'Behind every man is a childhood' - male survivor of sexual abuse speaks out
In the age of #MeToo it is not only female voices being heard. Male survivors of sexual abuse are also starting to tell their stories.
Pippa Hudson's joined in studio by one such survivor, as well as former Childline director Joan van Niekerk and manager of the support group MatrixMen, David Ralphs.
Dale tells the story of the journey to rebuild his life after experiencing sexual abuse from the age of five and is proud to say he will be 17 years sober in December as a recovering alcoholic.
Choked by tears, he says it was at the age of 14 that he realised things were "not as they were supposed to be".
For the last ten years it wasn't only the sexual abuse, it was I wouldn't say physical abuse - I didn't have welts or black eyes - but if I did something I wrong I would get hit through the face or on the head by him. He would use his belt.Dale, Survivor of sexual abuse
I said please don't do this any more, please don't touch me.Dale, Survivor of sexual abuse
The abuser persisted, insisting on just one more time, but Dale found the strength to draw the line.
I held on to absolutely everything I could, whatever strength I could and he finally left me alone.Dale, Survivor of sexual abuse
After a few months however, the cycle started again. Dale says he would resist night after night when the man came into his room until one occasion which marked a turning point.
I think he just realised I was older and, reflecting now as an adult, he realised the 'child Dale' was over.Dale, Survivor of sexual abuse
Dale says it's the emotional abuse or entrapment that goes with sexual abuse that society is not even aware of.
Adults see children through adult eyes. You've got to see that child as a five-year-old sitting there, respecting what's being told to me - adults are correct, you'll be seen and not heard.Dale, Survivor of sexual abuse
When Dale's abuser finally moved out, he says, he finally felt the house felt like his home. He feels it was a release not only for him but also for his mother.
We'd put music on and dance together! Yes I suffered, but my mother suffered as well.Dale, Survivor of sexual abuse
Dale adds that many men have not had the chance to speak and start a process of recovery from childhood abuse with the kind of support that he has experienced.
Behind every man is a childhood and you're welcome to judge, but do you know the child that man once was?Dale, Survivor of sexual abuse
One of Dale's sources of support has been former director at Childline Joan van Niekerk, who voices concern about the misconception that it's only, or mostly, girls who are sexually abused.
I'm very concerned about the impact of just focusing on the empowerment of girls in this country. Research tells us that boys have a slightly higher level of abuse than girls.Joan van Niekerk, Former director at Childline
For more of this important conversation and information on support group MatrixMen, listen to the audio below:
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