Many options… when they’re ready, at their own pace.
Whether you are a clinician in private practice or a worker in a Rape Crisis Center, a substance abuse treatment program, a homeless shelter or a county or state prison, a significant portion of the men you work with are likely to have had unwanted or abusive sexual experiences in childhood. Having access to the right resources can help them change their outcomes.
The skills that will help you respond appropriately to male survivors are the same skills that help with any other client; patience; active listening; neutrality; respect for coping mechanisms; and a willingness to engage with his existing norms and values.
Some men may never have spoken about their experience before…or even acknowledged it. Men who are reaching out for help for the first time may be very nervous or even defensive about asking for help, unsure of what to expect, or ambivalent about moving forward.
Whether the man you’re working with wants to explore the issue on his own, at his own pace or wants outside help, you will find resources for him and for you in this section. If he’s looking for immediate, live assistance, from a person with special training to help men with histories of unwanted or abusive experiences in childhood (and people who care about them), links for several options are outlined below.
You’ll also find guidance about helping an individual sort through options. – when he’s ready to move ahead, to make informed choices about next steps.
To the left are links to more, in-depth information, which you can use to educate yourself or to offer as a resource t help someone assess various options and resources and decide what might be best for them.
There are several ways to get help now, by phone or online chat.
1in6 has partnered with RAINN to offer a national helpline for men seeking information and resources related to unwanted or abusive sexual experiences in childhood, and for people who care about them. 1in6 works with RAINN to ensure that all helpline staff members are trained to help visitors from 1in6.org. Every staff member knows (1) the effects of unwanted or abusive childhood sexual experiences, (2) issues and concerns specific to men who have had such experiences, and (3) local services that are available. All chats are confidential and users are encouraged to remain anonymous.
For information about other helplines/hotlines – phone and online – see Other Helplines & Peer Support.
If someone is in immediate danger, of seriously harming themselves or being harmed by someone else, we recommend calling 911 or going to the nearest hospital emergency room.
Fortunately, there are many options for finding help. At the same time, let’s admit reality: in many parts of the United States and the rest of the world, it’s still a challenge to find people in your community who really understand and know how to help.
As an individual sorts through the options for finding help, these 4 questions can help them explore their needs:
Where to focus first may not be obvious to the man with whom you’re working. Some things may just feel “too private” or shameful to even think about right now, let alone seek help for from an outside person. Or some problems may be extremely disruptive to his life, and he may feel that it makes no sense to start with something else. Someone important to him may be saying, basically, “If you don’t deal with _____, then our relationship is over.” Or he may be concerned himself about being threatening or abusive to others, like a girlfriend, partner or his children.
Remember, Every experience is different and usually has complex dynamics. His healing process is about reclaiming control. He needs to control that process to the greatest extent possible.
Check your own feelings. Don’t assume he’s angry or devastated or that the experience destroyed his innocence or suggest that he should be having those feelings. Feelings about protectiveness, revenge, filing criminal charges or forgiveness toward the person who may have hurt him, are complicated and need to stay within his control (assuming there’s no threat to himself or another).
For starters, let’s think about two very different options: reading websites and being in therapy.
And of course, some men will have more options than others – thanks to where he lives, the language he speaks, and how much money he has. Helping a man navigate these barriers may be among the most valuable services you provide.
Whatever his situation, we do suggest that, at some point, a man gets some input from another person who has enough knowledge and experience to help him sort through his priorities and options. Encourage him, explaining that: