Dealing with Sexual Assault as a Male Victim
Sexual assault can happen to anyone, no matter your age, sexual orientation, or gender identity. Men and boys who have been sexually assaulted or abused may have many of the same feelings and reactions as other survivors of sexual assault, but they may also face some additional challenges because of social attitudes and stereotypes about men and masculinity.
Some men who have survived sexual assault as adults would testify of feelings of shame or self-doubt, believing that they should have been “strong enough” to fight off the perpetrator. Many men who experienced an erection or ejaculation during the assault may be confused and wonder what this means. These normal physiological responses do not in any way imply that you wanted, invited, or enjoyed the assault. If something happened to you, know that it is not your fault and you are not alone.
Men who were sexually abused as boys or teens may also respond differently than men who were sexually assaulted as adults.
The following list includes some of the common experiences shared by men and boys who have survived sexual assault. It is not a complete list, but it may help you to know that other people are having similar experiences:
v Anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, flashbacks, and eating disorders
v Avoiding people or places that remind you of the assault or abuse
v Concerns or questions about sexual orientation
v Fear of the worst happening and having a sense of a shortened future
v Feeling like “less of a man” or that you no longer have control over your own body
v Feeling on-edge, being unable to relax, and having difficulty sleeping
v Sense of blame or shame over not being able to stop the assault or abuse, especially if you experienced an erection or ejaculation
v Withdrawal from relationships or friendships and an increased sense of isolation
v Worrying about disclosing for fear of judgment or disbelief
Who are the perpetrators of sexual assault against men and boys?
Perpetrators can be any gender identity, sexual orientation, or age, and they can have any relationship to the victim. Like all perpetrators on women, they might also use physical force or psychological and emotional coercion tactics.
Can being assaulted affect sexual orientation?
Sexual assault is in no way related to the sexual orientation of the perpetrator or the survivor, and a person’s sexual orientation cannot be caused by sexual abuse or assault. Some men and boys have questions about their sexuality after surviving an assault or abuse—and that’s understandable. This can be especially true if you experienced an erection or ejaculation during the assault. Physiological responses like an erection are involuntary, meaning you have no control over them.
Sometimes perpetrators, especially adults who sexually abuse boys, will use these physiological responses to maintain secrecy by using phrases such as, “You know you liked it.” If you have been sexually abused or assaulted, it is not your fault. In no way does an erection invite unwanted sexual activity, and ejaculation in no way condones an assault.
Next week – How to support male survivors of sexual assault