An Untreated Epidemic

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.

12 thoughts on “An Untreated Epidemic

  1. Hey Toysoldier… I’ve been following the brouhaha over ‘male studies’ at Amanda Hess’s blog.

    I found this gem under one of her posts:

    Bird:

    I am a sexual assault educator and heard the piece on the radio yesterday in the car on my way to a presentation. I spent the entire drive alternately shouting angry rebuttals at my radio and cheering on Amanda for her awesome comments and amazing calm. Unfortunately I missed the “petty vigor” comment because I had to go talk to a bunch of teens about sexual violence, including talking about how men are also victims. Interesting considering his comments about rape prevention programs only ever painting men as predators. Perhaps he should actually look at who is out there providing the bulk of support services for male survivors (hint: it’s not the MRAs).

    What do you think?

    I’m thinking her little talk about ‘men also being victims’ (well, duh! I think most people are aware of this now) likely includes how rape mostly (90+% of the time) affects women and that female-on-male rape is vanishingly rare.

    As long as male victims are taught and parrot the feminist party line (I’m anomalous, the real victims are women, women rarely rape men) I’m sure feminists will throw in a few conciliatory head-pats for being a good little cypher.

  2. In my experience, such sexual assault educators do not actually acknowledge male victims. They give a bunch of lip service and talk about how society, patriarchy or rape culture forces men to remain silent. They rarely speak about any issues male victims actually face, and most of them rarely speak to any actual male victims. However, on the off chance that this woman’s program does acknowledge male victims equally, that would not change the overall situation. For the most part male victims are ignored by rape prevention programs, as are female abusers and often homosexual and transgender victims.

    The problem for feminists is that the party line only works with people not in the know. It does not work with most male victims, which is why feminists become so hostile the moment any male victim speaks up about his experiences. The other problem is that male victims are not so dense as to be unaware of how they get treated when they ask for help, so when someone like Bird claims that male victims are not turned away, derided or ignored, those men and boys will call her or him out on it.

    The biggest problem is that when asked to actually support male victims, feminists bow out fast. Hess posted about a rape prevention campaign recently. The goal of the campaign is to address myths that discount sexual violence, yet it is geared only towards heterosexual women. When I called the campaign for what it was and suggested a more balanced approach, the responses were that men rarely get raped, that sexual abuse against boys does not count and that more men rape women and than women rape men. These were the same feminists claiming they support male victims, but the moment they were asked to treat male victims equally and give them equal attention, the feminists came up with excuses for why male victims do not deserve acknowledgment.

  3. What you just said, right there Toysoldier, about discounting male rape victims reveals the major kink in achillee’s armor clad heel; the hole in feminism’s supposed “Equality for both sexes”.

    To this day, I refuse to trust any feminist anymore with my experiences. My pain has been minimized so much that self-esteem issues are cropping up again. I try to write again, but the moment those experiences are called forth, it fogs my inspiration and destroys the rythem I created.

    I’ll eventually come to terms with it. But not through feminism or any feminist whatsoever. They continue to regard female bullying against men as a anomolie where it’s futile to show concern. Even if they did, they’ll shift all the blame to men and patriarchy.

    Forget it. I’ll get through this on my own…somehow. With support from people who HAVE experienced this kind of stuff.

  4. These were the same feminists claiming they support male victims, but the moment they were asked to treat male victims equally and give them equal attention, the feminists came up with excuses for why male victims do not deserve acknowledgment.
    You know I’m actually willing to accept that they don’t give male victims equal attention. My problem is twofold.

    1. Despite constantly claiming that they are the ones giving attention to male victims they constantly do things that directly contradicts their claims.

    2. Despite not being as in the know on male victims as they constantly pat themselves on the back for they have no qualms about speaking on their behalf. This is a direct contradiction of when they speak up because they don’t want men to speak for women. So according to them as they, feminists, are the ones doing the speaking nothing else matters. And when I mean nothing else I mean truth, fact, experiences of those who are non feminist or non woman/girl, etc…. Just by virtue of being feminist they are always right.

    And TS I’m so glad you went over there and said something on that Feministing thread about Glee in which despite claiming they are the ones that care about male victims they pretty much spent that thread patting themselves on the back and stroking their own egos. Basically spending more time boasting about how great they are than actually doing whatever it is that makes them so great.

  5. That’s why I don’t trust feminists anymore, Danny. Not unless they are willing to SHOW, not just SAY, they care about male abuse victims. If men are asked to do the same for female abuse victims, then it’s only fair feminists fulfil their half of the responsabilities towards equality of support. It’s not a one way street and it’s darn time they stop getting it in their heads that just because they’d prefer boosting as opposed to ACTION doesn’t mean they have a right to lecture men about rape, domestic violence, and objectification.

    Otherwise, leave them alone. Let the men support themselves and each other without hanging feminist dogma over their head about “Patriarchy hurts men too…”.

    It’s strange. Regarding your number 2 pet peeve, Danny, is that if feminists are so concerned about male abuse victims, then it doesn’t make sense for them to call it a minor problem compared to rape against females. Then why say you care in the first place?

    Just puzzling me now. But I’d rather not mull over it. More important matters await.

  6. It’s very simple: Anything GOOD you have to say about feminists is automatically true.

    They help male victims? Sure.

    They want equality for all people? You betcha.

    They’re reasonable to talk to? Absolutely.

    They’ve got minty fresh breath? Every day.

    Skittle candies shoot-out from their bungholes? You’d better believe it.

    If it’s a positive thing, then it’s as good as true. Feminists are out there, helping male victims 24/7. Why, they don’t even need to get-off of the couch to do that!

  7. Any ‘feminist’ who doesn’t support and believe male victims of abuse 100% is talking sh*t and doesn’t reflect what feminism is really about. I’ve known and worked with people of many gender identities and sexual preferences who have experienced horrific abuse, and no one is more (or less) deserving of sympathy and help than any other. The fact that men and boys are expected to, as you say, just take it, speaks volumes about our screwed up society in which women are delicate little objects and men are supposed to only be visible if they’re ‘being manly’ (whatever that means) and certainly not complain about being assaulted.

    Any one who calls themselves a ‘feminist’ or a ‘maculinist’ and then abuses, belittles and insults those of other genders is TRASH and is betraying what both these positive, exciting and empowering movements are really about.

  8. and by the way, I’m feminist til I die. And I think this blog is great (and much-needed).

  9. Would you also agree, Bella, based on what is contained in your solequeny that segments of feminism are culpable and have aided in fostering the resentment and ignorance towards male abuse survivors? And not just “being manly” as in “Machismo”?

    Think of VAWA, a law that feminists supported and rallied the government to introduce that, while getting the job done with support for women, became extremley gendered and limited in support for male abuse survivors, if not downright exclusionary.

    Also think of all the really radical ideas that feminism has supported in the name of calling it “A variety of belifes”, like “All men are rapists and that’s all they are”, etc. Not literally to blame, but the extremism in these statements are now being felt and has done harm. In addition to linking every man with the ones at the top, calling them privledged and using this “Priveledge” as a means to silence their opinons since their experiences don’t compare to what women go through in terms of serious abuse.

    My own opinions are clouded as I have had some serious negative experiences with girl bullies. Yet this issue is never addressed. Only boys on boys, boys on girls, girls on girls. Never girls on boys. I am anomolie, according to them and society. What the girls did are all because of male machismo attitudes. Nevermind the fact that they did it of their own volition at equal levels as the boy bullies did. Goes to show they are not really the answer to the world’s problems.

    This is also a view that make these “Feminists” and that strand of “Feminism” responsible for keeping these downright sexist attitudes extending their reach into the next generation of children.

    What do you think, Bella? Just curious.

    Hope I’m not putting you to on the spot. It’s just that you should also consider there’s more to the mixed messages of “Being Manly” aside from machismo from the old boys network…whatever that means.

  10. Do you have a link to the thread, Danny?

    Much as I’d rather spend my time tied to a dentist chair, receiving unwanted root canal work without drugs or pain killers, I wouldn’t mind going over there to see you, or Toysoldier, stand up to them.

  11. Pingback: This Is What It Looks Like v8 | Toy Soldiers

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