Lynne MacDonell, a psychotherapist and drug addiction counselor says that one in six boys are sexually abused by the age of 16.
Speaking at the University of Toronto for an event on violence and sexual abuse against men for Canada’s Mental Illness Awareness Week, MacDonell cited various studies indicating men and young boys to be the victims of violence and sexual abuse at alarming rates.
“I wonder if boys and men are even more sexually abused than girls and women,” said MacDonell to the hundred or so audience members in attendance. “We don’t know because they don’t come forward,” she said.
While treating victims of drug addiction early in her career, MacDonell noticed that there was no center in Canada for men to go to treat what she sees as a common cause of their problems –childhood violence and sexual abuse.
MacDonell said that she thinks there is an unfair cultural bias towards men in that they are “expected to be confident, knowledgeable and aggressive, [so] to be a victim means one is an inadequate male.”
The event was sponsored by the Canadian Association For Equality (CAFE) and hosted by the U of T Men’s Issues Awareness Society (UTMIAS).
During the event, MacDonell referenced what she considers myths in today’s western world that men cannot be raped or are not as affected by rape as women.
According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) –male victims of sexual assault are even given their own specific classification to incidents of forced or coerced sexual contact with females, which is called “made to penetrate” and thus, does not technically count as rape.
Karen Straughan, a Men’s Rights Activist suggested in an interview last year that the CDC has done this intentionally to marginalize men on the advice and consultation of feminist Mary Koss.
CAFE has had a tumultuous relationship with many feminists in the past and although none came to protest yesterday, CAFE chose to change venues last minute as a precaution.
Citing an earlier CAFE event in 2012, Justin Trottier, event organizer and founding Director of the first Canadian Center for Men and Families said that feminists protesting there “didn’t want people to go in and it was an event about male suicide… What they said was, ‘feminism has all the answers. Feminism cares about men so why do you need to have any non-feminist approach to men’s issues?’“
A second year masters student at U of T said he enjoyed MacDonell’s talk and while relieved that there weren’t any disruptions, wondered why so many feminists were against these kinds of events, saying, “I didn’t think there was anything anti-feminist about the talk.”
When asked if she sees any hope of the issue of violence against men being brought more attention, MacDonell was cautiously optimistic, but said “let’s face it, we’ve got a long way to go.”
McDonell talking about her strategies to help men struggling with abuse