Jobling says.
“I’m sensitive to rhetoric and was often left feeling distressed by the way people communicated about sexual abuse. But when someone I was working with made remarks along the lines of, “I wanted to be sexually abused when I was a kid,” I felt I really needed to put my voice out there.”
Jobling’s voice is genuine; he wants to reach out to those who have suffered as he has and create a platform to encourage discussion.
“I was thirteen years old, working as an actor in a semi-professional theatre. A children’s television personality and actor took me into his dressing-room, locked the door and talked me into performing sexual acts. After this initial contact he directed the attention of other men in his circle towards me. The sexual abuse lasted for several months,” he says.
“As a young person brought up to respect my elders and to do what I was told, I found myself in deep conflict. Men should share their stories if they feel capable; no one should be forced to speak about these things against their will. Talking about it doesn’t make it heal over or go away, but there is a certain amount of lost ground that can be regained on a personal level if the truth is on the table.”
“The male gender has been socialised to be a certain way, and social discourse around sexual abuse is most often focused on the experience of women. The more male survivors who talk about their experience the better because every situation is unique but the responses and effects appear to be universal.”
In order to provide assistance for men who have been in the same situation as Jobling, he is seeking help from the public.
This is a worthy cause and there’s only a few days left to contribute to a resource that has the potential to benefit adult men, including those with a disability, who have suffered this kind of unspeakable trauma.
“I’m asking for donations to produce, publish and distribute the book; produce the accessible elements of the book (a short film and sound recording) and set up a website with the information available,” Jobling says. “This is an accessible book. What that means is it will have a USB attached containing the information within the book, spoken in easy English with Auslan signing on a short film and sound recording.”
“On the crowd funding platform I have a set of rewards a person can claim linked to amounts of money they may decide to donate, however most of the people whom have generously donated so far have not claimed a reward. The rewards are my art work and poetry, original stuff that I am footing the bill for. None of the rewards come out of the money raised. I pay for that. I am offering a copy of the book to anyone who donates.”
The main things missing for men when they are seeking support after suffering abuse are places to talk, support in the community and an opportunity to speak with legislators.
“Safe spaces to talk about it with other men; sensitivity in the community around the lasting effects of abuse, opportunity to be heard by legislators, politicians, media on their own terms in their own language [are missing]. In the book, I will cover some strategies on how to place yourself back into the situations you have encountered, how to remember things from the time of the incident/s and suggestions on how to avoid getting too depressed or intimidated by the process, the media and the ignorance that one encounters through the legal process,” Jobling says.
“I hope it will be of assistance to men of all ages who are trying to piece together their witness statement and their victim impact statement. It is not going to be a big in-depth book about my personal experience so much as a small helpful volume you can keep in your pocket and pull out during those long hours of waiting. There is a lot of waiting involved in what we call ‘justice’. If it helps one man (or woman) go through what is an incredibly traumatic process it will be worth all the effort.”
Jobling is a survivor of abuse and is hoping to reach out to other men, but throughout the process of crowdfunding, he has been on the receiving end of some unexpected negativity.
“I am being single minded by writing this material to the survivor because it is what I felt would have been useful for me. When a police officer or social worker is assigned to you as a support person, you have a whole human being there with their whole back-story and opinions and way of communicating. Sometimes what you really need is to hear (or read) the voice of someone who has had the experience from the inside, as opposed to someone who assist from the outside,” he says.
“At the end of my court case when the guilty verdict came down and the judge made her deliberations known I was horrified by some of the things she said. Minutes later I had a police officer suggesting the guilty party would probably commit suicide in prison. Then I was faced with a media pack who were desperate to put a face to the case. Then the local newspaper placed a photograph of me online that made it look like I was the guilty party. All of a sudden I was surrounded by things I should have been protected from.”
“I have also had quite a lot of unexpected abuse directed at me by women, because I’m pitching my book at other men. There are two main reasons that I am pitching it this way: I couldn’t find anything useful pitched at men while I was going through the court process myself and I found quite a few really good things created for (and by) women. I don’t imagine it is appropriate for me, a male, to start offering advice to women about their experiences of sexual assault; it simply doesn’t feel right to me. There is nothing stopping anyone of any gender reading the material. The motivation to create this resource comes from enduring a seven year long trial of my own.”
To donate to this worthy cause, David Jobling says you can pay money through an account he set up, due to some issues with previously used crowdfunding and PayPal websites.
“There have been three people feeding back to me that they had trouble making a donation via PayPal and so they gave up. Tragic feedback to get. To combat the problem with PayPal and Fund Anything I have set up an account where anyone can make a direct bank donation.”
The bank details are: BSB: 015 354 ACCOUNT # 392747882 – but Jobling asks you include a return email so he can send a reward and copy of the book once produced, which, if he reaches the target, should be before the end of 2015.
We at The Upside News wish him all the very best with his project.
By Libby Parker