When people discuss sexual violence, it is often assumed that the victim is female. This isn’t always the case – there are also male victims of sexual violence, but our society and culture made it so such reality isn’t as widely acknowledged. Unfortunately, sweeping it under the rug doesn’t make these horrible incidents go away. Lack of awareness and acceptance of male sexual victimization perpetuates toxic masculinity, victim-blaming, and makes it so much more difficult for male victims to come forward.
To unpack this rarely talked about topic is Jamal Brooks-Hawkins, the Sexual Violence Prevention Coordinator for the Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence. Jamal is an advocate of sexual health and sexual violence prevention. He focuses on working with issues faced by vulnerable and oppressed populations including use and abuse of substances, HIV and AIDS, sex work, and sexual violence.
Specifics discussed in this webinar include:
- Dissecting the different behaviors that the umbrella term sexual violence encompasses.
- A look into the history of gender-neutral rape statutes and how despite this, the literature on sexual violence continues to center on female victims.
- Statistics that provide a glimpse of the prevalence of male sexual victimization.
- The concept of intersectionality which demonstrates how our identities influence our privileges.
- The groups within the male population that experience a higher rate of sexual violence.
- What rape culture is and how it manifests in society.
- The social constructs surrounding gender roles, and how gender roles are introduced in our lives.
- The common attributes of toxic masculinity and how it is propagated through gender norms.
- How gender roles, rape culture and toxic masculinity result in men who repress their emotions, isolate themselves, suffer in silence and do not report sexual violence experienced.
- Victim blaming, example of victim-blaming statements, and its consequence to the victim, offender, community and society.
- The social and systemic barriers to reporting which prevents men from reaching out to authorities or resources about sexual victimization.
- Encouraging men to report sexual victimization and reduce the barriers from doing so through:
- Awareness and education efforts within agency personnel and to the public.
- Use of gender-neutral language across the system.
- Making options available for the resources and support needed by victims.
- Practicing respect, listening, and conveying belief to victims.
- Trauma-informed approaches in investigation, victim support, and prosecution.
- Inquiries and clarifications during the Q&A were about:
- Forensic procedures for different genders.
- Addressing the emasculation that some perpetrators feel.
- Providing support to male survivors of sexual assault.
- The gender spectrum.
- The gender of male sexual assault perpetrators.
- How orgasm is not an indication of consent.
- The effect of childhood sexual abuse to adult sexual/romantic relationships, and how it poses a risk for perpetration.
Resources Mentioned During Webinar
- “I learned many valuable things from this webinar: how toxic masculinity can develop, how toxic masculinity can be prevented or combated, how male survivors of sexual assault can be supported, how an agency can signal support for male survivors. This presentation offered great educational info that I can share with male survivors. Thank you!” — Amy
- “Great educational information on a topic which there is little information on and a topic which society does not want to talk about. Excellent presentation! Kudos to Jamal and to ACESDV!” — Denise
- “This was a fantastic presentation with a lot of valuable information. I found that understanding the dynamics of male sexual assault was incredibly helpful and meaningful. As an advocate, I will carry this information with me when working with male victims and survivors.” — Kamaile
- “Jamal did an excellent job with this presentation. It was very informative and as he stated only scratches the surface of the topic.” — Lynda
- “I am working with more and more male victims and just need information on how to work with them as they are more likely to not want to prosecute.” — Denise
- “I thought the speaker was really good. I am already familiar with male victimization and work with male survivors so there wasn’t any new information that I learned; however, I am sure others newer to the field or those that hadn’t worked with male victims learned a lot.” –Sarah