Understanding the needs of male sexual assault victims

Bangor Daily News

By Bill Lowenstein, Special to the BDN

Posted April 24, 2013

We are survivors, too.

Historically, those of us who are male survivors of sexual victimization are often an unrecognized, underserved and unmentioned population when the issue of sexual assault is discussed. Many of us do not even recognize or understand that we may have been victimized. Yet one in five males will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime, many of us before the age of 16.

The harmful impact of the sexual victimization of males is felt daily by all of us — in our families, communities and workplaces. It is often the unspoken, unrecognized and untreated issue when we are dealing with the problems of addiction, mental health, physical health, relationship issues, domestic violence, anger management, criminal behavior and many other issues that impact boys and men. Yet many male survivors do not know there are resources available to help them recover, nor do they feel safe talking about the impact sexual victimization has had on them.

I believe we all need to work harder to create a safe climate and culture for male sexual assault survivors. It is time for us to look at sexual assault and victimization as a gender-neutral issue. All survivors of sexual victimization are in need of quality services to assist them in their recovery regardless of their gender or age.

We have done a good job promoting awareness of the issue of sexual victimization of females for many years. Yet we still have great strides to go in promoting the same awareness, understanding and availability of resources to men and boys. We need to take what we have learned from those efforts, expand it and apply it to our male population as well.

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