Once a year, men have the opportunity to drop societal expectations (and their razors) and live life a little hairier for a good cause. Perhaps you’ve heard of it: “No Shave November,” a month where men are encouraged to spend a month growing their facial hair to evoke conversations surrounding cancer awareness. Here at We Will, we would like to play off of this popular and important movement and introduce "No Shame November," a month we are focusing on ensuring male survivors can live a life free of shame from their sexual assault.
Reports suggest that as many as one in six men have experienced sexual assault in their lifetime. Shockingly, this estimate may be low, as only 16% of men with a sexual abuse history documented by a trained social worker considered themselves to have experienced sexual abuse. This means that 84% of males who were sexually assaulted did not definitively know what they experienced was sexual assault. The result? Millions of sexual assaults committed against males go undocumented every year. This number is likely even higher for trans men, as studies suggest that transgender individuals are even more likely to experience sexual assault, and may not have the support system to facilitate reporting that assault, even if they would like to do so.
Oftentimes, men who experience sexual assault may be too ashamed to report their experiences because society traditionally encourages males to be strong and sexual assault survivors unfortunately aren't always seen this way. Instead, society sometimes wrongly views survivors as weak. In reality, and in the experience of all We Will volunteers, survivors are some of the strongest individuals we know.
Further, because sexual assault is so often discussed only from a female perspective, many men do not believe they can be part of the conversation. Male survivors are equally deserving and in need of support.
Our mission is to teach all individuals to recognize sexual assault and to support survivors of every background, but reports will never correctly reflect the true scope of males experiencing sexual assault until the narrative changes.
You, male, female, transgender, or non-binary, are not less for what you have experienced. It doesn’t make you less masculine, less feminine, or less you. You did not deserve to experience your assault, but you can heal.
This year, please consider joining us over at @we.will.organization for “No Shame November,” a month in which we will focus on flipping the script on sexual assault. There is no shame, no matter your gender, in admitting you have been sexually assaulted. This isn’t just a problem for women. It’s a people problem, a human problem, and we can fix it together.