From the day you are born you receive messages, covert and overt, about how you are expected to behave – Be a Man!
Already from boyhood you are taught that it is on you to defend yourself, don't let anyone hurt you, and of course if they do, it is on you to hurt them back. You learned that it is on you to always want to have sex with anyone and everyone. You learned that it is on you to lead, to provide, to be strong, and most importantly not to break – to be a manly man.
Sexual assault almost always refers to violence against women only. Weakness, vulnerability and passiveness are considered feminine and thus are often interpreted as contradictory to the nature of men. Therefore, it is hard for us as a society to understand the possibility that a man can be a victim of sexual violence.
This understanding causes many difficulties in the process of coping for male victims of sexual abuse. The many years of internalizing the social expectations of men has led to a situation where many male victims cannot define what they experienced as sexual abuse. If the abuser is a woman, many would say you are "lucky", and if you are a true man, you should jump at the opportunity. If the abuser is a man, you are expected to protect yourself, to control the situation, and to end it whenever you want to.
Today we know that reality is more complicated. Much research shows that at the time of abuse men and boys, like women and girls, are silent. They won't respond, won't yell and won't confront the attacker, but will freeze in place just like most people do during a traumatic event. Additionally, therapeutic knowledge teaches us that the implications of sexual abuse on the lives of men, similar to that of women, is hard and traumatic. Victims experience loss of control, lack of self-esteem, anxiety, loneliness and feelings of self-blame.
The social expectations of men not to express weakness or hurt, lead us to a situation where victims have trouble asking for help.
Statistics from ARCCI's annual report last year show the situation clearly: among all general inquiries at the rape crisis centers, 87% are women and girls and only 13% are men and boys.
These statistics do not show that there are less incidents of sexual abuse among men, rather the difficulty men have in turning to us for help.
The hotline for men and boys was founded from the understanding that there is a serious need to give assistance to those who cope everyday with the trauma of sexual abuse, as well as the social stigma, silence on the issue and gender expectations.
Sexual Abuse Hotline for Men and Boys: 1203 from all phones. Operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.