Sexually harassed men choose to be silent

Bengaluru City

Fear that they will not be taken seriously

Men who are sexually assaulted choose to be silent about the incidents, scared that their complaints will not be taken seriously.

Aditya Nair (name changed) faced violent behaviour from his father. When he was in class 5, he was hit with sharp objects and asked to remove his clothes as a punishment for complaints against him in school. The incident has left him feel disgusted. 

“Being loud and threatening a male child leads to spoiling their morality at a young age,” Aditya said.

Such small instances of abuse have a big impact on men. Such incidents usually happen in schools, restrooms and public places. 

Praveen Chitnagar, sub-inspector of the Indiranagar police station, informed The Observer that no cases of sexual assault against men are registered because they feel ashamed to approach the police.

Psychologist Naomi Bhatia said: “We live in a society where men are considered stronger than women, dominating and overpowering women. If men complain about sexual assaults…, they will be considered inferior in society.” They are expected to be strong enough to handle any situation. “They bear either emotional or physical pain. Emotional pain comes into consideration when it’s speaking about an incident and they do not feel accepted in society. There are also myths like a ‘boy cannot be sexually assaulted; it is his fault; he enjoyed it; only gay men get assaulted; and men abused by females got lucky’. Usually, it is assumed that a male survivor of abuse will himself turn an abuser, which is not always the case,” she added. 

Co-founder of Support Against Sexual Harassment at Workplace Swati Shah (name changed) said:  “One important fact is that at least half the instances of sexual harassment faced by men are caused by other men: instances of physical and verbal sexual harassment. Some kinds of sexual harassment that women commit on men are stalking or insisting on relationships in spite of them saying no.

 “There is a deep gender angle rooted in sexual assault, gender discrimination and stereotyping in society.” There are laws to deal with sexual assaults faced by women, but there is no law against harassment of men, “which makes it difficult for men to address and mention the incidents they face.” 

Counselling psychologist Juilee Gokhale said: “The toxic masculinity of assuming that men are strong enough and can always fight back makes it difficult for them to get acceptance of assault on them.

 “There are the basic three steps of abuse: Grooming which means growing and building trust with the person they usually want to abuse. The second step is abuse, which in most cases happens multiple times with the victim. The last step is accommodation which speaks about threatening, scaring and normalising abuse in the mind of the victim. Due to which they are scared to tell any close one…”.

Often men are told by their elders that they should not cry, but behind the tears of every human being, there lies an untold story. A story that needs to be heard out by the world.


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