The bristlecone pine is a tree that thrives under adverse conditions on the mountains of the American West. Dr. David Lisak uses the image of this hardy tree to symbolize the successful work that male survivors of childhood sexual abuse or adulthood assault can do in recovery.
His project is a multimedia archive of portraits, written statements, and videos by male survivors, focusing on where they are today, what defines them, and what their challenges and triumphs have been. By depicting survivors as capable of living meaningful and dignified lives, the archive seeks to reach out to other survivors who may feel isolated and stigmatized by what was done to them. The archive is also a rich resource for raising awareness in the broader community.
The portraits and statements of the participating men have appeared in exhibitions, workshops, retreats, and other events across the country and abroad, and are inclusive across categories of race, class, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation, culture, and religion. Overall, the project provides positive hopeful role models of men who have faced the consequences of unwanted sexual experiences and have learned to live healthier happier lives.
All of the portraits are high-resolution images that can easily be reproduced as posters. If you are planning an event, display of selected portraits would be a powerful affirmative statement. Also available is a 30-minute documentary film that introduces many of the participants and their stories and describes the growth and goals of the Project.
David launched the Bristlecone Project in 2013, and it has been adopted as an ongoing collaborative awareness campaign by 1in6, of which David is a founding Board member.
Would outreach like this interest you? So far 130 men have participated, and more than 100 others have volunteered. David is a professional therapist and has set up the process as a healing experience for the participant. He discusses the details with each volunteer in advance, the interview and photo shoot are scheduled at a venue that suits the survivor (his home, for example), and men who have participated can at any time decide to withdraw their materials from the project.