Tom Hodson interviewed Christopher Anderson, the executive director of MaleSurvivor. The interview covers a variety of issues related to male victimization, including the lack of services, the support MaleSurvivor provides, and the stigmas male victims face.
What I like about Anderson’s approach is that he does not focus on being a victim. He prefers to use the term “trauma”, which is a clever way of getting around the problem of recognizing men’s experiences of sexual violence. Many people, including men who were abused, do not view those acts as “rape” or “molestation”. They do not see themselves as “victims”. Using any of those terms could result in men side-stepping their issues. By calling it “trauma”, it makes almost clinical and medical. That may offer some men an easier means of accepting what happened to them without needing to view themselves as “victims”.
Anderson also mentioned a statistic that he likes to use. He prefers citing the 1 in 4 statistic for sexual violence against males. This is partially based on the statistics that came from the infamous 2010 CDC study. While the current number usually mentioned is 1 in 6, Anderson notes that specifically applies to sexual abuse against boys. It does not include sexual violence against adult males, and we unfortunately do not have good information about that rate.
While it is difficult for boys and those abused as boys to come forward, it is worse for grown men who as they will face a host of stigmas, be it questions about their sexuality and masculinity or a general disinterest or disbelief. I suspect that sexual violence likely lessens as people get older, although some circumstances — being in the military and in prison — can increase the potential for assault. We must, however, factor these assaults against men into our understanding of sexual violence. All of these men are not gay, were not assaulted by other men, and are not part of the military or inmates. It would help if we conducted studies to determine how frequently adult males face sexual violence. Unfortunately, that does not seem likely to happen.
Finally, I want to praise MaleSurvivor as a support service. This is the place I went to address my situation. The men I met there were welcoming and supportive. While there were a few instances of strange behavior (primarily a handful of women pretending to be abused boys and getting caught), the experience was overwhelmingly positive. I think it is a great resource primarily because it allows people to receive immediate support. Many men live in locations where there are no support groups or therapists who work with male victims. Having a community at the ready online offers a means of getting help without needing to travel out of one’s way.