HOMEWOOD, Ala. (WIAT) — A new exhibit at Homewood City Hall is trying to encourage conversation about men who survive sexual assault.
The exhibit is called the “Bristlecone Project,” and it shares photos and stories of men who were sexually abused. According to the CDC, one in six men are abused before they reach the age of 18.
Jason Lee is an organizer of the project. He spent part of his childhood in Homewood, where he was sexually abused by a boy scout master and church leader.
“Every time i talk about it, i deal with those feelings of embarrassment and shame,” Lee said. “I’m sweating right now, just talking about it. It’s a difficult subject to talk about it.”
The man convicted of abusing Lee and two other boys is serving 30 years in prison for his crime.
“We think Don Corley abused at least 43 boys over a two decade worth of time frame. That’s horrible,” Lee said. “Each of those 43 boys who are now men have their own jail sentence to deal with.”
To help deal with those feelings, Lee has become an advocate for sexual abuse victims. In addition to the Bristlecone Project, he’s also involved in another group called 30 is 30. The group works to lobby the board of pardons and paroles, to ensure Corley is not set free before his 30 year sentence is complete.
Lee says many male survivors of sexual abuse struggle to talk about their feelings. He hopes the exhibit at Homewood City Hall opens a door for those men.
“You’re not alone. You’re not alone. One in six, right? Fifteen percent of all the men,” Lee said. “You’re not alone. So know that, among nothing else, that this conversation is worth it.”