Michael J. Salamon
Michael J. Salamon

We are not all Harvey Weinsteins

“When she came home a few years back and told me that her supervisor had pinched her ass, I asked if she slapped him. That’s all I said.”

In the wake of the growing number of recent reports about sexual harassment and abuse many men feel that there is a need to speak out. There seems to be a pattern of feelings that men want to express that goes like this:

Most men are not sleazy. Most men are content to come home from a day at work and settle in with their families. Most men have no sympathy for sexual abusers and harassers and are appalled when they hear of such cases. Many men know that while there are not that many abusers in the general population they exist in every community and one evil abusive individual often preys on dozens of victims. There are many victims. One in four women and one in five men are abused.

The pain sexual harassers and abusers cause is horrific. I treat victims of abuse. I see the chaos and destruction they cause to so many people.

Most people are never apologists for abusers. Far from it. Most people take a very hard line with those who manipulate others for their own grotesque ideas of sexual satisfaction even if, until now, they did not know how to handle it.

The celebrated, like Ehud Olmert, Moshe Katsav, Bill Cosby, Bill O’Reilly, Judge Roy Moore, Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Louis C.K. are only the latest among the highly placed men who are accused of being abusive. But there are less well known, less powerful and less celebrated people who are sexually exploitative among the abusers that we do not hear enough of, but we should.

Abusers are not always somebodies, but most are quite adept at using charm or power to manipulate their victims and the social networks they operate in. Not all men in positions of power are abusive. Some abusers are school teachers, professors and bus drivers too. They are powerful in their environments. Most often abusers are members of the family.

We believe people when they tell us that they have been abused. Research indicates that, in the absence of some compelling pressure to obfuscate, victims who come forward about their abuse are telling the truth virtually all the time no matter how much time has passed since the abuse occurred.

We also have no stomach for victim blaming.

We support #metoo for those who are capable and comfortable with that venue for airing their personal history of abuse. We encourage victims of abuse to report their abusers to the authorities, to overcome the shame they feel and put it where it belongs, on the abusive person. Reporting can help a victim move from their weakened sense of victimhood to a healthier life of resilience. And, reporting an abuser can help prevent further abuse from occurring to themselves and others.

Most men support victims and have a hard time containing the fury we feel toward abusive men and women.

We believe in a healthy sex life with a willing partner. We share our fantasies and beds with people we care about and who care about us. We are never forceful — perhaps on occasion needy — and we try to not be overbearing. We can be wild and ask to experiment but we want you to do the same with us. We try to be tactful but at times we are immature and demanding.

Overall, we treat our partners as partners. We treat our co-workers with respect and generally we treat people the way we want them to treat us. Yes we ogle at some women some of the time. After all we are built to be attracted to others. It’s in our hormones and our genes. But even if we do stare that does not mean we will do anything other than look. We are not power hungry nor do we fantasize that all women crave us. And when we act charming it is not because we want to abuse someone.

In short, we are not so narcissistic nor are we so insecure that we must have others give us massages, perform sexual favors for us, drug others for sex, rub up against them or pinch their bottoms as they pass us by.

“When she came home a few years back and told me that her supervisor had pinched her ass, I asked if she slapped him. That’s all I said.

I should have told her to report him!”

Most men are learning to listen more carefully and will do whatever they can to be helpful and can be relied upon to be there for you.

About the Author
Dr. Michael Salamon ,a fellow of the American Psychological Association, is an APA Presidential Citation Awardee for his 'transformative work in raising awareness of the prevention and treatment of childhood sexual abuse". He is the founder and director of ADC Psychological Services in New York and the author of numerous articles, several psychological tests and books including "The Shidduch Crisis: Causes and Cures" (Urim Publications) and "Every Pot Has a Cover" (University Press of America). His newest book is called "Abuse in the Jewish Community: Religious and Communal Factors that Undermine the Apprehension of Offenders and the Treatment of Victims."
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