Randburg, South Africa: Society needs to revise the sexual abuse narrative, it doesn’t only happen to women and girls but to men and boys too. Why has this story not been told?
Somewhere in Johannesburg is a sexual abuse survivor who is providing a platform for other survivors and giving them a voice. His name is Martin Pelders, founder of MatrixMen, the first organization in South Africa, if not the entire continent, to support and discuss sexual abuse among men.
Martin Pelders explains, “Our main focus is to get men to seek help and to realise that they are allowed to be victims. We also want them to know that if they are always angry, that there is help for them. The anger is just their hurt child trying to get out.”
MatrixMen or M², was established on the 15th of August in 2012. Since its inception, the organisation has helped thousands of men, survivors of abuse. Martin says, “We cater for all forms of abuse. We support men that are being abused in marriages as well.”
Men are silently suffering
Society’s perceptions of what a victim is supposed to be are quite misleading. Most men don’t think that they can come forward because only women are victims. The images that are shown on television, the posters in the rape crisis centers, and social media, all depict women only as victims and men as perpetrators.
Of the 44% of boys that are raped in South Africa, the majority are raped by women.
That’s a story that you don’t hear being told.
Pelders was abused too. He says that abuse from childhood definitely affects a person in their adulthood. He became an angry alcoholic, “Yes, I still have anger issues, especially when I’m tired, but my family understands this. I believe that total recovery is possible. The brain is an amazingly powerful tool.”
Men are victims of abuse too. Let’s fix our men (boys too) so we can fix our homes. If we fix our homes, we fix our communities. If we fix our communities, we fix our nations. But, this is a process. It starts with you and I.
Men need love too. They need to be heard too. Give them a voice. Listen to them without judgement. Allow them to be humans.
We’re living in difficult times. There’s so much pressure on the man to provide for his family in these tough times. Men go through many things that only another man can understand. Instead of resorting to unhealthy habits and anger, M² is the go to safe place for all males, young and old. Their services are free but, unfortunately, they only have one centre. The organization is in need of sponsorship. Their new offices need furniture. The company that had wanted to sponsor them was looted in the recent upheavals in Johannesburg and are no longer able to assist.
“We are sadly in need of financial aid, it’s been a long struggle to get funding for this office. With adequate resources, we are hoping to grow this and open offices in all the major centres so that we can be accessible to every boy and man across the nation.
We’ve received one donation to pay rental for our office for 6 months. We are hoping to be able to raise more.”
All images from Martin Pelders’ Facebook timeline