Originally posted on April 25, 2010
Sexual violence against males remains a largely untreated problem. While some organization do reach out to male victims, overall male victims lack adequate support. This blog focuses on problems in the United States, however, the same problems exists abroad. For instance, Canada conducted a study entitled The Invisible Boy in order to determine the depth of the lack of services for and acknowledgment of male victims. The study found, as many involved with male victim advocacy claimed, that the existing services and organizations focused almost exclusively on female victims, with few attempts to reach out to help abused boys and men. In the years since that study one would expect some improvement. However, the situation remains unchanged:
Allan serves as the director for the southwestern Ontario office at Canadian Centre for Abuse Awareness (CCAA), a charitable organization serving Canadians since 1993. Its mandate of delivering sexual abuse education and public awareness operates through private donations to address the needs of those who have been sexually abused as children.
Allan says attendance in his groups held for male childhood sexual abuse survivors has quadrupled in the last year.
“There are no resources for men,” he says, adding that he suspects the rates are closer to being equal with those for women.
“More men are coming forward but the lack of services for them will keep them from doing so.”
Allan calls it an untreated epidemic.
“When a man comes forward and calls the sexual assault agency in his community for help or guidance, he will likely hear that their services are geared towards women and children only.”
The lack of services only worsens an already problematic situation. Abused boys and men do not come forward because of views about masculinity, their sexuality, their responsibility for the abuse, whether women can abuse, whether sexual violence against males counts as sex abuse, and whether others will believe them if they come forward. Extending services to male victims provides one means of challenging those social views. By assisting male victims, creating campaigns, and reaching out publicly organizations can show the prevalence and the impact of sexual violence against boys and men.
Unfortunately, that does not occur often. When it does, the one or two organization who take the risk typically end up riding solo with little support:
“We are the only centre in Quebec that offers group therapy for men,” said Alain Jobidon, executive director of CRIPHASE, (the Centre de ressources et d’intervention pour hommes abuses sexuellement dans leur enfance), which held its third annual march Saturday.
“There is an enormous lack of services available to abuse victims and the demand is greater every year.”
Since 1996, CRIPHASE has normally held three to five 10-week sessions of group therapy per year. In 2009, it held 19. And there are 150 men on the waiting list.
This puts male victims in a terrible position. More victims might come forward if more services existed, yet those who do come forward often cannot find support anyway. Either way, many male victims must deal with their abuse on their own.
Support services provide victims with a greatly needed commodity: validation. All victims want others to believe them. That validation helps victims realize that they bear no fault or blame for what the abusers did to them. We do male victims a great disservice by failing to provide this to the countless victims, particularly the victims who suffer in silence for decades.
It also perpetuates society’s ignorance about the extent of sexual violence against males. Allan suspects the rate of sexual violence against men equals that of women. No one knows the actual extent of sexual violence against males. The current rate hovers around 1 in 6. That number refers to abuse against males as children, but no one knows how frequently adult men get assaulted as no study (to my knowledge) reports that information. This could change if more services existed for male victims. It might prompt more research, which would give us a better insight into the frequency of sexual violence against boys and men.
That said, given what information we do know there remains no reason not to create more services for male victims.