10 Mar 2019

TVNZ urged to promote specialist helpline after Jackson film

5:19 pm on 10 March 2019

An organisation for men who have suffered sexual abuse is urging TVNZ to air its helpline after it screens a new documentary on Michael Jackson.

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Ken Clearwater from Male Survivors Aotearoa Photo: RNZ / Tess Brunton

The HBO documentary, called Leaving Neverland, accuses Michael Jackson of raping and sexually abusing boys as young as 7 years old. TVNZ will air the two-part documentary tonight and tomorrow.

Male Survivors Aotearoa said that TVNZ will only screen the Rape Crisis helpline after the film.

Spokesperson Ken Clearwater said Rape Crisis does excellent work but some male survivours prefer to access a male-specific organisation.

Adding Male Survivors Aotearoa's helpline to the list would remove a barrier for men affected by the documentary, Mr Clearwater said.

"Males sometimes won't contact people, but if there was something there that mentioned 'male survivors', that would make a big difference."

He said over the years, Rape Crisis has predominantly targeted women, and some men don't know that they can also contact that line.

TVNZ suggested adding the helpline to the social media page, he said.

But Mr Clearwater said airing it after the show was a good opportunity to show the public there were services out there specific to men, if they needed it.

He said many men will be affected by the content in the documentary, which could lead to problems for them and their friends and family.

Mr Clearwater said there could be lengthy wait times to see a counsellor and having a helpline to assist in the meantime was important.

TVNZ spokesperson Rachel Howard says they air only one helpline because the on air warning is screened for a short amount of time, and they want to make the message as clear as possible.

She says three helplines willl be available on TVNZ's social media as well as On Demand page. These are Rape Crisis, Male Survivors Aotearoa, and Safe to Talk.

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