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Male Victims of Sexual Violence

The Globe and Mail

Ontario urged to help male victims of sex abuse

The Globe and Mail, By OLIVER MOORE, March 7, 2005

Ontario's male victims of child sexual assault are being ignored by a provincial government that focuses all its attention on women, a newly launched lobby group that wants equitable funding argued Monday.

The group — the Ontario Association of Male Survivor Services — says that one man in five was sexually abused as a child and that ignoring the problem makes it harder for these men to recover.

"We've got to stop thinking that sexual violence is just a women's issue," said Rick Goodwin, executive director of the not-profit organization that will operate the lobby group, in a telephone interview from Ottawa. "In this day and age, that's absurd."

Mr. Goodwin said Monday that the $12-million that goes to female-oriented assault centres shows that the government takes the problem seriously but remains too narrow-minded.

He says that his group does not want to siphon funding away from the province's 36 female-oriented centres, but he argued that it is outrageous that no money goes to men.

"We would like to see an equitable arrangement, a structure and funding base that's comparable," he said.

Mr. Goodwin also spoke Monday morning at the official launch of the lobby group, which seeks to dispel misconceptions surrounding of abuse of males and to bring the issue into the public arena.

The group cites research indicating that one in five men experiences some form of sexual violence as children, a higher incidence than listed by other sources. A 1998 article in Court Review, The Journal of the American Judges Association, said that "solid" research put the incidence of sex abuse at 27 per cent among U.S. girls and 16 per cent among boys.

Regardless of the exact number, Mr. Goodwin cautioned against minimizing the problem. He said that recent data show that the problem of sexual violence against men is not rare and that it requires attention.

The group argues that every community in Ontario has incidences of sexual abuse of boys and they are pushing for a province-wide network of services for male victims of sexual assault.

Mr. Goodwin concedes that such a network would be expensive but that it is simply not practical for the men's program to be piggybacked onto an existing women's program.

"Working with guys is quite a bit different. A lot of guys are angry, [enraged], at times violent," he said. He noted that, in many cases, men would not even be welcome in a female-oriented assault centre.

The group also acknowledges that it faces a difficult task because of society's views on male sexuality and identity. They point to research suggesting that men are twice as likely to try to bury a history of abuse. And they deplore the notion that young men are lucky to be "initiated" into sex.

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