A support and advocacy group for men who have experienced sexual abuse is looking to open a space in Blenheim.

The Male Room director Philip Chapman, based in Nelson, said he realised the need in Marlborough after getting calls from men asking for local support.

“It was time” Blenheim had its own Male Room, Chapman said.

“Men don’t access services as much as women and most of the services are run by women, so we are looking at a place for men.

Published in Stuff

“And there is no publicity, no campaigns … So men always feel alone. There is nothing in Blenheim and Nelson is too far away,” Chapman said.

One in six Kiwi males experience childhood sexual abuse, but many never talk about it, so the actual statistic could be much higher.

“Men don’t talk about sexual abuse. They hold on to it longer than women and there is a lot of reasons for that – masculinity hanging on shame, fears of sexuality… They can be 50 before they tell somebody.

“Also, if you are a male, there is a myth that if you have been abused, you would go into abuse. It is not true, but we don’t think that for women, and that stops men coming forward,” Chapman said.

The Male Room was an affiliate member of Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse Trust Aotearoa New Zealand, a network of peer support services that covered 11 regions of Aotearoa and funded by the Ministry of Social Development (MSD).

Ministry local relationship manager Sandz Peipi met with Chapman to see how she could support a Male Room in Blenheim.

“It is one of those services than unless you have it delivered you don’t get an idea of the issue in the community,” Peipi said.

“It is an invisible issue until you provide some visibility and then people will engage. I am sure that would be the outcome.

“Every community needs a male survivors service. We are very supportive, and I am looking at how, across the agencies that we work with, we can support establishing the service. Next step is to make it a reality.”

Chapman said they were looking for a place and an employee to start setting up the service.

“We need someone with the right personality, a more social type role, but it doesn’t have to be a counsellor. It is about empathy, understanding …

“It is not only talking about sexual abuse, we help survivors with other things, like housing. I work with homeless people in Nelson.

“Normally when you have been sexually abused as a child often you come to the attention of the justice system, often you come to services for alcohol and addictions, often you get diagnosed with mental health issues … so we help them with all things,” Chapman said.

If you would like to apply, you can contact Philip Chapman on 03 548 0403 or at pchapman@ts.co.nz

By Morgane Solignac
Published in Stuff
30 March 2021