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Why Anthony Rapp’s Account of Sexual Assault is Extremely Important

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In an article published Sunday night on BuzzFeed, Star Trek: Discovery actor Anthony Rapp has revealed that back when he was a budding 14-year-old Broadway star, Kevin Spacey attempted statutory rape.

It all happened after a party at Spacey’s apartment. As the only kid in attendance, Anthony was bored. Not knowing anyone else there, he wandered off to a bedroom to watch television. One by one, the other guests left. That’s when an inebriated Kevin Spacey entered the bedroom.

“Spacey befriended Rapp while they both performed on Broadway shows, invited Rapp over to his apartment for a party, and, at the end of the night, picked Rapp up, placed him on his bed, and climbed on top of him, making a sexual advance. According to public records, Spacey was 26. Rapp was 14.” — BuzzFeed

“He was trying to seduce me,” Anthony recalls. “I don’t know if I would have used that language. But I was aware that he was trying to get with me sexually.”

Thankfully, Rapp managed to squirm out from under Spacey, and — after hiding in a bathroom for some period of time — eventually managed to leave the apartment.

Kevin Spacey was quick to respond to the allegations. Via Twitter, Spacey claims he doesn’t remember the incident, but if he is guilty it’s because he was drunk. Also, he’s gay and it was 30 years ago. See for yourself:

Despite the fact that Spacey claims to not remember, and shifts blame onto alcohol, homosexuality, and the incident occurring “30 years ago,” some media outlets have described his statement as an “apology.” They also appear to whitewash an alleged attempt at statutory rape by using vague terms like “sexual advance.”

For example:

All this misdirection underscores exactly why Anthony Rapp’s courage in sharing his account is so important. Either the media doesn’t care about male sexual abuse, or they don’t think the public cares. Whatever the case, many apparently don’t consider Anthony’s experience to be the newsworthy revelation of the day. Thankfully, BuzzFeed did.

Despite the perception that male rape and sexual abuse is uncommon, the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) states that approximately 1 in 6 boys and 1 in 4 girls are sexually abused before the age of 18. That’s about 16.6% of all US males. According to the Rape And Incest National Network (RAINN), 1 in 33 men have experienced an attempted or completed rape, and 1 out of 10 rape victims are male.

Keep in mind, only about 16% of all rapes are ever reported, and male victims are much less likely to report because male abuse is so stigmatized.

This is why it’s so important when brave men such as Anthony Rapp publicly declare that they’ve been abused. Despite lame attempts from some in the media to minimize and divert, it needs to be widely understood that boys and men are not immune to victimization, or off the radar of predatory perverts.

This is important because:

  1. Parents and adults need to be aware that boys in their care require protection against sexual abuse.
  2. Men and boys should not be made to feel that their experience is shameful or taboo.
  3. Men and boys should feel enough support that they are able to report, seek counseling, and get help following a traumatic event.

As I write Those Who Weep, I’ve corresponded with well over 50 abuse survivors. I didn’t approach any of these people. As I began posting on social media about my own experiences and sharing excerpts from my book, they contacted me. More than half have been male. Many were abused or raped as children or teens. Several were homeless youths who traded sex in exchange for food, clothing, or other provisions. Several were assaulted by parents, aunts, uncles, or older children. As far as I’m aware, none of them ever reported their abuse. For some, I’m the only person they’ve ever told.

While my research does not compare to the broad surveys conducted by organizations such as the CDC or the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the fact that over 50% of my sources have been male concerns me greatly. Many of the men who have confided in me have explained that they feared being labeled as “gay” or diagnosed with PTSD. They don’t want to be pressured into therapy and made to relive their experience over and over. They want to move on with their lives and pretend that it ever happened. They don’t want their chances at a happy relationship to be lessened because they’re known to be “damaged goods.”

It is likely easier for male victims to confide in a confidential social media friend than face-to-face with a male police officer holding a notepad and pen. It is far more comfortable to read blogs and independently research rather than commit to pricey therapy sessions which may or may not actually help. It is considered much more “manly” to DIY rather than go through the painful ordeal of divulging your most painful secrets to a doctor or law enforcement officer who might not “get” what you’re going through.

I fear that male abuse statistics are woefully inaccurate. I fear that — while the number of females assaulted is likely notably higher — the percentages are far closer than anyone imagines. With the courage of survivors such as Anthony Rapp, we may begin to see many other male survivors emboldened to speak out. Perhaps then this under-recognized tragedy will receive the attention it deserves. Perhaps future male victims will not be given so much reason to fear the judgement of an unsympathetic society.

She's a Texan stay-at-home mom of three who listens to heavy metal and likes black licorice. She's baking, piano-playing poet who loves fantasy literature, Star Trek, and will slay you at Scrabble. But even as she's changing diapers, sweeping up Cheerios, and cleaning peanut butter off the cat, Jennifer is thinking about writing. Whether she's crafting her next humorous parenting anecdote, composing a new song, or contemplating a profound theological concept, 87.42% of Jennifer's writing is done in her head.
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