IT TOOK Michael Del Monaco four decades to disclose the sexual abuse he was subjected to as a young man – now, he speaks out regularly to convince others to come forward and stop suffering in silence.
The 63-year-old has encouraged all male survivors of sexual abuse to join a new group in Broome – Men’s Healing Yarn – to start on the path to recovery.
Three times he was abused by male strangers – when he was aged seven and 10 on his way home from school in Victoria, and when he ran away from home at 15.
For years he buried memories of the abuse deep in his psyche.
However, in 2001 he read a book for females who had been sexually abused and was struck by similarities to his own experience.
“That opened the door and I got some counselling with male counsellors, which was rare on the ground then,” he said.
In 2010, he participated in a Victims No Longer residential workshop with international male child abuse expert Mike Lew.
With seven other men, he also appeared in documentary Back on Track to share his story about disclosing abuse.
Talking validated the experience, he said.
“When I started working on it, I realised I was holding back in certain areas of my life because of a subconscious fear,” he said.
“Even if only one person comes forward … and it stops someone harming themselves or committing suicide, then I’ve achieved something.”
Men’s Healing Yarn facilitator Joe Tighe said Broome’s new group was a confidential and respectful space for male sexual abuse survivors from all cultural backgrounds.
Mr Tighe said the group was overseen by a steering committee of male staff from Men’s Outreach, Alive and Kicking, Headspace, Mental Health, Kinway and Centacare, predicting it would fill a gap in therapy and support provision in the West Kimberley.
Counsellors would work with survivors to build trust before acknowledging the abuse, reprocessing any trauma and working through feelings and emotions.
It was not a group for perpetrators of sexual abuse.
“It is a space to connect with others who have been abused, and with service providers trained to support and facilitate the process – the group deals with the traumas and stories of the participants in a non-judgemental way,” he said.
From January 7, the group will meet at 6pm on the first Monday of each month at 11 Hamersley Street. For information, contact Mr Tighe on 9193 5904 or email email@example.com.