Sadly, many intimate relationships aren’t happy and healthy. Worse still, many aren’t even consensual. Better Blokes is a registered charity offering peer to peer support for men recovering from emotional, verbal, physical or sexual harm. The society’s overall goal is to free present and future generations from the effects of childhood emotional, mental, verbal, physical and/or sexual trauma, and to break the cycle of childhood abuse.

Philipe oversees the North Shore branch and, like all of the organisation’s trained facilitators, was himself abused. “My father was a very violent man. I honestly lived in fear until the day he died,” admits Philipe, who regards his work with Better Blokes as part of his own healing journey. “I’ve come from nowhere to now here,” he says.

Victims of abuse can carry the physical and emotional scars for many years. They often experience shame and guilt, suffer from low self-esteem and may unconsciously selfsabotage at work or in their personal lives, further reaffirming to themselves that they aren’t worthy of success or love. Addiction and self-harm are quite common, as is moving overseas – literally running away from the pain. “Some studies suggest that as many as one in four women and one in six men have experienced sexual harm,” explains Philipe. “We have to talk more openly about this. It’s vital that we break down barriers and remove any perceived stigmas.”

Better Blokes North Shore meets at the ECB Community Centre on Thursday evenings at 7:30pm. These are not open groups; admission follows an assessment by a trained facilitator and usually a minimum of four individual faceto-face sessions. The group meetings are based on a “selfdisclosure” model, and help participants work through 24 key elements, including:

  • Telling your story
  • Relationships and trust
  • Hopes and goals
  • Coping mechanisms
  • Forgiving and moving on

The organisation’s work complements the work of other agencies and individuals, such as health practitioners and community support networks.

If you’ve been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, please contact Better Blokes on 0274 434 617 or e-mail The organisation’s service is independent, confidential and free of charge. “We’re here to help. We promise to listen with compassion and without judgment,” reassures Philipe.

(First published and permission to post by ShoreLines Magazine)