• nataliecherrix

Rape Regardless of Rank...Or Gender

I'm known to be quite critical on media and its often negative influence. However, I believe ABC's drama Private Practice does do its part to make episodes that actually teach their viewers something important about real issues that are too often ignored on television. Last season, a series of Private Practice episodes, in which character Dr. Charolette King was raped, did a great job of portraying common emotional reactions of survivors, as well as the reactions of significant others. The episode depicted Charolette's resistance to reporting the rape to police, her difficulty with trust and intimacy afterward, her husband's confusion with how to help her, and much more that educated viewers. The show collaborated with RAINN (Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network) to thoughtfully ensure that the topic matter was portrayed accurately. Last Thursday, Private Practice aired an episode that was even more "outside the box" for prime time television. Again collaborating with RAINN, they addressed not only the issue of male rape, but also sexual assault in the military. The episode featured a male soldier who had recently returned from Iraq and suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. First tight lipped about the reason for his emotional distance with his wife, he later discloses that he was raped by his male Sergeant while on active duty. The groundbreaking episode goes on to raise awareness of some of the effects, and myths, that are specific to men who have been sexually assaulted. For example, the soldier does not want his wife to know about the rape, for fear that she will wonder why he, as a man and a soldier, did not use his strength to defend himself by fighting off the Sergeant. His wife reacted also by questioning him about whether he was gay. These are perhaps the two biggest myths and misunderstandings of male sexual assault, which makes it even more difficult for male survivors to report rape or ask for help. Our society puts an awful lot of pressure and expectation on men to be, well, "a man" - which wrongly distorts one's masculinity as weak if a man is sexually assaulted. As the episode showed, it is never a man's fault - just as a woman is also never to blame. A few facts and other helpful info related to male and military survivors of sexual assault...

  • 2.78 million men in the U.S. have been victims of sexual assault or rape

  • Sexual assault is one of the most under reported crimes, with 60% still being left unreported

  • Males are the least likely to report a sexual assault, but they make up about 10% of all victims

  • RAINN operates a Department of Defense Safe Helpline (1-877-995-5247) specifically for military sexual assault survivors

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