Sexual Abuse In Men
A shocking, but nevertheless true statistic tells us that in the UK alone, approximately 12,000 men are raped every single year. This is in addition to the more than 70,000 men who are sexually assaulted or abused. The terrible truth is that sexual abuse is not a rarity, and for many people, it is part of their everyday lives. One in six men are affected by sexual exploitation every year, and this may be a mere fraction of the exact number, as many sexual abuse cases can be kept hidden behind closed doors and will remain there for the entirety of a person’s life. A survey highlighted that approximately 96% of offences against males go unreported, which is why it is so incredibly important to come forward and get help if you have been a victim of sexual abuse.
Don’t Believe the Stereotypes
The society that we live in can be guilty of assuming that the man ‘must have wanted it’ or that he could have stopped it if he wanted to. Some people struggle to believe the concept of a woman raping a man; however, sexual abuse can happen to absolutely anyone regardless of their sexual orientation, gender, or age. While it is common knowledge that a higher percentage of women experience sexual abuse, this does not change the fact that many men suffer at the hands of sexual abusers, both male and female. Whoever you are, whatever your gender and whatever the sexual abuse is that you have suffered, the lasting and harmful impact of the abuse will not discriminate and can have an utterly devastating impact on your life for years to come. Survivors of sexual abuse should feel secure in the knowledge that there is no shame at all in telling someone they trust that they have been sexually abused. The main worry for a man to come forward and speak about their experience with sexual abuse or assault may be that they fear they will face further challenges due to social stereotypes about masculinity and men. Don’t let these types of worries become a barrier in your way to come forward about your experiences. The predominating myth in society is that women are the only ones who can say no and that men have a desire for sexual intercourse all the time; again this is incorrect. If you have been abused you need help – it is your abuser’s responsibility for what has happened to you and not your own.
Another understandable concern for many men may be the fear of speaking out only for others to perceive it as a joke or for their friends to change their perspective towards them and look on them with pity. Going to see a therapist will enable you to go into a trusted environment where everything will be kept confidential. Your counsellor will move at a pace that you are happy with and will offer a non-biased, non-judgemental ear to listen to your story. The stigma that is set by society is thankfully beginning to be broken down, especially in more recent years, and this is encouraging men to come forward and talk to someone about their experiences of sexual abuse or sexual assault. Preventing yourself from coming forward about your past sexual abuse can put you at an increased risk of developing mental health issues and depression. Tragically, for many men living with the feelings of shame and guilt that abuse can cause, these feelings of despair can even lead to considering suicide as a final escape. Do not live with these feelings alone, there are lots of forms of support available to you and speaking up and visiting a counsellor today will be the best step forward towards the road to recovery. Your life matters. What happened to you matters and you deserve help.
When is the Time to Speak up?
There are thousands of men out there who have been a victim of sexual assault or abuse and have not reported this or told anyone. Sometimes, it may seem that the best course of action is to bury the truth and hide it. Doing this may help you temporarily as you can convince yourself that you are fine and are moving on with your life; however, in the long term this will not be a solution, and the feelings of fear, guilt and shame wrapped up in this awful thing that has happened to you can manifest in other harmful ways.
The amount of sexual abuse cases in men is on the rise, which means that more men in this same position are starting to come forward about the abuse they have suffered. Between 2016 and 2017 12,130 offences were reported, in comparison to only 3,819 reported between 2006-7 in England and Wales. Not reporting your abuse or attack may help you to feel in control of the situation, and it may help you to pretend that it never happened; nonetheless, it will not relieve you of the long-term damage this does to your mental health. Seeking professional help and not engaging with avoidance behaviours can lead to a real path for you to take control and move on with your life. The main factor that survivors often first think is that it was their fault the abuse or assault took place, this is because of how hard it is to comprehend why such a thing happened to them. This could not be further from the truth, as the responsibility of the attack falls entirely on the abuser.
You Are Not Alone
Many victims feel totally alone and that they are the only person living with this dreadful secret. In fact, there are thousands of others in the same position, and you are not alone. By taking your first step to recovery and talking to someone you can start to begin your healing process. Whether this is a trusted friend, family member, a police officer or a therapist who is trained to assist you with these problems – speaking out is the best course of action.
Some people will not want to come forward about their survivors’ story, and that is totally okay. Your life and circumstances are personal to you, and it is up to you who you tell – you are in control of your recovery. Everyone deserves to live a happy life, and you should not let your past sexual abuse define you or prevent you from succeeding in life. It is important to come forward and believe in yourself to get you on the road to recovery. Going to see a therapist is an excellent way to build your confidence again, work through the trauma with a trustworthy professional and learn how to manage your emotions going forward.
I have worked with many people in your position, and through therapy, I can help you to get your life back on track in a one-to-one safe environment. If you would like to know more or want to have a confidential, friendly conversation with me then please get in touch today.