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Male Survivors

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It is a common misconception that only females can be the victims/survivors of stalking, harassment, relationship or sexual violence. Statistics show this is not the case. In fact, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (NISVS, 2010)

  • 1 in 6 boys experience sexual violence as a child
  • 1 in 71 men have been raped in their lifetime  
  • 1 in 7 men have been the victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner
  • 1 in 19 men have been stalked in their lifetime 

When sexual assault occurs it is devastating to the victim/survivor regardless of their gender. Male survivors have the same rights under the law as female survivors. Men are entitled to the same services and support following a sexual assault. Whether or not a survivor chooses to report or prosecute a sexual assault SAAP can provide referrals for counselors and/or support that can help survivors work through the recovery process.

Male victims may face unique hurdles to reporting the crime and to getting the medical assistance and emotional support they need and deserve. Male sexual assault survivors may believe that the police, medical professionals, and even sexual assault support center advocates will be insensitive to their experience because they are men.

Survivors of sexual assault often blame themselves for the attack(s). Men, in particular may feel that they should have been strong enough to defend themselves against the assault. They may feel that a "real man" could have avoided the sexual assault. Male survivors suffer a similar fear that female survivors face -- that people will believe the myth that they may have enjoyed being assaulted or that they "asked for it." Some men may believe that they were not assaulted or that they gave consent because they became sexually aroused, had an erection, or ejaculated during the sexual assault. These are normal, involuntary physiological reactions. It does not mean that the survivor wanted to be sexually assaulted, or that the survivor enjoyed the traumatic experience. Sexual arousal does not mean there was consent.

There are many reasons that male victims do not come forward and report being assaulted, but perhaps the biggest reason for many males is the fear of being perceived as gay. Male sexual assault has nothing to do with the sexual orientation of the attacker or the victim, just as a sexual assault does not make the victim/survivor gay, bisexual or heterosexual. It is a violent crime that affects heterosexual boys/men as much as gay boys/men. The phrase "homosexual rape," for instance, which is often used by uninformed persons to designate male-male rape, camouflages the fact that the majority of the rapists are not generally homosexual (Donaldson, 1990).

It is important to help male survivors understand that they are not to blame. Sexual assault is a crime of power and control and perpetrators use many methods to control their victims, including fear, shame, threats, and debilitating substances like alcohol and drugs.

Sexual assault, regardless of gender, is a crime about power and is NEVER the victims fault.

Sexual assault and intimate partner violence effects all persons, regardless of gender or sexual orientation. If you are in or have been in an unhealthy relationship or experienced sexual violence, you may have concerns specifically related to your gender identity or sexual orientation in addition to those concerns felt commonly by all survivors of sexual violence. You may be concerned about the circumstances of the assault or abuse. You may also be concerned about how your gender identity and/or sexual orientation will affect your medical care or legal recourse, or your relationship with a partner, friends, or family. Many survivors of intimate partner or sexual violence within the LGBTQQI community fear telling someone, utilizing services, or reporting the incident(s).

Common fears associated with telling someone, seeking help, and reporting may include:

  • Seeking services from professionals (law enforcement, healthcare providers, advocates, etc.) who may be insensitive or uneducated about male survivors
  • Being perceived as the perpetrator
  • Being perceived as gay/homosexual
  • Being perceived as weak, vulnerable or unable to fight back
  • Not having the assault/abuse labeled as intimate partner or sexual violence
  • Not being taken seriously or having the assault/abuse be minimized
  • Having the assault/abuse sensationalized
  • Not being understood or being blamed for the assault/abuse
  • Having to explain how the assault happened in more detail than other survivors may be asked to do
  • Being ostracized from your groups of friends

Last Updated: 6/5/14