Men's Health Awareness Month
June is men’s health month, and health does not always refer to physical fitness. Men’s mental health is just as important as their ability to run a mile or play basketball with their friends. So why is it that people seem to avoid the subject of their emotional wellbeing? Did you know that boys are two times more likely to drop out of school? They are also two times more likely to receive special education and four times more likely to be expelled. With these heightened risk factors for male students, why is it still less common for males to receive mental health counseling?
Were you aware that ninety three percent of boys are exposed to porn before the age of 18? An additional twenty three percent of males use porn every day. Furthermore, shockingly only 22 states require schools to teach sexual education. According to psychologytoday.com during the time between 12 and 20 years old, young men’s brains go through a period of great neuroplasticity. This impressionable time leads to them being heavily influenced by the things they see and hear. This means that when young men watch porn, they learn an unrealistic and sometimes violent idea of normality and sexuality which can have a lasting impression on their psyche. These unrealistic ideals, impossible to achieve in real life, can create lasting cognitive dissonance and leave men feeling out of touch with reality and their interpersonal relationships.
It is important that the parents of young men in our community raise their sons to know the importance of interpersonal connection and relationships. They should be encouraged those sexual encounters are not separate from personal connection. In a world where human trafficking is creating victims, raise our sons to be protectors and leaders. During men’s health awareness month, it is important to keep in mind the difficulties that male adolescents face in a world changed by social media and the internet. With the right education and awareness, we can raise men who are comfortable talking about their own mental health. These men will grow up to be well rounded healthy individuals who can be leaders and protectors in our ever-changing communities.
Child Abuse Prevention Month
April showers may bring May flowers, but did you know that April is also national child abuse prevention month? According to Childwelfare.gov, approximately two million children received child abuse prevention services in 2019. 1.3 million children received post-response services such as family support or foster care. Unfortunately, not all maltreated children get the care they need. Lack of advocates, support systems, and people willing to alert to issues going on in the home puts children across the country at risk.
Child abuse and mistreatment in the home increase a child’s risk of becoming a victim of human trafficking. Abuse affects a child’s experience of the world, proliferate their chances of being exploited and becoming a part of the welfare system. These children become potential victims because they may be emotionally stunted, have a desire for connection, unfavorable living conditions, and traumatic experiences in their past.
With all of these risk factors effecting children in our cities and small towns, it is important for members of the community to take a leadership role towards making an impact. Ways to do that are: become a youth mentor, taking time to talk to children you know about the dangers of human trafficking, as well as finding organizations fighting human trafficking and child abuse in your area are all wonderful resources. You could be the positive impact that saves a child’s life. The Paving the Way Foundation can provide you with information and resources to help you become the change you want to see in the world. All you have to do is reach out, why not start today?
The Impact of Male Abuse
When you think about human trafficking, what type of person comes to mind. Is there a specific gender that is more at risk to be human trafficked than the other? What if I told you that males were just as likely to be abused and trafficked as females are?
According to a CDC study in 2006, 1 in 4 women had been sexually abused before the age of 18 and 1 in 6 men. Men were less likely to report their abuse than females were, some not speaking out for years after their abuses occurred.
What are the reasons that we do not hear about male survivors as often? One idea is the pressure male children may under to become the protector of the family. They see their parents stressed out with life, fighting with each other, or maybe they are even distracted with a sibling that requires some special attention. The victim does not want to add to the stress that goes on in the life of their guardians already, leading to them feeling a pressure to not tell anyone about their abuse.
What organizations like The Paving the Way Foundation© want to get across is the effects of repressed trauma on victims. Since male victims are more likely than females to not disclose their trauma, they can be more at risk for the negative effects of avoidance behaviors. According to the CDC untreated trauma can lead to a multitude of psychological and physical health issues in victims. These issues may range from bipolar disorder and depression, to heart disease and malnutrition. Issues with attachment and substance abuse may follow these types of victims for the rest of their lives.
If we know that victims are at risk of having attachment and substance abuse issues, why are we not doing more to help victims feel comfortable seeking out help? It is time we stand up for male survivors and let them know that there are safe spaces for them to disclose what happened to them. When we stand up for members of our community, we allow them the ability to heal. With the right amount of kindness, and professional healing these victims do not have to become part of the cycle of abuse. They can become productive happy members of society. Lets work together in paving the way for male victims of abuse to heal from their trauma, so they can work towards becoming advocates for other people like them. Little by little we can change the cycle of abuse.
October 6th marks the beginning of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Already a silent danger in households across the United States, this extended period of stay at home orders, online schooling, and working from home has increased its risk, and importance, more than ever. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NACDV), twenty people per minute are abused by a domestic partner. This equates to a stunning ten million people a year, right here in our reputedly “advanced” United States.
How is domestic violence related to human trafficking? The answer is simple. In 2009, the U.S. State Department cited a 2009 study from London, reporting 70% of women victimized by human trafficking experienced domestic partner abuse before being trafficked. Even worse, sometimes the trafficker themselves originally was the victim’s domestic partner. This illustrates a cycle of abuse often leaving victims hopeless and alone. Women and men in domestic violence situations often lack resources, support, or the ability to remove themselves from dangerous situations; often, leaving their abuser means ending up on the streets.
But ending up on the street is not always a domestic violence victim’s biggest fear. No time is more dangerous to a domestic violence victim than the initial weeks after deciding to leave. The NACDV reports 72% of all murder-suicides involve intimate partners. Leaving is much harder when your life is on the line. As a community, we must empower and enable victims and survivors of domestic violence situations in their quest to find a way out.
Once a domestic violence victim determines a way out, the community should come together to help empower and support the survivor. The weeks and months immediately after leaving the violence situation likely determine the eventual outcome of the rest of a victim’s life. With the necessary compassion and community support, we all strive towards a common goal of severing the correlation between domestic violence and human trafficking.
Suffering from violence at the hands of a domestic partner does not doom someone to eventual trafficking, nor does it mean you have to end up alone.
At Paving the Way Foundation, we want to ensure no victim feels they are alone. If you, or someone you know, is a victim of domestic abuse, or think they may be, please call the
National Hotline for Domestic Abuse at 1-800-799-7233. They can connect you with resources in your areas, provide advice on resolving your situation, or even just listen – please let them help. You matter.
Cayla is an English Major at UCF . She interns for Paving the Way Foundation to make a difference.