‘It’s hellishly hard, but it gets easier,’ says abuse victim as he urges others to speak out
A survivor of child sexual abuse has urged men with similar experiences not to suffer in silence after a support service revealed a significant fall in male referrals during lockdown.
Nick, whose name has been changed to protect his identity, received life-changing support from Suffolk charity Survivors in Transition (SiT) after breaking his own silence about abuse suffered in childhood.
The Ipswich-based charity reported a recent decline in the weekly number of male referrals – from at least four to no more than two during lockdown.
Fiona Ellis, chief executive and co-founder of SiT, said: “Feedback suggests these men have been furloughed and have not wanted to get in touch while restricted to their homes.
“I think we’ll find those numbers naturally pick up when people return to work – but we want to encourage men to get in touch and to know they need not suffer alone.
“We’ve been quite innovative in terms of finding private spaces to meet and provide remote support.”
After years of trying to cope on his own, Nick, now in his 40s, reached out and sought help to transition from victim to survivor.
“You think you’re the only one and that no one will believe you,” he said.
“You just bury it and carry on until it resurfaces.
“When I felt able to take that first step, I had an in-depth interview with Survivors in Transition and they recognised everything I was going through. They understood that ‘just grow a pair’ attitude that stops men getting help. It no longer felt like I was alone.
“The whole experience has been professional and straight down the line – not woolly, soft or condescending – they tell you in definite terms how they can help.
“But you also have to commit to doing it as well. It’s hellishly hard, but it gets easier.
“They can’t change the past, but they can help you change from a victim to a survivor. They can help you find a route to criminal justice, which for me is something I’ve chosen to do myself.
“People imagine counselling as all leather couches and clipboards, but my experience has been nothing of the sort.”