Dave Pittman is the Director of Together We Heal and part of the Safeguarding Initiative Team at GRACE. Pittman teaches churches, schools, and families how to talk with their kids about sexual abuse, how to better identify predatory behavior, and how to properly respond to those who’ve been victimized.
In To Suffer in Silence, Pittman has written a powerful reflection on a key difference between men and women who were sexually abused as children.
When it comes to the topic of sexual abuse, men and boys are at best an afterthought. Even though the number of boys sexually abused is statistically very close to the number of girls who are victimized, you would think it never happens. Why is that? Why is the sexual abuse of men and boys mostly left out of the conversation? …. The lack of basic awareness, understanding, and open conversation around the specific challenges that sexually abused boys and men face can lead to catastrophic consequences.
Pittman also goes on to say, As a boy growing up in a conservative, fundamentalist church, the only thing we were taught about sex was sin and shame. We were taught even less about sexual abuse… absolutely nothing. Until I was an adult, I’d never even heard the words, ‘Childhood,’ ‘Sexual,’ and ‘Abuse’ used together.
Pittman’s suggestions for what can we do to help little boys and adult male survivors.
- Love them unconditionally and without judgment, and help them experience this love.
- Help them know their feelings (confusion, anger, depression, fear, numbness, anxiety) are normal.
- Help them understand it was not their fault. That they are not to blame. That their physical reaction to whomever harmed them, doesn’t mean that they allowed the abuse or wanted it to happen.
- Invite and encourage healthy, open, and shame-free conversations about sexuality, masculinity, and gender.
- And beyond everything, let them know they are not alone.
We encourage you to read the whole article, entitled To Suffer in Silence, by Dave Pittman, published on GraceNet.org by Grace. Accessed 10/8/20.