*Thank you to Sam Troth for allowing us to share this piece. You can see more of his content here.*
Trigger warning: this piece discusses themes of addiction, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), rape, sexual abuse and assault, suicidal ideation and suicide.
Hey everyone, my name is Sam Troth from the Road to Healing Aotearoa. I am a 39-year-old carpenter, a father of six, and I'm a survivor of sexual abuse. From the ages of nine to thirteen, I was sexually abused by a family friend, which ended and resulted in being raped. As a result, I spent a lot of time at boys’ homes and prisons in a state of anger and rage, because of what had happened to me; the abuse that I'd suffered.
This trauma and the anti-social approach I was expressing my thoughts and feelings had an extremely negative impact on my life, It sent me on the wrong path for a long time. I felt angry, I felt alone, I felt misunderstood, and I felt like it was my fault.
I suffered from severe anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which I never understood. I now have a diagnosis and a much better understanding of what's going on inside my mind.
I was a methamphetamine addict for ten years. In 2019, I hit an all-time low and was ready to end it all. This wasn't just suicidal thoughts, this was a plan, preparation and I felt there was no other way. As a last act, I reached out to family, I'm very lucky that I have some loving sisters, a loving wife loving children a lot to live for.
So, I reached out to get out, to get that healing through my family. I started seeing a psychologist for just over two years every week and worked on myself.
In 2022, I felt stronger. I was ready to give back and so I created the Road to Healing Aotearoa. This was a walk from Bluff to Cape Reinga and up State Highway 1: 2,280 km which took me 67 days to complete. On that walk, I did a lot of processing, met a lot of people, and, from that, I achieved a lot, both physically and mentally. Things that I never ever thought I would be capable of doing, conversations I never ever thought I'd be capable of having, and feelings that I never thought that I would feel.
I want to let people out there who have experienced sexual assault, childhood sexual abuse, know you're not alone. It happens far too much in our society. One in six boys, one in three girls. It is a huge, huge problem in New Zealand. You're not alone. There is help out there.
It doesn't have to be your story.
You don't have to be a victim.
You don't have to be that person.
You can be whatever you want to be.
You can achieve whatever you want to achieve.
You can live the life that you want to live.
And you can do that by speaking up, reaching out for help and making positive changes.
I encourage anybody that has been through a trauma, like sexual abuse, rape, or sexual assault, to step up and seek out help. I encourage you to speak to someone about it. I can't encourage you enough. Basically, the best thing that I ever did in my life was seek help.
Now, I work voluntarily for Male Survivors, offering peer support to other male survivors of sexual assault. I also receive dozens of weekly messages from my followers and from general members of the public seeking advice and sharing their stories. I'm so thankful that I kept pushing, I'm so thankful for my family, and I am thankful for life.
You know, when you're in those dark places, it feels like nothing can fix it, nothing can change. It feels like death is at your door. But it's not. As soon as we turn from a victim to a survivor, life changes.
If you turn from a survivor to a thriver, you start giving back and that's where I’m at. My message is that no matter how dark things are, no matter how shit things are, no matter what has happened to you.
It doesn't have to define you, it's not your story.
There's always time to change it.
There's always time to change the narrative.
There's always time to write another chapter.
That doesn't have to be the end.
Please if you or anyone you know needs support and is struggling, please reach out. There is help out there. I can direct you to that and help.
Voices of Hope wants you to know that you do not have to do this alone. Click here to 'find help' - it's not weak to speak!