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?

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Awesome Person Of The Week: Lena Dunham

*Warning: Some descriptions may be triggering*

‘Girls’ creator and actress, Lena Dunham has bravely opened up about her date rape ordeal in college and her struggle with being a rape survivor.

In her new memoir, “Not That Kind Of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s “Learned,” Lena bravely speaks about her experiences of sexual assault and how she struggled to come to terms with defining her encounter as rape and her original (and completely false) belief that she was to blame.

“All I knew when I stumbled home from a party behind him was that he was sullen, thuggish, and a poor loser at poker. How that led to intercourse was a study in the way revulsion can quickly become desire when mixed with the right muscle relaxants.”

Unfortunately, like a lot of rape victims she was frightened and unsure if what happened classified as rape and immediately assumed it was her fault, a never-ending consequence of the pervasive victim-blaming culture within society.

“I feel like there are fifty ways it’s my fault. I fantasized. I took the big pill and the small pill, stuffed myself with substances to make being out in the world with people my own age a little bit easier. I was hungry to be seen. But I also know that at no moment did I consent to being handled that way. I never gave him permission to be rough, to stick himself inside me without a barrier between us. I never gave him permission. In my deepest self I know this, and the knowledge of it has kept me from sinking.”

Dunham admits it had taken some time for her to come to terms with the fact that she’d been raped in the first place, admitting that for a long time after she was physically and emotionally affected

” I spent so much time scared,” Dunham said. “I spent so much time ashamed, I don’t feel that way anymore. And it’s not because of my job, it’s not because of my boyfriend, it’s not because of feminism — though all those things helped — it’s because I told the story. And I still feel like myself and I feel less alone.”

She goes on to thank her best friend for identifying her experience as rape and legitimising her pain for her, which goes to show the importance of supporting someone who has gone through such a trauma.

“When I shared it with my best friend and she used the term ‘you were raped’ at the time, I sort of laughed at her and thought like, you know, what an ambulance-chasing drama queen,” Dunham continued. “[I] later felt this incredible gratitude for her for giving me that, giving me that gift of that kind of certainty that she had. I think that a lot of times when I felt at my lowest about it, those words in some way actually lifted me up because I felt that somebody was justifying the pain of my experience.”

So much importance should be placed on supporting victims of rape and avoiding the shame or excuse game when survivors open up about their traumas.

Dunham’s story really encapsulates the messiness and confusion inherent in some instances of sex, coupled with a misogynist and prevalent rape culture that surrounds current rape discourse to the point where victims blame themselves or are unwilling to speak out and report their assault. This calls for continuing cultural discourse on the confusing definition of rape and the prevalent misconceptions that surround the experiences of rape culture.

At the end of the day, women like Lena Dunham… who are brave enough to speak out and share their stories are vital for perpetuating a society that refuses to ignore rape survivors and their experiences.

Four for you Lena Dunham.. for being a truly awesome role model for those who have suffered sexual assault!

Not That Kind Of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s “Learned” is in stores now.

The Problem With Stranger Danger

Did you know that 84 percent of rapes are executed by someone the victim knows?

84 percent.. That means the majority of those who are raped have been done so by a friend, partner, colleague…someone they trust and love.

With only 16 percent of rapes being committed by strangers why do mostly hear about stranger rape?

Is it because we’ve become too desensitised to rape committed by a partner? Or is it the shock factor of ‘stranger rape’ that is more frightening?

Unfortunately, stranger rape in today’s society is far more likely to be seen as the primary type of sexual violence attributed to the perception of rape and sexual assault. With the responsibility partly on our media’s shoulders for the way they report and represent such crimes. The “rapist” narrative perpetuates misconceptions that all sexual assault involves extreme physical force and is mostly committed by strangers unknown to the victim.

Both myths are untrue. And the statistics prove it.

  • 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men experience violence from their partners in their lifetimes.
  • 1 in 3 teens experience sexual or physical abuse or threats from a boyfriend or girlfriend in one year.

Perpetrators are more likely to target people they know because they know they’re less likely to be reported. And often this is the case. By deliberately refusing to acknowledge or be educated on the realities of rape, by ignoring rape survivors testimonies or belittling their experiences, we’re excusing the act of rape and letting bad people get away with horrific crimes.

If we continue to perpetuate these myths, individuals fail to correctly interpret incidents they observe, with research indicating many young people do not recognise what sexual assault and harassment looks like. And if they don’t recognise what sexual assault really is, how can they stop it if they see it or encounter it?

I recently read a  thought-provoking essay written by Tom Meagher, whose wife was the victim of an utterly horrifying rape and murder in Melbourne, Australia that made headlines in late 2012.

Tom has written a brilliant and brutally honest essay about ‘The Monster Myth’ in rape cases, reminding people that his wife’s rape was a rarity and that most rapists are known and trusted by the victim. I definitely recommend giving it a read, it’s really quite interesting and presents a bleak view of rape culture and consequences for perpetuating such myths.

What are your thoughts on the ‘Monster Myth’? Why do you think we’re so quick to report stranger rape, but less likely to believe someone we know and trust is capable of such a crime?

Read Tom’s essay here: http://whiteribbonblog.com/2014/04/17/the-danger-of-the-monster-myth/

Stop Victim Blaming Campaign Posters

Warren Buchholz recently created these wonderful posters for his Stop Victim Blaming campaign.

What do you think of the posters?

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Source: http://warrenbuchholz.com/post/96372746673/stop-victim-blaming-campaign-poster-series