Craig Hughes Cashmore was sexually abused by three people as a child and the shame and stigma and mental health problems that resulted have only really been helped by a western Sydney support group for survivors that he helped co-found.
Mr Hughes Cashmore is bringing a workshop from his group Survivors And Mates Support Network (SAMSN) to the Mountains on November 17, in a bid to help families of sufferers.
Mr Hughes Cashmore said his group has been running since 2010 and helped an estimated 400 adult males who suffered sexual abuse as children and shared that “sense of isolation”. The group has now run 42 eight week programs for survivors.
“It’s saved lives.” he said.
But the group was devastated recently when one of their most outspoken members, Dr Stuart Kidd, 60, from Mt Riverview, took his own life. Dr Kidd was abused between the ages of three and six, and also later as a teenager, by multiple perpetrators decades older than him.
As his wife, Janet, told the large gathering at his funeral in June this year: “Stuart died a sudden death of his own choice. Stuart was raped when he was extremely young by the people his parents paid to care for their children when they were working in India. Stuart was in a sense murdered by his abusers, but he bravely hung on to life as long as he possibly could.”
Mrs Kidd said Stuart found the help he longed for and felt understood by SAMSN. The family is fundraising for SAMSN and continuing Stuart’s advocacy work for the group.
“He felt they really got him … a whole lot of other factors led to his suicide,” she said.
Mr Hughes Cashmore said Stuart’s suicide was “beyond tragic, but it is a reality for so many people who have been abused but it doesn’t have to be”.
“Stuart fought incredibly hard … and it’s the worst possible outcome.”
Mr Hughes Cashmore said he wanted sufferers to “have a sense of hope” that they can overcome addictions that are the byproducts of abuse – like drinking, gambling, as well as infidelity, anxiety and depression – with the right help from psychologists and social workers.
“Suicidality is a huge issue for the majority of survivors. I wanted to kill myself every day for two decades. You’ll never forget it, but you can learn to live with it and get your life back on track.”.
Dr Kidd’s stories in the Gazette prompted an appearance on an ABC TV program You Can’t Ask That discussing sexual abuse. Mr Hughes Cashmore said since Stuart spoke out about his abuse, SAMSN had received multiple extra donations.
“After your article and You Can’t Ask That there’s been so many donations with beautiful messages of support for Stuart and his family. It was really big. That’s his legacy … it did start a national conversation.”
SAMSN receives support from the NSW Attorney General’s victims support services and private donors. They are still seeking federal funding, as they also help out-of-state survivors.
The supporters workshop will be held at a location to be confirmed on Saturday November 17 from 9am to 2.30pm. The group can manage 40 attendees and the event is free. Register at https://www.samsn.org.au/supporters-workshop/.
He was so handsome on the outside and broken inside, now his body is so broken and his spirit is free.