I often refer to the sexual #trauma of men in our country as “The Crisis”, countless people that come into my life and that I get to connect with have had some form of sexual #trauma. The numbers are crazy! In 1998 in the U.S 1 in 6 men experienced sexual abuse and 2.78 million men were the victims of attempted or completed rape. Meanwhile, in Canada, 11 Million from the age of 15 and up. Let’s just take a moment to let those stats sink in.
Most men don’t report these crimes. Instead, they live with guilt, shame, anger, and have a higher risk of alcoholism, depression, and suicide. Men and women both experience post-traumatic stress symptoms and emotional issues, yet there seems to still be a reluctance to recognize and validate the amount of pain this causes. Why is that? Sexual trauma, if not dealt with, has lifelong effects on both men and women. I think as a society and as a parent, we don’t want to believe that our children, especially our sons, have been put in a situation that puts our children at risk. We can not always know though who is safe and who is not. Sometimes, the parent has to realize that they are human and it is not always their fault, but rather deal with the emotions and feelings of the child.
Men often worry about the sexuality as a man but then as an adult might not fully express themselves for fear of being judged or ostracized by peers or family so it feels more safe to keep it to themselves. There is fear around being vulnerable and having others shame them for their own sexuality or even question their masculinity. I also read an article that in Canada their are 3….yes only 3 organizations that address this. Shameful!
In my opinion, the only way to begin to heal is to have more conversations around this topic, to be open to hearing about sexual trauma experienced by a male. I know that it can be difficult for people to hear, although I don’t understand why a person would be too uncomfortable hearing about trauma to not want to allow open and safe space to hear the stories of abuse. So how do men begin to heal from trauma?
- First, know that assault is not a fault of yours! It is usually perpetrated by someone in a position of power or authority. You didn’t ask for this to happen.
- I have found at least in my lifetime, that when we work through trauma ourselves, we tend to “re-live” our trauma, or go towards situations where we can work through that trauma. The victims may feel guilty because they may go back to that memory and find some piece of pleasure in it and then worry about their sexuality and feel guilt.
- Find a professional or a friend that you know you can trust and talk about it. Work through it. Getting to a place where you accept what happened to you, acknowledge to yourself that it wasn’t YOUR fault and that it is not who you are!
- Writing in a journal daily to help the feelings and thoughts in your head get down on paper to help process the experience, thoughts and emotions that surround the trauma.
- I find that the biggest thing with trauma, is not to deal with it alone. Bringing it up for the first time will be the hardest thing about it. Understanding that you are Ok, that you are human, and that you can work through this and not be free of it, but to possibly know that your trauma and abuse that happened when you were a child, will not happen now. To realize that you, as an adult, can protect yourself, and not have to experience it again. Talk and keep talking.
- Self-love. loving yourself, finding joy in your life. Recreating a mission for yourself! Finding meaning and purpose in something in your life. This keeps you moving forward with focus.
Men have difficulty acknowledging their experience as being traumatic. The average age for a male to seek help is roughly 45 years of age and I hear that men always wish they had went a lot sooner. You are not alone, seek help, heal the wounds.
Joanne Hughes is a Men’s Breakthrough Coach specializing in Trauma and Depression. Joanne’s program “Mission Im-possible” helps to break through negative self-talk and mindsets to see the possibilities of greatness and to inspire the process of rewriting a mission statement of self to go forward fearlessly with acceptance and love into the future.