The Me Too and Time’s Up movements have brought sexual abuse and assault into the national conversation as never before. Now, two victim advocacy groups are hoping to expand the public’s perception of what sexual trauma survivors look like with a harrowing new campaign.
In the video above, five women hold back tears as they read accounts of sexual abuse and assault. As the narrators prepare to offer their support to the authors of those accounts, however, they’re surprised to discover that each of the victims was a man.
The eye-opening, six-minute public service announcement was released by the national nonprofit organization 1in6 last week to kick off Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Produced in conjunction with No More, another organization for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, and funded in part by the NFL, the video aims to highlight statistics which show that at least one out of six men have experienced sexual abuse or assault.
The PSA’s director, Andy Langdon, told HuffPost that he hopes the campaign will inspire viewers to deconstruct the taboos that exist around men ― gay, straight, bisexual and otherwise ― making sexual assault claims.
“When our culture demands that boys and men present themselves as invulnerable, independent and strong, we leave little room for men to express emotion, especially sadness, confusion and other difficult feelings,” Langdon, creative director of 1in6, said. The video, he added, aims to “share the truth” of male victims in an unbiased way by “temporarily removing this social construct.”
Meredith Alling, who is 1in6′s development and communications director, noted that male victims of sexual abuse may delay seeking treatment even longer than women who have had similar experiences given the lingering stigma.
“Men have a responsibility to use their privilege to engage in the movement to end sexual violence of all kinds,” she said. “We hope that men who have had these experiences will see this video and see that they are not alone, that help is out there, and that it’s never too late to seek it.”
She went on to note, “When men heal, the people around them can live healthier, happier, safer lives as well.”