O’Brien Dennis the author of "The Cries of Men" provides us with commentary on Male Sexual Abuse and Jamaica. His book "The Cries of Men" is featured in our book reviews .
Commentary Jamaica Magazine

Male Sexual Abuse and Jamaica

I don’t understand the dynamics of homosexuality and frankly I don’t care what two consenting adult males do in private. I am however concerned about a man taking advantage of an innocent child and taking his mind into a state of sexual confusion. Male rape is not remote to any one social culture, it spans across all cultural, economical and religious lines and it is a crime against humanity that affects all of us.

Sexual abuse is all about power. It is when a person in authority forces you to perform sexual acts for him or her. Sexual abuse goes far beyond penal intrusion; it may range from the use of explicit pictures and language, to kissing and touching. It is a violation of your mind and body and it is something used to keep you in a continued state of vulnerability.

On the tiny island of Jamaica and to a greater extent, cultures within the African Diaspora, victims of male sexual abuse are considered homosexuals. This is a myth. A sexual act of violence can not make a child or a grown man a homosexual. When an adult threatens, seduces you or forces you to commit sexual acts it does not mean you are a homosexual. Even if you were aroused or helped him in the process, it was still not your fault. You never had a choice in being abused.

As a child growing up in Jamaica I yearned constantly for an adult male to come public about being sexually abused as a child. It wasn’t until I journeyed to the United States that I met upon grown Jamaican men who have fled Jamaica and are now candid about childhood sexual abuse. It is difficult for males in general to talk about sexual abuse because of the stigma attached to the sexual act. You believe at times that you are alone but the truth is you are not. You feel weak and defenseless each time you think about the abuse. Talking about male sexually abused gives you the individual strength and it helps you to realize that it was not your fault. It also encourages others to speak up and renew their strength.

Male sexual abuse in Jamaica unfortunately is not on the decline; it is gradually increasing and grossly under-reported. Jamaica’s cultural values, which include religion, music and our political framework has been a major deterrent in forcing young boys and men to be silent about sexual abuse. Society has narrowly defined masculinity and expects its boys to be fearless, strong, always in control and defenders. It becomes threatening at times for boys and men within society to display supposedly feminine qualities. To be a man and to be masculine is an ongoing process of growth which last until death. Most young men who have been sexually abused question their masculinity.

What abuse does is to steal your authentic self and bring you in a state of confusion, fear, anger and denial. Who is a man? Slavery has robbed Jamaica of its men and many young boys grow up fatherless or without a male figure. Men do cry. Men do feel hurt. Men do feel weak at times. It is the notion of false masculinity and gender roles that confuse children about who a man is and what it means to be masculine. It is inner strength for a man to show emotion and to express his inner self rather than unleashing his built-up anger in a negative way. Untapped emotions are dangerous for men as it sometimes forces them in a bar-less prison. Boys who were sexually abused have indirectly been taught to not trust men and to be afraid of men.

Sexual violation has long been used as a method of emasculation. Two of the most common reasons males don’t report abuses are that they fear to be seen as weak and at worst a homosexual. Sexual abuse has no correlation with sexual orientation. Homophobia has forced many young men to shake the abuse off, keep it to themselves buried in a pile of expectation and denial. Denial at times forces some of these men to numb their pain by engaging in homosexual activities out of sexual confusion and thus resulting in some men being bisexual.

Engaging in homosexual activities as a result of sexual abuse does not make a man gay or bisexual. Labels concerning sexual orientation have a very interesting dynamics to them as to be a homosexual far exceeds the sexual act. Most sexual abusers are male and do consider themselves to be heterosexuals.

It is imperative for us as a society to acknowledge male sexual abuse. Men work twice as hard as women to hide sexual abuse. I have spoken to too many men who have internalized sexual abuse. Men sometimes find relief by sedating themselves with alcohol or drugs or they become physically abusive or turn to sexual violence. Boys rarely talk about abuse and as a society we have a responsibility to our children to talk to them about sexuality and appropriate touch. Most offenders are not strangers and over 80% of offenders are known to the child.

About the author

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