**This post was originally written in 2013 and updated in July, 2018
Someone asked recently if, in addition to writing about women’s issues, I also write about men’s sexual abuse.
I don’t (though I’ve had male guests here on the blog to share their stories). I’m a nonfiction writer of essays, poetry, and prose based on my experiences (and business articles on author marketing and social media at BadRedheadMedia.com). As I’m a woman, I have no personal experience with being a male sexual abuse survivor. I can empathize as a survivor, certainly, yet not as a male.
This seems fairly obvious, but I guess it’s not. And he had an agenda — to publicize his cause: to give men the same type of press women ‘get.’ To minimize what these women (and others) experience, to make it ‘fair.’
Nothing about sexual abuse if fair, ever. Why blame survivors for surviving? Yet this happens all the time.
I completely support the fact that all victims of sexual abuse need to be heard. This is why I started #SexAbuseChat back in 2013, and SpeakOurStories in 2015. I understand where his anger comes from. Another part of me is though, frankly, kinda pissed off.
Abuse of any kind is horrific, particularly when sexual, it involves children, and especially if it’s over a long period of time. In this particular case, I was referring to the Castro kidnappings, rape, and abuse. Hearing about what those girls in Ohio (released in 2013) survived just reinforces what an issue sexual abuse of women is. I was dismayed when someone on Facebook wrote: how could they not have escaped over the course of ten years? There were so many issues in gaining freedom, fear and terror for each other and the child chief among them, as well as further punishment by their captor if caught. To suggest they didn’t try hard enough makes me so angry (not that this person intended that). It’s simply my reaction.
**These stories we read daily, particularly since the #MeToo Movement began last October crush my heart, yet I’m encouraged that people are bravely coming forward. Our brains can protect us for decades — this collective consciousness is moving us forward toward healing.
If you question why people wait, educate yourself. Neuroscience explains so much about the brain and trauma.
Why? In my own situation, I was a child (age 11 to 12) who lived next door to my own personal hell. The man who threatened to kill my family if I told. Who said he’d shoot us all in our sleep. Why would I NOT believe him? As a military officer, he carried a gun.
Assumptions are a terrible thing. To assume these women didn’t try to escape over that long period of a time is to assume they were happy to be there or didn’t try hard enough to get away — obviously, we know that’s not the case.
I can understand that feeling of utter helplessness, confusion, and terror — something most people thankfully will never experience. Sadly, many will — and have. The latest statistics show that 1 in 6 women will be sexually assaulted over their lifetime. 80% under the age of 18 (source: RAINN).
Men certainly have their own issues to deal with regarding sexual abuse (societal pressures, etc), and just because it doesn’t happen as often (or maybe it does but isn’t reported or make the news as much) doesn’t make it any less horrific for the victims. 1 in 33 (again, RAINN) men will be abused. My heart bleeds for anyone who has suffered, and many men have reached out to me after reading my books, tweets, articles, and posts with their own terrible stories.
I write about my experiences and how they have affected me. I had no knowledge (back in the 70s) of anyone close to me experiencing this — male or female — so the whole situation was particularly isolating. It’s only through research and years of therapy that I’ve learned so much more about it.
To write about how men feel would be disingenuous of me and would appropriate their experiences, which would be incredibly disrespectful of me — which is why I’ve given amazing men like Paul Gilmartin, Casey Ryan, and Garry Rodgers my platform to share their experiences.
Men do need advocates for their stories — no question. Someone who regularly treats these cases, who has been through it themselves, or who has knowledge from a therapeutic standpoint — something I’m not qualified to do.
I wasn’t upset with this fella — he’s simply trying to advance his cause. Men feel marginalized. They suffer just as terribly as women. Sadly, the fact that women are more often victims creates this situation. And doubly sad is that our system of justice is ill-prepared to deal with these crimes and society judges men for not being able to ‘man up’ is ridiculous and dumb — yet is the reality for guys.
Let’s be allies for and with one another. Is this possible?
My only issue is with his approach — and he’s just one example. I shared an article the other day about what a woman experienced and finally, after decades of suffering, finally bravely came forward. One guy’s response: Men suffer, too, you know. It’s not just women.
Total dismissal and minimization. No empathy, no acknowledgment, no compassion. I didn’t respond because I was so angry. Aren’t we better than this?
It’s not a competition. Our abuse isn’t worse than their abuse. It’s not us versus them. It’s all bad. I understand and accept also that my experiences color my reactions. I share my truth, not anyone else’s. It’s all part of dealing with our own personal traumas.
Just because some people write about difficult topics doesn’t mean they are purposefully ignoring other populations. One voice is what this collective ‘we’ contributes.
Hopefully, many voices together will create a change.
Do you need help right now? Contact RAINN.org (all genders) or 1in6.org (for men).
RachelintheOC (@RomPromoCentral) saysMay 13, 2013 at 8:51 am
#MondayBlogs Sexual Abuse Is Not A Competition http://t.co/xNXs3tmmFh
Julia Park Tracey saysMay 13, 2013 at 9:00 am
Excellent and important point.
Will Van Stone Jr saysMay 13, 2013 at 9:22 am
His question intrigues me as it’s one I’ve never been asked. I write about male sexual abuse in my fiction and on my site (“The Boy”) and have never been asked if I’d write about female sexual abuse. I wonder why that is.
RachelintheOC saysMay 13, 2013 at 9:58 am
I’m glad you write about it, Will. That’s such a great step in giving sexual assault victims a voice.
I don’t know why I’ve been asked that. I find that many times female writers are asked such questions whereas males are not. In fact, reviews overall (not just of my work) show that women can be accused of exploiting their situations to make money, whereas men are applauded for their bravery. Not always, of course. But I’ve seen it and wonder just as you do why that is.
Thanks for sharing, reading, and commenting. xo
Rachel Thompson (@RachelintheOC) saysMay 13, 2013 at 9:23 am
Sexual Abuse Is Not A Competition http://t.co/KjExnJSdBL I am but one voice. Hopefully, many voices will create change.
Paul DeBaufer saysMay 13, 2013 at 9:35 am
I am sorry for the abuse you have suffered. I am sorry for the abuse anyone has suffered.
I was molested as a child by no less than three different people. Then as an adolescent was trafficked (thought it cool at the time, not realizing the negative impact on my life until later in adulthood).
Men’s stories need to be told. But asking you to tell those stories isn’t right. You are correct, authors write about what they know. It is only natural for you to write about the abuses suffered by women, because you are a woman survivor. It wouldn’t be natural for you to extend to writing about abuse suffered by men. What is needed is a man survivor to write about his and other men’s abuses.
I was at a Celebrate Recovery a few years ago, in a men’s small group. There are many men who have suffered emotional and physical abuse in their adult relationships. So many afraid to say anything. We sat around quiet until one guy cranked up the courage to talk about his. Over the next few weeks, the stories poured out.
Just as when women have the courage to tell their survivor stories empowers other women to tell theirs, men need to do the same thing. When one begins, more will join. Soon an author will take up the task like you, and others, have done for women.
RachelintheOC saysMay 13, 2013 at 9:56 am
Thank you for sharing your stories, Paul. You are brave and I applaud you.
I appreciate your perspective on this subject. It’s one that is coming to light for men in a way it hasn’t before and I’m so glad men are getting help and speaking up. All victims of sexual abuse feel shame, and we shouldn’t. It’s part of dealing with it all and learning to be a survivor, not a victim.
Hugs to you, fella.
Anonymous saysJune 21, 2018 at 1:52 pm
If the above “victim” is Paul J DeBaufer… my sympathy lacks as he went on to become a molester himself and is listed on megan’s law.
He takes pride in thinking he is more intelligent than everyone around him and is manipulating. He is constantly surrounding himself with children and potential victims. He worked for a church where he ran the youth program and was putting together a slide show and all parents were directed to send pictures and videos to this excuse of a man. I wanted to scream!!! I lived in fear of this man my entire life and have wished for his death for years. Trafficked? What happened to your daughter Paul? The one The was SOLD or traded to be ruined her entire life?
Rachel Thompson saysJuly 1, 2018 at 5:37 pm
You know, I wrote this post five years ago — wow. No, the person who commented isn’t who you mentioned at all. I’m sorry you’ve had such a horrible experience. It’s not surprising a pedophile would run a church youth group — they tend to ingratiate themselves with parents and teens alike to find easy access. It’s sickening.
I wish you healing and hope you find mental health support. RAINN.org is a great place to start. xx
Janie Junebug saysMay 13, 2013 at 9:56 am
Blaming the victim upsets me so much. I’ve been subjected to it, and so has my daughter.
RachelintheOC saysMay 13, 2013 at 10:03 am
Thanks for reading and sharing, Janie.
I guess, in this instance, I tried not to take it personally and see his perspective. If I were a man, how would I feel knowing that women receive the majority of news coverage regarding crimes and awareness? It would be frustrating, no doubt.
His anger or dismay at the fact that I don’t write about men’s sexual abuse was misplaced, almost accusatory. Empathy is what’s needed, and action. Not blame.
hugs to you and your daughter. xo
Janie Junebug saysMay 13, 2013 at 1:33 pm
Women receive more coverage because they are attacked more often — or at least they are more willing to report what’s happened to them. As for your writing, it truly is important to write what you know, and to know that you can’t save the world. It’s a shame he was angry with you. It might help him if he wrote about his experiences (if he doesn’t already).
RachelintheOC saysMay 13, 2013 at 4:01 pm
Good point, Janie. Just as I came to terms with it, so must he. Writing about it helps, if for no other reason than so people know they’re not alone.
@Kathleen01930 saysMay 13, 2013 at 10:25 am
#MondayBlogs Sexual Abuse Is Not A Competition http://t.co/OTs2IUy1DM
R.S. Guthrie (@rsguthrie) saysMay 13, 2013 at 11:25 am
Well-said, well-explained, and well-addressed. Also with the compassion that I personally know lives in your heart for everyone, not even just sexual abuse victims. Your point about it not being a competition is as salient (and necessary) as ever. I, too, feel for you, any woman, any man, or any child, who is dealing with abuse. Mental, physical, sexual. Some two-legged creatures walking this earth don’t deserve the nomenclature “human”.
Thanks for all you do, Red, for the advocacy of others through your own personal sharing. Love ya and all you stand for.
R.S. Guthrie (@rsguthrie) saysMay 13, 2013 at 11:26 am
P.S. Even the sassy, snarky parts. 😉
RachelintheOC saysMay 13, 2013 at 12:56 pm
RachelintheOC saysMay 13, 2013 at 12:52 pm
Wow, thanks honey. I appreciate your kind words more than you know.
I understand the need for people to get their word out there — and I’m not judging anyone who works on behalf of sexual abuse victims. It’s a pervasive problem in many societies, and the horrors — well, it’s unfathomable what people do to others.
But there’s also good in the world and that’s my message — that and each one of us makes all of us stronger.
Julia R Barrett (@JuliaRBarrett) saysMay 13, 2013 at 11:37 am
Sexual Abuse Is Not A Competition http://t.co/VB3LzQTA7y via @BadRedheadMedia
Dee saysMay 13, 2013 at 12:16 pm
When writing non-fictional first person accounts, you write what you know. That doesn’t exclude others, it merely caters to what you have personal experience with. To write about others would be idiocy and you would lose credibility IMO. I understand men don’t receive the same press, and maybe they should, but you can’t negate or take away from someone else’s account because of that. Abuse is horrendous in any form. Blaming victims for getting press is miss-placed. Direct the anger toward those responsible, those who decide what makes news and what doesn’t. I would add that males get attention in the media. Points in case? All of the church scandals and the recent university coach scandal…perception is everything.
I was abused from the time I was 2 until I was 17, multiple people involved. It tends gives a person a unique perspective and possibly makes one less disposed in a way, to be empathetic to others who have suffered abuse if the perception is that it wasn’t “that bad.” I’ve come to the conclusion that all abuse in whatever form leads to the abuser taking more and more permissions to do more and more vile things to others. It is the nature of abuse.
RachelintheOC saysMay 13, 2013 at 12:56 pm
I can’t even imagine what you’ve been through. That you’re such a wonderful person shows just how much you personally have triumphed over your experiences.
And you’re absolutely right: the perception that it wasn’t ‘that bad,’ or in my case, that the other victims ‘were abused more extensively,’ takes away from the trauma of the sufferer. People don’t mean to be that way — I think it’s more of a coping mechanism. But when it turns to abusing others because of it? Nope. Not okay. Not an excuse. Even abusers know what they’re doing is wrong.
Big hugs to you my friend!
Lisa McFerren (@Lisas_alter_ego) saysMay 13, 2013 at 12:19 pm
Sexual Abuse Is Not A Competition http://t.co/eehzCbwtz3 via @RachelintheOC
@Beyond_Survivor saysMay 13, 2013 at 2:33 pm
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Rachel Thompson (@RachelintheOC) saysMay 13, 2013 at 4:40 pm
#MondayBlogs Sexual Abuse Is Not A Competition http://t.co/KkjOrK00er Empathy for victims needed, not blame. Plz read, share, comment
IndieBookPromos (@indiebookpromos) saysMay 13, 2013 at 6:15 pm
#MondayBlogs Sexual Abuse Is Not A Competition http://t.co/ElMN0e7K0n Empathy for victims needed, not blame. Plz read, share, comment.
@BarnestormJohn saysMay 13, 2013 at 7:37 pm
There. She. Goes – @RachelintheOC – making perfect, compassionate sense. Sexual Abuse Is Not A Competition http://t.co/sVDWUcTzNI
Jen Brass Jenkins (@chrliechaz) saysMay 13, 2013 at 8:41 pm
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Laura M. Kolar (@lmkolar1) saysMay 14, 2013 at 1:32 am
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Nick Papageorgio (@NickPapaG) saysMay 14, 2013 at 6:40 am
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Bev (@PubEditMedia) saysMay 14, 2013 at 8:35 am
[email protected]: Sexual Abuse Is Not A Competition http://t.co/eBSNyeYqip I am but one voice. Hopefully, many voices will create change.
Ardee Eichelmann saysMay 14, 2013 at 9:03 am
Well written Rachel! I could say more but it is probably best that I not unless it is in private. Hugs, Ardee-ann
Ardee-ann Eichelmann (@ardee_sagemoon) saysMay 14, 2013 at 9:04 am
Sexual Abuse Is Not A Competition http://t.co/JsJeAJt6hd
Cate Russell-Cole (@cateartios) saysMay 14, 2013 at 12:44 pm
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Ryan Brooks (@ThePoetPyronius) saysMay 15, 2013 at 6:26 am
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Rachel Thompson (@RachelintheOC) saysMay 15, 2013 at 2:20 pm
Sexual Abuse Is Not A Competition http://t.co/UmFUphGl6U Empathy is what’s needed for victims, not blame. Plz read, share, comment
Rachel Thompson (@RachelintheOC) saysMay 15, 2013 at 5:16 pm
Sexual Abuse Is Not A Competition http://t.co/BMYQFyVhMl
Malia Mallory (@MaliaMallory) saysMay 16, 2013 at 6:17 am
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Raine Thomas (@Raine_Thomas) saysMay 16, 2013 at 7:45 am
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Monday Blogs (@MondayBlogs) saysMay 16, 2013 at 4:20 pm
Sexual Abuse Is Not A Competition http://t.co/e5cU4zd89g Empathy is what’s needed for victims, not blame. Plz read, share, comment
IndieBookPromos (@indiebookpromos) saysMay 16, 2013 at 6:55 pm
Sexual Abuse Is Not A Competition http://t.co/mvA4dmKTHp Empathy for victims needed, not blame. Plz read, share, comment.
RachelintheOC (@EroticRomPromo) saysMay 16, 2013 at 7:01 pm
Sexual Abuse Is Not A Competition http://t.co/pDWJpTLJkT Empathy for victims needed, not blame. Plz read, share, comment.
Lorca Damon (@LorcaDamon) saysMay 17, 2013 at 7:14 am
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@CapitalKatie saysMay 17, 2013 at 8:37 am
Powerful. RT @RachelintheOC Sexual Abuse Is Not A Competition http://t.co/4mVnukhGUP #sexualabuse #women #men Plz read, THEN comment.
IndieBookPromos (@indiebookpromos) saysMay 17, 2013 at 9:45 am
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Rachel Thompson (@BadRedheadMedia) saysMay 19, 2013 at 10:50 am
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Rachel Thompson (@RachelintheOC) saysMay 20, 2013 at 1:40 pm
#MondayBlogs Sexual Abuse Is Not A Competition http://t.co/RY6qiJNv7k Empathy for victims needed, not blame. Plz read, share, comment.
Jen Brass Jenkins (@chrliechaz) saysMay 20, 2013 at 4:27 pm
yes>>“@RachelintheOC: #MondayBlogs Sexual Abuse Is Not A Competition http://t.co/73yKkoQoFj Empathy for victims needed, not blame.
James Landrith saysJune 5, 2013 at 8:41 am
Rachel, I am a male rape survivor of a female rapist who used a drugged drink and later a threat to force compliance. I write often about male survivors and female predators. I’ve actually been asked to NOT write about female predators. A female therapist emailed and informed that as a woman it was hard to read about female rapists. So rather than read something else, she’d rather I only write about male on male or male on female rape. I’ve never understood why someone would be so opposed to the idea that a woman could be predatory to the point of attempting to silence what little is said about it in the open. I write what I know or I do the research necessary to cover other subjects.
RachelintheOC saysJune 6, 2013 at 1:10 pm
James, thank you for reading and sharing your horrific tale. I’m so sorry you’ve had to experience that, first off; secondly, shame on the female therapist. Clearly those are her issues, not yours.
You are a voice for many men and I’m glad you’re there as an advocate to give a voice. That’s so honest and brave of you. Hugs!
Tara Weng saysJune 17, 2013 at 4:39 am
I agree not a competition. I question the numbers however (as I do with most reported statistics). I question whether or not more men are not reporting their abuse as children and even as adults. From a geographical perspective, living near Boston, there have been a growing number of men who report having been abused by clergy as children. Will these numbers grow? Will more men feel comfortable reporting the abuse now that the media (other men) have given it more credence? I am empathetic for all who have suffered through this abuse and have had the courage to come forward in their way. It does take courage. I appreciate your take on this and for shedding light on the topic in general, in my opinion it is still shrouded in mystery, shame.
RachelintheOC saysJune 18, 2013 at 10:15 am
Thanks, Tara! You’re absolutely correct — fewer men come forward, so the stats will reflect that.
However, the tide is turning. More men than ever are coming forward and sharing their stories in order to get the help they need and inspire others to do the same.
I imagine a year or two from now, the numbers will still be skewed higher for women but maybe not to the same extent. Thanks for reading and commenting!