A child sexual abuse survivor who gave up his job as a police detective in the United States to support others will give an empowering talk in Bermuda this week.

Kevin McNeil, the chief executive and founder of The Twelve Project, which aims to teach people about sexual abuse and raise awareness, is expected to share lessons from his own experiences that he hopes will inspire people who have suffered from abuse.

He will appear at a Partner In Prevention evening hosted by Saving Children and Revealing Secrets, a child sexual abuse prevention charity, and the Centre Against Abuse on Friday as part of sexual assault awareness month.

The event, at the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute, will also recognise various government departments for their efforts to support survivors and end sexual assaults.

Mr McNeil struggled with suicidal thoughts, alcohol addiction and depression while he worked as a special victims’ detective because the abuse he suffered as a youth continued to affect him.

He sought therapy and found that reading and educating himself on the issues greatly helped his healing.

Mr McNeil started to share his story and discoveries with other victims, then created The Twelve Project for people to learn about child sexual abuse in a safe environment.

He retired as a detective and went into full-time speaking and educating, and has now written several books on the subject.

Debi Ray-Rivers, the founder and executive director of Scars, said: “I am excited that Mr McNeil is coming to Bermuda to share his testimony and provide his knowledge as a former detective.

“His wealth of knowledge as a former detective and working with the police and the judicial system, coupled with the fact that he is a survivor of a child sexual assault, makes him the ideal person to assist us in our work to end sexual assault in Bermuda.”

Laurie Shiell, the executive director of the Centre Against Abuse, added: “I am looking forward to once again partnering with Scars and bringing awareness to the community on how they can assist a survivor of sexual assault, as well as providing tools on how to decrease sexual assaults in Bermuda, which is the most underreported crime.

“It is our hope that from this event, survivors will understand that the sexual assault was not their fault, and that the shame is not theirs to carry, and that the community will learn how to support survivors, and also be encouraged to hold perpetrators of this crime accountable.”

• Tickets for Partner In Prevention, which starts with refreshments in the BUEI lobby at 5.45pm on Friday, cost $20 and can be bought at ptix.bm. They will not be sold at the door

By Fiona McWhirter The Royal Gazette