THE SAD REALITY
The rape and sexual abuse of both adult and young men around the world has been so greatly ignored, disrespected and discounted for, that it has created a major misconception in many that such an occurrence does not exist. Many services currently available are solely focused on meeting the needs of female victims who have been abused and sexually assaulted, marginalising men. The vast majority of male rape and abuse victims will never report their trauma due to a lack of awareness and misconceptions of male sexual abuse as well as the current lack of support services available, instead they choose to suffer its effects alone and in silence.
Male on male rape, is not a homosexual act. Rape is an act of violence, control and aggression, not one of sexual gratification. Mike Lew of the Next Step Counseling and Training Centre in Brookline, Massachusetts clarifies this point by using the following example “if you hit someone over the head with a frying pan, you don’t call it cooking.” A further point to understanding this confusion is that in most cases, convicted rapists and male sexual abusers describe themselves as being heterosexual and not gay.
No official statistics are available in South Africa on male sexual abuse largely due to the denial of its occurrence. An American study conducted by the National Crime Victimisation Survey (NCVS) IN 2002 reported that 1 in 8 rape victims in 2002 were male. This is supported by research conducted in the United Kingdom where 1 in 6 men will have been sexual abused or raped in their lifetime. These figures cannot be ignored. The above statistics alone paint a very clear picture that male sexual abuse is a reality that needs to be addressed at all layers of society from government legislation, training of social support services and professionals to an understanding in homes across the country to make our sons as much as we do our daughters aware of possible abuse circumstances.
Defining sexual abuse or assault in legal terms is
Any sexual contact or violation against a person’s will or without consent. Sexual contact can include; direct or indirect contact by touching, rubbing, masturbation of one person by another, oral or anal sex and even kissing.
(Adapted from Fuller 2007:9 in Contemporary Criminological Issues, Department of Criminology, University of South Africa 2009:40 Muckleneuk Pretoria).