1in6 launched our “1BlueString” public-awareness campaign in November 2012, asking guitarists, at all levels, to replace one of their six guitar strings with one of our free, blue strings, to symbolize the 1 in 6 men who have had unwanted or abusive sexual experiences in childhood.
The 19 million men in the United States who have experienced childhood sexual abuse are at higher risk for a host of physical, mental-health and behavioral issues that harm themselves and others, including substance abuse, suicide, and violence. Masculine social norms and the stigma many men associate with having been victimized discourage men from speaking about, let alone seeking help to address the source of these negative consequences.
1BlueString has proven to be an effective, non-threatening way to create awareness about the prevalence and impact of childhood abuse of boys, begin conversations, reduce stigma and feelings of shame and to provide access to information and resources.
In addition to promoting awareness, 1BlueString directs individuals to 1in6.org, the most complete online resource for male survivors and their loved ones available in the world today. With hundreds of clinically-sound pages of information (in English and Spanish); a 24/7 Online SupportLine, and an Online Lending Library.
Social norms that discourage men from acknowledging vulnerability, experiences of victimization or need of help pose one of the greatest barriers to engaging men who have experienced sexual abuse to get help. On average, men disclose and seek treatment for the impact of childhood sexual abuse much later in life, often only after many years of failed careers, relationships and struggles with depression, addiction and risky behaviors.
1BlueString was designed as a simple, non-threatening – even fun - way to introduce younger men, and those who care about them, to the prevalence of abuse of boys, to the possibility of healing and to a range of information and resources to work through these important issues before their 30s and 40s. Incorporating music, events that often attract young men, the video and social-media engagement potential and the low-key approach makes 1BlueString an ideal strategy to engage men in the 18-30 group.
Since its launch in 2012, the campaign has generated music videos and PSAs featuring professional artists; appeared as an official charity at concert events; and provided information, technical assistance and literature at conferences and college campuses, to organizations hosting awareness events and reaching out to men, and to professional musicians who used the string on stage, with the goal of promoting healthy conversation about the issue, and removing the stigmas and barriers that prevent many men from seeking the help they need.
1BlueString has been included as a resource for the 1 in 6 Men on Campus National Taskforce, an ongoing conversation with campus leaders about effective engagement with men.
1BlueString’s innovative approach was chosen as the featured cover story of Resources, the magazine of the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC), a member organization of Sexual Assault and Rape Crisis Centers across the country.
With initial funding from the Bettingen Corporation, 1in6 was able to establish 1BlueString as a credible and widely-recognized campaign and to distribute thousands of string kits and promotional information for free.
At the same time, we began creating an income stream by developing and distributing a line of1BlueString-related merchandise, including bracelets, t-shirts, additional string sets, and guitar picks. We’ve recently started to charge a small fee to cover costs for the kits and negotiated an agreement with our partners in the national NO MORE campaign to sell all of our merchandise through the NO MORE online store, which will significantly increase 1BlueString’s visibility and impact.
We have also created an event-planning guide and are developing a licensing arrangement that would enable us to charge a minimal fee to provide materials and a branded framework for a 1BlueString event.
Many community-based organizations and campus groups have hosted 1BlueString events to raise awareness and support for the 1 in 6 men in their local communities. These sites included the University of Michigan, University of New Hampshire, Cal State Northridge, Penn Sate, Occidental College, USC, and Univ. of Georgia, The Mississippi Songwriters Festival, The San Diego Experimental Guitar Festival, The North Georgia Cottage (Athens, GA), Beyond Survival (Aberdeen, WA), Calgary Communities Against Sexual Abuse, Algonquin College (Ottawa, Canada), and others. We’ve recently developed an “Event Action Guide.”
International collaborations have led to national organizations with similar focus both in Australia (Living Well) and Canada (1in6 Canada) to partner with 1in6 to replicate the 1BlueString campaign. With Living Well, 1in6 sponsored a 1BlueString contest, featuring PSAs and music videos created by members of the public.
The campaign was nominated for an Alternative Press Music Award, presented at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and aired nationally on the AXS TV network; and has been endorsed by multiple professional musicians, including Rock and Roll Hall-of-Fame inductee, Rod Stewart, who autographed a 1BlueString guitar as an auction item.
.1BlueString was featured in the July 2014 issue of Alternative Press Magazine, a music publication with a circulation of 280,000 print copies and 2,000,000+ online page views/month; was invited to be an official vendor at FYF Fest in Los Angeles, an annual music festival boasting nearly 40,000 attendees; and (for the third year), was an official charity of the Vans Warped tour – a summer music festival visiting over three dozen cities.
In 2014, 1BlueString had 1,016 Twitter followers; 7,500+ YouTube views of 1BlueString-related videos; and 23,000+ website page views. We’ve distributed more than 10,000 blue strings .