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Survivor speaks out after Toronto man sexually assaulted, mocked

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"Male sexual assault has historically been shrouded in secrecy and stigma", notes Alberta Sexual Assault Services (iStock)

Critics, including at least one male survivor of sexual assault, are speaking out against crass reactions to the sexual assault allegations recently made by a 19-year-old Toronto man.

The victim contacted police last Friday to report four female suspects in their 30s, who he met at a downtown nightclub. He said the women offered to drive him home, but sexually assaulted him instead.

Many took the sparse details circulated by police as fodder for jokes, saying that the man wouldn't have complained if the women weren't heavyset, or focusing on what the women were wearing instead of what they were doing.

Jeering 'disgusting'

On Wednesday, a different male survivor of sexual assault came forward to criticize the jeering taking place on social media.

"It's disgusting to me," said Jordan Masciangelo, who endured years of sexual abuse at the hands of his uncle.

'The social stigma is that men can't be victims.'

-- Jordan Masciangelo
In an interview with CBC Toronto's Metro Morning, Masciangelo told Matt Galloway it's really difficult for him to see other men silenced by stigma.

"The social stigma is that men can't be victims," said Masciangelo, who is part of an initiative called "Understanding and Responding to Male Sexual Victimization" that offers workshops for male victims across Ontario.

"The single most important thing in my recovery was meeting other men who had the same experience as me," he said, adding that men and women need to work together to eradicate the problem.

"Hopefully all those nasty tweets and comments on Facebook and all that kind of stuff will get the right people out from underneath the carpet to do the work that we do. To get this out into the open."

One man's sexual assault

Indeed many following the story online disparaged those who appeared - overtly or subtly - to be making light of the incident. Some of the criticism was directed at Canada's largest daily newspaper.

"Of course, one man's sexual assault is another man's sexual fantasy come true," wrote one Toronto Star columnist, who "writing with a straight face," speculated about just likely it was that the assault was "merely unwanted touching."

The writer was blasted by many observers online.

In one popular tweet, Steph Guthrie - a feminist advocate and community organizer - shared a link to a myth-busting post by the association of Alberta Sexual Assault Services.

"Male sexual assault has historically been shrouded in secrecy and stigma. Our culture values invulnerability and denial of pain as essential qualities of 'manliness.' Guys simply are not allowed to admit that they have been sexually assaulted and abused," noted the association.

"As a group, male survivors report a lack of recovery services and support -- many services are focused on meeting the needs of thousands of girls and women who are abused and assaulted."

What do you make of the reaction to this story? What should be done to encourage thoughtful conversation about sexual assault against men?

Tags: Canada, community

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