Many people believe that sexual assault is only committed by men against women. While the majority of sexual assaults victims are women, the CDC and Department of Justice estimate that about 3% of American men — or 1 in 33 — have experienced an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime. The following provides information about the sexual assault of men and the resources available to survivors. There are is also information for male survivors of childhood sexual abuse.
If you identify as gay, the LGBTQ Survivors section may be useful.
Understanding sexual assault of men
Who can be a perpetrator of male sexual assault
What are some of the feelings male survivor may experience?
What should I do if I was sexually assaulted?
How can I help a male friend who has been sexually assaulted or sexually abused in the past?
Childhood Sexual Abuse
Additional Resources for Male Survivors (website, articles, books)
Understanding sexual assault of men
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 under-reported. If a 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.
Sexual assault is any unwanted or forced 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. Sexual assault of men can include unwanted touching, fondling, or groping of a male's body including the penis, scrotum or buttocks. Rape 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.
Sexual assault happens to men.
It is only a myth in our society that men are not sexually assaulted, or that they are only sexually assaulted in prisons. In fact, 9% of all rape victims outside of criminal institutions are male (U.S. Department of Justice, 1994). It is important to note, however, that very few studies have been done to document the sexual abuse or sexual assault of males. Furthermore, it is estimated that male survivors report sexual assault and abuse even less frequently than female survivors, and so it is difficult to make an accurate estimate of the number of men and boys who are being assaulted and abused.
Male survivors have many of the same reactions to sexual assault that women do.
For both male and female survivors, anger, anxiety, fear, confusion, self-blame, shame, depression, and even suicidal thoughts are all common reactions for someone who has experienced a sexual assault. Men, however, are more likely than women to initially respond with anger, or to try to minimize the importance or severity of the assault. Male survivors are also more likely to experience substance abuse to try to cope with the assault. Additionally, a survivor of a male-on-male rape may question his sexuality, or how others perceive his sexuality.
Ideas in our society prevent male survivors from speaking out about sexual assault.
Because of how men are socialized and expected to behave in our society, a male survivor of sexual assault may feel as if he is not a "real man" Because men are often expected to always be ready for sex and to be the aggressors in sexual relationships, it may be difficult for a man to tell people that he has been sexually assaulted. Also, there are some beliefs that male survivors, especially if abused as a child, will go on to become offenders themselves. This stigma may negatively impact a male survivor's social experiences, and it may also lead male survivors to avoid disclosure.
Homophobia causes men who have experienced a male-on-male rape to fear telling their stories.
If the perpetrator is a man, the survivor may fear being labeled gay by those he tells of the assault. He may even question his own sexuality, especially if he experienced an erection or ejaculation during the assault. If the survivor identifies as gay, and in the process of coming out, he may question how others perceive his sexual orientation. He may also fear that he will have to disclose his sexual orientation if he tells others about the assault. Homophobia stereotypes may affect a man’s decision to disclose. For example, the stereotype that gay men are promiscuous can lead people to believe the encounter was consensual. Also, because of these stereotypes, some people may think that they recklessly place themselves in situations to be assaulted, resulting in victim-blaming attitudes.
Who can be a perpetrator of male sexual assault?
Anyone, regardless of gender or gender identity, can sexually assault a man. However, most sexual assaults against men are committed by other men, who actually identify themselves as heterosexual. It's important not to jump to the conclusion that man-against-man sexual assault only happens between men who are gay. Sexual assault is not about sexual desire or sexual orientation; it's about violence, control, and humiliation.
What are some of the feelings a male survivor may experience?
Any survivor of sexual assault may experience the following feelings, but male survivors may experience these feelings in a different way:
Guilt -- as though he is somehow at fault for not preventing the assault because our society promotes the misconception that men should be able to protect themselves at all times.
Shame -- as though being assaulted makes him "dirty," "weak," or less of a "real man."
Fear -- that he may be blamed, judged, laughed at, or not believed.
Denial -- because it is upsetting, he may try not to think about it or talk about it; he may try to hide from his feelings behind alcohol, drugs, and other self-destructive habits.
Anger -- about what happened; this anger may sometimes be misdirected and generalized to target people who remind him of the perpetrator.
Sadness -- feeling depressed, worthless, powerless; withdrawing from friends, family, and usual activities; some victims even consider suicide.
If a man became sexually aroused, had an erection, or ejaculated during the sexual assault, he may not believe that he was raped. These are involuntary physiological reactions. They do not mean that the person wanted to be sexually assaulted, or that they enjoyed the traumatic experience. Just as with women, a sexual response does not mean there was consent.
The experience of sexual assault may affect gay and heterosexual men differently. It is important to remember that the sexual assault did not occur because they are gay. Heterosexual men often begin to question their sexual identity and are more disturbed by the sexual aspect of the assault than any violence involved.
What should I do if I was assaulted?
If you are a man who has been sexually assaulted, remember - It was not your fault that you were assaulted. You are not alone.
Go someplace safe. Tell a person who will support you and/or contact the CEASE program of the Counseling Center.
The CEASE program provides on-campus advocacy and referrals for SUNY Fredonia students that are survivors of violence (including men). We can answer questions, be someone to talk to, offer emotional support, and provide referrals. You can make an appointment with the CEASE office by stopping by the Counseling Center, LoGrasso Hall, calling us at (716) 673-3424, or emailing the CEASE coordinator at Julie.Bezek@fredonia.edu. The CEASE office is open M-F, 8:30 am - 5:00 pm.
For 24 hour assistance The Anew Center of Jamestown (The Salvation Army) provides a 24/7 helpline for survivors of sexual assault and relationship violence (1-800-252-8748). The helpline can answer questions, provide referrals or send a victim advocate to meet with you.
Both services are free, confidential, and serve female and male victims. We highly encourage survivors to contact an advocate.
Have your medical needs attended to at Health Center or in the emergency room.
Taking care of your physical and medical state can play an important role in healing. You may have internal and/or external injuries as a result of the assault requiring medical care. Additionally, you may want to explore options for preventing sexually transmitted infections/disease (STI/STD). Even if you do not plan on reporting the assault it is important to seek medical attention.
There is no 'right' place to go for medical attention after an assault. Seek the services that best match your needs and comfort level- your own health care practitioner, a staff members at the Health Center, or Brooks Memorial Hospital.
The Health Center staff is specially trained to identify and respond to the medical needs of sexual assault survivors. The Health Center can provide treatment for injuries and referrals to outside providers for additional services. The Health Center does not provide evidence collection services (also known as 'rape kits'). They can provide you with transportation to Brooks Hospital to have evidence collected.
LoGrasso Hall, SUNY Fredonia
Brooks Memorial Hospital can provide medical treatment to survivors of sexual assault. They can offer treatment for injuries, STD testing and treatment, and evidence collection (also known as 'rape kits'). Please note the Health Center does not provide evidence collection, it must be done at an emergency room or hospital. Advocates from The Anew Center can be contacted at the hospital to provide advocacy services. Survivors who have a sexual assault kit completed do not have to file a police report or press criminal charges.
529 Central Avenue - Dunkirk
Things to know about evidence collection:
- You will be asked questions about your general health and specific questions about the assault. It may be difficult to recall some of the details, and it may be emotionally painful to talk about what happened. Medical providers ask specific questions to find out what to look for when they examine you. The information you give helps them conduct a thorough physical evaluation.
- During the exam you can expect to be examined for internal or external injuries, foreign hair samples, and semen/other bodily fluids. You may be given antibiotics to prevent infection.
- Depending on the types of sexual contact that occurred, the search for physical evidence may include taking samples from the mouth or rectum to test for sperm cells and semen. Other evidence may be obtained from fingernail scrapings, foreign matter on your body, and the clothes you were wearing at the time of the assault.
- If you have visible injuries, you may be asked to have photographs taken. Photographing injuries is important because by the time your assailant is prosecuted, the injuries may have healed.
- Going to the hospital does not mean that you have to make a report to the police. That is your choice.
- Save the clothes you were wearing at the time of the assault in a paper bag.
- Save sheets, blankets, or anything else that may have evidence in a paper bag. Do not throw anything away or try to clean up.
- Such an exam can be performed up to 72 hours after an assault, but it is most successful within the first 24 hours.
- If possible, bring an extra set of clothes (the police may want the clothes worn during the assault for evidence) and a friend or another supportive person.
- Do not shower, drink, eat, or change your clothes prior to an exam. These activities destroy important physical evidence that is useful should you decide to make a police report. Also, document everything you remember happening with as much detail as possible.
The Chautauqua County Health Department - Reproductive Health Services Clinic can provide free and confidential STD/HIV testing and treatment.
319 Central Avenue - Dunkirk
FRED ASSIST - formerly known as Birth Control Information Clinic (BCIC): Sexual health clinic that offers services to male and female SUNY Fredonia students. Services include: pap smears, testing for Chlamydia and gonorrhea (urine test for males & females), emergency contraception (at clinics only), and hormonal contraception. Please see BCIC for a complete price list for services. Clinical services are provided by a medical staff and student volunteers staff office hours to answer questions regarding sexual health and make appointments for the clinic. Services are available for all Fredonia State students and are completely confidential.
LoGrasso Hall (rear of building), SUNY Fredonia
Consider whether you'd like to make a police report. If there's any chance that you want to report your assault to the police now or in the future:
Not everyone is comfortable with using the criminal justice system or campus disciplinary process to respond to a sexual assault. It is your decision whether or not to take judicial or legal action against the perpetrator. We encourage you to seek out the support system that feels most appropriate and helpful.
Assaults that occurred on-campus be reported to the survivor’s Residence Director, Judicial Affairs, or the University Police. Assaults that occurred off-campus can be reported Village of Fredonia Police or the law enforcement jurisdiction where the assault took place. We encourage survivors to bring an advocate or friend for support.
Students have the option to pursue criminal charges (assaults that took place on or off campus) and/or disciplinary action through student conduct process (assaults that took place on campus). For more information about the student conduct process please contact the CEASE program or Judicial Affairs.
Gregory Hall - 2nd Floor
Judicial Affairs (Student Affairs)
Gregory Hall - 2nd Floor
Village of Fredonia Police
9 Church Street
Things to know about filing a Police Report:
When the police arrive, they will address your medical needs first to assess whether you need to go to the hospital. The police will also interview you about what happened. This may be difficult, but it is very important in order to complete a police report. The interview is conducted in private, but you can request to have a friend or another supportive person accompany you if you wish. Advocates from CEASE or the Anew Center are available to be with you during the police interview. The police will get as much information as possible about the incident and investigate the case further.
Once an investigation is completed, the police refer the case to the District Attorney's office. The District Attorney's office decides whether or not your case will be prosecuted by considering factors such as the amount of evidence available to prove the charge(s) in court. If the District Attorney decides not to prosecute, this does not mean that the District Attorney doesn't believe that you were assaulted. It means that based on experience, he/she does not believe that there is sufficient evidence to win the case.
Anonymous Sexual Assault Report
If a victim does not wish to file a police report or a university incident report an anonymous sexual assault (ASA) report can be filed. An ASA report is a completely anonymous report to CEASE. The report is used to gather data on sexual assault to create a more effective response to victims. You can find the report by clicking here
Counseling Services & Other Assistance
Counseling can be an integral part of recovery from a sexual assault. The Counseling Center can provide mental health services for victims of sexual assault. Their services are free and confidential. They are located in LoGrasso Hall and are open M-F 8:30 am - 5:00 pm.
After a sexual assault you may need to change your housing or academic schedule, contact the Office of Student Affairs (x3424) for more information.
How can I help a male friend who has been sexually assaulted or sexually abused in the past?
- Take it seriously.
- Ask him what you can do to support him.
- Let him know that it was not his fault.
- Let him know he is not alone.
- Find out about resources that are sensitive to male victims and let him know his options.
- Tell him that help is available and encourage him to call a rape crisis hotline.
- Don't pressure him to do certain things. He needs to know that he has choices and that you support him.
Childhood Sexual Abuse
Counseling can be an integral part of recovery from a childhood sexual abuse. We encourage survivors to contact the Counseling Center at 716-673-3424. Services are free and confidential. They are located in LoGrasso Hall and are open M-F 8:30 am - 5:00 pm. The Resources section has specific listings for childhood sexual abuse survivors.
Additional Resources for Male Survivor (websites, articles, books):
Website that provides resources and support for men who were sexually victimized as children, adolescents, or adults.
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A website with resources for men who have had unwanted or abusive sexual experiences in their childhood, including 24-hour online support, educational material covering the impact of sexual abuse, and stories of healing from male survivors.
Rape Abuse and Incest National Network – Male Sexual Assault:
Support and resources for survivors of rape and sexual abuse. Offers peer support to anyone who has been a victim of rape, sexual assault, or sexual abuse through online support group, Pandora's Aquarium. Specific online support for male survivors. Male Rape & Sexual Assault: http://www.pandys.org/articles/malerape.html
Victims No Longer: The Classic Guide for Men Recovering from Sexual Child Abuse:
Beyond Betrayal: Taking Charge of Your Life After Boyhood Sexual Abuse
The Courage to Heal Work for Women and met Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse