Male abuse victims need special help, inquiry told
CORNWALL, Ont. - Male victims of childhood sexual abuse need specialized support services and the Ontario government should not only fund a provincewide strategy but also create the position of a sex abuse ombudsman, a public inquiry heard Friday.
The Cornwall inquiry wrapped after three years, nearly 170 witnesses and $40 million spent with closing submissions Friday about healing and reconciliation. The inquiry was established to examine institutional responses decades ago to allegations of child sexual abuse in eastern Ontario.
Lessons from how institutions handled, or mishandled, allegations that young people were sexually abused by people in positions of authority in Cornwall should be applied elsewhere, several parties told the inquiry.
Following a complaint in 1992 that a former altar boy had been sexually abused by a priest and a probation officer, many others came forward to allege they, too had been abused by prominent people decades ago.
Many of those complainants were men, and a lawyer for the counselling group The Men's Project said even though there were a lot of community services in the city at the time, none could adequately handle men's counselling.
"In fact, they had to bring in my client from Ottawa because they were the only ones with expertise to deal with this," David Bennett told the inquiry.
"Even though there were existing social services they just weren't able to deal with it and (that's) why there needs to be a specialized area."
Both the Men's Project and the Victims Group urged the commissioner to recommend the Ontario government create victim treatment service centres for male survivors of sexual abuse provincewide.
Both groups also called for the province to create a sex abuse ombudsman.
"There has been a theme from survivors of not being believed, getting the run-around, being kept in the dark, which for some had the effect of re-victimization," the Men's Project said in its written submissions.
"An ombudsman could rectify this."