The Visibility of Sexual Abuse Survivors

Regardless of gender identity, sexual abuse can happen to anyone. The Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network has posted a video made by Dr. Broderick Fox of Occidental College to highlight this and urge survivors of any identity or background to seek help.

Though survivors of sexual assault are frequently female, it can happen to men as well. Unfortunately, notions of masculinity in our society often prevent men from speaking out. The New York Times recently ran an article on the difficulty male survivors face in seeking help. The consequences of sexual abuse, ranging from depression to substance abuse, know no gender but as the article says, male survivors often face a challenge particular to their sex:

But men also face a challenge to their sense of masculinity. Many feel they should have done more to fight off their attackers. Since they may believe that men are never raped, they may feel isolated and reluctant to confide in anyone. Male rape victims may become confused about their sexual orientation or, if gay and raped by a man, blame their sexual orientation for the rape.

Men are “supposed” to be the active agent in sexual relations, while women are often positioned as passive, making them susceptible to rape. But rape is not a sexual act, it is an expression of power and dominance. Men can just as easily be made targets of rape, due to “violent, drunken or drug-induced assaults; war crimes; interrogations; antigay bias crimes; and hazing rites for male clubs and organizations, like fraternities, and in the military.” In this instance, men are harmed by a misogynistic society that equates masculinity and male heterosexuality with power and aggression. As long as these ideas perpetuate, male survivors will have difficulty seeking help, and the abuse against them will be rendered invisible and thus more easily continued.

Male Sexual Assault [RAINN]

Male Victims of Sexual Assault [Sociological Images]

Men Struggle for Rape Awareness [NY Times]

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