Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Is Sexual Harassment Different for Men? (Part 6 of 9)

Another cruel argument against the women who claim to have been sexually harassed are these five words: her story doesn’t add up.

Because of a few inconsistencies in reporting, does that make the molestation invalid? It’s normal, especially when we finally speak up. Time has lapsed and the memories have abated, even though the pain lies dormant inside.

For many of us, the agony is too severe to recall every step in the sexual rape we endured. When I reflect on the abuse by a female, I can’t give details. Two things stand out in my memory. First, the smell of the powder she wore, and second, her breath as she put her face next to mine.

What people often don’t understand is that when we tell an experience, we don’t tell it the same way twice. With each telling, we add details or omit something. That’s human nature. One therapist said that when he hears a traumatic story and the person tells it exactly the same way each time, that causes him to doubt them. “If they’ve memorized the details, that often points to false accusation.”

Some truly harassed adults or molested kids don’t get heard properly because of those inconsistencies. It’s easier to disbelieve than to be open to the victimization of the speaker. It takes courage to speak up.

I hope authorities will recognize that, listen, and truly hear our painful tales.

Do you struggle/have you struggled with trying to remember every detail?

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Is Sexual Harassment Different for Men? (Part 5 of 9)

Here is one of the irrational arguments used about women who are now speaking up after years of silence: “She didn’t come forward immediately.”

Isn’t this also typical of us male survivors of sexual assault? We were kids. Perhaps it didn’t occur to us to tell anyone. I wouldn’t have known whom to tell. I didn’t think anyone cared enough. In fact, if I had been shown the love and attention I needed, I probably wouldn’t have been victimized. My perps chose me because I was lonely, felt unloved, and craved attention.

This argument about not speaking up immediately after the incident is just another backhanded way at blaming the victim rather than the perpetrator. Instead of authority figures accepting the information and investigating, they slam the door in the face of the already hurting survivor.

One of my male survivor friends said, “It’s like being abused twice—first by the perp and then by those who should be able to help but don’t.”

Have you felt blamed for the abuse?

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Is Sexual Harassment Different for Men? (Part 4 of 9)

One of the charges leveled against the women who claimed to be groped or raped is that they stayed friendly with their abuser. Their critics can’t seem to realize that those victims were afraid of losing their jobs or not being believed. They wanted to put the trauma behind them, so they played the role of being friendly.

And they silently suffered.

Many of us know that feeling well, but our reasons for silence may be different. Although I knew it was wrong when an older man groomed me and assaulted me, I felt a deep love for him. As strange as that may seem to my adult self, I truly thought he loved me. No one else listened to me or seemed to care about my feelings. Even though it was deception on his part, it was real to me.

Recently, I spoke with a man in his sixties who was assaulted in his early teens and stayed in a relationship with an older man until he was 20 years old. “I thought he loved me,” the survivor said, “until he said I was too old for him.”

Did any of you stay friendly or loving toward your perpetrator?

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Is Sexual Harassment Different for Men? (Part 3 of 9)

Too often, law enforcers and others assume they need a response of crying to believe the victims. Again, it’s the stereotypical acceptance as one standard of behavior. Reports of the celebrity abuses say that some of those women reacted by self-medicating—drugs, alcohol, engaging in high-risk sexual behavior, or withdrawing from friends.

I can’t say this often enough: there is no such thing as one response to being molested. We survivors behave in a wide variety of ways. When we talk about it, some of us appear calm, even detached. Others become angry or shout. Some go mute. Some of us cry.

One of the things I’ve read too often that’s taken to be true for all of us childhood survivors bothers me. They say their kids were doing well in school, never troubled, and then their grades began to fall. After that, they had trouble getting along with others and became belligerent. That’s one response—and it may be common—but it certainly doesn’t fit all of us.

For me, it was the opposite. In school, I did extremely well. Once I was inside the building, my mood shifted. I focused on learning and mixed well with other students. Until ninth grade, I wasn’t absent for a single day. Even though I didn’t realize it at the time, school became my emotional sanctuary.

How did you respond to the molestation when you were a child?