To Whom It May Concern,
My son, (name withheld) was sent to prison last June for 12 months for possession and selling of cannabis. He had just turned 18 and was certainly not prison materiel (in my opinion) He spent 6 months at Paparoa youth prison in Christchurch.It was a devastating time for us all. He had a rough few years getting very heavily involved in drugs, alcohol and taking massive risks, breaking bones, cutting himself and attempting suicide. Unbeknown to me he was being sexually abused by my partner whom he had loved very deeply and trusted completely. I had no idea why his behaviour had taken such a turn as he was head boy at his school, played (sport withheld) for the New Zealand team for 5 years and received the sports award at the end of the year. He was doing really well in his life and then took a big turn for the worst which resulted in him going to prison.
I went on anti depressants in order to cope with the behaviour and he eventually told me what was going on. I had no idea where to turn or to where to look for help as I had never come across this before or had never met anyone who had been sexually abused. A friend who is involved with victim support told me about Ken Clearwater and the Male Survivor of Sexual Abuse team in Christchurch. I flew up to meet with them and was introduced to Paul. I told him our story and he agreed to go and visit my son in prison. This was the first ray of hope I had since the discovery of the abuse. He was very kind and compassionate towards me and gave me lots of support.
Paul went and met with my son over a period of months and the visits had a huge impact upon him. He finally felt safe and appreciated having someone he could talk to. He really looked forward to the visits, especially appreciating being treated like a person and with respect. On my last visit Paul sat in with us both and helped put some systems in place for when he came home. This was very helpful, as I did not know what to expect or how I should handle him. Paul touched base with me frequently, to see how I was getting on and this meant the world to me as he could relate and help me with what I was going through.
Since his release he has got a building apprenticeship and is doing really well. He has had a few bumps as was to be expected but he now has ambition and is working towards a goal. He is off drugs, drinks only once a week and is determined to make something of his life. The improvements in him are really encouraging and I finally feel my sweet, loving, kind boy is back!
I totally support this organization and would not have got through this terrible situation had it not been for them. They saved us both and we now have a happy, healthy family once again (without the offender of course). I cannot speak highly enough of Ken and Paul and the work they are doing. There work is a very necessary part of rehabilitation for boys and the support and advice is invaluable. For them to visit boys in prison makes a huge impact as they have no one on the inside who totally understands what they have been through. I cannot rate this organization highly enough. We desperately need them in our society.
(Mother’s name withheld)