People's Experiences

John's Story

John is a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. Now in his 40s, he has struggled to cope throughout adulthood with the experience and knowledge of being abused and has felt that many areas of his life have been negatively affected.

“I'd lost family, friends and jobs – that one major incident was affecting my whole life. I knew I needed help to stop the slide, so I spoke to my GP.

“I was referred to nine different counsellors. None of them specialised in childhood sexual abuse issues. After listening to me talking about my abuse experience, they would pass me on to another counsellor.”

The whole experience left John extremely depressed and contributed to a major breakdown.

John finally contacted Thrive, a counselling service for adult male survivors of childhood sexual abuse which is part of the Sandyford Initiative – NHSGGC's sexual, reproductive and emotional health service.

“The initial telephone contact was really helpful – the person I spoke to was very supportive and put me at my ease. At my appointment, they explained how the counselling service would be run. They told me that counselling could take a long time and I appreciated that, I didn't want to be kidded on.

“Hearing those words (‘we can help you') made such a difference.   When I left I cried all the way to the Underground, I was just so full of relief and happiness.”

Dr Rosie Ilett, Head of Planning and Partnerships at Sandyford, developed the original funding application for Thrive and appreciates the importance of gender sensitivity in services. “Thrive has been developed because we know that many men have real difficulties seeking professional help about sensitive issues – it's just not considered ‘manly'.   Experience of abuse can test men to breaking point.   Understanding what makes men tick and the barriers that living up to a stereotype of masculinity can impose on them helps our counsellors work effectively with the most challenging cases and start the healing process”.

Thrive is based at the Sandyford Initiative in Glasgow. Men can access the service by calling the direct line on 0141 211 8133 or visit the Sandyford Initiative website at:


Sarah's Story

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