Training event focuses on male victimization

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Nathanial Taylor
  • 167AW/PA
Sexual assault, it's not a pleasant topic for anyone to talk about and yet, it is an issue that we continuously find ourselves discussing.
As members of the military, it can be easy to become jaded to the same annual training requirements that often seem like they never change. However, when dealing with an issue as important as sexual assault in our ranks, it is important to ensure that we are moving the discussion forward and searching for ways to fix the problem.
Saturday's August UTA did just that. Rather than the usual Power Point presentation, the wing watched the documentary "Boys and Men Healing from Child Sexual Abuse" and listened to a speech from the co-producer of the film, Simon Weinberg,
The film follows the story of several men who are coming to terms with their pasts as survivors of childhood rape. It explores how each man came to terms and learned to cope with their experiences.
Weinberg, who has worked with both male and female victims of sexual abuse, said he made the film to educate people on a lesser known side of sexual assault and to bridge the gap between male and female survivors.
"Rape crisis centers that I had been working with for 10 years [with female survivors] were calling me and saying `what about the boys?`" Weinberg said. "I was truthfully stunned that there was that big of a problem with boys and men."
While many may think that rape and sexual assault only happen to females, the numbers tell a different story.
According to Weinberg, while most people are aware that women have a higher chance of being a survivor of sexual assault, many aren't aware of how high the numbers are for males.
One in every six males is a survivor of sexual assault, compared to one in four for females.
The high numbers associated with males is compounded by the fact that many male victims tend to have a problem coming to terms with their abuse, Weinberg said. They feel that it is a direct violation of their masculinity and many refuse to admit to what happened to them for many years.    
Due to the nature of the military, rape and sexual assault is viewed as a direct threat to unit cohesion. In a culture where everyone is supposed to look out for the person next to them, distrust, fear and violence erodes the fighting force and can put everyone at risk. This type of training allows for a more detailed discussion on the issue and presents it in a way that may reach people that were not reached in the past.
Going forward, all of us, whether male or female, must be able to look at the issue of sexual violence and realize that it isn't just a female or male problem, it affects us all.