Open Letter for Men & Boys - Part 2
I once read an article written by a man who was raped in college. One thing that stood out to me was when he wrote that none of his family or friends were supporting him because they didn't believe him. It stood out because for 24 years, the only time I ever heard of men being raped was in jokes.
If his story wasn’t depressing enough on its own, the author received a lot of backlash. The comments were full of women downplaying his story, claiming he that was looking for attention, and even telling him to kill himself. Some people accused him of trying to make the subject all about men. Imagine that: most people see rape as a women’s issue that can never happen to men, yet when one of the tens of thousands of male rape victims per year speak up, he gets accused of “trying to take a very real struggle away from women.”
I don’t have the link to the story I’m referring to, but here is a collection of comments for a similar story. The need to discriminate against them and only see men as abusers has actually led to death threats and attempted murder of people who raise awareness of the whole story, and it even exists in professional settings. Case in point, meet Erin Pizzey:
In 2009, Denise Hines, Ph.D spoke on the results of an experiment she conducted on what happens when abused men call domestic violence hotlines and shelters. 302 men participated in the study. All had been in a relationship for at least 8 years, and physically abused by their female partner. Here are the results:
64% of the men were rejected by crisis centers because they only helped female victims. In 32% of cases, the abused men were referred to a program for abusers. Another 25% were given a phone number, which turned out to be a program for abusers. Only about 25% of the men received actual support. 8% of the men classified the domestic violence hotlines as “very helpful,” while 69% said they were “not at all helpful.”
By the way, did you know that over 40% of domestic abuse victims are male? Did you know that when abused men call the police, they are often the ones who get arrested while the woman goes free? How about this: from 2010 to 2014, male victims outnumbered female victims in just about every category of violent crime, besides sexual assault.
Don’t be ashamed if you don’t know these facts; be ashamed that most other people don’t know, either, because these facts are hidden from us. While you’re at it, be ashamed of people who downplay these men just to remind us over and over that women have it worse. Most people find it amusing and empowering when a woman is attacking a man. Yet if that man were to fight back, a number of those same people would suddenly have a problem with it.
On the note of men being arrested, I have a story about that. When I was 15, I was out with a friend and pair of his friends. The two friends were a couple, and were having a very heated argument. The girl eventually punched the boy in the eye. My friend and I stood there laughing as he stumbled around, crying. Then we and the girl walked away and left him there.
My friend started making jokes about the punch, causing the girl to laugh. I looked back to see the boy rush past me, push the girl to the ground, and kick her once or twice before my friend pulled him away. My friend shouted things like “She’s a girl!” and “You can’t hit her!”
When things began to calm down, the police showed up. Two cops immediately went to this scrawny, 15-year-old boy, grabbed him, and held him against the trunk of the car to handcuff him while he was crying. Then they told the girl to get in the car.
That night, my friend told two of his neighbors what happened. He left out the part where the girl started it by punching her boyfriend in the eye. Without missing a beat, the neighbors said they’ll beat him up next time they see him.
No, the girl never got any repercussions for her actions. From what I heard, he spent the night at the police station.
Of course, abused males need a lot more than just feel-good songs and poetry. For example, there are only two all-male domestic violence shelters in all of America, compared to the thousands for women. It would be nice to open more men’s shelters. In the meantime, it wouldn't hurt to give them something to help them cope while destroying the belief that they don’t exist. It’s a great first step past being forced to suffer in silence while most people don’t see campaigns like HeForShe and End Violence Against Women as one-sided or sexist, yet a day that raises awareness of men’s mental health is the one that gets canceled for being one-sided and sexist.