Dear Men, Our Silent Warriors
This is something we don’t often read about in the news. There are no marches, protests or
hashtags highlighting the devastation of men who are victims of sexual violence. Cases made public are few and far between; but the reality is that there are more male sexual abuse, rape and assault survivors that you think.
An organization called 1 in 6 cite research stating “.. that at least 1 in 6 men have experienced sexual abuse or assault, whether in childhood or as adults. And this is probably a low estimate, since it doesn’t include noncontact experiences, which can also have lasting negative effects.”
Our silent warriors. Carrying their secrets with the weight of masculine expectations. Be strong. Don’t cry. Showing emotions is weak.
Rape, Sexual Grooming, Sexual Assault, Sexual Harassment: these things have no gender, they are not defined by sexual orientation, by positions of authority or hierarchy in our communities.
Victims are survivors living deep within the men we see every day around us; carrying on with their lives; getting married, having children, successful businessmen, Cum Laude students, your insurance broker, your petrol attendant, your football coach, your neighbour, your boyfriend, your bother, your son, your father.
Never speaking of their trauma; because they believe the burden is better buried than faced. Because the stigma is unbearable. Because who would believe them. Because men are supposed to be strong, right? How could they have let themselves be raped?
Victim blaming of women who are sexually assaulted is nothing new. She shouldn’t have worn that, she shouldn’t have been walking alone there, she was asking for it. A vile narrative that has damaged so many survivors long after the event of the assault; sadly this is not exclusive to women.
Society likes boxes. Everyone needs to fit in one. It makes it easier to suss out the “us” and the “them”. We are familiar with the boxes that women have been kept in for centuries. But little attention is paid to the fact that men also have their boxes. To be strong, alpha, hard, independent, hunters, providers; the ones in control. Not soft, vulnerable, emotional, gentle.
Guilt, shame, confusion, anger, pain: these things have no gender identity, no gender roles, they are not defined by sexual orientation, by positions of authority or hierarchy. They are the human experience of trauma. And they can lay hidden in behaviour that doesn’t seem to make sense.
Angry Outbursts. Hypersexuality. Hypervigilance. Low Sexual Desire. Sexual Aversion. These are ways in which traumatic experiences can manifest into behaviour that is difficult to understand.
Men need a voice. Men need support for rape, sexual abuse & assault. They need the support of mental health professionals, doctors, the police and the legal system. They need to be heard. Their stories need to be told, without judgement.
You need to know that the horror of sexual crimes affects everyone.
Sex Crimes have no gender identity.
Sex Crimes have no sexual orientation.
Instead of making the war on sex crimes about us (women & children) against them (men). Can we please make it about us (everyone) against them (perpetrators).
If you, or someone you know is a victim of sexual violence, sexual abuse, rape, sexual assault, sexual harassment; there is help available. Educate yourself. Speak out. Be the change!
Dear Men, Our Silent Warriors. You are worthy of being heard and of healing.