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Fifty years old.

That is the average age survivors of childhood abuse will begin talking about their mistreatment, a Dunedin support worker says.

Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse Dunedin peer support worker Tone Miller said it often took more than 30 years for someone to start discussing their childhood abuse, which made it difficult for some people to progress in life.

“If you’re having this big anchor just dragging you back in the past [you can’t move forward].”

Mr Miller agreed with the calls from a variety of advocacy groups and organisations to establish a royal commission into historic abuse of people in state care, a topic groups have been petitioning the Government about for more than a year.

He said an inquiry would provide a “bit of justice” for survivors of state abuse, as well as highlighting the extent of abuse throughout state institutions.

He disagreed with government claims that looking at historic abuse would not improve future state care, saying it would allow people to be more aware of it into the future to prevent abuse from continuing to happen.

“We want to be able to say that they’ve not forgotten, and help them all the best we can.”

Many survivors of institutionalised abuse had ended up institutionalised – in prisons and other state facilities – after rebelling against authority as they reacted to the harm caused, he said.

He said many abuse survivors were jobless, had issues with drugs and alcohol and had other social problems because they were let down by institutions.

One important statistic was that there was a 50/50 chance of abusers being male or female, research undertaken by the Dunedin Study had found, Mr Miller said.

“It’s not just men that are perpetrators . . . women can be abusive.”