55-day walk for awareness

One step at a time . . . Sam Troth’s Bluff-to-Cape walk for male survivors will take about 2,721,840 footsteps. PHOTO: SUPPLIED


For male survivors of sexual abuse, the road to healing is especially long.

No-one knows this more than Sam Troth, whose road to healing has lasted over 25 years.

With the backing of Dunedin non-profit organisation Male Survivors (MS) Otago, Mr Troth is making a 55-day journey of more than 2000km from Bluff to Cape Reinga, alone, on foot.

‘‘Raising awareness of sexual abuse is my number one goal, to destigmatise abuse and to encourage victims to seek help,’’ he said.

Sixty-two percent of New Zealand males in psychiatric care, and 90% of males who commit suicide before the age of 14, have been sexually abused.

One in six boys up to 18 years of age will experience sexual violence.

The inclusion of emotional, psychological and physical abuse raises the statistics to one in three.

MS estimated 55,433 of the 166,300 men in the Otago-Southland region were abuse survivors, many of whom would never disclose their abuse.

Seeking help took Mr Troth several years and took many forms, but his breakthrough came in 2020.

Through intensive therapy and ongoing counselling with Bruce Montgomery from MS Bay of Plenty, Mr Troth began to discover his path to healing.

‘‘By undertaking such a courageous mission to face his recovery, Sam is taking the power away from the shame that is often debilitating for men to step forward,’’ Mr Montgomery said.

Mr Troth’s hikoi (walk) through New Zealand began in Bluff on October 24.

Along the way he would be visiting MS branches to share his story and inspire others to keep pushing forward.

He was scheduled to pause in Balclutha tomorrow.

He hoped to visit parliament and share his story with ministers and officials, to advocate for support for survivors, education and sensible sentencing.

For Mr Troth, his hikoi was more than an awareness campaign — it signaled the end of his suffering and the start of a new beginning.