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.

23 responses to “Prologue

    • Do you have any advice for my dying soul.i was sexually abused when I was about 9 or 10 it happened at family functions when my first cousin (about 45)would touch and squeeze my testicles and penis while whispering into my ear ” how is our thing , solider. Is it growing bigger , you are a big boy .” This happened about 3 or 4 times until the final time he applied a lot of pressure when squeezing my privates that I started crying and ran to my mum, we went to the bathroom and she checked that private area and it was red and swelling a bit . She ran straight back to the creep and told him don’t you dare touch my son again.but the really sad thing is my parents did nothing after that to piece together my broken emotionality layer of my life . My dad is still friendly with his cousin and they still talk normally. This crushes me inside,I’ve always had social problems my who life, being bullied and teased I started over eating after the incidents and became obese . Now I am 16 years and just a bit over weight and trying to lose it and rectify my life but this abuse is at the centre of all my problems I’m confused about my sexuality and I won’t let my father come near me I don’t like when any of my male relatives touch me on my arm etc. I cry thinking about it I want to do something can I charge him ? What can I do to feel normal ? Please help

  1. Rees, I don’t need a pseudonym to interact on your blog. First of all, let me tell you that you are my hero!! For all the years that I did not know about your terrible secret, I have admired you for what you have achieved in your life. Now that i know about your past, I am more in awe of you.
    And the fact that you conquered Kili is quite astounding!!

    acheived o

    • Zena friendships have helped with the healing process, knowing that people care means so much. The response I got from you when I told you about the abuse and rape just before I left for Kilimanjaro meant so much to me. The secrets I kept from everybody gave my abusers a hold on me, telling people liberated me.

    • It took a long time to get to this point. I hope this blog will help other male survivors. Next week I hope to have the “South African Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse” webpage up ad running. We need to get the message, help and resources to MS in Africa.

  2. You are so brave. You inspire me to get outside my comfort zone, realize my dreams, and advocate for male survivors. I never thought that climbing a mountain could be an advocacy project, but the symbolism – and the effort – staggers the sense. What was done to us may have destroyed a part of our life, but it doesn’t have to destroy our whole life. We can be victorious. It’s up to us. Thanks, man, you really inspire me.

  3. You are truly an inspiration Rees. I’ve been in a dark place for so long, your words and advise, what you’ve accomplished.. really offers new hope. Thanks for everything you are doing, we really need more people like you in this world, especially South Africa.

  4. Congratulations on your Historic and Heroic climb!!!
    You make me proud to know you and you make it easier for all us fellow Survivors to stand tall and reclaim out lives!
    Jim Clemente (Retired)FBI Supervisory Special Agent/Profiler

  5. Quinton: reading your blog inspires me to speak out. I have also been abused . At the age of 40 i called my abuser and other family members to a meeting and revealed all about what my abuser had done to me. Since that day I have not looked back. I want to heal from this and have the most supporting wife , she is remarkable and she is helping me through this.

  6. Rees, you gave me a talk last year at WITS Medical School.
    A year later I still find inspiration and hope for my future when I read your blog and remember the brave man that changed my life.

    Thank you!

  7. Rees, I’m in awe of your courage in facing up to and speaking out about your abuse. I admire the way you have survived and thrived and the work you’re doing to help others, and your wife and daughters’ for the support they give you. You deserve all the accolades in the comments here and I hope you can continue to do this great work.

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