Webinar presenter Jamal Brooks-Hawkins answered a number of your questions after his presentation, Male Victims of Sexual Assault: Best Practices for Justice Professionals. Here are just a few of his responses.
Audience Question: Do hospitals use the same forensic exam regardless of what gender someone is?
Jamal Brooks-Hawkins: It really depends on the location, the geographic location and the policies and procedures that they have in that jurisdiction. For example, if you are in a particular county, here in Arizona, a forensic rape kit can be conducted separately outside of the hospital. However, the ones that are used for men and women are the same here. There are different tests, different rape kit that can be utilized for different genders but it really does depend on the policy, procedure, and protocol of the geographic location.
Audience Question: I work quite a bit with male sex offenders, I often hear that they sexually assault others because their manhood was taken from them. What strategies do you use to work with those that are both victims and offenders?
Jamal Brooks-Hawkins: I’m a big fan of 2 authors, one is Brene Brown. And so, starting to build responses as well as curricula around the idea that vulnerability is strength and how to start navigating through those system of “I live in this world of a man, and I am afforded certain privileges but I ‘m also a victim so I’m not afforded those privileges that my manhood “is taken” and so I harm someone else”. Once that is done, there is a rehabilitative approach that really looks at, “Are you being trauma-informed?”, “Can you have that perpetrator admit to the victim – admit to the perpetration?”, and “Can you speak to the survivor and have you had a separate healing process for your victimhood?”. And so it really is doing 2 things at once, addressing the accountability of the behavior that was perpetrated, and also determine a healing process for the victimization. An accountability as well as a human process.
Audience Question: Statistically, how common is it for a male victim of sexual assault to become a perpetrator?
Jamal Brooks-Hawkins: I don’t know the answer to that question because several different factors would go into that. What we do know that there is some research that it is a very small percentage, probably less than 2 or 3 percent of male victims that become trauma perpetrators themselves. There’s a lot of research that starts to get at that, but it is probably less than what many people say and I have seen studies that put it as low as 3% and less than 1%.
Audience Question: What is the best way to support male survivors of sexual assault who are made to assault others as part of their victimization?
Jamal Brooks-Hawkins: What I think is support is best done holistically and individually. Looking at that person in their individual circumstance – because that is actually a really nuanced question because it does go back to that person’s experience. Just for example, some factors that go into that: Who victimized that person? Who victimized the male survivor? Who was the male survivor made to penetrate, was it a family member? Was it a classmate? Was is it another male? So there’s a lot of different factors that go into that, but I think support comes from individualized service of understanding. “Ok, these are the things you are dealing with so let’s address each of those through different strategies”. That is definitely a multifaceted approach.
Audience Question: Does childhood sexual abuse increases the chances of the survivor becoming a perpetrator later in life?
Jamal Brooks-Hawkins: No. Am I understanding the question correctly? If you are sexually assaulted as a child you are more likely to become a sexual victim in adulthood?
Aaron (host): No, do they have a bigger chance of becoming a perpetrator in adulthood?
Jamal Brooks-Hawkins: As I said, it’s a small percentage of men who do become a perpetrator? It is in that question, I apologize. It does become a risk factor, especially how, at what age the male experience to sexual assault and how they process it, how they internalized the scenario. If the internalizing looks like, “Oh, this is what love looks like”, that of course, that is going to increase the risk of them being transmitting that behavior. Juxtaposed to someone who was like, “It felt bad, I knew it was wrong, I wouldn’t want anybody to feel like this”, they have any increase of not sexually perpetrating. Do it really is how the person internalizes it as well as some of the other things that I said.
Audience Question: Can you talk more about something you mentioned fairly early in the presentation about there being more than 2 genders.
Jamal Brooks-Hawkins: Gender is actually – if you think of it, not as a binary, so male-female, but if we think along a spectrum, there are gender fluid individuals. They are gender non-conforming in which the presentation of gender is different than their gender identity. I may identify as male, however, I wear makeup and a dress. So what I identify is gender fluid rather than male-female, masculine or feminine. So when we start to look at different genders, we can look at man-woman, gender fluid, and a number of other identities that people are really starting to claim and reclaim.
Aaron (host): One of the things I love when we get comments like this from our audience is when they kind of share their techniques and their experiences referring to on our earlier questions there: I usually answer that question with – not everyone who is sexually assaulted becomes a perpetrator but many perpetrators have been sexually assaulted – that is an interesting way of putting it for sure.
Jamal Brooks-Hawkins: Yes, that’s actually a great way of phrasing it. Thank you.
Audience Question: Statistically, are male victims sexually assaulted more often by women or by other people of the same gender?
Jamal Brooks-Hawkins: Statistically, men are assaulted mainly by other men. When it comes to certain types of sexual violence. Rape and made to penetrate, there is a high percentage of – I think it is something like in the high 90s, I won’t get specific – of men who perpetrate in other males with rape and like I said – made to penetrate. When you look at coercion, the gender statistics start to kind of even out. Even out in terms of women perpetrators will use coercion tactics and strategies more than force or threat.
Audience Question: I recall several years ago reading that if a female experienced orgasm during rape – the defense attorney would use that against the victim and it might not be considered rape. Do you know whether or not that holds true and whether or not that could be applied to male victims of sexual assault?
Jamal Brooks-Hawkins: That is actually one of the reasons why we always bring it up. It is not only for the individual to understand that that is a physiological response but is also for the system that is supposed to get justice for survivors in the mindset that that is not a defense. It is not something that should be used, again based on jurisdiction as well as the court, whether or not it is a relative and relevant defense that becomes part of the legal process. But, whether or not the judge actually said, yes that is absolutely true, that is one of the reasons why we always say yes, ejaculation or erection is not an indication of consent nor any sort of way of knowing whether or not the sexual assault happened.
Audience Question: How does childhood sexual abuse affect males when it comes to adult sexual and romantic relationships?
Jamal Brooks-Hawkins: There is research that shows men who are sexually assaulted in childhood – and this is that victimization piece. In interpersonal relationships, they have high issues of trust, large issues of anxiety and higher rates of PTSD and so when we’re starting to look at interpersonal relationships, those diagnoses or those different responses become very very difficult to start to break down until the survivor actually starts to address the trauma that they have gone through. But it can cause huge issues in interpersonal relationships especially around trust and looking at whether or not someone is going to utilize the information that, “This is a victim” against them.
Click Here to Watch a Recording of Male Victims of Sexual Assault: Best Practices for Justice Professionals.