Breaking News
More () »

Grand Rapids's Leading Local News: Weather, Traffic, Sports and more | Grand Rapids, Michigan | WZZM13.com

Local mental health experts recognize stigma surrounding men and trauma

"I think a lot of times men feel that a real man doesn't go and get help," Dr. Matthew Clark says.

Local mental health experts say Matt Schembechler telling his story is something that not all male victims of abuse can do. According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, nearly a quarter of men have experienced sexual violence in their lifetime, but some say that's a low estimate.

"I think a lot of times men feel that a real man doesn't go and get help," Dr. Matthew Clark says.

He's worked as a psychologist for more than 15 years now, and he says there's a stigma when it comes to men getting help for any kind of trauma, but particularly sexual abuse.

"They might feel more shame," Dr. Clark says. "They might feel like people might be likely to believe them than if it was a female victim. They might think people might put a certain sexuality label on them, or look at them differently."

And if the predator was in a position of power, he says that can keep people silent for a long time. 

"Many people have told me that that part is often more shaming or more intense feelings of anger and shame, just not being validated and more traumatized from that experience," Dr. Clark says. 

"We don't do a good job in our culture teaching men how to be more emotional," Therapist Kerry Prior says.

After more than 15 years of experience as a therapist, Prior says it can take a long time for people to heal from their trauma.

"Everyone wants to feel safe and validated," she says. "I have people that have come to me in their sixties" 

But no matter how much time has passed, Prior says speaking out is an important part of the healing process.

"It's very empowering for someone to come forward and say 'This happened to me,'" she says. 

Make it easy to keep up to date with more stories like this. Download the 13 ON YOUR SIDE app now.

Have a news tip? Email news@13onyourside.com, visit our Facebook page or Twitter. Subscribe to our YouTube channel.