Tyler was down the street playing at a friend’s house when his friend’s mother and her boyfriend got into an argument. In the midst of the commotion, Tyler realized it was getting late in the evening, and it was about time that he headed to his house. The friend’s mother told Tyler he should go home, and she ordered her son to go take a bath. When his friend left the room, Tyler approached the door to leave. The door was locked, and Tyler was unable to open it. Why can’t I open it? “I have to go home. It’s getting dark.”, Tyler said. “You want to go home?”, the mother asked. “Here is the key. Come get it.” She lit a cigarette, positioned herself on the sofa, and unveiled herself wearing lingerie. A frightened 10-year-old Tyler walked towards her to retrieve the key, but the price to leave the house cost him a lifetime of hurt and trauma.
If you met Tyler today, you likely would not realize that he has survived several instances of sexual abuse from numerous adults. He is an extremely successful artist and entrepreneur. He has produced, directed, and acted in many Hollywood features. In October 2019, he announced the grand opening of his $250 million entertainment studio in Atlanta, which sits on the sight of a former 330-acre Confederate military base. Tyler Perry is a media mogul, A-list entertainer, and a male survivor of sexual abuse.
While Tyler Perry has touched millions with his success story of resilience and perseverance, male sexual abuse survivors are generally not in the spotlight. Approximately 25% of men will experience an unwanted sexual event during their lifetime, and over one quarter of male victims of completed rape experienced their first rape before they reached the age of 10. Many people will experience some sort of traumatic event in their lifetime, but sexual trauma presents a plethora of psychological and physical concerns compared to other traumatic events.
For males, it is often difficult to capture psychological diagnoses stemming from sexual abuse. It is common for male sexual abuse survivors to internally fume with an ever-present anger that does not show itself until they feel threatened or betrayed. Some survivors also struggle with self-esteem issues that seep into their intimate relationships and other aspects of daily living. Because many boys and men are taught that self-sufficiency and toughness are integral aspects of masculinity, they are hesitant to discuss their feelings or reveal their vulnerabilities.
Equally as disheartening is the self-blame and internal shame many males harbor, which lead to delaying—or even failing—to seek professional treatment. On average, male sexual abuse survivors do not disclose their abuse until 20 to 25 years after it has occurred. In some cases, disassociation from a traumatic sexual experience(s) leads to the inability to remember or register what truly happened.
he #MeToo movement has gained growing popularity in the United States throughout the course of the past decade. A large portion of the movement has highlighted sexual abuse and assaults committed by powerful men, and advocates have urged our society to “believe survivors.” However, the “believe survivors” charge must extend equally to both female and male survivors. Otherwise, the phrase #MeToo should be changed to #NotMenToo.
The qualified attorneys at Aylstock, Witkin, Kreis, and Overholtz represent survivors of sexual abuse. Please contact us to receive more information.