“Men can’t get raped.”
It’s a horribly sexist and insensitive thing to say, especially to someone who has been sexually assaulted. Yet, it’s a common response, regardless of how wrong it actually is. It is estimated that one in six males are victims of sexual assault. According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), 54% of incidents are not reported to police, so it could even more. Although most sexual assault victims are female, males are much less likely to come forward and seek help and support. Male survivors often feel responsible for their assault / abuse or that they should have been “stronger” and able to stop it. In our society we’re told that “boys don’t cry” and that boys should “man up.” I stumbled upon a moving series of photographs on Buzzfeed, and they come from the amazing and empowering Project Unbreakable. Project Unbreakable is the brain child of Grace Brown, and serves as an online platform to “increase awareness of the issues surrounding sexual assault and encourage the act of healing through art.” Since the project’s conception in October 2011, it has featured over 2,000 images of sexual assault survivors holding posters with quotes from their attackers. Project Unbreakable has been featured media outlets such as Glamour, TIME, The Huffington Post, and The Guardian. I wanted to commend these men for speaking out and helping to break the stigma and sexist attitudes toward sexual assault. They’re incredibly brave and spread awareness that sexual violence does not discriminate – it is a huge human rights issue that needs to be addressed. An initiative like Project Unbreakable does great things to spread awareness and remind us why we need to keep fighting.