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Male Survivors : Chicago, Illinois, Rape Victim Advocates...helping victims become survivors since 1974
Male Survivors

Click here to read about "Myths & Facts" about Male Survivors.

Many believe that sexual assault of men is more underreported than sexual assault of women. Nonetheless, we do know that 1 in 6 boys will be sexually assaulted or abused before the age of 18. Studies regarding the sexual assault of adult men vary, but suggest that on average 1 in 10 men will be sexually assaulted in their adulthood. In 1991, 7.7% men surveyed in the National Crime Survey reported being sexually assaulted.

Men, as well as women, live in a world with immense pressure that defines so-called "appropriate" behaviors for them. For men and boys there is often a focus on physical strength, competition, income/employment or leadership. There is also affirmation of violent and aggressive emotions coupled with the rejection of feeling emotions. There continues to be a great deal of stigma and shame regarding the sexual assault and abuse of men and boys. These factors make seeking help or telling of the rape difficult for male survivors.

Male survivors of sexual assault, sexual abuse or incest will experience a range of emotions and reactions including fear, anger, powerlessness, shame, depression, guilt or sadness. Male survivors may also experience an overwhelming sense of loss of control over their bodies and selves. The male survivor may be very embarrassed and also feel dirty or ashamed.

Male-on-male sexual assault may involve genital contact, acts of penetration or may be a physical attack that is somehow sexualized. Frequently, male-on-male attacks involve several attackers and can result in severe injury to the survivor. Male survivors generally are subjected to more brutal non-genital injuries than their female counterparts.

Male survivors often have some concerns that female survivors do not. These concerns are important to consider for anyone seeking to assist a male survivor of sexual violence. He may feel disturbed by the fact that he was unable to protect himself from the assault, even when multiple attackers were involved. He may question his masculinity and ability to be a "man" now that he has had control of his body taken by somebody else or perhaps he has been penetrated. Like females survivors, a male survivor may fear that others will discover that he has been assaulted or that a person can distinguish that he has been sexually assaulted simply by looking at him. Men may feel guilty for submitting to an act because of the fear of injury or death, even though we know submission does not equate consent. Remind him that whatever he did to get away was the right thing.

Some men experience an involuntary erection and/or ejaculation during the assault, but both of these responses occur as involuntary reactions to extreme stress, fear or stimulation. In the same way that a sneeze or yawn is an involuntary response, erections while being assaulted are purely physiological. An erection alone never equals consent. When helping a male survivor, emphasize that the attack was one of violence and control, not sex or sexuality.

Male survivors may experience great discomfort during medical treatments or examinations, after a rape. The medical examination may include a rectal examination, as well as examination of the genitals for lacerations and other injuries. If oral penetration occurred, the doctor will probably take a throat culture for gonorrhea.

Heterosexual male survivors may believe that the assault (whether the attacker is male or female) means that he is now gay or will become gay. This is not true. He will continue to express himself sexually based on his sexual orientation prior to the assault. He may, however, feel a strong need to withdraw entirely from sexual relations.

Gay and Bisexual survivors

Males who are gay, bisexual or gay-identified are often targets for sexual assault because of who they are. That is known as a hate crime. They suffer from many of the same types of trauma as heterosexual men with a few important differences.

He may feel that because of his sexual orientation, he is to blame for the assault. A gay or bisexual male survivor may be additionally traumatized if a woman sexually assaults him or if the assault includes acts he is unfamiliar or inexperienced with. Gay, Bisexual, Lesbian and Transgender (LGBT) survivors of sexual violence may be treated with suspicion, disregard and disrespect from many service providers, including hospital and legal personnel. Whether based on prior incidents or irrational fear, many LGBT survivors fear insensitive treatment.

As with all survivors, be certain to stress that a male survivor is in no way responsible for the violence perpetrated against him.

Click here to read about "Myths & Facts" about Male Survivors.


*Rape Victim Advocates serves on the Joint Management Team of The Chicago Rape Crisis Hotline, a program of the YWCA of Metropolitan Chicago-Loop Women's Services, along with the YWCA of Chicago-Harris Women's Services, Community Counseling Centers of Chicago's Quetzal Center, Pillars Community Services' Midway Sexual Assault Victim Services, and Mujeres Latinas en Accion."

** This is a national hotline available 24/7 that will connect a caller to the nearest rape crisis hotline or rape crisis center all over the US.