Being a male survivor of childhood sexual abuse, I know what it’s like to carry the pain alone, so when I found out about the fantastic work SurvivorsUK do supporting male sexual abuse and assault victims and also challenging the stigma, I knew I needed to do my bit to help.
It hadn’t been long since I’d started to open up and speak freely about being a survivor, so I was still quite nervous but knew I needed to do something that would create a talking point in my community. I didn’t expect to raise much money, so I had to make sure I could at least raise awareness of male survivors and the amazing work that Survivors UK do, and I decided to shave my beloved beard. My beard is a huge part of me, I use it as a mask and it gives me great comfort to hide behind it on my bad days, so it was a tough decision to make! I also chose to shave for a symbolic reason too: I made the connection between society pairing a big bushy beard with a strong man, so I was showing that I was no less of a man just because I’d lost my beard, just like male survivors are still men despite being victims to sexual abuse and assault.
The response I got was overwhelming, donations started coming in, I received messages of support and was even contacted by a local paper and BBC Radio Newcastle. I had gone from nervously letting out my biggest secret, to being interviewed by journalists in a matter of months! I couldn’t have asked for a better response to my first fundraiser for SurvivorsUK, I raised some cash and a whole load of awareness about an issue close to my heart.
We are currently organising a family fun day which actually started as a few stalls and has grown fast…the original idea was to have a raffle, tombola, cake sale and jumble sale but again the response from my local community has been unbelievable, and so far we have been donated 3 bouncy castles and assault course, face painting and glitter tattoos, first aiders with an ambulance and paramedic car and a DJ. Some other local charities and organisations will also be in attendance to show their support and services including Victims First Northumbria, Samaritans, Northumbria Police and “Making the Invisible, Visible – A Photographic Exhibition” by Shatterboys UK and Shattergirls UK. So a few stalls has turned into a whole family fun day and awareness event. We have been emailing local businesses and attractions and have had some amazing prizes donated to our raffle. I have also had an interview with a local paper who will be publishing an article about the event nearer the time and I had an interview with a local community radio where I spoke about the event, SurvivorsUK and my experiences of living with the effects of childhood sexual abuse.
So what can I say? Through it all the biggest surprise to me is that although sexual abuse and assault can often be considered a taboo subject, when people are given the opportunity, the community really pulls together and shows their love and support, and for that I can’t thank them enough.
For more information and to support Steven, visit his fundraising pace on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/donate/434132353805214/