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What you can do to help male survivors of sexual violence

By Rosa Agutu | November 28th 2021

Counselling psychologist Jacque Gathu. [Courtesy]

Many victims of sexual assault suffer in silence because the sex topic is considered taboo in society, psychologist Jacque Gathu has said.

"We are not ready to discuss matters sex. It makes us uncomfortable. Even talking to our children about appropriate and inappropriate touching makes us cringe," says Gathu.

However, she says, there are several ways we can help those who have been sexually assaulted.

"Listen. Hold your judgment. Validate their feelings by listening attentively. Do not listen to respond. Don't tell the person, 'but you had an erection so you enjoyed it'," Gathu says.

She says to avoid words like, "you will get out of it, manage your feelings, or other people have had worst experiences, as this invalidates their feelings.

"Express concern and make sure what you say matches your body language," the psychologist says.

Do not ask the details. Unless a person wants to share, let them disclose only what they are comfortable with.

Gathu recommends self-help groups for men who have been abused, where they can freely share their experiences.

In an article in The Standard titled “Guide to loving a man who was sexually defiled”, writer Josaya Wasonga advised women in a relationship with a man who was sexually abused not to question his manhood. 

"Rape not only leaves a pungent smell in one’s aura, but it can make you question your sexuality and manhood," he wrote. 

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