Many people believe that sexual assault is only committed by men against women. The majority of sexual assaults are perpetrated by men, but the fact is that 1 out of every 10 men is sexually assaulted. Victimization can also include childhood sexual abuse. Because our society fails to see that men can be sexually assaulted, men often have a difficult time accepting their own victimization and delay seeking help and support.
Understanding sexual assault of men
Sexual assault of men can include unwanted touching, fondling, or groping of a male's body including the penis, scrotum or buttocks, even through his clothes. Rape of a man is any kind of sexual assault that involves forced oral or anal sex, including any amount of penetration of the anus or mouth with a body part or any other object.
Some people don't take sexual assault of men seriously. This is one of the reasons why men have a difficult time reporting what happened and why the rates of male sexual assault are thought to be significantly underreported. If a male survivor's friends think that male sexual assault is a joke, he will feel isolated and afraid to tell anyone. Sexual assault is a painful, traumatic experience for any victim.
- Most sexual assaults against men are committed by other men who identify as heterosexual, although anyone can sexually assault a man regardless of gender or gender identity.
- Man against man sexual assaults do not only happen between gay men
- Sexual assault is about violence, control, and humiliation, not about sexual desire or orientation
What are some of the feelings a male survivor may experience?
Male survivors may have different feelings regarding the assault.
- Guilt -- as though he is somehow at fault for not preventing the assault because our society promotes the misconception that men should be able to protect themselves at all times.
- Shame -- as though being assaulted makes him "dirty," "weak," or less of a "real man."
- Fear -- that he may be blamed, judged, laughed at, or not believed.
- Denial -- because it is upsetting, he may try not to think about it or talk about it; he may try to hide from his feelings behind alcohol, drugs, and other self-destructive habits.
- Anger -- about what happened; this anger may sometimes be misdirected and generalized to target people who remind the him of the perpetrator.
- Sadness -- feeling depressed, worthless, powerless; withdrawing from friends, family, and usual activities; some victims even consider suicide.
If a man became sexually aroused, had an erection, or ejaculated during the sexual assault, he may not believe that he was raped. These are involuntary physiological reactions. They do not mean that the person wanted to be sexually assaulted, or that they enjoyed the traumatic experience. Just as with women, a sexual response does not mean there was consent.
The experience of sexual assault may affect gay and heterosexual men differently. Rape counselors have found that gay men have difficulties in their sexual and emotional relationships with other men and think that the assault occurred because they are gay. Heterosexual men often begin to question their sexual identity and are more disturbed by the sexual aspect of the assault than any violence involved.
Collecting physical evidence must occur within 5 days. Medications to prevent the development of some sexually transmitted infections and HIV can be provided by Health Services. HIV prophylaxis treatment needs to be started within 72 hours. Screening for date rape drugs can be done up to 72 hours after the incident but is optimally done within 12 hours. Since many of these drugs clear the system quickly, a negative test result does not necessarily mean that no drug was involved.
Where can I go for help?
Whether the incident occurred recently or long ago, it is never too late to get help. Ask for support. Talk with someone you trust and/or get help by calling one of these sexual assault resources. You can ask to speak with a male or female counselor. Even if they don't have male staff on call, almost all rape crisis centers can make referrals to male counselors who are sensitive to the needs of male sexual assault survivors.
- This page is from the Counseling and Mental Health Center at the University of Texas at Austin and offers another source of information for male survivors of sexual assault.
- A website with resources for men who have had unwanted or abusive sexual experiences in their childhood, including 24-hour online support, educational material covering the impact of sexual abuse, and stories of healing from male survivors.
- The Gay Men's Domestic Violence Project is a grassroots, nonprofit organization providing community education and direct services for clients. GMDVP offers shelter, guidance, and resources to allow gay, bisexual, and transgender men in crisis to leave violent situations and relationships.
- “If something happened to you, know that you are not alone. The following list includes some of the common experiences shared by men and boys who have survived sexual assault. It is not a complete list, but it may help you to know that other people are having similar experiences.”
- MaleSurvivor recognizes and respects the diversity of sexual abuse survivors and our supporters. The harm of sexual abuse crosses all lines gender, race, religion, age, nationality, socioeconomic class, or sexual orientation.
- According to the CDC, 1 in 7 men age 18+ in the U.S. has been the victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner in his lifetime. 1 in 10 men has experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner. In 2013, 13% of documented contacts to the Hotline identified themselves as male victims. No matter what your situation is, the Hotline is here to help, confidentially and without judgment.
- Offers a wide range of information and services to men with histories of unwanted or abusive sexual experiences, and anyone who cares about them. Some of the resources include a 24/7 Online Support Line, a free and confidential Online Peer Support Groups, a Library Bookstore, and a wealth of useful information, including answers to Common Questions, in Online Readings.