We’ve talked about female sexual abuse in the past – simply because the prevalence of the same made it impossible to leave the issue untouched any longer. However, male sexual abuse cannot and should not be ignored under any circumstances. It is as real an issue and one that needs its due share of importance.
The Express Tribune carried out a survey in 2016. Questions asking about whether men had ever been assaulted or abused and regarding the age of the incident were posed to their readers. The results of the same were quite horrifying.
Further questions revealed more details…
…the results of which were equally heartwrenching.
Yes, there were only 927 respondents. This doesn’t even begin to account for the countless men who go through this turmoil behind closed doors, silenced forevermore because there is a blatant denial of male rape and abuse in the first place. However, male sexual abuse is an ugly truth – one that can no longer be brushed under the carpet.
It is thus that we reached out to male victims of sexual assault or harassment, asking them about how they came to terms with what happened to them. The first individual we reached out to was 27-year-old Hamza,* a med school graduate.
“I must have been 9-years-old when it happened,” recounts Hamza. “We’d go to my uncle’s place and my elder cousin would whisk me away into a room while the elders chatted. I didn’t understand what was happening to me, why it hurt or why I felt filthy once it was over. He would smile and tell me to never speak about it. He stayed silent. I did not. When I understood what had transpired years later, I mustered up the courage to tell my father. That was the only time I saw helplessness in his eyes. What would we have done about it?”
However, Hamza turned his wounds into an armor, and actively decided to help those who were unfortunate enough to suffer from the safe fate.
“I kept it all inside me for way too long. Perhaps my silence was part of why we couldn’t do much about what had happened. I’m not silent any longer, though. I’m vocal about this and I want to help other victims in any way that I can.”
23-year-old Adil*, too, shared his experience.
“I was 13 when my cousin first showed himself to me on the terrace, forcing me to do the same. I went back in, but he’d creep in during every night stay. I was a small child, I couldn’t stand up for myself. It went on for a while till his mom saw, told my mom and I was blamed for it all. I’ve never confronted him about it. I avoid going there now. He acts like it never happened.”
Though Adil remains traumatized by what happened, he has helped create pages on Facebook where victims can share their stories.
Jafar*, a 19-year-old Media Studies student also shared what he went through.
“I used to love and respect my aunt a lot. She would dote on me in front of my mother when we went to her place. She lived alone and was unmarried. When my mom left me with her at times while at work, she would touch me inappropriately, or have me do the same. I always felt highly uncomfortable. When my mother came back, I would cry so that we’d leave. However, I could never tell her that her sister is a predator. What sickens me is that she was a public school teacher and used to be around children all the time. I hope she never did the same in school.”
Jafar never told anyone, but hopes to pursue Journalism to lay bare such atrocities in our society.
The stories of these male victims of sexual abuse are harrowing and sickening. However, they’re in front of us – a reality that cannot be denied.
Like Hamza, Adil and Jafar, there are countless other boys and men who have kept their stories within them for all these years. We may not know their stories, but we must acknowledge that their pain is real and legitimate. It is imperative that male victims be allowed to vent and heal, lest they implode under the burden of their traumatizing memories.
What do you have to say about this? Share your thoughts in the comments.
*Names have been changed to protect identities.
Cover image via shutterstock.com