In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal and the #MeToo campaign it inspired, sexual assault is being discussed more than ever before. While this has enabled a lot of people to voice the abuse they have suffered, there are some groups who still find it hard to speak out.
Rose McGowan’s treatment of a transgender woman at a book signing is a testament to this. When asked what the #MeToo campaign she founded had done for trans women, she refused to listen to the fact that transgender women are more likely to be victims of sexual assault.
Another group of people who have struggled to have their experiences of sexual assault heard is men. While there is no doubt that most victims are women, men are still abused in this way. In fact, one-in-33 American men have been the victim of rape or attempted rape.
This number is even higher in the United Kingdom, where 12% of sexual assaults are estimated to have taken place against men.
Society has portrayed men as abusers, and, because of this, there is a lot of stigma associated with male sexual assault. However, a brave group of men have now come forward in an attempt to end this taboo, revealing what their male and female abusers said to them.
These brave men’s stories are being shared on a Tumblr page called Project Unbreakable. It is a photography series that aims to help all survivors of rape, domestic violence, and child abuse. While it mostly features women, a brave number of men also made the decision to step forward.
The video below details how Mariah Carey’s former bodyguard was one of the men came forward to accuse her of sexual assault thanks to the #MeToo campaign:
These men’s actions will hopefully encourage others to come forward and end the notoriously low number of reported cases of male sexual assault.
The survivor below revealed how he was sexually assaulted by an older man who claimed that he was simply teaching him how to masturbate.
Another survivor who was assaulted as a child revealed how his babysitter user their position of authority to manipulate him into being abused.
“You don’t want your parents to think you’re being bad?” his sign quoting his abuser read.
Other survivor’s stories are a reflection of how toxic masculinity was used to pressure them into having sex.
“[Be] a man and just do it!” this survivor’s sign read.
Men are typically portrayed as being more sexually charged than women. As a result, some abusers act under the false notion that it is impossible for a man not to enjoy sexual contact, justifying their actions and making it even harder for victims to speak out.
Only 3.9% of male victims of sexual assault report their attackers, according to a seminal report published by the Greater London Authority in 2015, Silent Suffering: Supporting The Male Survivors Of Sexual Assault.
This report was the first to actually examine how social barriers prevent male survivors from reporting their attackers.
In an interview with the Huffington Post, Michael May, chief executive of Survivors UK, said:
“Society is generally afraid to see men as victims. From infancy, males are told that they should strive to be resilient, self-sufficient, protectors, dominant in sexual interactions and able to defend themselves.”
The report was published by Survivors UK, a specialist London-based charity which helps male survivors of sexual abuse. According to the report, there were 679,051 sexual assaults and rapes of males in England and Wales between 2010 and 2014.
Horrifyingly, 652,568 of these assaults were not reported to the police.
Many survivors of sexual assault (and indeed, all forms of abuse) struggle to come to terms with what has happened to them because they blame themselves. It is especially difficult to deal with when this abuse takes place within an intimate relationship, and, in some cases, it can take years for survivors to acknowledge what has happened to them.
The founder of Survivors Manchester, Duncan Craig told the Telegraph:
“If men feel like they can’t talk about it, or they don’t understand that it’s abuse, then it’s only going to complicate their feelings about being violated in the first place.
There’s something in that process of violation that’s a bit like losing a fight – you feel like you were too weak, you lost control of your own body, you should have fought back. People often feel like it’s their fault.”
A good example of how long it can take for survivors to acknowledge their own trauma is Craig, pictured below. Between the ages of 11 and 16, he was groomed and raped by an “authority figure” in his hometown of Manchester.
He did not acknowledge that he had been the victim of abuse until a decade later when he was training to be a therapist. It was then that he encountered a patient with a similar story and finally realized that he had suffered in the same way.
If you are a male survivor of sexual abuse or know someone who is, there is help and support available. If you are in the United Kingdom, you can reach out to Survivors, and if you are in the US, you can contact RAINN,
We hope that attitudes towards male sexual assault and rape change in the near future. No survivor should be silenced by a taboo.