Newsletter. Resourser for male survivors of SGBV

Newsletter No 2. April 2021 Sexual Assault Awareness Month

20.04 2021

Overview of content:
Sexual Assault Awareness Month
What do we know about the issue?
How can we all contribute to change?
Download the MHHRI GBV manual
Upcoming Event

Dear friends and colleagues,

Sexual Assault Awareness Month is an annual campaign with the aim to raise awareness about the issue and to educate people around the world about preventing sexual assault.

“Systems of oppression give greater social power to some people over others based on race, gender, sexual orientation, ability, and other aspects of identity. Working towards a future without sexual violence means that advocates, survivors, and communities need to respond to a complex and layered reality that centers the needs of those survivors most marginalized, silenced, and unseen”.
California Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CALCASA)         


MHHRI’s focus is on people of all sexual orientations, women, men and children who are exposed to human rights violations such as sexual violence in war and conflict. It can happen to anyone of any race, gender, economic status, ability, or age. All forms of sexual assault are violations of human rights and therefore illegal.

What do we know about the issue?

By sexual assault we mean any sexual act that survivors have been exposed to without their consent. Also, taking advantage of a victim’s incapacity to give genuine consent is considered abuse. An example is trading food for sex, which can be a form of coercion. Sexual violence in war and conflict is often considered a “weapon of war” and could classify as an act of torture. The overall aim of sexual violence is to humiliate, control and intimidate a person or a population to disrupt social ties.

It is difficult to estimate the prevalence of conflict-related sexual violence. An important reason is underreporting, which results from the intimidation and stigmatization of survivors. Females are more likely to be victims of sexual and gender-based violence, as well as LGBTQ+ and people with disability, but also a high number of men and boys are violated during war and conflict.

In order to create societal change, we need to break down taboos and shame around the topic, so it becomes less taboo to talk about it. We need to recognize the problem, dare to address it and require zero tolerance for sexual violence. Fortunately, based on the hard work of advocates and local organizations in the past decade, global understanding of the horrific impacts of conflict-related sexual violence has increased.

How can we all contribute to change?

We at MHHRI provide a resource database with free information about the consequences of human rights violations on mental health in contexts of disaster, conflict, and war. We wish to give necessary support and resources to survivors of sexual assault, their families, and helpers.
Everyone’s voice is important and necessary in preventing sexual violence. By spreading more awareness and educating people on the issue, we increase our number of allies to support survivors and prevent sexual violence before it happens.
We need to know where, when and how it happens to be able to do something about the problem, to know where to use our resources. Put simply: We need to know about the problem to be able to do something about it.
Change starts with awareness.

Further resources:

GBV-manual – Men & boys icon

If you are working with or assisting boys and men exposed to sexual violence in war, conflict and migration, or involved in training of helpers working directly with survivors, this is a good resource for you.

The handbook explains, among other things, how trauma affects mental health. It refers to methods and techniques that can be used to meet the psychological needs of abused boys and men, illustrated through true stories. The handbook can also be useful for people who already have knowledge and experience in the field. Click here to learn more

GBV-manual – Women icon

If you are working with or assisting women survivors of gender-based violence or involved in training of helpers working directly with survivors, this is a good resource for you. Violence against women, girls, men, and boys manifests itself in physical, sexual, and psychological forms. Even so, during times of instability, women and girls are disproportionately impacted by sexual and gender-based violence. Click here to learn more

Online training course about gender-based violence
If you are working with or assisting survivors of gender-based violence or involved in training of helpers working directly with survivors, this is a good resource for you.

Q&A: sexual violence in armed conflict
International committee of the red cross, 2016
The ICRC firmly believes that sexual violence in armed conflicts can be stopped. Through a comprehensive response including assistance, protection and prevention it seeks to ensure that the needs of victims are met and that activities to prevent these crimes are undertaken. The ICRC has committed to improving its response over the next four years, by enhancing and expanding its programs and strengthening its capacity to address this.

All manuals can be downloaded from the MHHRI website

There are three different manuals, which respectively address working with women, with boys and men, and with children who have experienced sexual violence.

The manuals are translated into several languages. The page numbers in each manual remain the same across languages. This allows survivors and helpers to work from copies in their preferred language and read the same content on the same pages. It also makes it easier to teach participants when participants and trainers work in more than one language. The manuals include a toolbox. Survivors can use it individually to regulate their own emotions through grounding exercises or in collaboration with a helper. Helpers can also use grounding exercises to take care of themselves as helpers.

Upcoming Events 

11th Globvac Conference  

Free online global health research in the last decades
Parallel session 1: Symposium 1 is focusing on Mental health
Online 20 – 21 April 2021

IRCT symposium in Georgia – postponed
2021 IRCT Scientific Symposium & General Assembly
Overcoming the Extreme: Life after Torture
2021 in Tbilisi, Georgia (more information will follow)

17th biennial conference of the European Society for Traumatic Stress Studies
Trauma and resilience through the ages: A life course perspective.
01- 04 June 2022
Northern Ireland.

Cinema Human Rights and Advocacy
16th edition of the Summer School
in Cinema Human Rights and Advocacy
30 August – 8 September 2021

4th European Conference on Domestic Violence
September 13th – 15th 2021 | online from Slovenia

Global challenges in health, migration, and equity
28. September – 1. October Bergen | Norway

22nd Nordic Conference For Professionals
Working With Traumatised Refugees
Rescheduled 9-10.12.2021 | Helsinki, Finland

The 11th International Society for Health and Human Rights (ISHHR) Conference
All being well, the International Society for Health and Human Rights looks forward to welcoming you to the 11th ISHHR conference and programme of capacity building in Medellin, Colombia 2021/2022 (tentative dates).
The ISHHR Conference and Capacity-Building Workshops will focus on themes relevant in a Colombian context, for both local and international participants, in cooperation with Región and Reconectando.

  • Strengthening Women’s Rights to Mental Health and Freedom from Violence – by changing behavior, practices and attitudes and facilitating safe and adequate care.
  • Supporting Human Rights Defenders who risk their lives in difficult and dangerous situations, side by side with families of victims of enforced disappearance and internally displaced (IDPs).
  • Treatment methods after traumatic human rights abuse. Remembering the body, promoting resilience; arts and culture, traditional and indigenous approaches.
  • Post-conflict reconciliation, reconstruction and re-socialisation Community mental health, justice human ecology, ethnic approaches to social action, empowerment and reconciliation.

We appreciate feedback and comments 

The Mental Health and Human Rights Info Newsletter is a newsletter with the aim to provide insight on a certain subject across the scope of our work; human rights violations in war and conflict areas and mental health. Our intention is to deliver a newsletter as a short “lecture” where you can find relevant information regarding a specific subject with a mental health perspective.

We would appreciate your thoughts and suggestions on other issues you would like to see in this newsletter or if you are planning an event on related issues, please let us know so we can include your event in our newsletter.

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On our MHHRI Facebook page, and on Instagram we are continuously posting new and relevant articles that we add to our website, as well as events and videos.

If you know anyone who would be interested in receiving this e-newsletter, please forward it, and encourage them to sign up.

Take care – and wishing you all the best.

Sincerely yours,
Elisabeth Langdal, Sara Skilbred, Mónica Orjuela, the MHHRI team
Mental Health and Human Rights Info