Personal Fouls: Male Sexual Abuse on Law & Order: SVU

In 2011, NBC aired a very powerful episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit called “Personal Fouls.” It was the first in the series that dealt directly with sexual abuse of male children and adolescents by a trusted coach. 

Basketball superstars Chris Bosh and Carmelo Anthony guest starred with Mehcad Brooks (True Blood, Necessary Roughness) and Dan Lauria (The Wonder Years) on this powerful episode, which tells the story of a basketball coach revered by many in the community as a trusted mentor and teacher to generations of young men who comes under suspicion of molesting a number of his players. 

Little did we know it would air for the first time just weeks before the tragedies at Penn State, Syracuse and Poly Prep in Brooklyn were brought to light. 

For the broadcast of this watershed episode, Joyful Heart partnered with two of the leading organizations to engage and support men, A CALL TO MEN and 1in6, to produce a public service announcement and make resources available for viewers to find information, support and ways to get involved in efforts to end violence. Watch it here:


While women and children represent the majority of victims of sexual and domestic violence, we know that men are affected as well. Males are sexually and physically abused and assaulted. They are witnesses and bystanders to violence. And sometimes, they are the perpetrators.

“Personal Fouls” reached a total of 11 million households. Our efforts helped launch a national conversation about the fact that 1 in 6 men have had an unwanted or abusive sexual experience and that engaging men—both men who are survivors and men who are bystanders to violence—is a crucial part of the movement to address, prevent and end violence and abuse. Since the episode aired, we have honored to continue and expand our partnerships to engage men: 

  • With 1in6. Joyful Heart partners with 1in6 to distribute informational materials for male survivors and the friends, family and partners, as well as professionals, who care for them. You can download and order these materials here. 1in6 also provides consultation and issue expertise on the subject of male sexual abuse in our efforts to influence storylines on television. You can also check out 1in6 posts on Reunion Online every week.
  • With A CALL TO MEN. We collaborate with A CALL TO MEN, one of the nation’s leading organizations to engage men to end violence against women and girls on a number of our Engaging Men initiatives. A CALL TO MEN is one of our partners with the Verizon Foundation on the Your Voice Counts campaign and staff members regularly consult with Joyful Heart to bring expertise on men’s involvement in ending violence to trainings and workshops about our issues. A CALL TO MEN is also a pivotal partner of NO MORE, bringing men’s voices and perspectives on violence into the movement to end domestic violence and sexual assault.
  • With the Verizon Foundation. We’re proud to partner with the Verizon Foundation on the Your Voice Counts campaign. Together with James Brown, Mariska Hargitay, A CALL TO MEN, Verizon’s Hopeline and NO MORE, the Your Voice Counts campaign is aimed at engaging men to speak out against domestic violence. This campaign invites all of us, along with influential leaders and organizations, to use our voices to help end domestic violence once and for all.



Printer-friendly version