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Unthinkable

Male victims of sexual assault face an uncertain future

The Battalion

Published: Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 21:07

unthinkable

Graphics by Jorge Montalvo and Osa Okundaye

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Graphics by Jorge Montalvo and Osa Okundaye

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Graphics by Jorge Montalvo and Osa Okundaye

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Graphics by Jorge Montalvo and Osa Okundaye

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Graphics by Jorge Montalvo and Osa Okundaye

“While most kids weren’t even aware of the differences between boys and girls, I was being sexually abused,” Gary said. “This led to a feeling of isolation and shame. It messes with how you see sex and how you value yourself as a person.”

Men are often forgotten within the realm of sexual assault and, as a result, run a risk of experiencing higher levels of trauma and disgrace. However, Gary found solace in confiding about his experience with counselors. Following a break up with his girlfriend during his freshman year, Gary decided to visit the University’s Student Counseling Center.

“Eventually, it is absolutely necessary that those who experienced abuse speak to a licensed counselor,” Gary said. “They are highly trained to help sexual abuse survivors and are great at aiding the healing process. The Student Counseling Center was a great resource for me.”

Lingering pain

Though Gary no longer receives counseling, echoes of his abuse still resonate through his life.

“My main issue has been that I frequently have flashbacks to my abuse,” Gary said. “These mainly happen when I see kids that are around the age that I was when I was abused. I am scared for them when I think that kids that age are still the targets of sexual abuse. I am not under the illusion that I am some sort of special case.”

While the rate of prevalence is difficult to determine, the National Center for Juvenile Justice reports that one out of every seven victims of sexual assault is under the age of 6. Because nearly 73 percent of child victims do not tell anyone about their abuse for at least a year, it is estimated that as many as a quarter of a million children are sexually abused in the U.S. each year.

Child victims of sexual assault are forced to carry the psychological baggage of what happened to them for their entire lives. Clinical case studies have shown that children who suffered sexual abuse are more likely to experience negative self-image, substance abuse, problems with intimacy and future sexual  dysfunctions.

“I want to tell the people that sexually prey on women and young children that they have no idea how much their actions deeply affect someone for the rest of their lives,” Gary said.

“From the basic ability to relate to others to being able to foster romantic relationships, your actions have hindered some very profound aspects of a person’s life with hurt and shame.”

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