Sat, Apr 27, 2024 12:00 PM

Empowering people one town at a time


William Woodworth

During a well-earned break at Otago’s Lake Waihola, The Road to Healing’s Sam Troth admits to having sore legs with plenty of pedalling still ahead of him.

Sam’s latest undertaking is a South Island circumnavigation by e-bike which started in Blenheim to share lived experiences as a male survivor of sexual abuse with as many people as possible, after completing a Mt Hikurangi to Mt Taranaki walk in 2023.

But Sam says he’s just a normal man who challenges himself to do abnormal things.

As the finishing line nears on the 30th of April back in Blenheim, Sam says the effort put into the self-funded, month-long slog is all worth the amazing conversations started along the way.

“I’m not a gym goer or anything and don’t do any preparations for these crazy ideas I come up with, so it’s pretty bloody taxing and hard on the body”.

“Doing this trip to having hard, open conversations to educate and making people aware of tough times I’ve lived through makes the fact sexual abuse is still a massive problem much more confronting, which is needed”.

“It’s funny how the universe works to be honest, especially with cases both in Blenheim and Gloriavale in the news while I’ve been cycling – the conversations I had near Gloriavale in the 45 minutes before being asked to leave were some of the most eye-opening so far.

“But honestly when you investigate the statistics, one in three girls will be abused and one in six boys will be before the age of 16 in New Zealand – that’s one girl every hour and one boy every other hour, which is just out of control and completely disgusting”.

Sam’s childhood abuse led him down a dark path, struggling with addiction and being in and out of prison until 2019, when he decided he needed to make a change and began working to become a peer support worker and advocate for youth.

Sam’s perpetrator, who is now in preventative detention, was a multiple time sexual offender across New Zealand and Australia.

And Sam says that while trauma stays with victims, he now understands the power of being someone to speak to stopping cycles of abuse.

“Had there been someone in my life at that time I could have spoken to about what I was going through at a kid, at least someone would have known and been able to do something”.

“But sadly, duty of care goes lacking because many abusers come from within close circles of the victim and many within the system don’t want to have these confronting conversations,

“I hope that this mission gives fellow victims the bravery to tell their stories and confront their trauma with mana and support”.

With Sam’s mission being self-funded and reliant on the kindness of South Islanders for food to eat and places to sleep, and raising funds via Givealittle to donate, he says the response from supporters and the public he has met has been overwhelming.

“Firstly, a massive thank you to Brendon and his family at Cycleworld Blenheim for sponsoring the e-bikes, I’ve been incredibly grateful - especially while on the steep hills!”

“But no matter whether it’s a large organization or a lovely lady at Subway Winton, I’m so grateful to everyone who has opened their ears, had a chat with me and engaged with the goal of this mission”.

The Road to Healing Aotearoa finishes in Blenheim on the 30th of April.

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