Breaking the silence on male sexual assault

There is an uncomfortable truth that is not told, and that is that men are raped more than we know or talk about. Statistics on sexual assault against men can vary, and due to how underreported it may be impossible to get a true idea of ​​how many men have been sexually assaulted. The American Crime show centers on a compelling and powerful story centering on how young adult men struggle to get ahead along with the stigma and gender roles that prevent many from telling their story and getting help to deal with their trauma. .

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a study showing that among more than 130 college campuses and 5,000 college students, one in 25 men answered “yes” when asked if they had been forced to have sex against of his will. Research by other organizations estimates that one in six men is sexually assaulted before the age of 18. Men and boys who have been sexually assaulted often experience unique challenges with their traumatic experience. Adult men who were sexually abused as children or adolescents may respond differently to men who were sexually assaulted as adults due to differences in expectations of gender norms and their development.

Children are raised from a young age with messages like “be strong” or “Don’t be a fag and cry!” Often, the signs that abuse has occurred with children and adolescents show up in the way they function at home and at school. With adult men, the aftermath of their sexual assault is often seen in PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), which makes their relationships feel withdrawn and on edge. One of the challenges male sexual assault victims fear is being ridiculed or not taken seriously. Another challenge is that men may feel ashamed that they cannot prevent the assault from occurring and may have confusion and concerns about their sexual orientation if they experience a physiological response to the assault, such as becoming aroused and ejaculating during the assault. Being sexually assaulted can be excruciating for men who don’t want to be seen as ‘victimized’ because it goes against the messages they were raised with of what it means to be a ‘real man’.

The writers of American Crime have tackled this issue head-on in the story that follows a community trying to make sense of an allegation of sexual assault by a young man at a high school basketball team party. Student Taylor Blaine, receiving financial aid at an expensive high school, discovers that photos of him drunk and looking incoherent at a basketball team victory party have been posted and mocked online. With a history of bullying at his school, Taylor tells his mother that the photos were taken after he was drugged and sexually assaulted. From there, the story follows the uphill battle Taylor’s mother has to make sure the school and authorities track down the guilty boys. American Crime brings to light how people’s perspectives can change from parents and law enforcement questioning what happened to denying it and trying to sweep it under the rug. Blaine’s character, who was raped, is shown telling his therapist how he felt ridiculed for reporting his story to the police. “People lose their minds when something happens to a girl. They have rights groups supporting them. But a man? I just want it to stop.”

Talking about how to survive sexual assault or abuse can be difficult. If you are a man who has been sexually assaulted or know someone who has been raped, it is important for you to realize how important it is to come forward and speak up. When men decide to come forward, it is important that the people around them believe and support them. It is important that they are allowed to make their own decisions about what actions to take. Coming forward and telling your story to your loved ones and seeking the professional help of a therapist requires trust, compassion, and understanding. A strong message that anyone who has been sexually assaulted should hear is that they are not alone.