Men Can Be Victims

© Coast Weekly [Letters]
August 6, 1998
Monterey, CA

A recent CW article on the male reproductive rights (CW, June 18) received a less than favorable response from some readers as it suggested that men can be victims in the hands of women. Several voices were heard exclaiming that it is the women who deserve the rights and that men should, in fact, take greater responsibility for their role in reproduction.

I find no argument there and strongly agree. However, the question remains: “Can men be the victims in the hands of women?” The answer to this question is an absolute “Yes!” Not necessarily in the case of reproductive rights, but yes in the case of sexual abuse; specifically, child molestation.

In fact, one out of six boys nationwide are molested by the time they are 18 years of age. Approximately 15 percent of these incidents involve a female perpetrator. So why doesn’t the public hear about this? Only 10 percent of molested boys ever make such reports. Why don’t boys report when they are sexually abused? Boys, like girls, are frequently threatened by the perpetrator that speaking up will lead to further violence for themselves and/or others. There are fears of not being believed and that reporting may tear the family apart. In addition to these, and many other reasons boys share with girls, boys face challenges to speaking up unique to their gender. Many believe that if they were molested by another male that they are now, or will become, homosexuals.

Society tells boys that they should be “tough” and solve their problems on their own. If the boy has an early sexual experience with a older woman they are told they are “lucky!” How embarrassing for a male to admit he has been molested by his mother, aunt, sister or female babysitter! But some men do speak up, and quite loudly. Some of those who seek help, such as participants in the Monterey Rape Crisis Center Men’s Group. Some of the men molested by women will be speaking up publicly in September when the National Organization on Male Sexual victimization will have its first West Coast Regional Retreat at the Mt. Madonna Retreat Center in Watsonville. Together, male survivors of sexual abuse, some of their partners, and interested therapists will spend four days of healing and education. Teach your own children how to be safe. Get professional help if you, your partner or children have been sexually abused and make sure you report all cases of sexual abuse.

Stephen L. Braveman, LMFT, DST, Monterey