Most of us have been inundated with information about sexual misconduct in Hollywood, New York, and the political realm. As I’ve listened to TV news and read reports about the allegations and especially the responses, I’ve thought, That sounds like what many of us male survivors of childhood sexual abuse have gone through.
The July 26, 2017, issue of The New York Times included an article written by Shaila Dewan about the misguided reasons people doubt the report of victims. As I read the piece, so much of it hit home.
One psychologist who conducts law-enforcement training on sexual assault said, “There’s something . . . unique about sexual assault in the way we think about it, which is . . . upside down from the way it actually operates.”
She went on say that we tend to doubt the victims because of widespread misconceptions. “The public and the police vastly overestimate the evidence of false reports. The most solid, case-by-case examinations say that only 5 to 7 percent of sexual assault reports are false.”
The article stated that the reports are often viewed as unreliable because of the victims’ emotional paralysis or inability to recall timelines. To her credit, the author points out that such inability is common.
Yes, I thought, we males have the same issues.
I can’t pinpoint exactly when the sexual and physical abuse took place in my life, but I know it did. When I’ve been pressed for details, I blank out. I’ve tried to force myself to remember, but nothing productive jumps out. I’ve accepted that I’ll always have gaps in my memory.
Instead of being able to relate every detail, severe trauma works the other way. The more powerfully and painfully we’re affected, the less we remember. Others might not believe us—we can’t help that.
But we know.
Yes, we know.