Police are praising the courage of more than 50 people who have contacted them since news broke about sexual abuse of boys at Dilworth School.

Police yesterday charged a 60-year-old man with sexual violation, attempted sexual violation, indecency and indecent assault.

He was the seventh person charged following an investigation into the private Auckland boarding school where it is alleged at least 17 boys were sexually abused between the 1970s and early 2000s.

The allegations came to light on Monday when six men, who held various teaching roles within the school, appeared in the Auckland District Court.

Advertisement

The men, who are all in their 60s and 70s, were granted name suppression and are expected to appear again in the same court in early October.

Police encourage anyone who might have information that can help them to get in touch. Photo / Dean Purcell.
Police encourage anyone who might have information that can help them to get in touch. Photo / Dean Purcell.

Detective Senior Sergeant Geoff Baber said police have fielded dozens of calls and emails from the public since the initial arrests.

"We respect the courage of those who have contacted us," Baber said.

"We continue to encourage anyone who may have information that can assist our investigation to come forward."

Ken Clearwater, the national advocate for peer support group Male Survivors Aotearoa, said the arrests had triggered a number of calls from people needing support, although none of them appeared to have been former Dilworth students.

"Any time there is something like this, the response is massive - guys get triggered by it," he said.

"When one of our clients went public in 2002 from the St John of God school, we had around 120 calls in a few weeks from all over New Zealand linked to it.

"It's not uncommon [for calls to increase], as soon as somebody comes forward, that gives people the hope that they are not alone."

Advertisement
Subscribe to Premium

Some of the calls the support group have received this week were from ex-pupils from The Order of St John of God who were dismayed that this was still happening.

Clearwater said survivors of past sexual trauma may find themselves feeling vulnerable and triggered as the investigation into the Dilworth School for boys continues.

"It does retraumatise you, there's no two ways about it," he said.

"We carry this for the rest of our lives. You see the news, you go straight back to that place.

"But when you go to that place, you're thinking of it as you saw it when you were that age, even if that's very young."

Clearwater says the arrests will let others who are victims of that sexual abuse know that they aren't alone. Photo / File
Clearwater says the arrests will let others who are victims of that sexual abuse know that they aren't alone. Photo / File

Clearwater urged anyone feeling triggered by the recent arrests to talk to someone they know and trust.

Specific support for male survivors of sexual trauma is limited in New Zealand, but Clearwater said there are people who can offer peer support, counselling and help.

Advertisement

"If you haven't spoken about it [past abuse], it can be really damaging. We get calls from partners and caregivers, because someone's punched a wall or they're yelling at their partner."

Some men who may not know how to express or regulate their emotions might turn to drugs or alcohol, or it may be expressed negatively in their relationships, he said.

"We grow up in a patriarchal society ... to talk about something as horrendous as sexual violation, it's bloody difficult," he said.

"There's a lot of anger, a lot of hatred, it's such a damaging thing.

"You feel like, because you're a male, 'Why didn't I do something about it? Or, 'They might think I'm gay,' or something along those lines.

"In reality, you were a child and you're not equipped to deal with those things."

Advertisement

Where to get help:

• If it's an emergency and you feel that you or someone else is at risk, call 111.
• If you've ever experienced sexual assault or abuse and need to talk to someone call the confidential crisis helpline Safe to Talk on: 0800 044 334 or text 4334. (available 24/7)
Male Survivors Aotearoa offers a range of confidential support at centres across New Zealand - find your closest one here.
Mosaic - Tiaki Tangata: 0800 94 22 94 (available 11am - 8pm)
• Alternatively contact your local police station
• If you have been abused, remember it's not your fault.