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.