The thread I put up the other day for women’s tales of harassment and assault has gotten a wonderful response, and I hope we continue to share stories and tell the truth.
But in the meantime, the Penn State story broke, and for the first time since the Catholic Church madness came out, we as a society find ourselves talking about the fact that yes — boys are often victims, too.
The truth is that so are men. Less often, perhaps, but men and boys also face sexual violence, survive rape and molestation, and find their trust in their world or their loved ones shattered.
There are however, crucial differences between the experiences of men and women: On the one hand, men aren’t taught to live with the fear of these things and to shape their days and entire lives accordingly, nor do they (generally) face a regular drip-drip-drip of their very gender being used against them.
On the other hand, we women have a 40-50 year history of talking about these things — the thread I put up the other day was hardly revolutionary — and we have a community in which, and a shared language with which, to discuss our experiences. Men don’t, and moreover, the fact of their abuse flies wildly, viciously in the face of our society’s expectations and demands of masculinity. The shame they are expected to feel is a very different animal, and their isolation with their experience is often hermetic.
And so: This thread. I don’t know how it will go. I don’t if many men (or any men) will want to tell their stories, but if some want to, I want to give them the chance.
- In case you don’t know: I spent several years as a rape crisis counselor, and was instrumental in setting up a dedicated hotline for male survivors. That’s my background, and the reason I find myself so wrapped up in the Penn State story.
- Anonymity is fine. If you want to tell your truth without attaching your name, this is the internet and I am more than happy to facilitate that.
- If this is the first time you have commented here, you will automatically go into moderation. I promise to fish people out as quickly as I can.
- I WILL ALLOW NO TROLLING. No one will be allowed to say anything demeaning or dismissive or doubtful of your truth. If anything of that nature should sneak through (it hasn’t yet on the women’s thread) I will slap it down with a vengeance. This is a safe space.
- A good resource for men on this is 1in6.org. The name kind of says it all.
I would really encourage anyone reading this to also read the women’s thread (click here). I believe that the differences in our experiences make separate threads a good idea — a better way to honor and respect the differences in our realities — but our stories share many elements, and we are wise to not just talk among ourselves, but also to listen to each other.
UPDATE: It occurs to me to provide this information as well – For an online hotline for assault/abuse survivors, click here; telephone hotline here: 1-800-656-4673.