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Men are referred to Men Breaking Free by local law enforcement, courts and referrals from lawyers across the state after being arrested for the first time for attempting to purchase sex. A total of 58 men participated in Men Breaking Free workshops for the 6-month period June-November, 2018.
Every effort is made to help men feel that they are in a safe, non-judgmental environment designed for optimal learning and introspection. Instead of a day of powerpoint presentations and talking at the men, participants are provided with a 12-page discussion guide/journal and are invited to take notes and engage in conversation throughout the day with Breaking Free facilitators and other participating men.
"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about"
- John Watson
The day is structured into a series of discussions facilitated by Breaking Free and Building Peaceful Community staff and board members, survivors of sex trafficking, and men from previous Men Breaking Free workshops who have chosen to come back to share their stories. In addition to the topics covered in the earlier John School curriculum, Men Breaking Free participants spend the day reflecting on the notion of Toxic Masculinity and how if impacts them and the people being trafficked; exploring and challenging myths about the realities of sex trafficking and sexual exploitation; deeply and honestly exploring what is going on in and missing in their lives that resulted in their making the decision to try to purchase sex from another human being; and how they can now rebuild and reclaim their lives as men of integrity and respect.
All participating men are asked to fill out a comprehensive evaluation that is used to assess impact and effectiveness as well as to identify potential improvements for future men Breaking Free workshops. The evaluations pose open-ended questions to the men, requiring written responses as opposed to scaled ratings. While this evaluation approach presents some challenges for quantifying results, it allows for the gathering of detailed feedback reflecting the changes in attitudes and knowledge men experience during the workshop.
Overall, evaluation results and summaries of discussion topics covered during Men Breaking Free workshops indicate that men are very grateful for the approach and content of the workshops, and that they leave the experience with significant and potentially transformative learning both about the issue of realities associated with buying and selling other human beings for sex, as well as important insights into themselves and how they can make changes toward living lives built on integrity, respect and love for themselves and others.