A Psychologist’s Advice: Rape Victims Are in Need of Help

Today we will be talking about
a topic that is often perceived as shameful—about how people should
react to a man who has been the victim of sexual violence.

This article came about in
response to a letter from one of our readers in which he told us of
a tragedy involving a young Roma boy upon his return home from prison.
No one wanted to have anything to do with this boy.  And what was
the reason?  The sad fact that he had been raped in prison, and,
unfortunately, his fellow villagers came to find out about it.
Alas, how life conspires—the bad news always outstrips the good news!
As a result of this chain of events, the young man committed suicide.

With his letter, our reader
has brought up an extremely important and particularly serious subject,
and one which is not typically discussed.  This issue exists, but
at the same time it is as if it doesn’t exist.  As such, it is
difficult to gauge the opinions of those who are in positions of power
and help to form public opinion.  The duty of the authorities is
to display official disapproval for this shameful act (the rape) and
severely punish the guilty parties (the rapists), but the way we relate
to the victim depends on society.

Male rape, both of younger
and older men, is a problem that often comes about in closed communities—such
places as pre-trial detention centers, prisons, army barracks, military
academies, and so on.  In the “strange concurrence of circumstances”
that defines these types of places, precautions for guaranteeing the
safety of adult males from the sexual attacks of other inmates, soldiers,
officers, etc. have never been instituted.  In fact, such attacks
have historically been encouraged, and even used, by the heads of some
pre-trail detention centers, prisons, armies, etc.  In other closed
communities, it is not only unusual to talk about the issue, but it
is normal to even deny that the problem exists at all.

In all of these institutions,
the man is disenfranchised, left absolutely unable to rely on any type
of protection.  He is trapped by the walls of the closed community
in which he lives.  In the army, these walls are a bit thinner,
as you can nevertheless attempt to escape, but fleeing from prison,
for instance, is practically impossible.

There is a commonly-held opinion
that the victims of male sexual violence are weak people.  Of course
this is not always the case.  The physically weak can sometimes
buy themselves out of rape with a large sum of money.  On the other
hand, physically strong, athletic males sometimes stand a comparatively
good chance of being raped, if for no other reason, then just because
the perpetrator wants to break such a person’s will.  These men
are first beaten half to death and then raped in their semiconscious

Next, we will discuss the origins
of the contemptuous attitude that often exists towards male rape victims.
In fact, these types of attitudes originate in the prison environment.
Inasmuch as free people relate in a negative manner towards male rape
victims, they, whether or not they intend to, are maintaining the very
same attitudes that exist in the prisons.  This means that the
victims come to think of their homes, towns, and streets as one, big
area of confinement, as yet another prison.  Certainly the readers
will agree that it is truly unfortunate when someone still feels like
a prisoner even once his sentence is over.

Indeed, in prisons and other
closed institutions, no one extends a helping hand to male rape victims.
In these places, the rape victim is the lowest of the outcasts, it is
as if he is not a human being.  No one attempts to help him out,
nor does anyone sit at the same table with him.  It is as if he
deserved it all, he deserved to be humiliated in such an evil, inhuman

Incidentally, isn’t it paradoxical
that most of the men in these institutions who consider themselves to
be of the Orthodox faith make an exception to their beliefs in how they
behave towards rape victims?  Where is their compassion in this

Our whole country has recently
spoken out in a single voice against pedophiles.  In the public’s
view, people who rape children deserve nothing but death.  However,
they behave with much more tolerance towards people who rape women,
as long as the victim is not killed.  And how do they relate to
the rapists of men?  “It is not our problem.  It is the
victim’s problem.”  Where does this lead us?  To rape
another citizen is categorically forbidden if that citizen is a minor,
but raping others turns out to be acceptable when those raped are adults.

The laws, of course, forbid
the rape of any citizen, be that citizen young or old, whatever the
color of his or her skin, and whatever his or her religion. However,
with respect to those systematically raped in prisons, the laws, for
whatever reason, simply do not apply.

Finishing up our short description
of the problems faced by male rape victims, we should understand the
following idea.  For a civilized human being, the conscious denigration
of another person is simply not acceptable.  No form of humiliation
is in any way acceptable, regardless of age or gender.  Sexual
rape constitutes the most heinous, the most sinful means of abasing
a person.  Rapists are, therefore, always monsters.  The suffering
side is always the victim:  this is the person who is deserving
of love, sympathy, and human support.  Moreover, he is in need
of a specialist’s help.  All sympathy should lie with the victim,
and all antipathy, all hatred and contempt, should be directed towards
the rapist.  Making fun of the suffering victim and “black-listing”
him—only a person who sides with rapists, degenerates, and maniacs
could behave in this way.

We turn now to consider the
assistance that can be given by specialists.  A person who has
undergone such an ordeal as rape will never be able to free himself
of the knowledge that this happened to him.  Very often, people
try to forget this nightmare as they would a terrible dream.  But
even if he forgets the event, this is no way means that will be able
to entirely free himself of the recollection.  No!  It lodges
itself in the back of his mind and manifests itself in different guises:
though anxiety, depression, heart disease, alcoholism, narcotics, etc.
Such an experience gives rise to a variety of “sores,” which every
passing day become bigger and bigger, until they eat the soul, and then
the body.  These people are in extraordinary need of psychological
assistance.  Only a professional can help the sufferer to come
to terms with his internal anguish, to return back to normal, and once
again begin to consider himself an individual of full worth.  The
most important thing is to convince the sufferer that this help is necessary
and that he should receive it as soon as possible.

And first and foremost, we
must provide the victim with constant moral support, convincing him
that for his friends and loved ones, he continues to be the same wanted
and loved person he ever was before the tragedy occurred.

Your psychologist,

Ilya Berdyshev

Эта запись так же доступна на: Russian