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Abuse against males not to be overlooked

The #MeToo movement in the United States kicked off some significant revelations that disclosed decades of suppressed abuse. Most often it was women being abused by men in powerful positions. Convicted Jeffrey Epstein for years evaded the law in his acts of paedophilia because the authorities cast a blind eye and allowed systemic abuse to occur against hapless young girls, who found themselves trapped in a vicious cycle of sexual abuse by powerful men.

But movements such as that of #MeToo and the syndication of victims with the help of ethical lawyers who were guided by justice and had no fear of the powerful prevailed. Some very powerful men have been jailed and others are escaping extradition orders to prevent being brought to trial. It is sad because it is not only women who have been victims of men in powerful positions of authority but also men — young men who have been sexually abused but suffer a double fate. Not only are they afraid of the power and control, but also bear guilt and shame.

Too often these young men fear the possibility of having a stigma attached to them, find no way of escaping their own mental turmoil and turn to drugs and isolation. It is not easy for women to come forward to identify their abusers and that they have been abused. It is more difficult for men.

I recall 40 years ago before there was such an institution or service called Addiction Services, a small group of us including Gwen Robinson and Rahima (Carrie Lowe), treated heroin addicts at our homes — offering them “cold turkey”, which typically took four days of around-the-clock monitoring. I recall also the ominous connection that some of these persons had with those in high positions, some of whom were politicians.

It was always a concern of mine that fear of disclosure was part of their psychosis. Too many of these people were vulnerable, had basic needs and were offered support as a conditional trade-off for sexual favours. We have one live case where the head of the Bermuda Housing Corporation was imprisoned for three years. The judge in his conclusion commented that there are too many persons in positions of trust exploiting the vulnerable.

The list is long where predators seem to linger around catchment areas that give them access to the young and vulnerable. Churches, sports clubs, military service, boys’ clubs and many institutions where young persons are left to the care and responsibility of others have been the prime areas where predatory actions and abuses have occurred.

Society responded to the issues of drug abuse thanks to the relentless work of persons like Ms Robinson, and there is the women’s Centre Against Abuse and an effective hotline for women who can safely report sexual abuse and exploitation. In fact, there is an entire section in the Human Rights Act that covers this. However, society has not come to terms with the issue of male sexual exploitation. There needs to be an outreach facility where these abuses can be reported and the perpetrators can be brought to justice.

It may seem nice and comfortable to have a reverend wearing his lovely black robe in a well-established church, or a coach of a famous sports club, or a person holding a government office. Yes, the integrity of those organisations is upheld but at the expense of many victims. How can society not itself become contaminated when perpetrators are allowed to walk freely and their victims are afraid to speak?

This needs to be a #MeToo moment for men because too many parents and grandparents have seen their sons lost to this vehement tyranny that has snatched away their innocence, turning them into drug addicts.

The conversation needs to begin. We cannot continue to give sanctuary to these abusers. The earth needs to tremble under their feet, giving them the realisation that they will see justice for their crimes.

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Published February 17, 2023 at 8:00 am (Updated February 17, 2023 at 9:41 am)

Abuse against males not to be overlooked

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