By joining RTS as a Sexual Assault counselor and advocate, I have faced the struggle of sharing what I do with everyone I know. Although I have not had an experience where someone I know explicitly said something along the lines of, “Oh, that’s really weird of you to be helping sexual abuse victims as a man,” I still feel reluctant to talk about it to new friends or to neighbors. In a way, my reluctance may stem from my knowledge that men supporting women can be seen by some as a way to “get the girl”.
However, the support I give is one that fights against a crime and the battle only begins when all parties (in this case, men and women) come together to end the crime. I wish for other men to stand up for the crimes of sexual assault as well as gender discrimination, for the inclusion of men in this work can cease any predispositions as to what men and women can and cannot do to help others.
Women are only a few of those who are sexually assaulted. Men may face extreme amounts of shame if they choose to share their abuse, perhaps as a result of male sexual abuse being heard of much less frequently. Regardless of whether the male survivor was assaulted at a young age or as an adult, the social restrictions they face put immense pressure not to come out. By being a male myself in a supporting position, these boys/men can feel less isolated in their trauma. Also, with the inclusion of men as supporters, perhaps more survivors with varying gender identities may come forward with their abuse, shedding more light on the trauma faced not only by men, but also by transgender and non-binary people.
<The author of this post is a 18 year old man living in Northern California, who volunteers with a non-profit organization to support the sexual assault survivors as a counselor and an advocate. He preferred to remain anonymous>