Help for Male Survivors of Sexual Violence
While the majority of sexual abuse survivors are female, any person can be a victim of sexualized violence.
Misconceptions about what it means to be a man can stand in the way of a male’s experience of sexual abuse being recognized, acknowledged and treated.
One such misconception is that males are always in control of their sexual experiences; this is most clearly untrue for young boys, but may also not be true for an adult male. Men can, and have been, the victims of rape.
Another misconception is that men do not experience the same degree of emotional pain associated with sexual abuse as women do, and that if a man experiences emotional pain, he should be able to handle it alone.
Trauma impacts each person differently; the impact of trauma is related to the recognition of a threat to our survival and our sense of being safe in the world. Our psychology and physiology is set up to naturally respond to threat, but when the threat either overwhelms our experience or knowledge about how to cope, or if the source of the threat has greater power or authority, the result is often a traumatic experience. Survivors of trauma may turn to alcohol or drugs to cope with overwhelming feelings. They may experience flashbacks, rage, depression or anxiety when the traumatic experience is not acknowledged and treated.
Finding help can be challenging for male survivors, as there are fewer services dedicated to helping men who have experienced sexual trauma. Furthermore, in our society, men are generally conditioned to be tough and to not have feelings. In our view, asking for help with a problem is not a sign of weakness, but of strength; it takes courage to face and work through the impact of trauma. Like women, men who are sexually abused often experience intense feelings of shame, anger and helplessness. Talking about these feelings with a professional counsellor may help survivors better understand their experience and allow them to begin living a normal life that is not controlled by the emotional impact of trauma.
If you would like more information on men's trauma counselling or other services, including victim support, call The Men's Trauma Centre at (250) 381-MENS (6367), 1-866-793-6367 or visit their website [ www.menstrauma.com ].
This information is adapted from the Men's Trauma Centre Website.
Crisis and Victim Service support is available for family, partners and friends. Please call the Information and Crisis Line (383-3232) in Victoria, or VictimLink at 1-800-563-0808.
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