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Sexual assault has happened to this many other guys, and almost nobody talks about it?

The title of this post is a quote from an article by Christian Weissman.

In the article, Chrisitan refers to waiting years before telling anyone about his abuse. I found it a bit ironic, given that Christian is much younger than the average man who opens up about abuse. (I’ve seen various references to it taking 30+ years, or the average age is in their 50s.)

I love that Christian told someone and got help earlier than the average. I did too. I first talked about it in my 20s. I spent much of my 20s dealing with major depression, dissociation, and making a mess of life. But I also spent much time in therapy and working on myself. It wasn’t always pretty, but by the time I was in my early thirties, I at least had a shot at making a decent and relatively healthy life for myself.

He also mentions something I suspect is true, but I haven’t seen any statistics. He says the number of male survivors is probably underreported because many men, especially CIS men, never discuss it. As a CIS man myself, that got my attention. I began to feel a little like a unicorn, the CIS man who talked about being sexually abused as a child in my twenties. That got me thinking back to why that happened.

As I reminisced, it occurred to me that I first told someone I had been abused because people in my life at the time were talking about it. I know that I didn’t even identify what happened as sexual abuse until I heard other people talk about the abuse they suffered. (Another common occurrence among male victims – not identifying abuse as abuse.)

I cannot overestimate how important this was for me. I identified my abuse, talked about it, and got help in my twenties because my female and gay friends talked about their abuse. They made it safer for the few CIS male survivors in our circle to share their experiences and understand that we were not alone. That sexual abuse is, sadly, way more common than we anticipated.

It pains me to know that so many survivors spend their adult lives in isolation and shame because they don’t know other survivors around them. This is why telling our stories when we can, is so important. No one should spend most of their adult life ashamed of surviving abuse. Those of us who are in a position to share our story and the statistics about abuse can change that. You can change that by sharing those stories and those statistics, shedding light on a subject we spend too much time trying to avoid. That light saves lives.

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