Portraits and stories of men overcoming sexual abuse

WARNING: This exhibition contains material that may be challenging for younger visitors or triggering for people who have experienced sexual violence. Viewer discretion is advised.

Unwanted and abusive sexual experiences affect men regardless of race, class, ethnicity, sexual orientation, culture and religion. The Bristlecone Project celebrates the courage, determination, and resilience of men from across Aotearoa
– and the world – who have suffered sexual abuse. These men tell their individual stories openly and honestly. They are stories of suffering but also of triumph, healing and
hope. In addition to the 24 New Zealand men included in this exhibition, it also includes men from Uganda, Norway, Canada and North America.

The men whose stories feature in this exhibition are offering
a gift to others who have suffered sexual abuse and are still trapped in silence. These stories are saying “you don’t need to suffer alone, you can talk with other men who have had similar experiences, many of whom now lead healthier, happier lives”.

At least 1 in 6 men under the age of 16 have been sexually abused or assaulted. And 1 in 3 victims of domestic violence are males.

The Bristlecone Project is an international project and a campaign of It has been developed by US clinical psychologist David Lisak who is the Vice-Chair of 1in6. David interviews and photographs male survivors of sexual abuse and in August 2017 he travelled to New Zealand to interview male survivors here. His visit was facilitated by Male Survivors Aotearoa and the Canterbury Museum produced and hosted this exhibition in 2018.

Need help? These stories may be upsetting to some people. If you, or anybody you know, need advice or support you can contact Mike Subritzky (027 444 109) or Marion Mauga (027 444 0901).

Male Survivors Aotearoa has eleven male survivor support centres located across Aotearoa that currently support a community of more than 2,000 male survivors of childhood and adult sexual abuse.

You can find the information to contact any of these centres on our website: