Long journey to raise awareness

Moving forward . . . Sam Troth reached Balclutha during his Road to Healing hikoi for male survivors of sexual abuse on Friday, October 28. PHOTO: NICK BROOK


On Thursday, October 27, Sam Troth walked the 42km from Gore to Clinton in the rain — one of the early stages of his Bluff to Cape Reinga hikoi (walk) to raise awareness and support for male survivors of abuse.

‘‘Men are far less likely to talk about the abuse they suffered and get the help they need to cope and function through life,’’ Mr Troth said.

‘‘Hurt, damaged men hurt the people around them and end up costing the system millions.

‘‘We have to fix that because healthy, happier men mean safe, happier families and women.’’

Mr Troth said the treatment he endured as a child turned to volatile anger, addiction and crime.

‘‘In Wellington I’m hoping to speak to people like [Green Party co-leader] Marama Davidson about how much a man like I was costs the system just in court appearances, let alone years in prison.

‘‘Maybe if they see how much literal profit there is in helping damaged men function and contribute to society instead of attacking it, we’ll get some real help for suffering men and stop cycles of abuse from happening.’’

Michael Chamberlain, of Male Survivors Otago, was a roadside supporter for the southern leg of the journey, checking in on Mr Troth during the day and at night.

‘‘What Sam’s doing is really important because the abuse of men is a factor in so many other issues,’’ Mr Chamberlain said.

‘‘People are ready to talk about the harm caused by men, but not the harm suffered by one in three men — like most of Male Survivors Aotearoa staff.

‘‘Every conversation Sam has helps dispel myths and rumours and raise awareness on things like the role women and mothers have in sexual abuse and family harm.’’

Mr Troth, a carpenter and father to six, said his walking began as a child when, unable to sleep, he used to sneak out at night and walk for hours alone.

Until 2020, his instincts to be a father and family man had been thwarted by having no idea how to address his past trauma and his haunted memory, triggered by words and smells, leading to a breakdown, therapy and his present, 55-day walk.

Among the growing numbers of the Road to Healing’s and Male Survivors social media followers are friends of his children.

‘‘It tears me up most to see the support from my older sons and their mates.

‘‘I just want to be the help now that wasn’t there for me when I was a kid and they appreciate that.

‘‘Trauma never goes away but if you acknowledge it to yourself and the right people, try the help they suggest, get away from who and what is holding you back and accept those who want the best for you, you can improve and find a new way forward.’’