Child abuse is a men’s health issue

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has thrown a spotlight on the sexual abuse of males and the long term impacts on men’s lives.

International Men’s Health Week begins on June 8 and Griffith University will be hosting a symposium aimed at Improving Responses to Men Sexually Abused in Childhood.

Thursday 12th June 2014, 9 – 4.30pm
QCA Lecture Theatre S05_2.04,
226 Grey St, Southbank, Brisbane

The symposium will be hosted by Professor Patrick O’Leary from the Griffith Health Institute and Dr Gary Foster from Living Well. Professor O’Leary has been working with abuse survivors around the world for over twenty years and has done consultancy work for the Royal Commission.

Dr Foster has been instrumental in the last ten years in setting up services for male abuse survivors in Australia. He has used innovative methods such as internet applications to reach out to survivors globally.

Griffith University are pleased to confirm that Justice Peter McClellan, Chair of the Royal Commission, will provide the opening address, followed by a keynote address by Dr David Lisak from the University of Massachusetts.

Professor O’Leary and Dr Foster have become increasingly concerned that sexual abuse appears to have been sidelined as a key factor in men’s health.

“Considering the over-representation of men who have experienced child sexual abuse in mental health, substance abuse and prison populations, I am perplexed why men’s health policy and initiatives have barely mentioned child sexual abuse,” said Professor O’Leary.

A vulnerability to suicide

“Evidence suggests that men sexually abused in childhood are particularly vulnerable to suicide, reporting suicidal ideation at 10 times the rate of a community sample of Australian men; with 46% reporting at least one attempted suicide. The death by suicide of 34 men sexually abused as schoolboys by two clergymen in Ballarat, Victoria highlights the impact of sexual abuse has on men’s lives.”

“This Royal Commission has highlighted that we have a lot of work to do,” said Dr Foster. “The challenge we face is to reach out, engage and develop, practical, effective support for men, their partners and families, whether they were abused in Institutional, community or familial settings. We hope the Symposium will be another step in improving our community’s responses to sexual abuse.”

Survivor groups and support agencies are expected to attend the symposium.