It’s Not Just Women: The ongoing struggle of male sexual assault victims.

Most of the discussion around victim blaming is heavily focused on women. I myself am guilty of focusing 90% of my attention towards women with regards to sexual assault and rape culture.  However, it is important to understand that men are also victims of sexual assault and harassment and are even less willing to report their assaults because of their fear of humiliation and shame.

Did you know that:

  • 1 in 5 men have experienced some form of sexual victimization in their lives.
  • 1 in 6 men were sexually abused before the age of 18.

More than half of military sexual assault victims in the United States are men. According to the Pentagon, thirty-eight military men are sexually assaulted every single day and very few survivors speak out or report their assault.

Why? For fear they’d lose their job, be persecuted against by their peers or simply no-one would believe them.

In a recent GQ article, one survivor admitted to feeling responsibility for his attack, claiming he believed he was responsible because he could have stopped it.

“I still don’t believe I didn’t bring this on. I keep telling myself, If only I hadn’t had a few beers that night. If only I hadn’t invited him back to my room. I tried to resist. He was just so f******g strong,” Jones said. 

It’s these kind of internal thoughts that survivors suffer with after their attack that are repeatedly perpetuated not only by the stigma surrounding the reporting of the assault and how little the military actually do for survivors of assault, but also the consequences on career and personal life that are just too much of a toll on the victim.

Recent studies show that military men are assaulted more than women with nearly 14,000 cases of male sexual assault in 2012 alone. And what makes this situation even more horrifying is that prior to the repeal of the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” by U.S. President Obama in 2011, male-on-male-rape victims could actually be discharged for having engaged in homosexual conduct. While these actions are no longer undertaken, the damage has already been done and the numbers show that men are still afraid to report being sexually assaulted.

As the GQ article explains: “An overpowering shame prevents many enlisted men from reporting an assault—a sense that they must somehow be complicit in what has happened to them. Straight men often question their own sexual orientation, while gay men may struggle to find intimacy in relationships because they don’t trust other men (or their own judgment). Telling the secret ruptures families and friendships. So does not telling.”

It’s also a case of the military shoving these issues aside and simply not willing to deal with them. In the article one soldier admits that upon his examination from a doctor after he mentioned his sexual assault, the doctor said to him, “Son, men don’t get raped.”

It’s this blatant ignorance of the issue regarding male sexual assault and sexual assault as a whole in the military that perpetuates this notion of silence where the victim is too afraid to speak out, giving power to the perpetrator and shedding all responsibility from the rapist.

Under no stretch of the imagination is this okay. The military needs to be more proactive in their stance against rape and actively enforce harsh penalties for the perpetrator, NOT the victim.

However, the responsibility does not solely lie in the hands of the military system. People need to be educated about the seriousness of male rape and how prevalent in our society it really is.

We need to teach consent and reiterate that in no way does another person have a right to violate a person’s body or mind without their consent.

For more information visit: http://www.gq.com/long-form/male-military-rape

What do you think about this issue?

Do you think enough is being done to educated people about male sexual assault?

Shocking Survey: One in five Australians believe drunk women ‘partly responsible’ for rape

A national survey conducted by VicHealth has found that “one in five Australians believe drunk women ‘partly responsible’ for rape”.

The poll surveyed over 17,500 people via phone and found that one in six people believe that that when women say no to sex, they mean yes.

“We are really concerned about the number of people – men and women – who still believe that rape and physical violence are justifiable, and that women are often partly to blame. A culture that excuses rape and violence is one that allows it to happen,” VicHealth CEO Jerril Rechter said.

Given that younger people are generally more open to sexuality and human rights we would think they would be more educated on issues regarding sexual assault… Right?

Wrong.

Young people between the ages of 16 and 25 generally had poorer attitudes about sexual assault. 

“VicHealth believes we need to focus our efforts on the younger generation to teach them how to nurture equal, caring, respectful partnerships throughout their lives. All women deserve to be respected as men’s equals and to be safe, but sadly this is not the case for so many in Australia right now.”

It’s not only our attitudes towards sexual assault that is alarming, but the ever occurring untrue myths that perpetuate falsities surrounding rape, domestic violence and sexual assault.

Such myths, including that men rape because they can’t control their need for sex, demonstrate an abysmal societal understanding of the nature of violence. Violence is a choice. It is always a crime, and it is never excusable.

This is incredibly eye opening and downright frightening in terms of the culture surrounding victim blaming. This survey highlights the need in a shift in the way we understand rape and its consequences, but also in the way we educate our young people on sexual assault and harassment to combat this negative stigma.

The main influence on people’s attitudes to violence against women is their understanding of the issue and in turn, how supportive they are of gender equality. And we cannot change preconceived notions of sexual assault and violence without establishing proper education and awareness.

What do you think of this survey?

Should we have a right to be worried about the current attitudes surround sexual assault?