"There are 8,000 men coming into the military every year who have been sexually assaulted," said Chris Anderson, founder and executive director of MaleSurvivor, an organization of professional staff who seek to improve resources and support available to male survivors of all forms of sexual abuse in the U.S. and around the globe.
Staff of Sexual Harassment, Assault and Rape Prevention brought in Anderson for SHARP training April 6 and 7 to talk to brigades across the installation about sexual assault on men in and out of the military.
"It was very eye-opening with the statistics," said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Matthew David, 1st Infantry Division Band. "I know the stigma with sexual assault, and whenever I usually think of it I think of the female perspective. It was really eye-opening when he said more of the victims are male, which kind of makes sense because the force is mostly male. Just like any other military training, it's essential."
Anderson, a survivor of sexual assault himself, talked to Soldiers about the stigmas behind being a male survivor and how to help those who have been assaulted.
"One of the things that we know as an organization is that the military is taking a big step forward in trying to address this proactively in ways that many other major institutions in our country have not," Anderson said. "So by working in collaboration with the military, we feel we're a partner in trying to not only effectively prevent more sexual abuse from happening, but perhaps, even more critically, ensure that men and women who have experienced any form of sexual trauma in their lifetimes are able to get the support that they need in order to heal, and be whole, and be a stronger person. Which, inevitably, makes for a stronger organization and a stronger military in the long run."
A portion of Anderson's speech identified what a person should do if someone approaches him about a sexual harassment or assault incident. Anderson's method is called B.P.T. an acronym that stands for "Believe, stay Present, say Thank You."
He said the first step is to believe them. Even if they are saying something that may sound crazy, it is important to believe that their pain is real.
The next step is to stay present. According to Anderson, it is important to listen to the person in that moment, and not start talking about their attacker or saying phrases such as "I feel so awful."
Finally, say "thank you" when that person is finished with their story. Anderson said it is a big step for that person to talk about what happened to them and open up, and simply saying "thank you" is just right for that moment.
Anderson's presentation also talked about the effects sexual assault will have on a person.
"A person who has been sexually assaulted is almost twice as likely to suffer from PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) as someone who has been in combat," he said.
Anderson referenced statistics and correlated them to the military.
"It's kind of neat because as he mentions that if there's something going on in society, the military usually addresses it first within our ranks," David said. "His story was very powerful. The biggest thing is that it doesn't take away from your masculinity. It's okay to talk about this, because that's another stigma. So there are a bunch of people who are suffering that we don't know about, so hopefully it'll start that conversation."