Aaron Gilmore was not even a teenager when he was sexually abused by a family friend who he regarded as a second mother. But when he reported it to police years later they told him they couldn’t see what crime had taken place.
Ken Clearwater was 12 years old when he said he was sexually violated by a woman and asked to do things he could never comprehend and was left scarred, ashamed and broken.
He never reported that abuse or named the woman involved.
Both men carried a deep shame for years, worried that police and society wouldn’t believe that they had been abused by women. Both men believe this is why males don’t come forward to report it.
Now a father-of-two children and the owner of a dancing school in Auckland, Mr Gilmore told news.com.au the grooming began at 11 after Hendrika Margaret Shaskey noticed he was a troubled kid craving attention.
She was jailed for five years for the sexual violation of Mr Gilmore in 2003. Initially, Shaskey was charged with cruelty to a child but this was upgraded to sexual violation. In 2005 New Zealand law was changed which raised the maximum jail term to 10 years for any “sexual connection” with a person under 16.
While the NZ Dancing with the Stars performer has learned to cope with what took place during his formative years, it left him feeling numb and like a shell. He said he felt he was unable to escape from the abuse.
“Consent can’t really be given when you’re in that state no matter how immature or mature you may feel,” he said of the abuse which went on until he was 18. “She (Shaskey) was genuinely nice to me,” he said. “I didn’t have that kind of relationship with my own mother, I even called her my second mother. She won my trust.”
When alarm bells started to ring as the abuse became more sexual, he said she assured him it was their special secret. He began to stay over and eventually moved in with Shaskey after his parents accepted her home was closer to his high school.
It was what he called a “typical grooming story”.
What started as hugging and kissing on the cheek soon progressed to much more but as the months wore on he said he became more uncomfortable with the situation and wanted out.
But when he told her he said she “burst into tears” and threatened to tell his parents, telling him it was all his fault.
“I was a shell, I shut down, I just existed,” he said.
Feeling trapped, he felt he had no choice but to stay. He managed to escape the situation when he was 18.
But it wasn’t until he went to counseling at 22 that he finally had the courage to report what took place. With the help of his partner and mother of his two children he went to the police.
The police reaction was one he will never forget.
“The officer said ‘I’m failing to see a crime here’ and my partner lost it,” he said.
While justice was eventually served, Mr Gilmore said it has been a long road to recovery and he still struggles with society’s view of sexual abuse.
He also said people needed to stop thinking men or boys enjoyed such abuse or that it was “good practise” as that wasn’t helping men talk about it.
‘SHE VIOLATED ME’
Ken Clearwater was just 12 years old when he said he was sexually violated.
Already having suffered a rape at the hands of a man, he never expected to be abused by a woman. “She sexually violated me and wanted me to do things to her that I couldn’t even comprehend,” the Christchurch man said of the second assault.
That abuse, which followed a rape six months earlier, destroyed the tiny amount of innocence and trust he had left.
Alan William Davies was arrested and spent time in jail for abusing the young Ken after being charged with two counts of indecent assault. Ashamed, he didn’t report the abuse at the hands of the woman or tell anyone out of fear no one would believe a “confused” boy.
“She made me lie on the bed beside her, she started touching me sexually and got me to touch her,” he told news.com.au “I was scared and couldn’t get an erection and she laughed at me and said I wasn’t a real man, and she was right I was a frightened boy.
“After the abuse that happened to me I went from a happy little boy to a nasty angry sarcastic person.”
More than 50 years later, the father of “two beautiful daughters” still has difficulty trusting women.
“I struggle with re lationships with women and feel that when I am in it I am trapped,” he said.
“Alan was charged, but I never told anybody about the woman as it was to shameful, and I probably wouldn’t have spoken about Alan if he hadn’t been caught.”
At 14 the young Ken was expelled from school for a confrontation with a teacher, lost his job at the freezer works for striking the foreman and was arrested for attacking two police officers in the 1980s.
“I started drinking alcohol at 12 and smoked cigarettes. It wasn’t until 1972 I found marijuana, opium, LSD, cocaine etc. All these things helped get me through the tough times.
“The biggest problem was alcohol as I always got violent whereas the marijuana helped me relax and forgot about the s*** spinning around in my head.”
He took up boxing to feel “more like a man” and as a way of channelling his aggression.
The 63-year-old who is the manager of Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse Trust (MSSAT) in Christchurch, said he believed sexual abuse at the hands of both men and women, remained massively under reported.
Mr Clearwater said males are very reluctant to report sexual abuse because of shame, guilt and fear, “especially the fear of being seen as perpetrators, weak, gay etc”.
“And when the perpetrator is a woman there is the fear you won’t be believed or that you shouldn’t complain and you should count yourself lucky,” he said.
“People seem to think being a male victim is not as bad as being a female victim and that if the perpetrator is a female the damage isn’t as bad not realising the psychological damage it can do and especially if that female is a mother.
“As in many countries males have been seen as perpetrators and not victims and our country is having trouble coming to terms with female perpetrators.”
Mr Clearwater said research conducted by Dr Tess Patterson from the University of Otago with nine of his clients revealed all had been sexually abused by males and half at the hands of woman.
“Many of the men we work with have been abused by females of all the men we have worked with only one has ever been to the police and reported it,” he said.
“The woman received a five-year sentence which is huge and unusual in New Zealand.”
At a TED talk in Queenstown in April this year, Mr Clearwater said one in six boys will be sexually abused before their 16th birthday.
“We will never know how many boys and girls are being sexually abused some live with shame and guilt who take their own lives,” he said.
“Sexual abuse and violence is a human rights issue not a gender issue.”
He said until we accept this, male victims of sexual abuse and violence will continue to be treated in a manner that is both unfair and unjust.
Exact numbers surrounding sex abuse are difficult to obtain with many cases going unreported.
However, an ANROWS analysis of the 2013 Australian Bureau of Statistics Personal Safety Survey (PSS) found women were still significantly more likely to have experienced sexual violence and assault than men.
It found 1.5 million women (17.1 per cent), or one in six, have experienced sexual assault.
Around 33.5 times as many women reported sexual assault at the hands of a man (852,800) compared to another woman (25,400).
One in 15 men (0.3 million), or 4 per cent, experienced sexual assault since the age of 15, the figures reveal.
But surprisingly more men experienced sexual assault by a female (130,600) than at the hands of another man (72,300).
FEMALE SEX PERPETRATORS
A survey in the US found that a similar amount of women reported being raped in a 12-month period as the amount of men who were “made to penetrate” a female offender. A new paper titled Sexual Victimisation Perpetrated by Women: Federal Data Reveal Surprising Prevalence, contradicts the idea that female sexual perpetration is rare.
Researchers used data from four main surveys, including from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, to reach their conclusion.
Using CDC data, they found that women and men reported a nearly equal rates of non-consensual sex in a 12-month period.
It found 1.6 per cent of women in the US reported being raped in the past 12 months (1.9 million), which is a similar rate to the 1.7 per cent of men (1.9 million) who reportedly were “made to penetrate a perpetrator”.
This article was originally published on news.com.au