Oprah and Tyler Perry Give Male Abuse Victims a Voice

by d

Oprah Winfrey dared speak the truth of her sexual abuse many years ago, giving millions of women permission to acknowledge their abuse. Today (Nov. 5) and next Friday (Nov. 12), Oprah has chosen to join forces with Tyler Perry to open doors for another huge group who need understanding and healing for the sexual abuse they’ve suffered: men. I honor the bravery and genius of Oprah and Tyler, who both dared to dream that they could help men heal by creating a safe enough place to tell their stories.

The sheer numbers of male survivors are staggering; according to most researchers, one in six men has been sexually abused by age 18. The estimates go up to one in four when you add in victims of covert non-contact abuse. Our culture teaches men to keep their abuse secret for many complex reasons. They learn that they aren’t supposed to be vulnerable; they learn they should be in control, so it’s impossible to be a victim; they might wrongly blame themselves for leading someone on; many mistakenly fear their abuse makes them gay or less masculine.

I wasn’t able to watch Friday’s episode, but I want to promote the next one. This is an incredibly important issue. Men face their own set of challenges when it comes to being abused, particularly sexually. Women have learned to become more vocal, but men are still encouraged to say nothing.

This comment over on the OP made me shake my head:

Travis B. [link]

I don’t understand the assumption that it will be better for men to go *public* with stories of their abuse. Telling a therapist, sure — the benefits to that are pretty obvious. Telling an intimate partner also could be a good idea.

But telling the world? Why is this *assumed* to be a good idea?

Thankfully, someone gave an excellent response:

NancyStories [link]

Because the cultural silence and shame about this topic is a major contributing factor to the prevalence of sexual abuse and assault. We don’t know how widespread a problem it is because we are conditioned that these things shouldn’t be spoken of publicly. Which leaves each survivor to believe we are alone in the experience.

I believe that molestation is one of those things you can’t truly understand unless it has happened to you. You can sympathize, but you cannot know. People like Travis prove this.

Movements like Take Back the Night have long understood the importance of breaking the silence. I attended my college’s first-ever TBTN event, a march around the neighborhood followed by an open mic, where anyone could come up to speak. It was one of the most intense, shattering experiences of my life. People I knew, strangers, stepping forward to share their experiences. You could see how it helped them. And it helped me to better understand what they go through. It helped me to recognize signs of abuse that I have allowed to slip by me.

I hope the upcoming Oprah show gets record ratings.


6 Responses to “Oprah and Tyler Perry Give Male Abuse Victims a Voice”

  1. I am blogging about this post on my blog…

  2. This is very true. Men are taught that these things do not happen to them. They have to be strong, men can’t cry, men can’t be victims of sexual abuse, etc. Another thing that often goes unsaid is that women can sexually abuse and/or molest boys and, yes, grown men. This is something that often can be viewed as even worse than being abused by a man. Not only were you abused sexually, you were abused by a chick. How pathetic is that? You’re THAT weak? A man might be understood. Maybe he was bigger or stronger than you or something. But, a woman?

    Sexual abuse and molestation is very serious, no matter who it is happening to. Women are learning that the only way to really get the word out is to not keep quiet about it, and we should also make it safe for men to do the same. It’s more than time.

    I’m glad that people are finally doing with Oprah and Tyler Perry have paired up to do. This silence has to stop, it helps no one except the abusers.

  3. A very important blog post.
    Too many people – male and female – around the globe are abused at this very moment….
    Thanks for sharing.

  4. I want to write a post about the continued abuse of boys by catholic priests and the coverups by the Vatican. A recent case (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/11/13/will-lynch-to-shame-pries_n_783121.html) has exemplified what can happen when years of repressed rage concludes in shocking violence.

    It’s tough to speak out against such crimes and a) have religious & public opinion against you and b) have to fight an institution that will fight to the death to prevent themselves from ever having to suffer the consequences of such unspeakable indignities.


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