With the advent of the #MeToo Movement, the spotlight on the issue of sexual assault is brighter than ever. Yet when we think of men within the context of #MeToo, society tends to think of them as the perpetrators of this violence not the victims.
According to the Center for Disease Control, 1 in 6 boys will be a victim of sexual abuse before the age of 18. We believe this number is low compared to the reality, as many of these assaults go unreported. The reasons for this are many; survivors are often reluctant to disclose their trauma to friends or family due to embarrassment, fear of judgment or not being believed. Yet for many male survivors there is an additional reason for the reluctance to disclose because of the way society conceptualizes masculinity.
In our society and culture, men are supposed to be strong and fearless. Men are not allowed to express emotion, unless it is anger. And men are certainly not supposed to be sexually assaulted, but they are. Society’s expectations of how men should be, and act make it all the more difficult for male survivors to come forward and report their abuse, as well as, for men to even recognize and identify that what they experienced was, in fact, sexual violence. These factors can greatly impact a male survivor’s healing journey. Men often blame themselves for the abuse, in part because of the belief that as a man, they should have been able to stop it. And of course, it is hard to process and heal from trauma, when one believes they are not allowed to feel scared, sad, hurt, or that they are not allowed to cry.
At Safe Harbor we provide services to sexual assault survivors, regardless of gender identity. We aim to create a safe space where survivors can be heard, feel, heal, and rebuild their life. We offer individual counseling services and support groups to survivors of sexual violence/abuse ages 13 and up. If you are interested a support group or any of our counseling services, please call our counseling intake line at 804-249-9470 ext. 12.