To learn more about best practices working with male survivors of sexual assault, NSVRC reviewed the Sexual Assault Services Program (SASP) 2017 Victim Services Data from the Violence Against Women Act Measuring Effectiveness Initiative. The SASP Formula Grant Program funds sexual assault programs and other organizations to provide services to sexual assault survivors. We were interested in learning how programs used this funding to provide services to men.
According to the report, 10.9% of victims served in 2017 whose gender was known identified as male. To learn more about how programs provide services to men, we identified several programs that reported higher-than-average rates of male survivors served with this funding stream. Out of these programs, we then identified centers that mostly served adults. Finally, we identified centers with differing service areas based on other reported demographic information including race, disability, and immigration status.
We then interviewed several centers from this list to learn what they have done to reach and serve male survivors in their communities. We published a summary of the themes in the document, Lessons on Serving Male Survivors through SASP. This blog is the first in a series of three that highlights in more depth what programs said. (Find the other blogs in this series here and here.) Responses have been edited for clarity and brevity.
Family Crisis Resource Center, Cumberland, MD
Sarah L. Kaiser, MS, Executive Director
Center Against Sexual & Family Violence, El Paso, TX
Yazmin Perez, M. Ed., Associate Director of Sexual Assault Services
How do you present your program/services so that community members know that services are for men?
Sarah Kaiser: We use gender-neutral language, incorporate statistics and examples that include male survivors during presentations, and have “All Are Welcome” posters up outside of the building. We’ve worked hard over the past 15 years to dispel the notion that our services are only for women.
Yazmin Perez: We have a team of outreach facilitators that go out to educate the community about sexual assault and the services we provide. On average, they do about five presentations per month informing about services available for any survivor, including men.
What have you put in place to bolster services for men?
SK: Tons of training from the state coalitions, social media posts focusing specifically on male survivors, educating our community partners, shifted the safe house to include all genders.
YP: We created a support group curriculum specifically designed for male survivors. We also provide training to our staff and volunteers about working with male survivors.
How did some of these things that are bolstering serving male survivors come to be?
SK: The efforts were specifically conducted to make our services accessible to all. It has become a fabric of the organization.
YP: These things were all developed and implemented after taking on services for sexual assault and becoming the local rape crisis center as a dual provider.
What have you learned while trying to reach men and build services for men?
SK: Despite all of our efforts, a huge stigma still exists for male survivors—and community partners (even board members) quickly forget our ability to serve all. This means we have to continue pushing regularly to ensure all understand that men experience this trauma and deserve services.
YP: It is still very difficult to attract the male survivor population and encourage them to seek services. It takes them longer to want to talk about the subject, and they are embarrassed to disclose the abuse.
Violence Against Women Act Measuring Effectiveness Initiative. (n.d.). SASP 2017 victim service data [Unpublished raw data]. University of Southern Maine, Muskie School of Public Service.