This past weekend I was on a panel discussion entitled “Finding A Way” at the Baltimore City Lit Book Festival. The panel was for survivors of sexual abuse to discuss with the audience the sexual abuse they had endured and how to find a way following the #MeToo movement.
There were six individuals on the panel.
Five of them were woman.
I was the only male.
During that panel discussion a CNN article entitled “What Decent Men Can Do In Response to the #MeToo Movement” was mentioned as a starting place for males to understand the #MeToo movement. Hearing the title of this article, and the fact that I was the only male survivor of sexual abuse who came forward to be on this panel, made me angry because of its implication that males cannot be victims of sexual assault and rape. I know this is not true, I have gone to therapy for over four years to believe this to be true, but in that moment I felt alone in my abuse. Unfortunately, this is not the only moment in which I felt alone as a male survivor. Each week when I attend therapy and use a book written for female survivors of childhood sexual abuse, I feel alone. When I look on the cover of TIME magazine and see no male survivors of sexual abuse, I feel alone. When society implies in its commercials, language, and actions that males (especially black males) only want and think about sex, I feel alone. When my former principal says I am not allowed to say I’m a survivor of sexual abuse in the school, I feel alone. It’s for this reason I still struggle with the fact that the sexual abuse I endured from eight to ten years old, by a young woman five years my senior, for over two years, was not my fault.
The truth is that 1 in 8 males will be sexually abused in their lifetime. However, feeling as if you are the only male to have suffered sexual abuse, and not feel as though you can discuss these issues due to the stigmas of being a male leads to thoughts and attempts of suicide, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, and feelings of depression and suicide. To help other male survivors know they are not alone is the purpose of the #MalesToo blog. Here I will discuss what it means to be a male survivor and how to move toward healing sexual abuse. I will also discuss what it may or may not mean to be a “real” man, and the use of comic book superheroes, villains, and how they can be used to understand male sexual abuse. I have published the book Heroes, Villains, and Healing: A Male Guide for Male Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse, and Raped Black Male: A Memoir to help move along the discussion of male sexual abuse and help other male survivors using a medium, such as comics and superheroes, they feel comfortable in identifying their abuse.
After Junot Diaz’s article, “The Silence: The Legacy of Childhood Trauma”, in the New Yorker it is evident that male survivors need to know they are not alone. If you have not read it, I recommend taking the time to sit down and read its pages. The article can be found here. In it, Pulitzer Prize winning author Junot Diaz discusses the rape he endured as a child and how it shaped relationships with himself and others due to the stigma and belief that “real men can’t be raped”. His honesty in discussing his thoughts and attempt of suicide, shame of being abused, feeling as though he were not a man, and his fear of intimacy took my breathe away. Junot Diaz’s article helps to prove this is a problem that can no longer be ignored. Male survivors need to know they can discuss their abuse, men and boys can be raped, that they are “real” men, and that healing is possible.
Thank you for your time. Please feel free to comment and spread the word.