Male sexual assault is a subject which is difficult to talk about for anyone who has experienced any sort of abuse. In the eyes of the law, only a man can commit rape as penetration with the penis has to occur. But men can still be raped and sexually assaulted, and we shouldn’t shy away from the subject. To many, this postulation seems unreal or rather ridiculous, the possibility of a female sexually assaulting a male seems remote but it is not rare and is, in fact, not a recent phenomenon.
For as back as 1978, it was reported that a certain lady named Joyce McKinney in the case of the popular “ Mormon Sex in Chains ” scandal was convicted for chaining a man and forcing him to have sexual intercourse with her.
The assumption that only females can be raped is due to a number of wrong or stereotypical reasons such as: 1. Men always want sex or; 2. Boys and men cannot be victims because they are easily physically aroused. We must understand that the male erectile response is involuntary which is very similar to a female response.
Arguably, I agree that a female while being sexually assaulted may still experience involuntary arousal which is a mechanical stimulation. This position is also applicable to men or boys. There are instances where a man can be scared, intimidated or blackmailed into engaging in sexual relations with a woman outside his wishes. Therefore, it is apt to say that men in Nigeria have been, over the decades, subjected to, social, political and legal double standards in this respect.
Male victims of domestic violence can and are frequently victims of abuse in the home, either at the hands of their female or, in the case of same-sex relationships, their male partner. Abuse is a control issue – abusers believe they have the right to manipulate, control and humiliates another person, and this belief is not only held by some men but also by some women.
It should be noted that, this write-up is not questioning statistics, or asking whether more male victims of domestic violence than women victims or vice versa. At the end of the day the question is almost inconsequential. We know that there are many men who DO experience Domestic Abuse at some stage in their lives, and whether there are 1000 or 100,000 per year in Nigeria or elsewhere alone doesn’t make any difference to the individual suffering and fear and pain experienced by any one man in an abusive relationship. What is important, is that their suffering is taken seriously, and that support and help is available when needed, regardless of gender.
Many of the effects of abuse for the male victim of domestic violence are the same as for women. They are likely to feel deeply shamed, frightened, experience a loss of self-worth and confidence, feel isolated, guilty and confused about the situation.
A lot of male victims of abuse however, have great difficulty defining it as such. This is partially due to the image our western society generally has of Man. Men are often thought of as strong, domineering and macho. Boys, even at a young age, are taught that it is unmanly to cry (“big boys don’t cry”).
To many, the idea of a grown man being frightened or vulnerable is a taboo, the idea of a man- usually physically the stronger- of being battered, ludicrous. Hence, many male victims of abuse may feel “less of a man” for suffering abuse, feel as though they are in some way not manly enough and ought to have the ability to prevent the abuse.
The reality though is that even if a man is physically attacked by their wives or partners, many men will take a beating rather than hitting back to defend themselves and risk harming their attacker, and even if they do, they are aware that they then risk being accused of being an abuser themselves. But abuse is not always physical, and a lot of men, in common with many women, face daily emotional, verbal and psychological abuse in silence for years, their self-esteem being slowly eroded away, more and more isolated from those around them. Men can also be victims of sexual abuse. A gay victim may be raped by their partner, suffering all the agonies any other rape victim would. Many men in abusive relationships do not feel in control of their own sex life, their partners may demand or coerce intercourse, may make derisory comments about their manhood or ridicule them in public.
Any form of sexual contact which is knowingly without consent can be experienced as sexual abuse – regardless of gender! This female to male rape is otherwise called “made to penetrate” cases, it is, therefore, my submission that a more inclusive definition of rape be pronounced, this is to include or reflect genuine concerns that a man or a boy can be victims of rape, the punishment in this respect should rank paripassu with that of a male sexual offender. If you are a man and are being abused or have recently escaped an abusive relationship, please know that you are not alone.
There are many of you out there, and many, like you, feel as though you are the only one to experience this sort of abuse. It is okay to be frightened, confused and hurt. Someone you love, care about and trust has broken that trust, turned against you and hurt you.
You don’t have to suffer in silence, there are agencies and people who do care and can offer you help, support and advice. Just because you are a man does not mean you are impervious to pain! Please, don’t worry if you are disbelieved or ridiculed by some of the people you approach. Sadly many people do not want to or cannot (due to their own insecurities) believe that men can and do suffer abuse, remember that it is their personal problem if they don’t believe you, not yours. It does not make your experiences any less painful or devastating or valid. Try to disregard their attitude and try someone else. You will find many people who DO take you seriously and can understand what you have suffered. If you are frightened that your partner will hurt you further, you have the same rights as any other person, whether man or woman, under the law for protection. The same orders to prevent male on female violence are also there to protect you. Insist on your rights to be free from fear and live in safety. And finally, please realize that it is not your fault. You do not deserve to be hit, to be insulted and ridiculed, to be touched intimately if you have asked not to be, to be treated like a doormat, to be threatened, attacked with a weapon, shamed in front of your mates, told what to do when and with whom. You do not deserve to be abused in any way, shape or form.
Ignoring male rape not only neglects men, it also harms women by reinforcing a viewpoint that equates ‘female’ with ‘victim’ thus hampering our ability to see women as strong and empowered. In the same way, silence about male victims reinforces unhealthy expectations about men and their supposed invulnerability.
Therefore, to protect boys or men from sexual abuse, the government should amend the laws and afford equal protection to both sexes.
Written by Adeogun Joseph Kayode. Kayode is a Certified Content Marketing Strategist, Journalist, Communications and Leadership Coach with over 15 years working experience with individuals and various organizations in Nigeria and across the world. He is also an author of ten books on school leadership, new media, digital marketing, public speaking, freelance writing and entrepreneurship.