In 1991 in Christchurch a client asked his counsellor how he could go about meeting other men who had experienced childhood sexual abuse.
With the support of the counsellor, Ian Bennet was introduced to eight other men who had experienced sexual abuse and together they formed a peer support group. In 1997 members of that group registered Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse Trust (MSSAT) as a Charitable Trust. The following year ACC declined support for males abused by females – a stance that remained until 2004 when the law was changed.
In 2007 a New Zealand conference for male survivors celebrated the 10-year anniversary of the formation of MSSAT and the MSSAT Auckland (now Better Blokes Inc.) hosted its first peer support group meeting. In 2008 MSSAT Waikato (now Male Support Services Waikato) was established and MSSAT was invited for the first time to participate in discussions about sexual violence.
In 2012 MSSAT Wellington was formed and MSSAT Auckland extended its services to Northland (Whangarei). In this year the Journal of Child Abuse [UK] published its investigation based on MSSAT survivors’ experience. The following year MSSAT held its first National Hui, MSSAT Otago was established and the Male Room began to offer support services for male survivors in Nelson.
The second MSSAT National Hui was held in 2014, the same year that the a major report on MSSAT, commissioned by ACC, resulted in the Government approval of a package of $740,000 in sustainability funding for MSSAT organisations. The following year a third National Hui agreed to establish the national organisation – Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse, Aotearoa New Zealand [MSSAT Aotearoa].
From 2015 to 2018 MSSAT Aotearoa focussed on the establishment of its national governance frameworks, formation of national policies and protocols; the establishment of a national qualifications framework for its peer-workers; the development of a national case management system; and, in collaboration with the Ministry of Social Development, a new funding model to enable the development of a national services network.
In the Government’s Budget 2019, the allocation of $12m in funding over four years exclusively for the provision of peer support services for male survivors represented the culmination of a six year strategy to obtain sustainable funding for MSA and its member organisations. 2019 also witnessed the establishment of Male Survivors Bay of Plenty and the recognition of Male Survivors Wellington as a member organisation of MSA.
2020 witnessed the formation of three new member organisations in Tai Tokerau, Taranaki and Tairawhiti, completing the establishment of a network of peer support services covering ten regions of Aotearoa – a major step forward in the achievement of our ambition to provide “all male survivors of sexual abuse with access to a sustainable national network of appropriate, high quality support services”.
2020 also witnessed the formation of a Rōpu Tautoko to launch Kia Mārire, MSA’s ‘Effectiveness with Māori’ strategy, which will underpin the establishment of our Northland service and enable and support our intentions to build more effective collaborations with Māori Kaupapa services across Aotearoa.
In 2021, we launched our first Kaupapa Māori service centre based in Kaitaia – Ngā Mōrehu Tāne o Muriwhenua and appointed our Te Kairaranga (community weaver) to enable and support the collaborative leadership of our services network. During this year we launched our national educational scholarships to support the advanced education of our service centre staff.
2022 witnesses the official opening of our Hawkes Bay service centre, a collaboration with Dove Hawkes Bay, which completes our national network of eleven service centres supporting the male survivor community across Aotearoa. And, at our second National Hui, attended by 100 of our people (trustees, staff and supporters) at the Whakatu Mārae in Nelson, we launched our national Wellbeing Framework – Tō Tātou Anga Whaiora.
In 2023, at our third National Hui at the Whakatu Marae, we celebrated the launch of our new Purposeful Peer Support Aotearoa Framework – Te Whakaoranga mā te Taunaki Aropā o Aotearoa – a new approach to peer support work designed to reflect our local context and our partnership with Māori. We also celebrated the launch of our Māori services unit in the Waikato and the positive impacts of our 2019 funding which has enabled a 400% increase in active clients since 2014 with 2,500 survivors now supported by our 11 service centres and a substantial increase in our organisational engagement with Maori (34% of service centre governance and 23% of service centre staff).
NOTE: 2023 also witnessed a disappointing shift in Government policy with a two-year freeze on ‘crisis services’ funding that will severely constrain our national response to an increasing service demand (+25% in the last quarter of 2023) and deny the Manawatu and Southland regions access to the male survivor support services that they need.