Lauren Strunk, M.S., LMHC
Howard Hall, Room 143
First, you should know that men can be assaulted, too. If you have recently been assaulted and need immediate intervention, please go to the front page and follow the “less than 72 hours” guidelines. The same resources are available to you –
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 (this is a lifetime prevalence estimate). 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. Sexual assault is not about sexual desire or sexual orientation; it's about violence, control, and humiliation.
Sexual assault is any unwanted sexual contact. It can be committed by the use of threats or force or when someone takes advantage of circumstances that render a person incapable of giving consent, such as intoxication. 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.
Many 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.
Any survivor of sexual assault may experience the following feelings, but male survivors may experience these feelings in a different way:
Remember, men are told by society that they are “supposed to” or “not supposed to” be a lot of things – they are supposed to be the sexual aggressor, they are supposed to want and to feel lucky for every sexual experience they have; they are not supposed to have sexual contact with other males (an even more damaging message for gay or bisexual men), they are not supposed to have feel vulnerable or fearful about sex.
Men, be willing to talk…. Friends, be willing to listen.
Yes, but it’s not nearly as common as male-on-male assault. A recent study shows that more than 86% of male survivors are sexually abused by another male. That is not to say, however, that we should overlook boys or men who are victimized by females. It may be tempting to dismiss such experiences as wanted sexual initiation (especially in the case of an older female assaulting a younger male), but the reality is that the impact of female-on-male assault can be just as damaging.
NO! This is a destructive myth that often adds to the anxiety a male survivor feels after being assaulted. Because of this misinformation, it is common for a male survivor to fear that he is now destined to do to others what was done to him. While many convicted sex offenders have a history of being sexually abused, most male survivors do not become sex offenders. The truth is that the great majority of male survivors have never and will never sexually assault anyone.
NO! Most men who sexually assault other men identify themselves as heterosexual. This fact helps to highlight another reality -- that sexual assault is about violence, anger, and control over another person, not lust or sexual attraction. Because of society’s confusion about the role that attraction plays in sexual assault and about whether victims are responsible for provoking an assault, even heterosexual male survivors may worry that they somehow gave off “gay vibes” that the rapist picked up and acted upon. Heterosexual, gay and bisexual men are equally likely to be sexually assaulted. Being sexually assaulted has nothing to do with your current or future sexual orientation. Your sexuality has no more to do with being raped than being robbed. There is no evidence that men are "turned gay" by being raped or sexually assaulted in their childhood or teens.
For a gay man, especially one who is not yet out of the closet, the possibility that he is broadcasting his “secret sexual identity” to others without even knowing it can be particularly upsetting. 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 may question their sexual identity and are often more disturbed by the sexual aspect of the assault than any violence involved.