RCASA Therapy Thursdays: Male Survivors of Sexual Assault

In Therapy, Trauma on September 1, 2011 at 1:00 am

In general, sexual assault survivors are reluctant to reach for help after sexual trauma.  This because even more difficult when looking at special populations: child don’t reach out simply because they are children and their avenues for support and advocacy are limited to parents and then teachers and peers in school, many Latinos and other ethnic groups such as people of Middle Eastern descent don’t reach out because the subject of sexual assault may be taboo in the culture, others reach for fear of judgement or feeling that no one will believe them.   Jim Harper Ph.D. explores some of the reason why male victims do not seek help:

  • Little public awareness, and even less acceptance, of males as victims of sexual abuse/assault.
  • Male identity/values: Weak and unmanly to…    
  • 1. Be victimized
  • 2. Need help
  • 3. Seek help
  • 4. Talk about victimization
  • 5. Share vulnerable feelings

He indicates that “The culture’s rigid gender norms harmed these men beyond creating feelings of insecurity and inadequacy.”  “Survivors hear from numerous codes of masculinity: ‘Don’t acknowledge your pain, don’t express it, and don’t talk about it with anyone else.”  This creates conflict in the ability to move from hurt into the healing process.  Natural stages of healing, such as acceptance and rebirth are stunted and replaced with conditioned emotions shaped by what society’s gender norms say is appropriate evidence of healing, such as remaining tough, strong, and competent; not being swayed by emotions or vulnerabilities.  

This response if false and often detrimental to men, their families and society as a whole.  True healing means the ability to face and express grieve over the elements of their lives that were lost or damaged.  This is integral part of the rebuilding process.  

I believe as a society we can no longer look the other way.  These men have a right to regain and restore the part of them that was lost.  If you are interested in working with a therapist, please call our office and we can help.  In addition we have a male survivor of sexual assault group ready to being this fall.  Just contact for an intake and we will give you information on forming this support group.  www.rcasa.org or 540.371.5502 for more information.


 Information from 2006 SARC Conference by Jim Hopper, Ph.D. Mclean Hospital/Harvard Medical School


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