Take a snapshot in your mind of a little boy.
Let’s say that the little boy is about 4 years old. We will name him Will.
Will was playing outside one day and he strayed too close to a suspicious-looking van. Will is then kidnaped. Horrible things are done to Will that we will not put into words.
He is found in the park where he was supposed to be playing. His family takes him to the hospital. Will receives treatment.
This isn’t the end of the story for Will. This is only the beginning.
The Statistics of Will’s Sexual Assault
Did you know that, according to National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC), 1-in-6 boys will be sexually abused before they turn 18 years old?
Did you know that, according to NSVRC, 27.8% of all male victims of sexual assault will be assaulted at age 10 and younger?
The numbers can become more troubling depending on how Will sexually identifies.
If Will is heterosexual then we know 20.8% of all heterosexual males have reported sexual violence other than rape in their lifetime. If he is gay then the numbers explode to 40.2% of the time. If Will is bi-sexual then he is probably going to report sexual violence other than rape and other bi-sexual men about 47.4% of the time which is almost half of the bi-sexual male population in total.
Surprised? Don’t be. Sexual assault victims are more common in the male population than you may think.
For some reason, we as a society appear to believe that, in one breath, we can individuals who say, “men don’t share their feelings” and yet we expect those same men to share their sexual assault experiences. If it isn’t hard to imagine a world where a man wouldn’t feel like a man by reporting that he is a victim of sexual assault then we know how it must be for a little boy.
According to RAINN and NSVRC, 1-in-4 women will be a victim of some sort of sexual-related crime in their lifetime. This is probably a statistic you’ve heard of before. Yet, we know many of those victims never come forward. We already know that many men feel that they become “less of a man” by reporting that they’ve been a victim. The same is true with boys.
The overabundance to resources devoted to investigating the sexual assault of female children can often be disproportionate to that of male victims. This is how we likely ended up with the 1-in-4 women statistic and 1-in-6 male statistic. This is also how we ended up knowing that most perpetrators are also male. Since there is a societal presumption that women are never the perpetrators, a categorically false notion, fewer resources are afforded to male victims.
According to the Pew Research Center, 80.4% of the time when sole custodianship is established that role goes to the mother. Meaning, that if we have a single-parent home the mother likely heads that household due to family courts across the country appearing to believe that mothers are the better parent or at least the parent who gets custody most times. This would have to mean that there are a lot of mothers who are the perpetrators of this abuse and the numbers would suggest that someone would have to be insane to suggest otherwise.
Imagine for a second that mothers won custody battles that often and imagine a situation where a little boy could be sexually assaulted by his mother.
Who would believe him? Why would anyone take him seriously? We already appear to laugh and downplay female teachers in schools who have sex with their students. Why would we as a society suddenly take Will seriously if we find out that there wasn’t a van in the park but instead it was his mother who sexually assaulted him before he ever reached the park? The fact that you are probably taking this as an unlikely situation is proof to offer as to why this happens too little boys so often with so little care given.
There appears to be a mindset that little boys are any less vulnerable than little girls. If we were talking about grown adults that would be one thing but the subject here is a child. We know children to be vulnerable and if they were not we wouldn’t need child protective services or family courts.
If it readily accepted that many little girls will never report a sexual assault perpetrated against them then why is it so difficult for some to imagine it’s the same, and in some cases, worse, with the case of little boys?
Still not convinced it’s a problem? Let’s change Will’s skin color for a second.
Will As A Black Man
In the black community in the United States, one may notice a troubling trend.
It isn’t a secret sexual assault can run rampant in the black parts of town in any state in the United States. The reason for this can be multi-faceted but this problem is more pervasive than you might think.
If someone is under the impression that this doesn’t occur even in juvenile facilities there are some numbers that person should see. The Bureau of Justice Statistics has said, “In 2018, 5.8% of youth reported sexual misconduct by facility staff, and an estimated 2.1% of youth reported sexual misconduct by facility staff that involved force or coercion.”
For example, black men are disproportionately in prison as compared to their white counterparts. If there are a large number of black men behind bars that can increase their risks of being sexually assaulted while in prison.
With that being said, did you know about the epidemic of prison rape in the United States? The Bureau of Justice Statistics has said, “The number of allegations in prisons increased from 6,660 in 2011 to 18,666 in 2015 (up 180%).”
This sort of stuff happens in prisons and those prisoners will likely be released at some point. Numerous studies and points of research reveals the idea of being “institutionalized” or behaving in a way that is more like a prisoner or a prisoner’s experience.
If that prisoner was in an environment where rape was common and if those prisoners have a higher likelihood of being black then that doesn’t point to good outcomes upon release. At the same time, there is a culture of not “snitching” that is common within the black community. One of the main reasons why rapper Tekashi 6ix9ine got so much criticism for snitching is due to hip-hop music being intimately linked to the black community.
Men already have a hard time coming forward with their sexual assault stories. Try imagining a man coming forward in a culture that discourages snitching and, at the same time, is already backed up by another part of the equation that says men shouldn’t complain about their problems. In other words, some men are essentially being told, “man up and don’t snitch.”
That’s a dangerous combination for a grown man to face. Now, imagine a little black boy facing that same situation. If people didn’t listen to grown men or if those grown men felt like nobody would listen to their stories then one has to imagine that a little boy wouldn’t even bother.
That’s the reality Will would be facing as a sexual assault victim who just so happens to be black.
But let’s say that Will belongs to the LGBT community. What would be found if we checked the statistics?
Will as a Gay Man
Many who belong to the LGBT community would say that the statistics for the LGBT community in terms of sexual assault is unacceptable. None of it is acceptable so long as even one case exists. However, we will focus just on the gay and bi-sexual portions. Those statistics provide a snapshot of a problem barely spoken of.
A 2010 CDC survey presents some horrifying statistics.
“26% of gay men, 37% of bisexual men, and 29% of heterosexual men experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner at some point in their lifetime.
4 in 10 gay men (40%), nearly half of bisexual men (47%), and 1 in 5 heterosexual men (21%) have experienced SV (Sexual Violence) other than rape in their lifetime. This translates into nearly 1.1 million gay men, 903,000 bisexual men, and 21.6 million heterosexual men.”
If those numbers are true then it wasn’t that long ago that more than a quarter of gay men experienced some sort of sexual violence. In most studies presented on the topic, prison rape statistics are not included. This means that a large proportion of sexual violence against gay or bisexual men is not only not reported by the victim but in many studies about male sexual assault victims, the numbers of prisoner victims are not included.
In 2008, MSNBC’s “Lockup Raw” featured an episode detailing the many cases of prison rape perpetrated by one man. That man’s name was Fleece Johnson aka “The Booty Warrior.”
This man has been said to have raped many prisoners in the Kentucky State Penitentiary.
One would think that such a man wouldn’t become a phenomenon for comedic relief. After all, rape jokes directed at women have prompted groups such as The United States of Women to write entire blogs instructing women on how to respond to rape jokes. It seems like rape jokes have been a subject of controversy when the butt of the joke happens to be a female victim of rape. Surely, the same society wouldn’t allow the same thing to occur when males are the victims while using Mr. Johnson as the clown in the joke.
Well, if you held your breath until you saw equal standards then we’d like to congratulate you on your trip to heaven.
Not only did the American populace make Mr. Johnson famous on the internet but before that the Adult Swim Show called the Boondocks revealed how much cognitive dissonance exists.
Here is an example of the type of comedic portrayal Mr. Johnson enjoyed:
You may notice how some have immortalized Mr. Johnson into an internet meme while not emphasizing the horrors this man inflicted upon prisoners.
If we as a society put sexual predators in cartoons and place them in a comical light while demonizing such behavior in any other case then we have an imbalance.
If you think this is the case only in the United States then you’d probably like to know that the United Kingdom has its version of Mr. Johnson.
Akinwale Oluwafolajimi Oluwatope Arobieke aka “Purple Aki” is one of the most well known serial rapists and sexual assault perpetrators in the world.
Quoted from Purple Aki’s Wikipedia Page:
“According to the Daily Mirror, he became “known for approaching younger males and striking up conversations about weight training, before touching and measuring their muscles, and then inviting them to squat his body weight”. His criminal activities were originally ruled as sexually motivated, a fact which was recognized in 2006 by Liverpool Magistrates’ Court, when Merseyside Police successfully applied to them for a Sexual Offenses Prevention Order. The Prevention Order, however, was lifted in May 2016 and Arobieke has never been convicted of a sexual offence.
On 12 September 2016, BBC Three published an online documentary about Arobieke, The Man Who Squeezes Muscles: Searching for Purple Aki. Later that year, Arobieke made an allegation against the BBC of incitement to racial hatred; he complained to Merseyside police that the documentary was racist and demonized him.”
This man sexually assaulted people on the streets of Merseyside in the UK. He is also known to have raped many inmates while in prison while serving time for his many sexual assaults and his manslaughter charge.
For a long time, people didn’t believe that Purple Aki existed. There were always tales of a 310-pound man who stood at 6 feet, 5 inches asking young men if he could squeeze their muscles and from there the encounters would become gradually more and more bizarre. The young men attempted to tell people about their experiences but nobody wanted to listen. Everyone thought Purple Aki was just an urban legend.
We have to ask ourselves would people have taken these accounts from these young men more seriously if those young men were women?
While you answer the above question in your head, consider the fact that because nobody took the threat of Purple Aki seriously poor Gary Kelly had to pay the price.
Gary Kelly was a well-known soccer (football) player. He was a young boy and had well-built legs. Purple Aki would approach Gary and make the boy squat lift him and then Gary’s muscles would be squeezed.
The young soccer player contacted the police. As a response, the police arrested Purple Aki and placed a restraining order on him which banned him from the part of the city where Gary lived.
In June 1986 as Gary was leaving a swimming pool Purple Aki decided to visit Gary.
The boy ran.
Gary ran across electrical lines at the New Brighton Railway station. The boy was electrocuted.
As a result, Purple Aki was arrested and charged with manslaughter.
Gary Kelly might still be alive if the people in that area would have taken the threat of Purple Aki a little more seriously. Purple Aki could have been stopped from committing so many sexual assaults and crimes that he was given a Sexual Offenses Prevention Order. That order was very unique and so unique that it is the only order of its kind ever passed in all of British history.
Here is a brief overview of all the crimes he has committed because nobody wanted to take the threat seriously:
On 15 June 1986, a 16-year-old from Birkenhead named Gary Kelly was electrocuted at New Brighton railway station, allegedly whilst running away from Arobieke. Arobieke was convicted of manslaughter, but successfully appealed against the conviction on the grounds that he had not acted unlawfully by “standing on the platform and looking into trains”. In addition, Arobieke was reportedly awarded £35,000 compensation due to alleged racial overtones in the prosecution case.
He appeared in court on 22 November 2001, pleading not guilty to fifty counts of indecent assault and harassment against fourteen teenage boys between February 1995 and September 2000. He was convicted of threatening behaviour and was jailed for thirty months.
Released in 2003, Arobieke resumed his activities and was quickly arrested and charged. During the course of the trial 123 people were interviewed by police, including one family who were forced into the Witness Protection Programme as a result of threats from Arobieke. This led to Arobieke being additionally charged with witness intimidation. On 15 December 2003 he was jailed for six years by Preston Crown Court, pleading guilty to fifteen counts of harassment and witness intimidation. A further 61 counts, mostly of indecent assault, were left on file. When sentencing Arobieke, Judge Slinger said: “You are a danger to young men and your behaviour is both strange and obsessive”. After the case, Detective Superintendent Mike Dale said: “Over the years Akinwale Arobieke has been persistent in his pursuit and harassment of a number of young men, instilling fear into them. We are pleased with the sentencing. Most importantly it’s to the credit of the witnesses, who despite their fears and apprehensions, have remained steadfast and determined to see justice done and this man prosecuted to stop him from making other people’s lives a misery.”
Problems & Solutions
As one might imagine Will isn’t doing so well these days. Let’s go back to his childhood and let’s see if we could have made it easier for Will to come forward with his story.
Often, little boys don’t come forward with their stories. There a multitude of reasons for this but there are a few that may disturb you.
Lack of Resources
Go to your local school and see if there is any program centered towards the sexual assault of minors. Check your local library, town hall, statehouse, colleges, hospitals, etc. Take the time to see if your community has any resources geared towards convincing young men to come forward with their stories. If you notice a lack of resources petition your local newspaper, politician, influential business leaders and any others that you think can make some noise for positive change.
General Lack of Care
This is more of a societal problem. Sure, it makes sense of an evolutionary scale to tell a man to “suck it up” sometimes. It’s also true that it makes sense to allow the biggest and strongest to always dominate in terms of evolutionary biology but we find those beliefs to be immoral in many cases. We can’t pick and choose when we want to follow natural law.
If such applications are that pliable where in one instance we can adhere to the natural law but in other instances, we want to pick and choose when we do so for other genders then perhaps men should get to choose when they can be as unnatural as everyone else. Men are not robots. They’re humans. If a man comes forward with their story they should be treated the same way a woman would be. If not, we can’t call this society an equal society.
The only real solution that can be proposed here is a simple one. Men, as well as women, are both humans. Humans have feelings, experiences and, as we might discover, can be acted upon with violence. The effects of that violence aren’t dependent upon gender. We must do more to promote a culture of ending silence among men who could be victims.
If we do not then perhaps one day it could be your son who is afraid to speak out.
Lack of Media Attention
Did you see those prison rape statistics? What about the statistics with LGBT men? Does one not think heterosexual men can get raped? Does that sound like something the media should be shining a spotlight on? We think so too.
There is a general lack of coverage about these issues that the media needs to be called out for. The #MeToo movement was a much-needed one to oust the bad actors in Hollywood. As many would attest, the movement morphed into, some parts good, and some parts a witch hunt with mostly men being the targets of such witch hunts. Male victims of sexual assault were never highlighted despite, again, the prison statistics alone providing more than enough stories.
The media played a role in that by, one, not highlighting the male victims of sexual assault, and two, elevating stories that may not have been accurate that targeted innocent men or those like Aziz Ansari. It was a two-pronged sword of ignoring an issue with victims attached while at the same time pushing any story that targeted the same gender without any consideration to the implications of such actions.
A good solution to this is for the mainstream media outlets to develop specialized personnel that can respond if someone calls their news stations or places of work.
For example, a person could have been raped, a judge gives a terrible ruling such as the Brock Turner case, and many outlets wouldn’t have trained personnel on staff to help deal with someone who may call in to report what happened in their case. Sometimes, people utilize the media to spread a message to the people to motivate action. Our media outlets and organizations must provide a safe pipeline for victims to report things that may occur.
If media organizations have victims of sexual assault on staff then perhaps creating stories and dialogues utilizing that staff member could be beneficial. That would show that there are those in positions of power and influence that could identify with a victim. Having someone to look up to who experienced something similar in life could promote a culture of ending silence.
After all, isn’t that the whole point of the #MeToo movement?
Lack of Political Support
Point #3 explains part of this point. The politicians who push every story with a woman being the victim of sexual assault but never addressing the male victims are apart of the problem. Women being victims should always be highlighted. However, the same should be true for male victims as well.
When the Bret Kavanaugh situation was occurring we got stories and we don’t know one way or the other if those stories were accurate. However, millions were spent investigating Justice Kavanaugh into allegations of sexual assault but much less consideration is given to all the men in prisons who are raped on a darn near-daily basis.
We are not suggesting Mr. Kavanaugh should not have been investigated. All allegations of sexual assault should be investigated regardless if someone thinks those allegations have merit or not.
However, if such resources can be utilized with such speed and resolve then perhaps some of those same funds could have been utilized to investigate male sexual assault stories.
We must demand more of our leaders and lawmakers to address this growing problem that affects millions of our fellow Americans. Politicians, in particular, must address this problem and draft legislation to combat the unacceptable amount of sexual assault victims.
We must address the specter of sexual assault and squash out perpetration and victimization with equal rigor.
We cannot allow this epidemic to flourish and yet call ourselves a civilized society. Together, we can take a stand against sexual assault. We need to fight together no matter what the gender the victim just so happens to be.
That is equality. Anything less than equality produces a situation where work has to be done.