This book is designed to help support, encourage and heal male survivors of sexual abuse and sexual assault.
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The R.A.P.E. Foundation
The Strength of a Man is written for male survivors of sexual abuse/sexual assault. Having issues specific to their gender and to society's views on masculine roles, masculine victimization, and so forth, this book was written to help shatter stereotypes, social ignorances, and to raise awareness of the truth of male sexual assault survivors.
This book was written to help male sexual assault survivors to heal, to change social views and raise awareness, and to encourage and support male sexual assault survivors.
The Truth That Men Can Be Rape Survivors, Too.
It’s a myth that men cannot be victims and survivors of sexual assault. The myth really originates in the way we (as a society) raise our male children. We teach our boys not to cry, not to be vulnerable. We want our boys to grow up to be strong men, not victims. We assume that all males should be able to protect themselves regardless of the situation. There’s only one problem with this mentality: it is not applicable in real life.
Predators aren’t always these giant dinosaur-like monsters. Predators come in all shapes and forms. From adults preying on children, to other (adult) men, to gangs of men, to women, and gangs of women. Being a predator is not always about brute strength. Manipulation, ganging up on people, using drugs or alcohol are all methods that ANY person can use to sexually assault someone regardless of their gender.
The truth of the matter is: the statistics about male sexual assault survivors are staggering:
-Approximately one in 6 boys will be sexually abused at some point in their life time.
-About 3% of American men (about 1 in every 33 men) have experienced an attempted or even completed sexual assault in their life.
-One tenth of all rapes occur to male survivors.
Men can be, and are, survivors of sexual assault too. These facts cannot be overlooked. Male survivorship must be acknowledged. Like most rape statistics, these are estimated since rape is one of the least reported crimes. However, even with these statistics being estimated, it is obvious that as a male survivor, you are not alone.
Brown University’s Sexual Assault, Harassment & Dating violence website, http://www.brown.edu/Student_Services/Health_Services/Health_Education/sexual_assault/malesurvivors.htm, states, “Many people don't take male sexual assault seriously. This is one of the reasons why male victims have a difficult time reporting what happened and why the rates of male sexual assault are thought to be significantly underreported. If a male survivor's friends think that male sexual assault is a joke, he will feel isolated and afraid to tell anyone. Sexual assault is a painful, traumatic experience for any victim.”
Being a male survivor is not easy. Most people don’t even understand how a man could be raped. Men can (and are) be raped by other men and even women.
I whole-heartedly believe that healing for male survivors is much more difficult than for females. So many men are silent about their sufferings. There is much more social acceptance of female survivors than males.
I’ve often heard it argued that a man cannot be raped by a woman, because if he has an erection, it must mean that he is a willing participant. I am here to tell you that is a blatant lie. Just like some women orgasm when raped, men can have an erection and still be raped. Our bodies are designed to respond to stimuli. Try as we might to control our body and our body’s functions, there are still some things that are out of our control. Physical responses like that are just some of them.
If that is what happened to you, do not blame yourself! If you are a man who has been raped by a woman, please know that there is nothing wrong if you had an erection. You have done nothing wrong! Yes, you were in fact violated! You had no control over your body. If you question the validity of the crime, or blame yourself for not being able to control your body, it is time that you realize that you are indeed a survivor; your body did what it was designed to do. It does not make you any less of a survivor.
There is also the issue of mockery. What kind of man allows himself to be attacked by a woman? People scoff, and question the male survivor’s “manhood.” The truth of the matter is that female rapists are very smart, manipulative, and may use items such as drugs, rope, tape, or even weapons in order to get what they want. Male survivors are not “less of a man” simply because they were attacked by a woman. It is in situations such as these that old fashioned stereotypes greatly hurt the victim. Women are not weak little creatures that are unable to subdue a man. Quite the contrary is true. Some women have an uncanny ability to overpower a man. Women are also very resourceful. If a woman does not have the brut strength to tackle her opponent, so to speak, she will use tools to her advantage.
If you were attacked by a group of men or women, several people used their strength as a whole to attack you. That is extremely difficult to survive. Most survivors of gang-rape have much more severe injuries than their single-attacker counterparts. Being attacked by multiple people can often also mean that you are violated in various ways. Again, it is imperative to remember that you did what you needed to do to protect yourself, and to survive. Surviving a gang-rape is not easy physically or emotionally.
No matter what kind of attack you survived, you need to remind yourself that you survived. Yes, there is physical and emotional healing that needs to take place here. Now is your time to begin that healing process in every facet that you need.
One of the first steps to healing is admitting what you have endured. Just like AA, where the first step is admitting the problem, the first step to healing is admitting your survivorhood. It is important to acknowledge what has happened to you. Survivors, regardless of gender, often deny their attack or try to down play it so it does not seem as big, scary, or hurtful. The truth is: you survived a horrific attack. Your body and your life were violated. Someone was extremely selfish and you suffered as a result of their selfishness.
It is imperative that you acknowledge in your heart what happened. If you continue to deny or downplay the events, you are only hurting yourself: you are stopping yourself from truly healing. By taking stock in the events, you are taking the first step down the path of healing.
As a male survivor, you should know that there is no shame in what you have endured.
Whether attacked by a man or a woman, you are a survivor nonetheless. No one has any right to mock or insult you. You are no less a man for what you have survived. If anything, you are stronger because you lived through it.