In 2021, Michael sought to hold one of his abusers accountable by filing a complaint with the Police Department. During his interview, the SVU Detectives noted he'd provided enough information to warrant an investigation. Though fourteen when the abuse occurred, the Attorney General declined to pursue charges, stating Michael was not thirteen or younger during that time and framed it as consensual sex.
The last remaining option was a Civil Lawsuit, and Michael contacted Sexual Abuse Attorneys in Rhode Island, all of whom stated that while he had a strong case, they’d be unwilling to move forward because his abuser’s net worth wasn’t enough to justify their time and effort.
Michael has often commented, “My biggest mistake was being raped a year too late by a woman who isn’t wealthy.”
With no legal recourse available, he began investigating sexual consent laws across the country and research studies about male victims and female sexual offenders.
Michael’s takeaways were: Sexual consent law is both antiquated and does not serve the best interest of victims, the prevalence of male sexual abuse is astonishing, yet an infinitesimal number of services are available to them, and female sexual offenders are primarily ignored by researchers, the justice system, and perceived by the public as an essentially harmless rarity.
He discovered that while researching rape and sexual violence, Dr. Lara Stemple of the UCLA School of Law found the number of male victims so high that she called the Bureau of Justice Statistics to see if it had made a mistake in its data collection.
The tipping point was when Michael discovered that in Rhode Island, it’s not only legal for a fourteen-year-old student to consent to sexual touch by a school employee, but the state’s two teachers’ unions are fighting a bill that would make it a criminal offense.
Michael began posting all the information he’d gathered from these studies and was interviewed for several podcasts. Nearly all hosts remarked he was the first male victim they’d had as a guest, reinforcing the notion that male victims are far less likely to discuss their abuse or seek help or assistance.
With no existing forum for male victims to share their stories of abuse, Michael created the SILENCED BY STIGMA podcast, interviewing survivors and mental health, legal, law enforcement, and research specialists to offer insight into this hidden and pervasive epidemic.
The men who came forward to share their stories echoed the same sentiment: They’d never spoken publicly about their abuse and found doing so eased their burden.
The need for intervention was clear, and that’s precisely what SILENCED BY STIGMA is here to do.