Support group is hosting recovery weekend for male survivors of sexual abuse
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A weekend workshop is being held in North Devon for men who have survived sexual abuse.
The MoMENtum retreat at Croyde Bay Holiday Resort is being run by the peer support group which meets in both Barnstaple and Exeter.
It will take place over June 7-9 with guest speaker Mike Lew, who is a world-renowned expert on working with victims of childhood sexual abuse.
The weekend is aimed at all non-offending male survivors of sexual abuse or rape, whether they are already attending the MomMENtum meetings or not.
John Slater, one of the founders of MoMENtum, said the support group was started six years ago by himself and fellow founder member Russell Dawson, when they found they had nowhere to turn to help their own recovery from childhood abuse.
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Mr Slater, who lives in Hontion, said: "There's a lot of stigma that men should be able to sort their stuff out without being upset.
"The idea of the groups is that they are a safe and confidential space where you can talk with people who understand what you've been through.
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"We are not experts or professionals but we have got our own experience."
The Croyde weekend is designed to bring together survivors of abuse, and to offer a safe recovery experience including sharing stories, group discussion, creative exercises and relaxation. It is for men actively engaged in recovery work and is not a substitute for therapy.
Fellow MoMENtum founder Mr Dawson said he felt survivors of sexual abuse suffered a huge amount of unfounded shame.
"That shame belongs not only to the perpetrators of sexual abuse, but also the cowardly individuals who knowingly try to cover up these crimes," he said.
"Often these cowardly individuals do this in a attempt to protect themselves or the organisations that support them."
He added: "I used to think the term 'survivor' was a bit over dramatic but in recent years I've been to the funerals of two friends, both younger than myself who have not survived.
"I'm also witness to the brave struggles of several other friends who battle with horrifically painful childhood traumas that would crush the average human being."
Mr Dawson said it was a privilege to have an expert such as Mr Lew visiting Devon and added: "This weekend would not be happening without the financial support we're receiving from Survivors Alliance North Devon and the driving force behind S.A.N.D. Karen Black.
"If anyone is looking for a local organisation to support you'd be hard pushed to find a more deserving one than S.A.N.D."
Karen Black, SEO of S.A.N.D, said@ "Survivors Alliance North Devon are absolutely proud and delighted to have been able to host this conference for male survivors of sexual abuse.
"We felt strongly that we wanted to offer this amazing opportunity for members of our community and to firmly place North Devon on the map as an area where there is a specialist trauma service for all survivors of sexual violence .
"We are a small organisation doing sensational work. We sincerely hope that the delegates enjoy the weekend and leave feeling less alone and that there is hope and healing from the trauma of sexual abuse."
Any male sexual abuse survivors can contact MoMENtum to find out more about joining the Barnstaple or Exeter support group on 07773 151080.
S.A.N.D offers specialist counselling for all adults who have suffered sexual abuse or rape, as well as non-offending family members.
Contact them at survivorsalliance.org.uk or on 07763 617693.