Chris Anderson was sexually abused by his neighbor when he was a child. Confused about exactly what happened and what it meant, he shut out the trauma of the experience for almost 25 years before finally realizing it was the source of his depression, anxiety and even suicidal thoughts. He went to a retreat for male survivors of sexual assault and finally told his story.
“On average, there is a delay of 20 years between the abuse and first disclosure,” Anderson, now 39, said. Many victims never say anything about their abuse — ever. After almost 25 years of silence, Anderson now talks about it a lot as executive director of MaleSurvivor, a nonprofit dedicated to preventing, healing and eliminating all forms of sexual victimization of boys and men. Speaking with PolicyMic, Anderson said part of the reason there’s very little coverage or attention paid to male survivors of sexual assault is a staggering lack of disclosure.
Although sexual violence is generally perceived as predominantly a woman’s issue, there is, unfortunately, nothing unusual about Anderson’s’ experience or how long it took for him to disclose it.
In fact, according to some estimates, around 17% of boys will be sexually assaulted during their childhood or adolescence. Over a lifespan, about 22% of men will experience sexual violence, according to the Centers for Disease Control. And now, new research conducted by the National Crime Victimization Survey suggests 38% of rape and sexual violence incidents were against men. By most standards, this would qualify as a problem of epidemic proportions — so why is barely anyone talking about it?