This Is What It Looks Like

Originally posted on June 22, 2008

For those unaware, I spend a fair amount of my offline time trying to raise awareness for male victims of sexual abuse. I do not mention it because I do not think that my efforts are what is most important. What is important is that the boys and men who need help get it without having to plead for it or being mocked or harassed for wanting it.

The other thing that I do not talk about is what I experience as I try to raise these issues. While many people in general are open to the idea, many of the local organizations take offense whenever male victims are mentioned, especially when someone suggests focusing on the specific needs of male victims without grouping them into some overall sexual abuse prevention campaign. For the most part, the negative responses are not nearly as openly hostile as they are online, although the condescension is just as palpable. Perhaps comes from being face-to-face with the person. However, the general response is still, “There doesn’t need to be much support for male victims because they’re so rare, but if  you’re complaining you should remember who it is who cares about victims of any kind of abuse.”

Again, one can see this online frequently, but it is rare to see it as it appears offline. Luckily, the gift that will not stop giving provides an example:

Mark, could you explain your reasoning behind this “zero sum game” thing? I have to admit that it sounds to me like concern trolling, but I do want to give you the benefit of the doubt and let you explain. How is it that you look at people who are constantly repeating “Patriarchy hurts men, too,” who are just about the only people who speak out for male victims of rape and don’t think it’s a joke, who are always talking about how traditional perceptions of masculinity and are pretty much the only people who actually care about how men suffer under a an unequal society, then call it a “zero sum game”?

Lala linked to two posts that ironically demonstrate the exact opposite of what she stated. Both posts explicitly and implicitly suggest that not only males not “really” victims, but that any abuse done to them, even if done by women, results solely from “the Patriarchy,” i.e. it is boys and men’s own fault if anyone should abuse, rape, torture or kill them.

Worse, Lala contradicts the very point she is making, demonstrating the kind of condescending backlash many advocates for male victims face. Any in-depth reading of that blog would find not one single pro-male post about male victims. They either are not mentioned at all, disregarded as secondary at best, irrelevant at worst, or literally blamed for their abuse. In many ways that mirrors the offline experience of male victims. While plenty of the suport service providers would take credit for helping male victims, few of them have any information on the issues male victims face, many do not have anyone volunteering or working with them who has worked with male victims in the past and most of them do not even have the phone numbers or addresses of therapists or support centers that have and do work with male victims.

What those (usually) women can present is their condescension.

They can use it to brow-beat anyone questioning them and to shame and silence male victims who might come forward and talk about their very different experiences with the support community. Is it overtly meanspirited? No. Is it an outright “shut the fuck up?” No. However, it is as close as one can get to it while still playing nice. While it is not said, the point is rather clear: male victims owe feminists, so male victims should keep quiet or else. These are the same people who do not speak out regularly about male victimization, who do not acknowledge female rapists and child sexual predators, people who do not even have pamphlets for male victims or information or links or a list of available resources. One wonders then just how they can be “just about the only people who speak out for male victims of rape and don’t think it’s a joke […] and are pretty much the only people who actually care about how men suffer under a an unequal society […]”

This is what I have to deal with anytime I speak about male victims. This is what it looks like. It looks like the kindest kick in the groin and spit in the face one will ever see… until one decides to go and talk again a week and a half later. And then that will be the worst… until four days later. And so on and so on.

22 thoughts on “This Is What It Looks Like

  1. Pingback: This Is What It Looks Like part 2 « Toy Soldiers

  2. This is precisely what I mean by those feminists who only care about victims of abuse enough to delegate themselves as the only people who can speak on it. The thing is since most victims of abuse are women some feminists have concluded that women are the only ones that can speak on abuse topics and that male victims are so rare (ain’t funny how they know that there are lots and lots of unreported female victims but never mention male victims who don’t report?).

    It is very apparent that male victims need their own voice by the very fact that feminists don’t want them to speak up for themselves unless its under a feminist approved manner (ie declare that women still have it worst, concentrate on the gender of the abuser only when its male, ect….)

  3. ain’t funny how they know that there are lots and lots of unreported female victims but never mention male victims who don’t report?

    The most common explanation is that male victims do underreport, but there are still more female victims who do not report. This is despite that no one who works with male victims believes that the 1 in 6 rate is correct. The overwhelming majority of those people believe the actual rate is higher, meaning it would probably 1 in 5 or 1 in 4, which would be the difference in the rate of abuse is negligible. Of course, in an effort to be “right” it never occurs to feminists that there are slightly more females than males in this country, so by default there will be slightly more female victims. It has nothing to do with sexual violence being a “gendered” crime.

  4. TS, I sincerely hope that you never give up doing what you do. It must be incredibly hard, with the opposition that you face, overt or otherwise.

    I only wish you didn’t have to face it. Wish for a world where all victims are believed and given whatever assistance they require.

    Keep up the good work & know that there are people who appreciate what you do.

  5. Speaking as a woman who experienced horrific sexual and physical abuse during my childhood, it breaks my heart to read your words that you’ve experienced this kind of backlash and other male victims of abuse have. It shouldn’t matter, male or female – abuse is wrong! No one should exclude boys/men. I’ve known many boys & girls, men & women who have experienced abuse and it hurts everyone – and NO one is at fault for it, EVER.

    I think its wonderful that you specifically are an advocate for boys and men on the topic of abuse. I know speaking about abuse isn’t easy for anyone who has endured it, but I do know it is generally much harder for boys/men to talk about it, just from my own experiences. God bless you and the work you do. I honor you and wish there were more people like you out there, helping to give a voice to those who are terrified to speak.

    blessings, Joan

  6. Sonja, I took a break from it this year due to family issues. It is a stressful thing to do because for every person who agrees with me there is another you slams the door.

  7. Women are the majority of what kind of abuse? Just sexual? Males dominate the physical abuse section, worldwide 4x more males die from violence than females. What surprises me that even with physical violence we still have so much female victim, male perp advocacy out there when male-male is by far the largest and most dangerous form of violence. That coupled with new stats on the rate of sexual abuse males face and the severe lack of awareness of male sexual abuse, I truly wonder if ANY of the anti-abuse campaigners ever read stats, even police stats, and if they actually care about victims or only care about female victims.

    My guess is they see men as oppressive and so they see them as less deserving of help, or wonder what the man did to deserve it, or flat out just don’t believe them. I showed a feminist the recent GMP article on Collin’s mother and she didn’t believe it, I swear it’s like abuse is drummed into their heads as by the men, the patriarchy the patriarccchhyyy that they don’t see the male victims and just how many they are. It’s sad that they don’t seem to even recognize the cycle of abuse properly, because if they did they’re realize everyone needs full access to help and support to end it and not just women only.

    It’s a real shame to see people hold onto stereotypes so badly, the fact that many people don’t even realize men can be raped and forced to penetrate is saddening, I know I never learned a single thing on it in school but heard of rape against women. Maybe you could talk to someone in education on sex ed about it to see if they’ll change their curriculum to include male victims?

  8. Archy, the FBI statistics show that women make up the majority of those who reported to have abused children. The only type of abuse women were reported to commit less of was sexual abuse, but that number is unreliable because of underreporting.

    Most anti-abuse campaigns choose the statistics they use carefully. Many of them will rely on police reports, but fail to acknowledge the potential underreporting from male victims. Others rely on studies and research, but those studies could easily misrepresent the actual rate or fail to include male victims at all.

    When I have talked to people about including male victims, the general response was either that sexual violence is a “gendered crime” or that they already mention male victims. Few people were willing to change their approach. Keep in mind that many schools use programs similar to those used by groups like Men Can Stop Rape.

  9. “Mediahound, Yes and no. More people are listening, but those with closed ears push back harder.”

    That sounds about right. It’s very passive listening, with no action.

    A woman recently wrote at DailyKos:

    I came of age during the Anita Hill debate. But 20 years later, it seems nothing has changed, or it has gotten worse. When Anita Hill stood up against the man who sexually harassed her, the country was at least vociferously divided–not yawning. When the clergy sex abuse scandal broke soon afterward, I didn’t see people rioting in defense of the perpetrators who abused not only children, but abused their position of trust as priests.

    I don’t get why women participate in a divide and conquer strategy against them, and refuse to accept male victims as allies. As long as all the victims keep fighting each other, the power structure remains unchallenged.

  10. “…but I do know it is generally much harder for boys/men to talk about it, just from my own experiences.”

    Thank you for saying that!!!

    I agree. It seems so obvious but I just can’t say it without tripping the whole “violence affects women more…” thing.

  11. I have to wonder at the disparity of language and references when it comes to abuse.

    You have detailed references to “Battered Women Syndrome” (BWS) and even “Battered Person Syndrome” (BPS) – and yet if you search for “Battered Child Syndrome” (BCS) there is a complex mishmash of references that are anything but helpful or concise.

    Maybe what is needed is a break down and training tool for those supposed [sic]professionals which uses all three – mapping similarities and showing where the three diverge – such as actual perception caused by gender/age and then how they diverge such as resultant morbidity and damage?

  12. Keep up the good work. Many feminists think so much only about women that they simply don’t think that men are actually people.

  13. Toysoldier:

    I know you are not an MRA per-se but you are someone who cares about good statistics regarding abuse.

    So here:

    Read enough and you’ll see that data collection on sex of child abuse perps in Australia has been stopped, most likely because it would show that females can be abusive too. You’ll also see tons of other statistical manipulation going on, sometimes by not collecting it, and sometimes via categorization games.

  14. Clarence, I am not surprised that the feminists in the Australian government play with statistics like that. While it is certainly not limited to any political group, feminists in particular do seem to toy with numbers more than anyone else. I did not see anything that suggested that the government stopped collecting data on child abusers (perhaps I missed it), but I would not be surprised in the government, as a result of pushing from feminists, decided to only count data involving male abusers.

  15. @TS…

    Australian Labor government in the early nineties interfered in the work of the Australian Bureau of Statistics to prevent questioning of men and boys and questions related to female perpetration. More recently the same party in government ignored ABS data showing significant numbers of such victims and created further discriminatory legislation.

    It’s not government per se but one of our two major parties driving the discrimination in this country. The Liberals are relatively idle but have signalled on numerous occasions that they acknowledge the existence of male victims and female abusers. Labor has been spreading discrimination like a contagion at every opportunity and has a provable track record over decades.

  16. Pingback: This Is What It Looks Like v3 | Toy Soldiers

  17. Double standards are the best way to ensure that only one half of a problem or situation is taken seriously. Thus, I truly loathe them.

    It truly shouldn’t matter what genitalia a survivor of sexual abuse was arbitrarily born with. The pain, humiliation, and scaring that one suffers from is no less of a atrocity on human rights because one has a penis instead of a clitoris. To say anything else is to make it that much harder for the abused to go from being a Victim to a Survivor.

  18. ‘Keep up the good work. Many feminists think so much only about women that they simply don’t think that men are actually people.’

    Not all feminists hide the sexual abuse of boys by men and girls and boys by women. It’s a small percentage of them who give us a bad name and they turn on us too. They consider the suffering of girls abused by women to be ‘insignificant’. I don’t ‘fit’ into the story they want to tell.

    I have always seen male survivors as my allies and I’m upset to learn that this isn’t always the case. I don’t think it’s because I was abused by a woman either. Although ironically, men are more likely to believe me than women and not because they want to know the details either. So to everyone one here, male or female who has been abused – I believe you, it wasn’t your fault and I’m on your side.

  19. @Kiboko It doesn’t matter how small the percentage is (and I’d vouch for it not being small at all) – if that percentage hold the reigns of power, which they undeniably do; they decide where the ideology heads unless their flock actively break off and disavow their former leaders’ viewpoints in actions as well as words. Which they haven’t.

  20. The way to stop this abuse quickly is to take the establishment head on. use THEIR statistics and shame them on their own terms, their own websites.
    The quicker they realise we aren’t going to be quiet any longer, the fewer of our male sons and friends will suffer.
    In my own way I’ve called out to Police Scotland if they are only going to “detect” one in 50 to 1 in 100 of abusers then I’m going to publicise that each and every way I am able..

    For every ONE abuser they “detect” they leave the other 49 (or 149) to abuse OUR CHILDREN with impunity.
    Put another way, that makes our police and Crown Prosecution Services (UK) ENTIRELY COMPLICIT IN CHILD SEX ABUSE.

    Please help me – and all others – by bringing this to public notice in any way you can – blog, discussion sites, emails or even a comment or two in support to this link.

    Thank you from my sons and I.

    January 18, 2014.

    Women who sexually abuse our children – why aren’t ALL child sex abusers being prosecuted?

    OPEN LETTER to Sir Stephen House, QPM, Chief Constable of Police Scotland

    Dear Sir,

    Sadly, I find it necessary to address this Open Letter to you only after openly write after my own own MP has written to you directly, and repeatedly over an eight month period, by asking for action on Child Sex Abuse.

    Despite these representations, neither a meaningful response nor action has been forthcoming.

    Our concern is that despite senior officers of Police Scotland formally claiming that all child sex abuse reports are “taken “very seriously indeed”, the facts don’t support this assertion.

    As an example, with respect to this one incident, Police Scotland and yourself were made aware of a formal report in January 2013, and a formal complaint made in March 2013, yet despite evidence including a viable formal Witness Statement and Expert Psychological support documentation, the female suspect has been neither questioned nor interviewed.

    This is clearly not an isolated incident. Research findings by prestigious child protection organisations such as NSPCC/Childline/The Lucy Faithfull Foundation/Kidscape, together with findings reported in numerous academic journals, confirm that in between 5 – 20% of all occurrences female child sex abusers of child sex abuse, the abusers are women. (1)
    In a paper published in 1984, Petrovich & Templer reported that 59% of incarcerated (male) rapists had been sexually abused when they were children, by one or more women.

    Anecdotal evidence suggests that these research conclusions are accurate, and that the criminal justice system treats women who sexually abuse children very leniently compared with men who sexually abuse children.
    This is entirely consistent with my own research and personal experience.

    Within the past reported twelve months, it’s been confirmed that in my local policing area alone that there were NO instances of women been convicted of any of the 27 possible categories of sexual abuse of children. In the same area, over the same period, 78 men were convicted of such offences. The political party Justice for men & boys (and the women who love them) is taking an increasing interest in the topic of women committing sexual abuse of children, and the reluctance of the police to prosecute them. (2)

    My recent Freedom of Information requests (FOI 2013-1171 & 2013-1447) via Police Scotland for statistics and data across all Scottish regions, and nationally, over three years, also confirms that convictions of female perpetrators of child sex abuse are insignificant.

    Not only is this a possible infringement of the Scottish Equality Act 2010, it’s also inconsistent with the public claim that Police Scotland take all child sex abuse offences “very seriously indeed”.

    (1) Bibliography of Female Child Sex Abusers

    Name and Address Supplied

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