Talking about abuse or sexual aggression in men (children or adults) has always had a lot of taboo and social constructs around it. Especially in Latin America (if not the whole world in general), there is this false belief that men cannot be raped or sexually assaulted, partly because of the idea that they constantly think about sexual encounters and would never turn one down, and partly because, in our society, they are not allowed to complain or express the need for support.
Besides the already complicated emotional restrictions that we as a society have instilled in men that hold them back from reporting or sharing their experiences, there are myths that sexual abuse in men causes homosexuality, or that the victim will become a perpetrator later in life.
All of these ideas, together with the fact that the problem is “nonexistent in the eyes of society” (Gil, 2014), mean that we do not have real statistics on the number of men who have suffered from sexual abuse. According to the Mexican INE, only in 2019 there are 537 crimes against sexual freedom and indemnity registered by males. Those are only the cases they managed to report. A study conducted by the british government in 2014 reveals that about 12% of all assaults registered worldwide had men as victims. But then again, that was almost seven years ago. (Gil, 2014)
Another study conducted in Mexico City among middle and high school students reported that 9.9% of male students suffer or have suffered from sexual abuse. Consider that only 20% of women manage to report; imagine then the percentage of men who manage to raise their voices. (INPRFM, IAPA, 2013)
Men suffer from the same symptoms as women after sexual abuse, and they need the same psychological and social support, it is therefore preoccupying that the numbers of those who manage to share their experiences are so low (especially considering that the numbers of abuse perpetrations have been increasing in recent years. To counteract this situation, there are different ways to contribute, from the personal level where we can offer support by being part of or financially contributing to organizations that provide support, to the organizational and governmental level.
There are important organizations and movements such as #ISayNoMore, that are dedicated precisely to helping people (whether they are children or adults) who have suffered abuse to find their voice and to show them the benefits of sharing their story. If you are interested in contributing to this movement, find the multiple options we have to get involved.
In general, victims have many complications, from emotional to legal, when reporting, but it is important to emphasize that everyday there are more and more laws that protect those who have suffered abuse. This last aspect gives victims more confidence to share their situation, and the more organizations there are and the more people we stop judging and start understanding the importance of listening and supporting, the more accurate (and hopefully lower) the numbers will be.
Sexual assault, no matter who the victim is, is a serious violation of the victim’s human rights and life quality. Both men and women have post-abuse complications that they should not have to suffer. The important thing here is to support the victim, to make him or her see that it is never their fault, and that, regardless of their age or gender, they can raise their voice to be heard and to inspire others to join the movement as well.
You can be part of the change, join this movement on behalf of yourself or hundreds of victims who have not been able to find their voice to speak out against this scourge.
Find the multiple options we have to get involved with the movement and make your voice heard.