Health Services to offer support group for male survivors of sexual trauma
This February, UMD Health Services will offer a support group for male survivors of sexual trauma. Dr. Larry Helmbrecht-LaPointe has worked with male survivors of sexual assault for a number of years at both UMD and Weber State University in Utah, and is looking forward to starting this group on campus. He said that it is important for males to know that professional health providers are aware of it.
“I am offering the group in part so that those people know that there is a place to talk about it, and that they are not by themselves,” Helmbrecht-LaPointe said. “Even if they don’t come to the group, the seed is planted that someone is aware of this.”
According to malesurvivor.org, at least one in six boys are sexually abused in childhood and one out of every four males will experience some form of sexual trauma in their lives. Helmbrecht-LaPointe said that it can take up to 20 years for a male to disclose information about unwanted sexual contact.
“Typically men don’t talk about their abuse or unwanted sexual contact history,” Helmbrecht-LaPointe said. “There are folks out there that have had that experience.”
Helmbrecht-LaPonte said that people who do not want to join the group will at least know that there is a contact person at UMD.
“They have a specific name that they could contact if they wanted to work on it individually,” Helmbrecht-LaPointe said.
Helmbrecht-LaPointe has been working with male survivors for a number of years, mostly in individual therapy. Weber State University offered the same type of group that Helmbrecht-LaPointe is offering now at UMD.
“There’s help out there, but it’s typical of men to not talk about it,” Helmbrecht-LaPointe said. “And to talk about what happened, it goes around in their head; what does it mean for me as male? If I’m a guy and I’m assaulted by a guy, what does that mean? It may cause a male to question their sexuality when they typically wouldn’t.”
Besides groups like these, Helmbrecht-LaPointe said that it is important to advocate and talk about the issue, especially on college campuses.
“It’s important for people to recognize that this is an issue also,” Helmbrecht-LaPointe said. “That sexual assault or unwanted sexual contact isn’t only a women’s issue, but it’s a men’s issue as well.”
Helmbrecht-LaPointe said that it’s important that parents talk to their male children about not only unwanted touch, but also talk to them about the same things as they would with female children as they are growing up.
“Telling them that ‘this may be something that you don’t like,’” Helmbrecht-LaPointe said. “If they notice changes in their male children, ask questions about what might have happened. Ask similar questions they would ask their female children.”
Helmbrecht-LaPointe said that it is valuable to recognize that the sexual assault and unwanted sexual trauma is a result of power, not necessarily sexuality.
Providing panel discussions in classes and talking about both female and male survivors in orientation are other things that could be done at universities, according to Helmbrecht-LaPointe.
“I’m guessing when sexual assault is talked about on college campuses it’s geared towards females, which is not bad, but talk about it at first year student orientations,” Helmbrecht-LaPointe said. “Talk about it in developmental classes and make a place where faculty and staff could talk about it and have the information presented.”
Helmbrecht-LaPointe said that the chances of sexual assault against males at UMD is pretty high.
“It happens in fraternities, it happens in athletics teams, and so on,” Helmbrecht-LaPointe said.
Helmbrecht-LaPointe is planning to postpone the start date of the group. If anyone is interested, they can call to set up a time to speak individually. The room will not be listed for confidentiality.
“The really important thing for young men to know is that this is an issue, it is real, and they are not the only one this has happened to, and it doesn’t have anything to do with masculinity,” Helmbrecht-LaPointe said.
If interested in joining or interviewing for the group, call Larry Helmbrecht-LaPointe at (218) 726-8956.
Correction made 1/30/2018: Title of Larry Helmbrecht-LaPointe was corrected from counselor to doctor.