As a survivor in South Africa of both sexual child abuse and rape, my path to recovery began ten years ago and continues even to this day. I have been fortunate that I have had access to therapy, the support of my wife and children, as well as the brotherhood of fellow survivors and healers when I attended two workshops in Scarborough, UK. The workshops; “Victims no Longer” and “Heal the Healers” were facilitated by renowned author and psychotherapist Mike Lew. Even though there have been tremendous changes in South Africa in the last twenty years, unfortunately there is very little available for men who have been sexually abused and I had to travel 9062 km (5631 miles) to participate in these workshops.
It has always been one of my goals to climb Kilimanjaro but I never knew what my purpose was before I paid a visit to Scarborough. There I met men who had lived through the same horrors that I had experienced. As I listened to their stories I felt like my story was being told by someone else. Although circumstances were different amongst us there was a common thread – we were all in pursuit of the golden thread that would mend our lives. I also had the opportunity to briefly meet a young man who I would like to refer to as “my hero” who had the courage to face his abuse head on, by revealing the abuse to his parents and abandoning the shame and embarrassment.
Whilst in Scarborough it became much clearer to me – here was my purpose to conquer Kilimanjaro. I would climb in support of these people that had touched my life in a healing and comforting way, allowing me to be me again, and then also in support of male victims who are not yet survivors. This mission will be the first project of the organisation “South African MALE SURVIVORS Of Sexual Abuse”.
Our group consisted of three climbers; myself, my younger sister and a friend. At this point I would like to extend my absolute gratitude to my sister, Traci for all her encouragement through our months of training and her attention to detail in the planning stages. Thanks Traci, I could not have done it without you.
Mount Kilimanjaro, capped by glaciers and frequently fringed by clouds, is one of Africa’s classic images. At 5895 metres/19340 feet above sea level, it is the highest mountain in Africa, the highest walk-able summit in the world and the highest stand alone mountain in the world. The diameter of its base is an incredible 40 miles. Kilimanjaro is a dormant, but non extinct volcano. Although just 3˚ south of the Equator, the peaks of both Kibo and Mawenzi have permanent caps of snow and ice.