Overlooked scars – Men and Sexual Abuse

I wonder how many of you will start reading this article with the expectation that it will have something about sexual abuse of women too. And it’s very obvious, as whenever we talk about anything that is sensitive to men or against their welfare, we mention “women” first and then make a comparison. and that’s not vice versa.

Sexual harassment leaves scars that are not gender-specific. Period. Men are sexually harassed at workplaces, schools, homes, and even in public. If this article gives you chills down the spine, keep reading.

According to RAINN (Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network), a statistical portal for the United States, it is revealed that

  • As of 1998, 2.78 million men in the U.S. had been victims of attempted or completed rape.
  • About 3% of American men, or 1 in 33, have been raped or tried to be raped at some point in their lives.
  • 1 out of every 10 rape victims is male.

Let’s admit that sexual harassment of men is not a joke as we try to safeguard women. Males are increasingly becoming victims of harassment, including stalking and statements laced with sexual innuendo. However, because men are meant to be “tough,” they are expected to take all of this in stride and find humour in it rather than feel uncomfortable or voice their complaints.

Sexual assault can happen to anyone, no matter their age, sexual orientation, or gender identity. In addition to sharing many of the same emotions and behaviours as other survivors of sexual assault, men and boys who have experienced sexual assault or abuse may also experience additional difficulties as a result of social attitudes and prejudices about males and masculinity.

Common responses

Men and boys who have been sexually assaulted may face problems that are unique to their situation, but they may also face problems that are similar to what other survivors have gone through.

Some adult male survivors of sexual assault experience guilt or self-doubt because they feel they should have been “tough enough” to confront the attacker. Many guys may be puzzled and question what this signifies if they had an erection or ejaculation during the assault. In no way do these typical physiological reactions imply that you wanted, invited, or welcomed the attack. Know that you are not alone and that it is not your fault if something bad happens to you.

Males who experienced sexual abuse as children or adolescents may react differently than men who experienced sexual assault as adults. Some of the typical experiences that men and boys who have suffered sexual assault have in common are listed below. Although it is not an exhaustive list, knowing that other people are going through the same things could be comforting.

  • Flashbacks, eating disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and depression avoiding those who or things that make you think about the abuse or assault
  • inquiries or concerns regarding sexual orientation
  • Fear of the worst-case scenario and a sense that time is running out
  • A sense of being “less of a man” or losing control over one’s own body
  • being on edge, unable to unwind, and having trouble sleeping
  • feeling of guilt or shame for being powerless to stop the abuse or attack, especially if you had an erection or ejaculation.
  • withdrawal from connections or relationships, and a greater sense of loneliness.
  • Concerned about sharing for fear of criticism or unbelief

What are the sexual assaulters who target men and boys?

Any gender identity, sexual orientation, or age can be a perpetrator, and they don’t even need to be related to the victim. Like all criminals, they may use physical force or other methods to make you feel scared or angry.

Sexual assault can happen to anyone, no matter their age, sexual orientation, or gender identity. In addition to sharing many of the same emotions and behaviours as other survivors of sexual assault, men and boys who have experienced sexual assault or abuse may also experience additional difficulties as a result of social attitudes and prejudices about males and masculinity.

How to assist men who have survived

It might be difficult to disclose if you have been the victim of sexual abuse or assault. You might worry that people won’t believe you or will judge you. Stereotypes about masculinity can make it challenging for many male survivors to reveal their experiences to friends, family, or the community. It can be difficult for men and boys to imagine themselves as sexual assault victims, especially if a woman is the perpetrator. Here are some tips on how to help a guy or kid who tells you that he has been the victim of sexual assault or abuse.

Listen- Many people who are experiencing a crisis believe that no one is listening to them and is not taking them seriously. Give them your full attention to let them know they matter. Many survivors find it difficult to speak up about assault or abuse, especially if they worry that stereotypes about masculinity may prevent them from being believed.

Validate their emotions–  Attempts to control someone’s emotions by saying things like “Snap out of it” or “You shouldn’t feel so horrible” should be avoided. Say something like, “I believe you,” “That sounds like a tremendously difficult thing to go through,” and similar phrases.

Express your concern – Express your concern for them directly by using phrases like “I care about you” or “I am here for you.”

Never inquire about the specifics of the assault- Avoid asking for specifics about how the assault happened, even if you are interested in what happened and feel like you want to comprehend it completely. But if a survivor decides to talk to you about such specifics, do your best to listen to them without passing judgment.

Provide the necessary resources- After enduring sexual assault or abuse, there may be other factors of men’s lives that restrict their access to supports and services. For instance, black males could be reluctant to contact law enforcement, or trans men might encounter difficulties accessing medical care. Be understanding of these concerns, and when helping a survivor, do your best to recommend the resources you believe will be most beneficial.

Sexual harassment is not gender specific. Period.

It’s high time we stop making criminal offenses as gender-specific. Sexual Harassment doesn’t only mean women are the victims. Let’s support and help the victims of sexual harassment express how they feel, irrespective of their gender.

Palak Sharma
Palak Sharma
Articles: 100
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