By Sabrina Abraham
In 2010, uOttawa student Paul Leduc had just completed an undergraduate degree in social sciences and had moved away from home for the first time to Sudbury.
He had been admitted into Cambrian College’s paramedic program, which he hoped would signal the beginning of a long and successful career. Although from all appearances, he seemed well on his way, he felt his life was on a rapid downward spiral: Leduc was battling a history of childhood sexual abuse from which he could no longer escape.
“I had hit rock bottom. I was tired of having negative thoughts and feeling like a stranger in my own body,” calmly explains Leduc. “Luckily, I was ready to face my demons and had the support I needed to help me seek therapy.”
However, therapy proved to be an obstacle in itself. On a student budget, Leduc could not afford the average $140/hour fee that therapists in the area were charging. Determined to find help, Leduc and a friend persisted in calling the many therapists in Sudbury until they finally found one named Jack.
The therapist agreed to see Leduc pro-bono until his physician provided him with a formal diagnosis. Once Leduc was diagnosed as a patient requiring therapy, the remaining sessions with Jack were funded by a provincial bursary.
“It was a blessing to be able to put all my energy towards therapy without being concerned with finances. For that reason, I hope to provide other male survivors with the opportunity to seek therapy without worrying about the expense,” says Leduc.
With this in mind, and with the help of friends and family, Leduc is in the process of building a charity organization named The Canadian Society for Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse. The purpose of the charity is two-fold: (1) to provide access to funding for male survivors of sexual abuse, and (2) to increase awareness on the subject.
“My team and I have prepared the final documents that will be sent off this week. We first have to obtain charitable status and then may be incorporated as a charitable organization. Keeping our fingers crossed, we hope to be up and running in the coming months,” says Leduc.
Therapy has been more than just a healing process.
“As far as I am concerned, I have been given a second chance at life and I intend on making use of every minute of it,” he says.
Leduc has returned to uOttawa to complete a second undergrad degree.
“With the support of family and friends, I began dreaming big,” explains Leduc. “My goal is to complete an undergrad in Health Sciences and continue on to apply to med schools in the process.”