A sexual abuse survivor turned advocate from British Columbia says more groups are needed in Newfoundland and Labrador to offer support to young males who are sexually victimized.
Andy Bhatti, event coordinator with Men of Hope, a non-profit organization founded to raise awareness for survivors of childhood victimization, said there is a lack of support for young male survivors in this province.
Bhatti was sexually abused by his Big Brother mentor in B.C., and got a call from a mother of a victim in N.L. who faced similar circumstances.
He said the boy isn't getting the support he needs, and there is a general lack of victim support services that are aimed directly at male survivors.
'Every survivor is going to have a mental health issue — you don't get molested and have no side-effects. There is depression, there is post-traumatic stress disorder, there's suicide, there is addiction.' - Andy Bhatti, sexual abuse survivor
"Out here in Newfoundland, the support group that deals with survivors is actually co-ed, and if the male survivor is abused by a woman, they may not want to take that group with the females, or the females may not want to take the group with the males because they were abused by males," said Bhatti.
"There isn't a child and youth advocacy centre in Newfoundland, and there needs to be — there needs to be a centre where he can go and feel safe."
Always some sort of side-effect
Bhatti said without a solid support foundation, victims of abuse may turn to drugs or alcohol the way he did — leading to larger problems for the victim down the road.
"I didn't have any help, I didn't know anybody who was a survivor, until I got out of jail one time and started seeking help through recovery people who suggested I should probably find a male survivor group, and when I went and found a male survivor group there actually wasn't that much help," he said.
"I'm very fortunate by being in recovery and building a support group that way, but I was thinking, you know what, there are survivors who aren't addicts who actually need a support group, so what happens if they're too scared to ask for help or they don't know where to find the help?"
According to Bhatti, there is a range of issues that survivors face, and if they aren't dealt with victims may not be able to cope with reality.
"Every survivor is going to have a mental health issue — you don't get molested and have no side-effects. There is depression, there is post-traumatic stress disorder, there's suicide, there is addiction."
Bhatti said if something isn't done to help young victims at home, they may have to leave the province and seek help at support centres in provinces like Ontario and Alberta.
Bhatti said he's open to speaking with other abuse victims and their families. He'll be part of the Miles for Smiles charity event Thursday at Frontline Action in Mount Pearl.