LSU CASH’s Workshop Coordinator and volunteer writer, Megan McKone, talks about what we need to do to break the stigma around male sexual assault.
TW – rape and sexual assault.
Sexual crimes are the only crimes in which the victim is blamed, this culture prevents victims from coming forward, silences them and allows other sexual offences to occur unmarred. One of the biggest groups at risk of this culture is men. The purpose of Movember is to raise awareness of male struggles and highlight the need for the appropriate support.
It takes an average of twenty-six years for a sexually abused male to come forward.
Twenty-six years of silence are endured due to a relentless, cutthroat culture in which men are ignored and are told they should have enjoyed the sexual abuse they encountered. Men can be victims of rape and/or sexual assault, this happens when they did not or could not give their consent to a sexual act.
Men who are raped or sexually assaulted may feel ashamed of the experience. The victim may also feel confused or embarrassed if they ejaculated or had an erection during the act, it is important to remember the body reacts to certain stimuli and it is not a voluntary decision. They may feel weak for not being able to fight the perpetrator off; the body has a fight or flight system but there are also three other responses – freeze, flop or befriending – the way our bodies react in stressful situations is not a controllable reaction and not everyone has the capability to fight off another person or persons. Whatever the details of their assault, it is not for us to ask but instead to support and assure them they are not alone.
At least one in six men experience sexual assault or rape. Think of your course, how many men in that room could have been victims of sexual abuse and how many of them are keeping it a secret, think of those who need support but are afraid to ask, those who are blamed for what happened to them, think of that one in six.
Stop the vehement victim-blaming culture that tells men they should have wanted it, stop saying they should be thankful for the opportunity or that they should have been asking for more. Stop making men feel like their sexual wants or lack of sexual wants are less important, stop making male victims of sexual assault or rape second to female victims. Stop blaming men for being sexually abused.Listen to them, believe them and support them. You are not the judge, jury and executioner. You are an ally and a friend, show them that.
Our society neglects to include male victims of sexual assault and it is imperative to stop this to prevent more men dying from burdens they shouldn’t have to bear. In one hour the lives of 60 men are lost to suicide, you could help to save just one man by believing their abusive encounter.
The Consent and Sexual Heath committee are collaborating with Heads Up to bring you a panel in which we discuss men being silent victims of sexual assault on Thursday 12th November at 6 pm on Teams. Please DM either lsucash or lboroheadsup on Instagram or Facebook for the link.
Do you think you could stay silent for 26 hours? Survivors UK is a charity that aims to raise awareness for male victims of sexual abuse, they run the 26hour challenge to raise money and awareness for those affected by sexual abuse. CASH and Heads Up will be collaborating with Survivors UK to bring the 26 hour challenge to you. Join us on the 19th and 20th of November to stay silent in solidarity with male victims of sexual abuse or violence.
Male suicide prevention is the main aim of Movember, the Loughborough Women’s Network are running the 60 km challenge if you think you could walk or run 60 km or donate to someone else who can head over to their Facebook page.
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Featured header image by Frankie Stevens.