Because "rape is no longer a women's issue," a tree was dedicated this week at Franklin Covey Field to men who have experienced sexual assault.

The tree, planted in the northeast corner of the field, is to be a monument and gathering place for men who have experienced sexual assault either by being victims themselves or by supporting a loved one who has been a victim, said Monte Hanks, a board member of the Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault, the group that held the event. April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

One of seven boys is sexually assaulted by the time he reaches 18, Jamee Roberts, executive director of the Rape Recovery Center, said.

Roberts said it's difficult to figure the number of adult men who are sexually assaulted because they often don't report the crimes. Only one in 100 men report a rape when it happens, as compared to one of 10 women, Roberts said. However, Rape Recovery saw almost 300 men in 2000, most of whom were "secondary survivors."

Secondary survivors are victims of rape, too, and "will suffer the same (as victims), shock, grief, fear. They have trouble sleeping," Roberts said.

"They will also feel responsible for not providing safety" since society generally teaches that's a man's role, Roberts said.

Members of the University of Utah baseball team also attended the tree dedication, despite pressures of upcoming finals, and team captain Mitch Maio said "every man among us will be victims or secondary victims of sexual assault."

"Sexual violence has become a silent epidemic," Ned Searle, Department of Health sexual assault prevention coordinator, said.

Men need to stop blaming women who are rape victims, and the "boys will be boys" attitude needs to change. "We mistakenly accept this behavior as masculine," Searle said.

Much more masculine, Searle said, is to have the courage to speak up when you or a loved one falls victim to sexual violence.

Salt Lake Police Chief C.F. "Rick" Dinse said his department supports groups like the coalition and that more police departments need to support similar organizations.


E-mail: lhancock@desnews.com