By: BROCK WILSON
University of Ottawa student Paul Leduc had always struggled with his past. But in 2010, that struggle reached a whole new level.
Leduc was battling a history of childhood sexual abuse.
“I had hit a rock bottom that I did not even know existed,” says Leduc.
“I sincerely hated what I saw in the mirror looking back at me. I was so sick of hating myself that I knew something had to change,” he says.
It was then that Leduc began to seek therapy.
At 21 years of age and living off a student budget, Leduc says it was extremely difficult to find help he could afford.
“I found that there were many barriers to therapy… the major obstacle that I faced was the financial reality of hiring a therapist,” Leduc says.
“The post-secondary institution I was attending at the time refused to take me on as well,” he says. “It was extremely demoralizing to build up enough courage to face my past and be turned away from people for financial reasons.”
After tireless efforts and support from a family friend, Leduc found a therapist who took him on, free of charge.
“Having those two [the family friend and therapist] who gave so much to me without asking for anything in return has truly inspired me to help others,” says Leduc.
It was then that Leduc created the Canadian Society for Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse (CSMSSA).
“Organizations like The Canadian Society for Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse are so important because sexual victimization of men is often overlooked and ignored,” Leduc says.
The organization offers both financial and community support for male sexual abuse victims according to Leduc.
CSMSSA also has a community participation program, which helps males get involved and reconnect with their communities.
While CSMSSA offers support for victims who have come forward, many victims are still unable to take that step and share their story.
“One in six males are sexually abused by the age of 18,” says Rick Goodwin, executive director of The Men’s Project, an organization that offers counselling for male victims of sexual abuse.
“This number is generally surprising to people when they hear it,” adds Goodwin.
While many cases of male sexual abuse occur during childhood, adult males are still victims as well.
“Sexual abuse applies to childhood sexual victimization, while sexual assault is the term used to describe adult cases of sexual victimization,” says Goodwin.
“It’s estimated that one in eight males have been sexually assaulted as adults in their life,” Goodwin says.
While it is important for victims to come forward, Leduc says it is hard for many men to do so.
“There is a stigma surrounding men who have been sexually abused. It makes you feel shame. It makes you feel guilty. It makes you feel disgusted with yourself. It challenges your sexuality. It is not until we reach our rock bottom that we seek help,” Leduc says.
Whether they have come forward and are seeking help, or are still dealing with the abuse they faced, Leduc thinks it is essential that all victims keep one thing in mind:
“You’ve done nothing wrong. Wrong was done to you.”