It is widely known that women are the most vulnerable when it comes to rape. Based on statistics, more women tend to report cases of sexual violence compared to men; as such, it could be assumed that men do not get raped. Hence, it is easy to understand why it looks like women are the only affected gender.
It is highly assumed that men due to their stature and placement in society are not subject to abuse. The 1in6 Movement (2017) showed that in recent times, men have been more vocal in sharing their experiences of abuse. However, this wasn’t the case about a decade ago. Just like any other abuse victims, speaking about the experience proves challenging.
Rape is not defined by gender both in its victim or perpetrator. According to VAPP, Rape is when a person intentionally penetrates the vagina, anus or mouth of another person with any other part of his or her body or anything else without consent; or where such consent is obtained by force or means of threat or intimidation of any kind or by fear of harm or by means of false and fraudulent representation, as to the nature of the act; or the use of any substance or additive capable of taking away the will of such person, or in the case of a married person by impersonating his or her spouse .
The emphasis here is the word ‘person’ which can either be male or female.
While rape crisis focuses particularly on the needs and rights of girls, and on providing specialist services within girls-only safe spaces, there is a great need to recognize that boys also experience sexual violence. The impact of sexual violence on the lives of boys are no less devastating and can be just as wide-ranging and long term.
Prior to this piece, I had a general conversation with some colleagues. I asked if they had any experience on rape or being sexually violated. I was shocked to get a “yes” from almost all of them. However, what was devastating about their account was the similarities I observed between a male rape victim and a female rape victim. They were all sexually assaulted by older women- either by the housekeeper, neighbor, senior at school, or even their teachers. This is shrouded by silence, as some were shy.
Society forces majority to believe the male gender is to be seen as strong, not vulnerable and should not be “conquered.” Basically, just everything opposite of what women are viewed as.
This, therefore, challenges their masculinity and being sexually violated is viewed as a result of their weakness and vulnerability.
Here is a conversation I had with an male victim of rape, who has asked for his identity to be protected.
Did you know your abuser? If yes, for how long and what was the relationship between the both of you?
Yes, I know my abusers, but I cannot recall one facially, but the recent ones are two distant friendships that lasted while I was in the University.
When did the abuse occur?
It occurred in 2008, 2014 and 2015.
Where and how did the abuse occur?
It occurred in their various homes. I went on a supposed casual visits and I was offered drinks that have been spiked. I took it and I lost consciousness only having faint knowledge of motions around me.
How did you feel after the abuse?
Horrible. I felt really abused in every sense of the word, I was scared that I might have contracted HIV or used for some ritual of some sort. I was too shocked to make a case out of it, but my mind became twisted towards women.
Did you talk or see your abusers afterwards?
Yes, they both apologized and attempted it again afterwards, till we no longer saw again.
Did you report the case?
I did not report any case. I did not know boys could be raped. Besides who would believe me? I tried to forget it and move on. A lot of times when I share my stories, I am seen as not man-enough, or not sharp enough, so I didn’t see it as an issue, until I realized my perception about women is skewed. I saw women as manipulators, hypocrites and cold-hearted liars especially in matters regarding sexuality.
Did you seek for psychological help?
NO, I didn’t seek any help. I dealt with it the best way I knew how to.
Did you talk to others about the incident?
I spoke a trusted friend who prayed with me I spoke to my father about the gay rape attempt.
Do you think you are doing better since the abuse happened?
Oh yes, I am way better and now I can speak about it.
What advice do you have for young men out there that are probably facing the same thing?
I would advise young men that have been abused or that are still being abused to seek someone to talk, because when I had my first rape attempt, I spoke to my father about it. He helped me understand how the abuser thinks and that helped me protect myself better against further abuses. In summary: speak to a trusted person about it. Take time to heal. Get tested. Report the case
The denial of the existence of male sexual assault is partly rooted in the belief that men are immune to attackers and should be able to fight off any attacker. Unfortunately, this contributes to the pain felt by male survivors and leaving them feeling ashamed.
Yes, boys get raped too and just like any other victim of abuse, they need help and someone to talk to. Parents often think male children don’t face this danger but they do; so leaving your male children with adults and thinking they are safe because of their gender is a wrong notion.
How then can we change this narrative? How can we help male victims get the help they need? Like many other victims, male victims blame themselves for the abuse. However, it is important to note that rape is never the fault of the victim, but a deliberate attempt by the abuser to exert his power, influence or a sexually dysfunctional habit.
It is not about your masculinity or gender. Do not punish yourself for being raped. It is very okay to speak up by reporting and seeking assistance in the hospital, sexual assault counseling services, police and you will definitely be helping spread awareness.
Parents also play a great role in the curbing of sexual violence against boys, and children in general. Parents need to believe their sons when they come to them for help. They need to show that they trust what the child has said and also protect them from further abuse by reporting the abuser and seeking psychological help.
Should you want to report a case, you can get in contact with us on 08095967000 & 08130320270 or via our email [email protected] or [email protected] and we will provide you with highly confidential and professional services.
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