Fear, pain, embarrassment, anger, compulsive behaviours and shame. These few emotions and actions just barely touch on the massive list felt and are presented by males who have been victims of the unspeakable horrors of sexual abuse.
The term “sexual abuse’ is a broad definition for many criminal acts. Rape, molestation, sexual assault, sexual harassment, exhibitionism, incest …the list goes on.
One of the most damaging myths concerning males and sexual abuse is the one that states “boys and men can’t be victims.” An age old thought that boy’s should be taught to be “strong, not to cry, nor show their feelings, lest they prove weakness.” This thought/myth is one of the largest reasons that boys and men have hesitated to speak up and speak out about the crimes perpetrated against them. How does a boy, stand up to a perpetrator twice or three times his size? How does a man stand up to another man or a woman even, who quite possibly is threatening his very life—let alone sexually assaulting his body? The horrifying physical and mental acts of sexual assault has and does happen to boys and men as well as to girls and women.
On Wednesday, April 13, in conjunction with “National Victims of Crime Awareness Week,” The Princeton Violence in Relationships Committee (VIR) and South Okanagan Victim Assistance Society (SOVAS) held a free screening of the Kathy Barbini film documentary, “Boys and Men Healing” to promote community awareness and to honour victims of crime.
The film included three courageous men who shared pieces of their stories; their devastations, their battles to break free, speak up and speak out, their steps to healing, and their actions to help others. These three men took the positive route in the common paths that victims travel. Sadly, many other victims travel the negative path. For instance, in the film, “T.J.” a victim turned offender shares his life’s biggest failure. “I did to someone what I wanted to do to myself.” T.J. is in prison—for committing murder.
Vulnerability, isolation, all the emotional and physical symptoms of those who have been sexually abused are recognizable and can be worked through.
The negative path, the road to continued suffering, self destruction or possibly becoming an offender as well, does not have to be travelled at all. Help is available. If you are a boy, a teen or an adult who is suffering, choose the path that leads to healing, speak up to get help and speak out to help others. Give one of these confidential resources a try. Princeton Victim/Witness Services 250-295-7901, South Okanagan Victim Assistance Society 250-493-5355 or check out www.bc-malesurvivors.com
Remember, being abused or being a survivor of abuse does not mean that there is something “wrong with you.” Something wrong was done to you.
During the “Prevention of Violence Against Women Week,” VIR invites everyone to a FREE screening of the film: “Precious” to honour those victims of crime and promote community awareness.
Wednesday, April 20, 6:30 p.m. at the Riverside Centre Meeting Room.