For Male Victims of Sexual Assault
According to RAINN: Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network,
as many as one in 33 males will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. These
numbers may sound startling because the problem of sexual assault against males
isn't discussed very often.
Sexual assault is any form of unwanted sexual contact obtained
without consent and/or obtained through the use of force, threat of force, intimidation,
or coercion. It can range from unwanted sexual contact over the clothes, like
touching someone’s buttocks or genitals, to rape.
"Consent” is a clear and freely given yes--not the absence
of a no.
No matter how it occurs, sexual assault is a violation of a
person's body and his free will, and it can have lasting emotional
Myth vs. Reality
There are many mistaken beliefs about the sexual assault of
can’t be sexually assaulted.
man can be sexually assaulted regardless of size, strength, appearance, or
males are more likely to be assaulted.
gay, and bisexual males are equally likely to be sexually assaulted.
Regardless of a male's sexual orientation, a sexual assault is never his
males are more likely to sexually assault other males.
to the Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault, most males who sexually
assault other males identify themselves as heterosexual. This fact helps to
highlight the reality that sexual assault is about violence, anger, and
control over another person, not lust or sexual attraction.
cannot be sexually assaulted by women.
can be sexually assaulted by women. Many people have difficulty understanding
how a female could sexually assault a male. It may help to remember that
sexual assault does not always involve penetration, but includes any unwanted
contact, such as being grabbed, fondled, groped, or kissed. However, most
perpetrators are male.
or ejaculation during a sexual assault means the male being assaulted “really
wanted it” or gave consent.
physiological responses may result from mere physical contact or even extreme
stress. They do not imply that the male wanted or enjoyed the assault and do
not indicate anything about the male’s sexual orientation. If a perpetrator
is aware of how these responses can confuse a victim of sexual assault, they
may manipulate their victims to the point of erection or ejaculation to
increase their feelings of control and to discourage reporting of the crime.
Unique issues faced by male victims/survivors
The perception that men can’t be sexually assaulted because a
“real man” can protect himself may cause males to feel invulnerable to sexual
assault. It may also intensify feelings of isolation and shame after an assault
occurs. Male victims/survivors often question whether they deserved or wanted
to be sexually assaulted, because they feel that they failed to prevent the
assault. Some male victims/survivors question their sexual orientation.
Feelings of guilt, shame, and anger may lead to self-destructive
behavior, including increased alcohol or other drug use, increased
aggressiveness, and withdrawal from close relationships with friends and
partner. After being sexually assaulted, male survivors may experience
difficulties with intimacy, such as trusting people, exploring new
relationships, or enjoying sexual activity (if choosing to be sexually active).
All victims/survivors need to understand that recovery may take time. They need
to have patience with themselves and resist the pressure to be sexually active
before they are ready.
For heterosexual males who have been assaulted by males, sexual
assault may cause them to question or be confused about their sexuality.
Unfortunately, many people have distorted ideas about male victims/survivors of
sexual assault. For example, many people believe that gay males are more likely
to be sexually assaulted. Perpetrators often accuse victims/survivors of
enjoying the sexual assault, leading some victims/survivors to question their
own experiences or feelings. In fact, being sexually assaulted has nothing to
do with one’s sexual orientation in the past, present, or future. People do not
“become gay” as a result of being sexually assaulted.
Sexual assault can lead gay males to attach feelings of
self-blame and self-loathing to their sexual orientation. Sexual assault may
lead a gay male to believe he somehow “deserved it,” or that he was “paying the
price” for his sexual orientation. Ignorance or intolerance from those who
blame the victim/survivor can reinforce this belief.
Gay males may also hesitate to report a sexual assault due to
fears of blame, disbelief, or intolerance by police or medical personnel. As a
result gay males may be deprived of legal protection and necessary medical care
following an assault.
Some sexual assaults of males are actually forms of gay-bashing,
motivated by fear and hatred of homosexuality. In these cases, perpetrators may
verbally abuse their victims and imply that the victim deserved to be sexually
assaulted. It’s important to remember that sexual assault is an act of
violence, power, and control and that no one deserves it.