“THE VOICELESS” Male Rape Victims

“THE VOICELESS”

Male Rape Victims

Amos Lassen

According to the 2014 National Crime Victimization Survey, 38% of rape victims are male and one in six males is sexually assaulted before the age of 18. We see that sexual violence does not discriminate against men.” Vanessa McNeal’s “The Voiceless” examines the stigma associated with male rape. We meet five men share who their accounts of being sexually assaulted and how they coped with a situation that is still considered by many to be taboo.

Some of the men kept this to themselves for years, some ran away from home and some turned to violence and joined gangs. Despite their different backgrounds and strategies for coping, all five have one thing in common and that is that none of them received justice for what was done to them. McNeal says that our society maintains that sexual violence can’t and won’t happen to men.

We see that sexual violence doesn’t discriminate gender wise and it does not care about gender and/or race. The five men we meet come from completely different walks of life. McNeal looks at the taboos and stereotypes that haunt male survivors, as well as issues that masculinity and that keeps men from coming forward. McNeal noted some similarities between male and female survivors. For both groups, the guilt and shame that follows sexual assault, as well as the traumatic experiences that victims go through and we see that men are often neglected in this conversation. 

“One of those survivors, Ivan, is a former Iowa State track athlete and Iowa State graduate. During his youth in Africa, he was molested multiple times by a babysitter at a young age. His experience with sexual assault didn’t end when he moved to the United States. Here, he was sexually assaulted again by a young girl who lived in his neighborhood. In the film, Ivan discusses how sexual assault affected the way he viewed masculinity, women and relationships, and about the importance of telling someone. 

Caleb, a graduate student at the University of Nebraska-Omaha, told about being sexually assaulted by a co-worker later in his life. He viewed his assailant as a father figure who used their relationship and alcohol to take advantage of him. Caleb’s experience led him to self-harm until police intervention made him seek help. However, legal barriers and victim blaming caused the case against his perpetrator to be dismissed.  He was bitter and angry but has chosen to tell his story to help to show the truth about the myths and stereotypes that surround male sexual assault.

Jassim who grew up in Saudi Arabia, where of homophobia and silence makes sexual assault unlike any country in the world. Since the time he was a child, Jassim was molested countless times. He’s been the victim of more than one kidnapping where he was assaulted, often by multiple men, all of which went unreported. Had this happened here it would have been seen as a small incident here in the United States, to his community, it was nothing more than a small incident. In most of Saudi Arabian culture, there is easier access for men to violate men than to violate women. For Jassim, being a part of this film could put his life in danger if he goes back to his home country, as any homosexual acts, consensual or not, can result in a death sentence. Nonetheless, Jassim believes that almost everyone in his home country has experienced sexual violence.

Dakota is a graduate student at the University of Northern Iowa and he shares his experiencing sexual violence as a gay man. During the first semester of college, Dakota began a relationship with another student. At the time, Dakota was still questioning his sexuality, so he kept the relationship quiet. After a few months, a Valentine’s Day date ended back at the man’s apartment, where they decided to have sex. Dakota, however, became uncomfortable and, after his pleas to stop went ignored, what was to have been consensual sex became rape.  

Finally, Will, an activist from Des Monies who works with police and youth shares that he was molested by his stepfather when he was young. He discusses how his experiences made him feel angry, afraid and unsafe in his home. Will turned to gang life and lived off the streets as a young adult, until his friend was shot during a gang fight. That same experience saw Will on the wrong side of a gun as well, only to be saved when the gun jammed. What we hear time and again is “I just wanted to run away and get away from everything. There just did not seem to be anywhere to go”.

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