Sunday, June 3, 2012

Denial of Care to Boys and Men Who Have Been Raped



The Denial of Care to Boys and Men Who Have Been Raped


Author:   A JONAH participant as told to Elaine Silodor Berk, Co-Director of JONAH 


(Posted April 2012)


I think it's time for our society to focus on the effect that rape has in boys/adolescents/men. There was a January 2012 New York Times Article ( Men Struggle for Rape Awareness by Roni Caryn Rabin ) which tangentially references that homosexual rape often leads to men questioning their sexual orientation. To a point yes, but that begs the question of what is the connection, what happens to these victims so that they begin to question their sexual orientation.


Moreover, I don't believe the description of that consequence is accurate in many cases. If the victim of a homosexual rape had just as many heterosexual thoughts and feelings after the rape as he had before, the rape probably wouldn't cause him to doubt his sexual orientation to a great extent.  


However, what does often happen is that a male victim of homosexual rape does have homosexual thoughts and feelings afterwards, or starts to have them. As difficult as it is to speak about this issue, and even unpleasant, it is important to discuss the specifics to be clear about the dynamics of the psychological harm, how to help the victims as effectively as possible, and what else we can learn from these patterns that often arise. I think it is somewhat intuitive that if a person is traumatically victimized in a certain way, and if then he is unable to deal with the feelings and thoughts of being made to feel powerless, personally and violently invaded, taken over, and in the case of a man who is raped, to be made the passive gender rather than the active gender he has worked on establishing, in such a case he may take on the perspective of himself that fits with what he subconsciously believes is the perspective of the aggressor.  After the traumatic incident, too often the victim does not feel able to deal with, or counter, these same-sex attractions.


Similar experiences occur with many victims of abuse, harm, kidnapping, etc.: people begin to identify with, as far as their own identity is concerned, the view of themselves from the assumed perspective of the person who harmed or controlled them. Think "Stockholm Syndrome."


For a boy or man that then deeply feels and thinks of himself in this way - powerless, weak, overwhelmed, sexually passive - this actually can interfere with his sexual attractions to women. In one regard, he does not feel strong enough as a male, so it feels too scary for him to be attracted to women. Then normal sexual feelings can get transferred onto men, in conjunction with having been subjected to an incredibly traumatic experience in which he was forced to connect with another male sexually.


Here is the important point I am trying to make: boys, adolescents, and men who have been molested or raped frequently end up with their healthy heterosexual thoughts and feelings being disrupted, and too often are left with homosexual thoughts and feelings. It is not, as the New York Times article seems to imply, that they just "question" their orientation - in what would seem an almost intellectual sense - absent these feelings and thoughts. It is as a result of experiencing the homosexual feelings and thoughts, that they begin to question their sexual orientation.


The significant issue of homosexual rape and sexual abuse, which is only beginning to be noticed by our society, again points out the current situation in which society has precluded to a very large degree the availability of resources to help individuals treat their unwanted homosexual thoughts and feelings. Here are clear cases where homosexual thoughts and feelings can be traced to severe trauma, and yet the psychological organizations, abetted by the press, have thrown up one road block after another to reduce the availability of assistance. 


Thus, denial of care to male victims of rape and abuse, and the current dishonesty surrounding this issue, is a vicious and tragic mistake.


As a non-profit organization, JONAH strives to help others through the generosity of its supporters, officers and members.


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