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Sexual Violence Against Boys & Men in Conflict Settings: The Men of Peace, Hope and Courage — the male survivors.

May 24, 2013
By
male survivors

Alastair Hilton on his work with male survivors of sexual abuse and violence.

NCFM NOTE: This is a must read and very important article. There are few people doing this work but the few who do are extraordinary pioneer advocates. Another seldom discussed and readily dismissed phenomenon is mother on daughter sexual abuse. Julie Brand, author of A Mother’s Touch is a leading expert and her book is highly recommended. It is noted in the article below that, “Back in 1990, Fran Sepler, quoted in Patrick Mendel’s seminal work The Male Survivor wrote of what she termed the ‘feminisation of victimisation’ – where essentially women and girls are perceived  as victims and men as the perpetrators of sexual violence. A generation later, little seems to have changed in so many respects. This is still very much the lens through which sexual violence is predominantly defined.” Courageous souls like Alastair Hilton, his friend Julius Okwera (above), and Julie Brand are fast changing the notion that only women are victims of sexual abuse and only men are perpetrators. Until the world accepts that fact that sexual violence is not gender specific we will aggravate the violence. Bless those who do this work; and, the survivors — NCFM

Sexual Violence Against Boys & Men in Conflict Settings: The Men of Peace, Hope and Courage.

For over twenty years I have worked with male survivors of sexual abuse and violence, carried out research focusing on the sexual abuse of boys and men in Cambodia and am currently engaged in another study exploring the needs and challenges of service providers working with male survivors of sexual violence in developing countries. For me this is an issue that is all consuming – as a professional social worker, researcher, long time activist – and also as a man who was also once a vulnerable boy.

The silence endured by male survivors of sexual abuse should never be underestimated. Shame, stigma, the fear of discovery and responses of others, are just some of the factors that lead many to wait twenty years or more before they tell anyone. The vast majority of male survivors never seek ‘professional’ help, even if it is available. The culture of silence is paralysing and not restricted to survivors themselves.

My interest was drawn again in March of this year, when, in a blaze of publicity, the British Foreign Secretary William Hague and actor Angelina Jolie visited the Democratic Republic of Congo to meet victims of rape in conflict zones – and subsequently sought to engage governments in taking action at the April G8 foreign ministers meeting in London.

Whilst their efforts are commendable and the commitment of those G8 representatives long overdue, there was to my mind also something quite surreal at the sight of Ms. Jolie making her closing speech, surrounded by sombre looking men in suits, nodding in agreement as she spoke of the ‘forgotten victims of war’ and the ‘rights of women and children.’ There was a very brief mention of men as victims of course, which I guess is a step in the right direction, though subsequent media reports barely mentioned males at all.

Whilst progress is being made in many settings, the continued invisibility of men as victims and subsequent lack of meaningful debate is astonishing, especially taking into consideration the increasing evidence, both in peace and wartime settings, of an epidemic of sexual abuse where boys and men are concerned. As if further evidence of this invisibility were needed, a recent BBC Hardtalk programme broadcast at the beginning of May, featured Zainab Bangura, the UN Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict. Unbelievably, there was not a single mention of men and boys by Bangura, and not a question asked about this by the interviewer. The overwhelming silence continues.

It’s not that I am ungrateful for the efforts of Hague and Jolie – I recognize that women and girls are predominantly the victims of rape and abuse in peace time and conflict, and that the vast majority of services and support for women and girls are not adequate – but I also have concerns that males are continually overlooked. Anyone with a commitment to social justice in all its forms should not be at all complacent and grateful for a few sound bites and being thrown a few ‘crumbs off the table’ in the form of politically expedient press releases. There is much to do if all victims of rape and abuse, whatever their gender or identity, are to receive the support they so richly deserve.

Back in 1990, Fran Sepler, quoted in Patrick Mendel’s seminal work The Male Survivor wrote of what she termed the ‘feminisation of victimisation’ – where essentially women and girls are perceived  as victims and men as the perpetrators of sexual violence. A generation later, little seems to have changed in so many respects. This is still very much the lens through which sexual violence is predominantly defined and viewed in communities, organisations and the corridors of power within most international organisations. When international NGOs and their representatives speak of ‘gender based violence’, they invariably mean women and children, when they speak of ‘women and children’ the reality, as I have discovered on numerous occasions, is that they are referring to ‘women and girls’. Somehow ‘the language of ‘gender’ has morphed into something that essentially excludes boys and men as victims…

Read the rest of this important article at The Good Men Project: http://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/social-justice-sexual-violence-against-boys-men-in-conflict-settings-the-men-of-peace-hope-and-courage/

male survivor

There are millions of male survivors of sexual assault.

Women are not always the victims. Men are not always the perpetrators. Male survivors need support as do female survivors.

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4 Responses to Sexual Violence Against Boys & Men in Conflict Settings: The Men of Peace, Hope and Courage — the male survivors.

  1. Alae on June 4, 2013 at 2:53 PM

    To Guest on May 25, 2013, I quote you “I hope someday that the therapists who school us on sex crimes will combat feminist ‘Rape Culture’ nonsense about rape as a ‘crime of power but not sex’.”

    It is not nonsense. Rape is a crime of power indeed, but who’s to say women cannot be guilty of that? There are rapist women, pedophile women, abusive women who can be downright monsters. Check the history of the Nazis, you’ll come across some pretty disgusting female sadists.
    And have you ever heard of badly abusive mothers? And incestuous mothers ? They DO exist, and they share a common streak: they are psychopaths and power/control freaks just like criminal men can be – right out of the same cesspool.

  2. Guest on May 25, 2013 at 11:39 PM

    “This is still very much the lens through which sexual violence is predominantly defined.” Courageous souls like Alastair Hilton, his friend Julius Okwera (above), and Julie Brand are fast changing the notion that only women are victims of sexual abuse and only men are perpetrators. Until the world accepts that fact that sexual violence is not gender specific we will aggravate the violence. Bless those who do this work; and, the survivors — NCFM”

    Sex crimes are S-E-X crimes which only sometimes involve violence…and that often only as means to the end….which is to commit and/or conceal sexual robbery. I hope someday that the therapists who school us on sex crimes will combat feminist ‘Rape Culture’ nonsense about rape as a ‘crime of power but not sex’. Sexual ‘violence’ is an easy way for feminist gender bigots to scapegoat men as violent monsters while at the same time denying superior female (or occasionally male) sexual power.

    I also hope that feminine vice will be included as just as rightly feared a means to commit sex crimes as is masculine violence. Women routinely violate women, men and children non-violently using psycho-social vice as their preferred tool. Vice is also a tool that many male sex predators prefer over violence as well.

    Be nice to see some solid science on sex crimes so that we can get beyond what Dr T: A Shrink for Men calls the ‘Estrogen Ghetto’…that is the feminist-perverted psychological regime…and so that we can challenge feminist propaganda about sex crimes in the wider world.

  3. Julie Brand, M.S. on May 25, 2013 at 7:36 AM

    Thank you for referring to my work in the introduction to this excellent article. While my focus is on female victims of mother-daughter incest, I have become increasingly aware of the overwhelming challenges also faced by male survivors. Many males are sexually abused by female perpetrators: mothers, step-mothers, aunts, grandmothers, trusted family friends and women in “positions of trust” (often teachers). The shame, confusion, stigma and lack of support services for healing often prevent them from getting the help they need and deserve.

    I want to recommend a new book by Howard Fradkin, Ph.D.: Joining Forces: Empowering Male Survivors to Thrive. Hay House, Inc. November 5, 2012.
    Dr. Fradkin is the co-founder of MaleSurvivor (http://www.malesurvivor.org/) He has written an eloquent, powerful recovery workbook, beneficial for survivors and for the people who love them.
    Dr. Jim Hopper offers another excellent on-line resource: http://www.jimhopper.com/male-ab/

    Heartfelt thanks to NCFM and Alastair Hilton for continuing to acknowledge and to support male survivors of sexual abuse..
    Blessings,
    Julie

  4. Alastair Hilton on May 24, 2013 at 10:23 PM

    Thanks for placing the article here and for your kind words too… it is greatly appreciated and inspires me to carry on. The more people that understand this issue across the globe, the potentially harmful results of doing nothing – and also knowing that there is something we can do – the better. Thanks again.

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