American childhood sexual abuse survivor holds free public seminars in Auckland
A sexual childhood abuse survivor hopes that sharing his story will help change the mindset of other sexually abused Kiwi males.
Greg Holtmeyer, 51, of Missouri in the United States, is holding a closed group and a public seminar on male sexual abuse at Auckland's Unitec in Mt Albert from May 29 to 30.
New Zealand Police Data shows 624 cases of male sexual assault and related offences were reported last year.
Males between the ages of 5 to 9 years old and 15 to 19 years old recorded the highest victims in that time period.
Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse Trust (MSSA) national advocate Ken Clearwater said there were more unreported offences out there.
"We live in a patriarchal society where males are supposed to be tough and staunch," Clearwater said.
"Who wants to disclose they are a victim of sexual abuse. They could be seen as weak, gay, questioned why they didn't do something about it, if they enjoyed it and of course the myth that if they were sexually abused as a male, they would automatically go on to offend.
"They'd be the elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about."
Holtmeyer, a long-time child abuse advocate, wants his story to help change New Zealand society's mindset and perception of what sexual abuse of males looked like.
He was sexually abused by a family member for more than 15 years since he was 6 years old. One of the biggest effects it had on his life was the destruction of his self esteem.
"For males that are sexually abused, there is an extremely deep sense of shame that is attached to us," Holtmeyer said.
"I know the depression, the pain that you want to it to stop at any cost, I have been suicidal, drank to cover the pain, I know what it was like to feel worthless and less than a man."
Holtmeyer only came out with his story six years ago.
"I don't want anyone else in the world to feel those emotions, there is hope and you can recover from it. It does take good therapy, lots of hard work and time.
"But I am happier today than I could have ever imagined. I could not have dreamed of being this content and happy with my life.
"I still have down moments but know I have the tools to combat those feelings and I have friends that I could reach out to and they know how to support me."
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or (09) 281 3409 to book a spot at the free public seminars.