‘The Silent Shame’

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There is an age old assumption that sexual violence against women is somehow different from sexual violence against men. The very act of violence whomever it may be against is wrong as every human being has the right to a free life. When I watch the media broadcast domestic violence against men it is often portrayed in very humorous terms with the violence being seen as insignificant and almost justified as fair game. A question I have asked myself for a while now would be, why is sexual violence against men so under reported?

The reality is that there is a great social stigma attached to this problem of sexual violence against men. In most cases men who have been subjected to acts of sexual violence often feel a great sense of shame and embarrassment and are afraid to stand up against these problems that they are facing in their lives because of the fear that they will be portrayed as weak and not living up to the gender stereotype of what it is to be a ‘real man’. “The scope and challenges are much larger than those of female directed violence: not only is there a lack of empathy for men but also a lack of knowledge, legal frameworks and acknowledgement for the situation” ‘It is now being reported that around 23% of men have experienced some form of sexual violence throughout their lives’[1].

This idea of having a social stigma is most prevalent amongst men who have been abused during their childhood. I watched a fascinating excerpt of a documentary that gave an insight into the lives of a few men who have been subject to sexual abuse during their childhood. It is clear that the psychological effects and the feeling of loneliness that these men have experienced throughout their lives really reinforces how traumatic this ordeal can be. They explained how sexual violence was used as a means of asserting power and dominance over them and in doing so making them feel disempowered and emasculated. Young men and children more so than adults can become confused and unaware of what is happening to them during acts of sexual violence and thus they often don’t have the means on how to cope with this predicament.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wx-JqBdwdAA

Fantastic campaigns have been set up by Survivors UK which is a wonderful organisation that deals with the issues of sexual violence against men. I would strongly promote and adhere to seeing this organisation being put into the media spotlight in order to help the victims realise that people are listening to their problems and that they are not alone. Shining a light on these issues can really help bring more and more men forward to share their problems and help with their rehabilitation. blog men

Within the issue of sexual violence against men there has also been a clear lack of data about non-heterosexual couples. However, studies such as a 2013 report by the American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have found that victimization of men by other men in the context of relationships is a serious problem. Specifically, 26% of homosexuals surveyed reported experiencing intimate partner violence[2]. This just goes to show that this issue of violence against men dwarfs the barrier of sexuality and shows how widespread the problem really is.

Thankfully police services are now furthering their efforts to arrest perpetrators of sexual violence against men. ‘For instance, the total number of women prosecuted by the United Kingdom’s legal authorities for domestic violence hiked from 1,575 in 2004-05 to 4,266 in 2008-09. Also shelters specifically for men have now been set-up to support them during their time of need, although they are dwarfed by the amount of women’s shelters for example in England and Wales, sixty places exist to house men as opposed to seven thousand for women’[3].

I strongly believe that society needs to change its gender stereotypes of what it is to be a man. I dream that one day men and women can be treated equally and that the social stigmas that are put on them can be laid to rest as a thing of  the past, only then can we progress as a society and rid ourselves of this ‘silent shame’.


 

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About School of Politics and International Relations

This blog has been set up for the students of PO665, Advanced Topics in Politics and International Relations: Global Gender Justice, which is a course for final year Honours students in the School of Politics and International Relations at the University of Kent. As part of their participation in the course, students submit blog posts that examine issues pertaining to gender justice within the family, the community, the state and global society. We aim to explore the extent to which gender inequality within the state has an impact on state behaviour, with a specific focus on state development and state security, and further aim to analyse the effectiveness and limits of international organisations, international human rights instruments, NGOs and activists to bring about greater gender justice.
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