Timmins male sexual abuse billboard promotes help hotline
Organizers hope to see more billboards installed across northeastern Ontario
Two men who survived sexual abuse when they were teenagers are urging other victims to break their silence.
They unveiled a new billboard in Timmins this week to raise awareness about the issue of male sexual abuse. The sign advertises an Ontario hotline that victims can call to get help.
One of the men behind the billboard is Ray Auclair, who’s urging survivors to come forward and seek treatment.
“You know what, you feel so much better after,” he said.
“I get teared up all the time … you feel so much better because finally somebody believes you and somebody's helping you, you know."
Auclair says he hopes to get billboards put up across the northeast.
It took Chelmsford resident Ray Lariviere forty years to build up the courage to tell his own story.
Lariviere said he was sexually abused by his chruch deacon in the 1960s.
The aftermath of this experience cost him his first marriage, and gave him suicidal thoughts, he said.
Now, he wants to prevent other victims from going down the same path.
"Sexual abuse is going on,” he said. “We want the people not to be afraid to come forward."
After breaking his silence, Lariviere joined a male survivor group in Timmins, where he met Auclair.
Auclair had the idea for the billboard with a 24-hour hotline.
"I think I would've called that number, if I was a kid, because it bothered me really bad,” Auclair said.
Last year, the Sudbury Counselling Centre started promoting services for male survivors of sexual abuse.
Program director Francine Boudreau said it’s been successful.
“We've certainly had more men calling us to receive services,” he said.
Lariviere said he hopes to put up more billboards across the northeast.