Sexual abuse is an evil that does not see sex, race or stature. It can happen to anyone at any time. When you’re a firm believer in the concept of equality, it becomes imperative to acknowledge the plight of those that have been wronged. While it cannot be denied that women have been the wronged sex for far too long, it must be acknowledged that men, too are on the receiving end of brutalities.
Perhaps one of the more cruel ways in which this is done is by brushing off the idea that men can be victims of harassment, sexual abuse, or physical and mental torture. Thereby, it becomes necessary to state what should be avoided when talking to one such victim. Here are a few things you should never say to male victims:
1. “Men don’t get raped.”
Rukhsana Siddiqi, the survivors’ officer at War Against Rape has stated, “In Pakistan, it is unacceptable that someone can rape men. Men believe they are the strongest and they can hurt others but no one can hurt them.” With such a toxic mindset that perpetuates the notion that men cannot be raped, such comments are common. However, they are also untrue. You do not get to decide this. It’s as simple as that. Men get raped, women get raped. Transgenders get raped. It can happen to anyone.
2. “Men can’t be harassed.”
Yes, men can get harassed. Harassment is not confined to one gender. Anyone can face harassment for a myriad of reasons. And it’s never okay or justified. Nor is it okay to say this to someone who has suffered any form of harassment.
3. “You probably liked it.”
No, that’s really not how sexual abuse works. Consent is key. Yes, sexual abuse is a taboo topic. But to belittle someone’s pain and pass it off as pleasure – is that really justified?
4. “You should consider yourself lucky.”
How do you look a sexual abuse victim in the eye and joke out of their very legitimate pain? That doesn’t sound right, does it? Rukhsana Siddiqi has also gone on to state, “The number of reported cases of male rape is considerably less than cases of female rape.” Perhaps you play a role in this by downplaying the atrocity of such an incident.
5. “Anyone would want to switch places with you. They’d love it.”
Rape, assault, molestation, and harassment – these haunt you, should you happen to be a victim. No one asks for it, no one “loves” it.
6. “How can men even get raped? It’s not possible.”
Men being taken advantage of against their will is a very real phenomenon. If they have not consented to it or are forced into doing things they do not wish to – like many men are – it’s rape.
7. “You could have fought back.”
Being physically strong does not mean you can fight harassment or abuse of any kind. Things happen in the strangest ways. How do you expect child abuse victims to fight back?
8. “You probably didn’t say no.”
In an environment that has inculcated the mindset where no means yes, a man’s no can also be overlooked by many.
9. “Be a man.”
What does being a man have to do with sexual abuse? You can’t “man up” and make abuse go away. That’s not how it works.
10. “Get over it.”
This is just plain insensitive. Don’t say this. To anyone. Ever.
11. “No one will believe you.”
You have to believe whoever is opening up to you. Don’t discourage them from trying to get justice.
12. “You’ll be blamed for it in the end.”
Unfortunately, if a man is raped, one reason why he may choose to not speak up is the fear of being blamed.
13. “Aisa hota rehta hai.“
That’s the crux of the problem, isn’t it? Aisa hota rehta hai, aur hum honay detay hain. Shouldn’t we speak up for victims of harassment, molestation or sexual assault?
As a society, we must remember that evil does not discriminate. It can engulf anyone, any gender, any individual regardless of caste or creed. And we must extend help towards such individuals instead of subjecting them to ridicule.
What is your take on this? Let us know in the comments below.
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