Men and Sexual Assault
Although our society sees sexual assault as predominantly a crime against women, men are sexually assaulted too. Stereotypes that tie masculinity to sex can make it difficult to separate the sex act from the crime of sexual assault. Sexual assault is equally devastating to men and women. Regardless of gender identity, victims and survivors commonly feel rage, shame, guilt, powerlessness, fear for your safety and physical suffering.
If you are a sexually assaulted person who identifies as a man, it’s critical to recognize that you are a victim and survivor of a violent assault – no matter what you look like, your age, size, the strength of your character, or sexual orientation. This applies whether the assault was recent or at a young age. No one has the right to violate or control another person’s body, ever.
It’s also helpful to be aware of special challenges you might face as man:
- Reluctant to seek medical care or be physically examined.
- Doubting your masculinity or sexuality.
- Hesitant to seek law enforcement support for fear of looking weak/they won’t believe you.
- Facing ridicule from friends or family.
Myths About Sexual Assault Against Men
|Men are always looking for or willing to engage in sexual activity.||Consent to sexual activity must be expressly given by a man the same as a woman. Not wanting to engage doesn’t make someone “less of a man.”|
|Men are only sexually assaulted by other men.||Sexual assault can include any unwanted sexual contact, not just penetration. Therefore, a woman can sexually assault a man.|
|Gay men are more likely to assault other men, and all men who sexually assault other men are gay.||Sexual assault is about exerting power or control over someone, not lust or sexual attraction. Heterosexual men can and do sexually assault other men.|
|Men who get an erection or ejaculate during sexual assault enjoyed it or gave consent.||Erection and ejaculation are physiological responses that can’t be controlled and can even result from stress. These responses can be confusing for a man who has been sexually assaulted and can make him wonder if he really did enjoy or want the sexual contact. An erection or ejaculation does not equal consent.|
|“Real” men are always able to resist sexual assault.||Just like women, men can freeze during sexual assault. Drugs, alcohol, the threat of violence or presence of a weapon can also prevent a man from fighting their assailant.|
Pervasive misconceptions about male sexual assault against men can create a harsh environment for victims. Most importantly, men are sexually assaulted, they do experience strong emotions in the aftermath, and they are entitled to the same medical, legal and emotional support as people who identify as women. Student Health and Wellness provides services to men, including testing for sexually transmitted infections and assistance with the administration of a post-sexual assault medical examination.