In his interactive show Ask a Sex Abuse Survivor childhood sexual abuse survivor Michael Broussard shares the story of the abuse he suffered as a child and of his path to healing as an adult. Along the way, he also invites audience members to ask questions, make observations, and share their own stories.
Unlike the typical format of placing a talkback segment at the end of the performance, Broussard actually sprinkles these segments throughout the show. He tells a little of his story, then invites the audience to have their say, then tells a little more, and so on. He also allows audience feedback to impact the way he tells his story. The shape of the next chapter after each break is influenced by the input from that break.
Part monologue, part audience participation, and part improvisation, each performance of Ask a Sex Abuse Survivor is a singular event. There are no two alike.
And while the show is fairly intense and sometimes dark in nature, it also includes a healthy amount of humor and, ultimately, a very positive, empowering and triumphant message of hope and healing.
“Ask A Sex Abuse Survivor” has been presented all up and down the East Coast for survivors, medical and mental health professionals, social workers, law enforcement officials, and others associated with the response to this kind of abuse.
The reception has been overwhelmingly positive.
A packed crowd at last year’s Philadelphia Children’s Alliance conference gave the presentation an average score of 4.5 out of 5 and comments included: “It will help me to do my job more effectively” and “It gives insight into the mentality of a victim which should inform all our work”.
Survivor and New England Director of SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) Dave O’Regan said, “I came away from the performance uplifted, braver, and will always remember Michael’s courage and draw strength from it when needed in my own life.”
Clinical Psychologist Dr. Elizabeth Dale Blair said, “As a psychologist who treats survivors of childhood sexual abuse, I would highly recommend this show to anyone who struggles with the emotional aftermath of these traumas”.
Clinician Megan L. Doyle of SOAR (Survivors of Abuse in Recovery) said, “ASK A SEX ABUSE SURVIVOR reflects a movement from isolation and shame to connection and acceptance for both performer and audience”.
Psychologist Margaret D. Sayers called the presentation “an excellent illustration of the healing power of art and community”.
“Ask A Sex Abuse Survivor” runs approximately 60 minutes, including feedback breaks. Many organizations that host it choose to follow the program with a panel discussion conducted by professionals in the field.
Ask a Sex Abuse Survivor author and performer Michael Broussard is the producer, director and emcee for the Philadelphia theater company Five Minute Follies. He is also a survivor of childhood sexual abuse.
Michael’s abuse came at the hands of a trusted guardian, his stepfather. While children are often warned about “stranger danger”, studies show that 75% to 90% of offenders are known to the child (see http://rainbowhousecolumbia.org). Often they are a family member, a friend, or a well respected person in the community.
The long term effects of this abuse have followed Michael well into adulthood and have affected every aspect of his life. Every relationship, whether personal or professional, has been colored by the abuse.
Like many survivors, Michael struggles daily with a host of mental health conditions, including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Depression, Bipolar Disorder, Social Anxiety, Panic Attacks, and chronic low self esteem.
Ask a Sex Abuse Survivor is Michael’s way of taking back the power from his abuser and reaching out to his fellow survivors to tell them they can do the same.