From male sexual abuse victims into Stand Up Guys
by thil0607 on April 26, 2014 - 12:05am
When we talk about sexual assault and violence, we immediately associate the victims of this crime as women and the perpetrators as men. While this is true in the majority of the cases, statistics show that 10% of rape victims in the U.S. are male (RAINN, 2009). The NewsActivist post Men Can't Be Raped described a case where a female security guard sexually molested a 15-year old boy. The boy claimed the experience had mentally scarred him, but no one would believe that he was the victim of a sexual crime. Even the media played down the incident saying the boy was “seduced” by the woman.
All victims of domestic or sexual abuse, male and female, have places to turn to for help. Among them is the Rape Abuse Incest National Network or RAINN. It’s considered as the largest anti-sexual violence organization in the country. Its mission is to prevent sexual violence, help victims and ensure that rapists are brought to justice. They operate a national 24-hour hotline where victims can call in and report the abuse. The hotline is connected to more than 11-hundred rape crisis centers around the country. RAINN also run a special help line for members of the Department of Defense.
Sometimes male survivors find it easier to first tell an anonymous hotline staffer rather than a loved one. This allows the survivor to speak to someone who is impartial and trained to listen and help. Many male survivors find that talking to the hotline first makes it easier to tell friends and family later. Studies have shown some differences between the way male and female victims react to sexual assaults. One suggested that although all sexual violence victims experienced emotional and behavioral problems and even thoughts of suicide, it was reported three times more often by sexually abused boys (Garnefski & Arends, 1988). This experience could also impact onto their adult life. Studies have shown that victims of child sexual abuse (CSA) before the age of 15 years old have a higher risk for becoming a pedophile and sexually abusing children themselves. The study went on to further suggest that the gender of the attacker may have some impact as well “with CSA by a male being associated more with pedophilic interest, but CSA by a female[as it was in the article] associated with higher rates of sexual recidivism (Nunes, Hermann, Malcom, & Lavoie, 2013, p. 710).”
I believe there is an avenue RAINN can pursue that would help them become more effective in putting an end to sexual violence. I believe there is a benefit from programs designed to help educate young men and boys to rethink their stereotypical views on what it means to be male and female. Part of the rationale of this plan can be found in Max Weber’s theory of symbolic interaction. It addresses the subjective meanings that people impose on objects, events, and behaviors. Subjective meanings are given priority because people behave based on what they believe and not just on what is true. By educating these young men to make new healthier associations with females, they will gain a newfound respect for them. The end result would be a decrease in the number of domestic and sexual violence cases nationwide. There are many organizations around the country beginning to employ this educational program to college campuses. In my area, there is a group called Stand Up Guys (RESOLVE, 2013) which has had positive feedback from people who have attended their programs.
The program would work much like the way online classes do at many universities. RAINN already offers many online victims services through a contract with the DoD's Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office (SAPRO) (RAINN, 2009). Many of those existing resources can be inputted into managing regular online sessions with victims around the country. Doing it in this fashion would also preserve their anonymity and thereby making it more likely they will participate. Training these facilitators is available through a program called Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP). The goal of the program is focused on an innovative "bystander" model that empowers each person to take an active role in promoting a positive social climate. The heart of the training consists of role-plays intended to allow participants to construct and practice viable options in response to incidents of harassment, abuse, or violence before, during, or after the fact. Students learn that there is not simply "one way" to confront violence, but that each individual can learn valuable skills to build their personal resolve and to act when faced with difficult or threatening life situations (MVP, n.d.). For male victims it would help give them a sense of control and hope to get passed what they experienced and prevent it from happening to anyone else. Once empowered they can pass on what they’ve learned to their peers, family members and, in the long run, any male children they may father as adults. Then that generation will pass on the new gender equality message to their descendants, eventually breaking the cycle of domestic and sexual violence.
Garnefski, N., & Arends, E. (1988). Sexual Abuse and Adolescent Maladjustment: Differences Between Male and Female Victims. Journal of Adolescence, 99-107.
Heuvelink, G. (2014, April 7). Men Can't Be Raped. Retrieved from NewsActivist: http://newsactivist.com/en/news-summary/newsactivist-winter-2014/men-can...
Nunes, K. L., Hermann, C. A., Malcom, R., & Lavoie, K. (2013). Childhood Sexual Victimization, pedophilic interest and sexual recidivism. Child Abuse & Neglect, 703-711.
RAINN. (2009). RAINN: Rape Abuse and Incest National Network. Retrieved April 2014, from RAINN: http://www.rainn.org/
RESOLVE. (2013). Stand Up Guys: About Us. Retrieved from RESOLVE of Greater Rochester: http://www.resolve-roc.org/StandUpGuys.html