With the influx of stories regarding sexual assault in the news lately, it can be very easy to assume that males don’t experience sexual assault, since most of the stories have a female victim. Growing up, especially if you’re male, you might have been taught that boys are stronger than women or that guys always want sex. The phrase “males can be sexually assaulted” was never once mentioned – in my case especially.
However, sexual violence can affect every demographic and every community – including lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGTBQ) people.
In addition, gender roles and societal expectations (men are strong and in charge vs. women are sweet and fragile) often add complexity to understanding sexual violence. And don’t let the statistics fool you-even though 91% of sexual assault cases happen to women, that does not mean that men don’t experience it! In fact, it’s not uncommon for males to not report sexual assault for the fear of feeling less of a man.
Male victims of sexual assault often feel:
- Anxiety, depression, fearfulness, or post-traumatic stress disorder
- Concerns or questions about sexual orientation
- Sense of blame or shame over not being able to stop the assault or abuse, especially if they experienced an erection or ejaculation
- Feeling on-edge, being unable to relax, and having difficulty sleeping
- Avoiding people or places that are related to the assault or abuse
- Fear of the worst happening and having a sense of a shortened future
- Withdrawal from relationships or friendships and an increased sense of isolation
The list goes on, but the point is this: If you’re a male and you’ve experienced sexual assault, that doesn’t make you less of a man. It takes a lot of courage to speak to a friend, family member or authority figure. And if you feel like you can’t talk to anyone just know that there are resources out there to help people get help.
The RAINN website is a great resource that offers information and assistance for those experiencing sexual violence. Here is a quick bio about them:
RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) is the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization and was named one of “America’s 100 Best Charities” by Worth magazine. RAINN created and operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline (800.656.HOPE and online.rainn.org) in partnership with more than 1,100 local sexual assault service providers across the country and operates the DoD Safe Helpline for the Department of Defense.