Support for male sex abuse victims sought

ROSA STUDHOLME
Last updated 05:00 05/10/2012

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A national campaigner says it is time the suffering of male sexual abuse victims was recognised.

Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse Trust national manager Ken Clearwater is hoping to set up a support group in Timaru. He said there were already four men participating in fortnightly sessions through a Christchurch-based facilitator.

Now he wants to see a Timaru-based facilitator and local trust established.

He said woman and girls were too often associated with victims of sexual violence, but the reality was one in four men would experience it during their childhood.

"The most difficult part is getting men to come forward, [overcoming] the shame and the guilt that goes with it, and being seen as weak. That's probably the biggest issue we face - the fact that men really struggle to come forward and talk about it."

The trust, that started in Christchurch, now has support groups right across the country.

"What we are doing is standing up by saying it's a strength to talk, to get counselling, to get support, and be able to talk about your issues.

"Most men hold it in most of their lives."

Statistics showed 60 per cent of men in prison were sexually abused, he said. In most cases of sexual violence, a family member was the abuser.

Suicide was a "huge factor" amongst male survivors, he said.

Mr Clearwater believes New Zealand has been slow to acknowledge male victims of sexual violence. There was not enough funding made available to tackle the issue. "When it comes to sexual violence we automatically think of women and girls. Boys just don't come into it.

"For us the big thing is to make a safe place for men to come forward, where they can deal with their stuff."

More information is available at the website www.survivor.org.nz.

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- The Timaru Herald

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