Resources and discussions of abuse often focus on female victims, but men also can suffer from the same issues.
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, a time to grow awareness for victims and those that could help them, so they know what support options are available within the community. Men often are unaware of the resources available, according to staff members at advocacy centers in St. Joseph and Maryville.
The team at the St. Joseph YWCA worked with 88 male victims last year, but CEO Tammy Killin said that number probably was lower than the actual number of men impacted by abuse.
“We do know that there’s a lot unreported,” she said. “And there’s various reasons, whether it is entrapment issues or, you know, just again what other stigmas that may be a part of it.”
The YWCA provides services like counseling, regardless of gender. Emergency shelter is only available for women and children, but the center helps men find safe housing.
The YWCA also helps victims find personal support in their everyday lives, Killin said.
“I think there’s just so many dynamics that can play into how they react,” she said. “You know, a lot of times some of the characteristics that we see, that we work victims through, is feelings of guilt and shame, embarrassment, feelings of helplessness and hopelessness.”
Victims aren’t the only ones who suffer in domestic abuse cases. Many children grow up seeing abusive intimate relationships between family members, Killin said, whether that is between parents, grandparents or others.
North Star Advocacy Center in Maryville provides services to men and women in Atchison, Gentry, Holt, Nodaway and Worth counties. In addition to offering services similar to the St. Joseph YWCA, North Star also has housing available for men. The center helped 10 male victims last year.
Stats can be helpful, but it’s a mistake to start viewing victims based on numbers or gender, Killin said.
“We make a lot of assumptions and I think one thing that we have learned is how that can really hinder somebody’s process of healing and recovery ... when you make those assumptions because every individual situation is different,” she said. “Yes, you can see cycles, and patterns and trends, but when you have an individual, you don’t look at them as if they’re a male or a female.”
YWCA resources are available by calling 816-232-4481. North Star can be reached at 660-562-2320.