SASH general manager Emma Brazendale says there’s been an increase in old abuse cases coming forward.
Sexual abuse survivors are breaking their silence as a rise in men and victims who have lived with their secret for many years share their pain with a Nelson/Tasman agency.
SASH Nelson/Tasman general manager Emma Brazendale said the need for the service had doubled in the last couple of years, requiring twice the number of staff and a move to larger premises at Trafalgar House in Nelson. It has also branched out to Blenheim and the West Coast.
She said of the 40 monthly referrals the service received, she had seen an increase in the number of 60 to 70-year-olds seeking help.
“Often they just want to tell their story. Other people want to tell their story and seek some support and counselling for it”, Brazendale said, while others are seeking support when they go to the police to report the abuse.
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“Sometimes, that’s all they need, is to be heard and believed.”
Sash is funded by the Ministry of Social Development and Oranga Tamariki; and provides support to people and their whanau affected by sexual abuse.
The organisation works with all genders and Brazendale said since the #MeToo movement, she had seen a lot more men opening up, “particularly with historic claims”.
“I think the MeToo campaign has been absolutely amazing in allowing men a voice to acknowledge that something happened to them.
“Particularly with men, it can effect their whole life. What happened to them 50 years ago at boarding school for example, that can have huge impacts on their life.”
Brazendale said the lockdown had taken a toll on some sexual abuse victims, increasing anxiety.
”When you suffer from PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), which is what many, many of our clients suffer from when they’ve been sexually harmed, that just adds another layer to the stress.”
She said while the demand had decreased back to the average of 40 referrals a month, there was still a backlog of clients waiting to see counsellors.
”We’re supporting people for longer whilst they’re waiting to get into ACC sensitive claims counselling.”
Sash is available 24/7 with a crisis line to support people immediately after a sexual assault on 03 548 2407.