Sexual assault not limited by gender

Story by Emily Albrent, Op/Ed Editor

Contrary to popular belief, women are not the only gender affected by sexual assault; men are also victims of violence and rape.

As part of the Night OUT: Film Series held during Sexual Assault Awareness month, The Women’s and Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Questioning Resource center is presenting the film, “Mysterious Skin.”

The film is about two young boys who are sexually abused by their baseball coach and how the event affects their lives well into the future. Women’s and LGBTQ Resource Center Coordinator Chris Jorgenson said experts believe this is a very accurate film about sexual assault among men.

“It affects how you engage in relationships with people,” Jorgenson said. “I think it affects self-esteem. I think that, as a result of such sexual abuse, people act out in many different ways.”

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention approximately 1 in 20 women and men have experienced some form of sexual abuse other than rape. Amanda Leiknes, the director at the Center for Awareness of Sexual Assault at UW-Eau Claire, said around 1 in 6 men will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime.

She said the reason why sexual assault is not often spoken about is because many times males are overlooked. She said now is the time to highlight the fact that men do go through sexual assault and that male victims go through just as much damage as female victims.

She said another reason why people might not speak out about such violence is because our culture says men should be tough and masculine.

However, there are other aspects that might cause people to avoid shedding light on the problem.

“Some of it has to do with shame,” Leiknes said. “I think the way we treat males is that we expect them to be stronger than everyone else, we expect them to have expectations about their sexuality.”

Leiknes said research has shown the perpetrators of sexual assault are usually men. This could be a reason why men are unwilling or feel unable to report violence against them.

“In a culture of homophobia, I think it’s difficult for men to talk about being sexually assaulted if it is by a male,” Leiknes said. “They’re worried that they are going to be labeled or people will say perhaps that they are gay, because of what happened.”

Leiknes said “Mysterious Skin” is graphic in its portrayal of a realistic situation and also said it should be known that it could be a trigger warning for some.

The movie was shown 7 p.m. April 17 in the Woodland Theater in Davies Center.

Because of the graphic nature of the movie, Leiknes and others who aid sexual assault survivors were at the movie in case anyone wanted to talk or was having a hard time with the concept of the movie.

If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted and need help, call CASA at 715-836-HELP.