John Pirona lived in a personal hell for almost 30 years after he was abused as a 13-year-old by paedophile Catholic priest John Denham.
His shame, guilt and anger manifested themselves in a spiral of drug and alcohol abuse that almost claimed his life on numerous occasions.
The turning point came this year when Mr Pirona, now 43, saw a Newcastle Herald H2 article about Liz Mullinar and Mayumarri healing centre for abuse survivors at Quorrobolong.
‘‘I’d hit rock bottom. I just rang up and asked for information about what they did,’’ he said.
It led to a one-week program in July that put him on a path to healing decades of pain.
‘‘It was an overwhelming experience,’’ he said.
‘‘I learnt to accept what happened to me. I don’t have to hide from it.’’
Mr Pirona and other abuse survivors returned to the Mayumarri centre yesterday to celebrate the opening of a unique healing centre for young male child abuse survivors.
The $1million project includes an eight-bedroom, multi-purpose centre that will run programs for up to 10 men aged 16 to 25.
‘‘Young men are often ignored in discussions about abuse and in services for the abused,’’ Heal for Life Foundation co-founder and chief executive Liz Mullinar said.
‘‘I hope that this centre will be an important acknowledgement for them and a place for them to call their own.’’