What I learned at an international conference on male survivors of sexual abuse

By Fawad Shah, Pūkenga Toitū Te Ora Waipiro me Tarutaru kino (Alcohol and Other Drug Clinician)

Fawad Shah with presenter Dr. Albert Pooley, Native American Family Therapist

Fawad Shah with presenter Dr. Albert Pooley, Native American Family Therapist

The topic of sexual violence against men and boys is too often a silent one. Attendees at a recent conference, myself included, agreed we would no longer brush it under the carpet but join the rising ‘zero tolerance’ movement.

The South-South Institute on Sexual Violence Against Men and Boys last month in Christchurch was one of the best conferences I have attended in my professional career. Sharing the best practice techniques, I learned with whānau here at home, I hope, will make all of us feel more confident to support male sexual abuse survivors. One of the key benefits of this conference was its emphasis on indigenous wisdom, healing, and solutions.



I was able to learn about the latest research in the field by some well-known speakers. The conference began with a pōwhiri and whaikōrero led by Ta Mark Solomon followed by another well-respected Ngai Tahu Kaumatua. I listened to male sexual abuse survivors' stories and attended presentations and workshops from indigenous presenters such as Dr Albert Pooley (Native American Family Therapist), Graham Jobson (indigenous trauma focused worker/educator from Canada), Anthony Newcastle (Aboriginal Man/Facilitator from Northern Territory, Australia) and lawyer Lara Stemple.

Fawad Shah with presenter Lara Stemple.

Fawad Shah with presenter Lara Stemple.

It was evident that all speakers support zero tolerance on this topic and they advocate building bridges by bringing everyone together locally, nationally and internationally to keep talking about it so they can continue to help men and boys who are affected.

“Research reveals it takes anywhere from 23 to 30 years for a man to disclose what's happened to him about their trauma of being sexually abused as a child - and 74% of men never tell anyone,” said National Advocate and Campaigner of Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse Ken Clearwater.

It will be my privilege to take these lessons and help those we interact with at Te Piki Oranga to be more informed and confident about this topic.

If anyone is interested in finding out more about this kaupapa, please visit https://mssat.nz/