We are all affected by sexual violence. Chances are that someone close to you has been sexually abused or sexually assaulted. When men speak out about other men's violence, it is an important step towards stopping all forms of violence. This page has information for men about how sexual violence affects men, offers ways to decrease a man's chances of hurting someone else and lists a variety of organizations that men can get involved with to educate others about sexual violence prevention.
Men are sexually assaulted.
Our society doesn't like to think about it, and we don't like to talk about it, but the fact is that men can also be sexually victimized. Studies show that a staggering 10-20% of all males are sexually assaulted at some point in their lives. Men are not immune to the epidemic of sexual violence, nor are male survivors safe from the stigma that society attaches to victims of rape. Male survivors are often disbelieved, accused of being gay, or blamed for their own victimization when they report an incident of sexual assault. Frequently, they respond, as do most people who have been sexually assaulted, by remaining silent and suffering alone.
Sexual violence affects men's relationships with others.
Some people are sexually assaulted by strangers but the vast majority of sexual assault is committed by someone the victim knows, trusts, or even loves. While anyone can be a perpetrator of sexual assault, most often perpetrators are men. If someone you love has been abused or raped, they may have a hard time trusting men. Another man's violence can damage the relationships in your life. More subtle things can affect a person's ability to trust men as well, such as the fear of being raped, images of violence against women in the media and news stories about sexual assault.
Men know survivors.
At some point in a man's life, it is very likely that someone close to him will disclose that they are a survivor of sexual violence and ask for help. Men must be prepared to respond with care, sensitivity, compassion, and understanding. Ignorance about rape and its impact can only hinder the healing process and may even contribute to the survivor's feeling further victimized. A supportive male presence during a survivor's recovery, however, can be invaluable. Many survivors get help because of the love and support of boyfriends, brothers and fathers.
Men can stop sexual violence.
All men can play a vital role in stopping sexual violence by challenging rape supporting attitudes and behaviors and raising awareness about the damaging impact of sexual violence. Every time a man's voice joins those of women in speaking out against rape, the world becomes safer for us all.
(Adapted from Men Can Stop Rape, "Rape: A Men's Issue.")
Join Brown’s Sexual Assault Peer Education (SAPE) Program! In this program, Brown students are trained in a nationally recognized bystander intervention model, “Bringing in the Bystander.” Students then pair up and provide workshops to the Brown community about how to be a pro-social bystander and step in to stop sexual violence. Click here to learn more about SAPE and how to join the program.
10 more things men can do to prevent gender violence:
- Approach gender violence as a men’s issue involving men of all ages and socioeconomic, racial and ethnic backgrounds. Men can be empowered bystanders who confront abusive peers.
- If a brother, friend, classmate, or teammate is abusing his female partner -- or is disrespectful or abusive to women in general -- don't look the other way. If you feel comfortable doing so, try to talk to him about it. Urge him to seek help. If you don't know what to do, consult a friend, a parent, a professor, or a counselor. Don’t remain silent.
- Have the courage to look inward. Question your own attitudes. The reality is that we all have to go through a process of unlearning sexism. Try not to be defensive when something you do or say ends up hurting someone else. Try hard to understand how your own attitudes and actions might inadvertently perpetuate sexism and violence, and work toward changing them.
- If you suspect that a woman close to you is being abused or has been sexually assaulted, gently ask if you can help.
- If you are emotionally, psychologically, physically, or sexually abusive to women, or have been in the past, seek professional help now. You can call Counseling and Psychological Services at 401.863-3476 to speak with a therapist and get help.
- Be an ally to women who are working to end all forms of gender violence. Support the work of campus-based women's centers. Attend "Take Back the Night" rallies and other public events. Raise money for community-based rape crisis centers and battered women's shelters. If you belong to a team, fraternity or another student group, organize a fundraiser.
- Recognize and speak out against homophobia and gay-bashing. Discrimination and violence against lesbians and gays are wrong in and of themselves. This abuse also has direct links to sexism. For example, the sexual orientation of men who speak out against sexism is often questioned, a conscious or unconscious strategy intended to silence them. This is a key reason why so few men speak out.
- Learn as much as you can. Listen to survivors' stories. Attend programs, take courses, watch films, and read articles and books about multicultural masculinities, gender inequality, and the root causes of gender violence. Educate yourself and others about how larger social forces affect the conflicts between individual men and women.
- Don't fund sexism. Refuse to purchase any magazine, rent any video, subscribe to any web site, or buy any music that portrays girls or women in a sexually degrading or abusive manner. Protest sexism in the media.
- Mentor and teach young boys about how to be men in ways that don't involve degrading or abusing girls and women. Volunteer to work with gender violence prevention programs, including anti-sexist men's programs. Lead by example.
Developed by Jackson Katz, founder of the Mentors in Violence Prevention Program.
Men need to be aware of language they use. Words are very powerful, especially when spoken by people with power over others. We live in a society in which words are often used to put women down, where calling a girl or woman a "bitch," "freak," "whore," "baby," or "dog" is common. Such language sends a message that females are less than fully human. When men see women as inferior, it becomes easier to treat them with less respect, disregard their rights, and ignore their well-being.
Communicate with your partner. Sexual violence often goes hand in hand with poor communication. Our discomfort with talking honestly and openly about sex dramatically raises the risk of hurting someone. By learning effective sexual communication, establishing consent -- stating your desires clearly, listening to your partner, and asking when the situation is unclear -- men make sex safer for themselves and others. Follow this link for more information about the issue of consent.
Men Can Stop Rape
This program empowers male youth and the institutions that serve them to work as allies with women in preventing rape and other forms of men's violence. Through awareness-to-action education and community organizing, they promote gender equity and build men's capacity to be strong without being violent. This site offers information on men's involvement in the prevention of sexual assault and describes their media campaign, "My Strength Is Not For Hurting."
Men Stopping Violence
MSV is a social change organization dedicated to ending men's violence against women. This program offers trainings and resources that examine sexist belief systems, social structures, and institutional practices that oppress women and children and dehumanize men themselves. On this site you can find articles on why men batter, information on how to work towards ending violence against women, and information on MSV training dates and resource materials.
Men's Resource Center
This organization offers a program that works with men who have used physical, emotional, verbal, economic or sexual abuse as a means to control their partners. On this site you can find a variety of resources available for men who are sexual assault offenders.
Disclaimer: BWell Health Promotion is part of Health Services at Brown University. Health Promotion maintains this site as a resource for Brown students. This site is not intended to replace consultation with your medical providers. No site can replace real conversation. Health Promotion offers no endorsement of and assumes no liability for the currency, accuracy, or availability of the information on the sites we link to or the care provided by the resources listed. Health Services staff are available to treat and give medical advice to Brown University students only. If you are not a Brown student, but are in need of medical assistance please call your own health care provider or in case of an emergency, dial 911. Please contact us if you have comments, questions or suggestions.