Group meetings set up

Tone Miller, a peer support worker for Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse Dunedin and Invercargill,...
Tone Miller, a peer support worker for Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse Dunedin and Invercargill, is organising two new weekly support groups in the South. Photo: Peter McIntosh
A support group for male survivors of sexual abuse is ramping up its presence in Dunedin and Invercargill to cope as more survivors come forward.

The Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse Trust, which has branches across New Zealand, is launching two  weekly group meetings for survivors in Dunedin and Invercargill.

Tone Miller, a peer support worker for Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse Dunedin and Invercargill, said the weekly gatherings would be held at Community House in Dunedin and a yet-to-be confirmed venue in Invercargill, from the end of the month.

Mr Miller said he already worked with about 12 survivors who were inmates at the Otago Corrections Facility, and about 12 more in the community with whom he had weekly contact.

Other men were "on the books" but only picked up the phone in a moment of crisis, he said.

"They just live their lives quite happily, and if anything does come up, that’s when they call me."

Until now, the support group’s activities in Dunedin had been on an individual basis, but demand for the service was increasing, he said.

More survivors were seeking help, and earlier in life, and "and that’s just those that have come forward", he said.

"You’ve got to always remember that it’s really the tip of a very big iceberg. It does take quite a bit of courage and a whole lot of things to sort out."

He expected recent media scrutiny of paedophile priests within the Catholic Church, and the pending announcement on the scope of a Royal Commission into historic abuse in New Zealand, would only fuel that demand.

The support group helped survivors access financial assistance through ACC, as well as counselling, and offered a one-to-one service for people to "talk about their day-to-day life and how it’s affected them".

"We offer kindness to some people who have not seen a lot of kindness in their lives.

"Depending on what people are actually suffering from in life, we will help them out as best we can."

His message to survivors was simple.

"There is somebody out there to help them."

chris.morris@odt.co.nz

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