It is a crime, regardless of gender
Sexual abuse/assault is a horrible crime. Victims often feel powerless and ashamed. We talk a lot about female survivors, but what about male survivors of sexual abuse? Surely they have a voice in this conversation as well.
One is too many
What is a good number? How many victims are needed for the issue of male survivors of sexual assault to gain the attention and services needed to help them heal? One victim is one too many, regardless of the gender identity of the victim or the perpetrator.
If you have spent any time on social media, as I have, you may have noticed that when the topic of sexual assault comes up, we focus primarily on one scenario: females as victims and males as perpetrators. It has been my observation that when the tables are turned, there is a tendency to shut down the conversation. What message is this sending to male survivors? If I may inject my interpretation, it says that their experience doesn’t matter because the numbers aren’t significant in comparison with the number of females that are victimized by males.
But what are the numbers?
I don’t think we can answer that question. Unfortunately, we do not have the data. The following, from a Canadian Department of Justice study entitled Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse and Assault: Their Experiences (McDonald and Tijerino, 2013), the challenges for male survivors are partly rooted in a lack of research, coupled with the way society views masculinity (emphasis mine):
One of the challenges with Canadian data is that where numbers of victims are low, statistics cannot be further disaggregated to better understand the nature of the incidents. One study from the US (Weiss 2010) documents the similarities and differences between male and female sexual assault from the self-report National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS). By using the NCVS, Weiss (2010) is able to speak about sexual assault in the general male population and she deconstructs what it means to be masculine today in the US. The idea of masculinity includes physical strength, being in control, always wanting and being ready for sex, and being the perpetrator of such assaults, never the victim. Shame appears to play a big role in the decision to report, for both males and females. The negative impact of sexual abuse and assault, regardless of gender, has been well-documented (see Hill 2009 for a summary); Tewksbury (2007) provides a thorough overview of the physical, mental and sexual consequences of male sexual assault.
Tewksbury (2007, 25) begins his overview with a summary of the reasons men for not report assaults, nor seek services. These include: stigma, shame, fear, and having their sexuality questioned. While men may try to find services, they will quickly find that sexual assault/rape crisis centres may only provide services to women or that although they can access services, there are none specifically designed for men. Several years ago, Fuller and Smith (2008) undertook a scan of support services in Canada available to male survivors. At that time, there were only three organizations in the country dedicated to providing services to male survivors.
April is Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse Awareness Month
On April 5th, Don Wright, the founder and Executive Director of the BCSMSSA, the first of its kind in Canada, will be joining me to discuss male survivors. We will address some of the myths associated with male victims, some of the challenges they face with the are abused, as well as what services are available for survivors. (Spoiler alert: there aren’t enough services.)
April is Male Survivor of Sexual Abuse Awareness Month. Join Don and I as we raise awareness. This is a conversation that deserves our attention.
- Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse and Assault: Their Experiences
- Sexually violent women: The PID-5, everyday sadism, and adversarial sexual
attitudes predict female aggression and coercion against male victims
A little bit about:
Click on the images to see a brief bio and contact information for Don Wright and Camille Beaujolie.
Listen to the archive now:
Subscribe to Stereo-Typed on your favourite podcast app.
Like what you see or hear? Please consider joining my Sugar Daddy Collective and help me bring more interesting topics your way on a weekly basis.