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anew peer support group for male victims of abuse aims to help men across the region.

Steve Farquhar, of Alexandra, and Steve Goodlass, of Poolburn, have established the Central Otago branch of Male Survivors Otago for men who have experienced physical, sexual or mental abuse.

Mr Farquhar said the purpose of the group was to allow men to have a confidential, secure way to get support from people who understood what they might be going through.
The group would cover the Queenstown-Lakes district as well as Central Otago.

Mr Farquhar had ‘‘walked the journey’’ and knew what it was like to be a survivor, he said.
His story began as a 12-yearold boy when he was sexually abused over a two-year period by a man who was found guilty of the abuse in 2017.
Mr Farquhar, now aged 61, ‘‘hid that secret for 40 years’’.

Being able to speak to other survivors had enabled him to come forward with his story. When his abuser was taken to court and found guilty it was ‘‘a pretty big moment’’, he said.

He wrote a book of poems about his experience so people could understand it was possible to ‘‘tell your story and be believed’’.

Setting up a group in Central Otago was part of giving back. ‘‘I need to support some guys just the way I got some support,’’ he said. Mr

Farquhar had completed peer support training ‘‘and now it is time to get a group up and running in Central Otago and help some guys’’.

Since the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in Care began in 2018 there had been an increase in awareness that boys were victims of abuse as well as girls, Mr Farquhar said.
‘‘Up until even 10 years ago it was [perceived] men were the perpetrators and women were the victims.
‘‘I think when the final report comes out from the royal commission it will make pretty startling reading.’’

Male Survivors Otago and manager and trustee Michael Chamberlain, of Dunedin, said it was important to have support for men in the rural and semirural areas of Central Otago. ‘‘You’ve got to have the right people on the ground.’’

Having a group in Central Otago went ‘‘some way to closing the gap’’ and provided benefits for men wanting to reach out for help.
‘‘It is desperately required.’’

For details phone (03) 425-8018 or visit malesurvivorsotago.nz/cointerest.
Any information provided to the group will be held in strict confidence.