IT is vital men speak out about child sexual abuse, but it’s almost like there’s ‘‘nowhere to go with it’’, says Tim Holmes, of Cessnock, who is determined to show recovery is possible.
Mr Holmes was among the 40 people who attended the first workshop to be held by the Survivors & Mates Support Network (SAMSN) in Newcastle in 2010.
It’s ‘‘huge’’, Mr Holmes said, of having a group like SAMSN to turn to for acceptance, support, and to help build the strength to recover.
‘‘I had never experienced anything like that before. Having somewhere to go and somewhere to speak in confidence, without being judged, is massive. There’s this macho thing out there that ‘She’ll be right mate’ and that’s written on a lot of tombstones.
‘‘I think groups like SAMSN are ideal because it does exactly what it says ... it’s men helping men who have been through it.
‘‘At the moment I don’t think people know where to go. We need it to be as open as it is for women to say ‘This has happened to me’. ‘‘There’s a hell of a lot of boys and young men who feel that they have nowhere to go.
‘‘For a government not to allocate funds to something that is so prevalent and which has such a high profile right now, what kind of message is that sending.’’
The difference between a counsellor and a support group was the feeling of acceptance, and belonging, and realising, perhaps for the first time, that ‘‘it is not your fault’’ and that you are not the only one, Mr Holmes said.
Another survivor, 42-year-old Simon, of Newcastle, agrees.
He was abused by a relative for 10 years from the age of seven, and his entire family has since been involved in the fall out.
It was years later that he attended the same SAMSN workshop that Mr Holmes went to, and found the experience uniquely settling, and inspiring.
Before that there had been ‘‘nothing really’’ outside of individual counselling.
‘‘To see all those people in that group at all those different stages of recovery – some like myself, and others who were in the raw phase where they have just come out about their abuse ... it was amazing.
‘‘These types of workshops and groups are really needed because I didn’t really have that when I first started to seek help.
‘‘It’s so important for people at all different stages, whether you have overcome your battles or have just decided to come forward and deal with your story.
‘‘It is a specific group for sexual abuse, and it’s for men, it’s just fantastic.’’
Survivors and Mates Support Network has:
* About 100 people on their waiting list, the majority from regional areas including Newcastle
* More than 700 names on their peititon for funding
* Helped more than 125 men
Since April 2013, the Royal Commission has:
* had an average ten people registering each day to attend private sessions
* heard the stories of more than 1,000 victims of child sexual abuse
* received more than 8,500 phone calls, 3,300 letters and emails and 172,000 visits to the website
* held more than 300 meetings with advocacy groups, legal services and community organisations in every state and territory in Australia
* served more than 300 notices to produce documents on a range of government and non-government institutions
* heard from more than 80 witnesses in four public hearings
* referred 96 matters to authorities including Police
* nearly two thirds of the private sessions held to date involved men
* seven out of ten victims were aged 50 or above, with 10 per cent over the age of 70
Source: The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse website