Charity Number. 1132467

Supporting Survivors of Abuse

Supporting Survivors of Abuse

Male Rape and Sexual Abuse

Your questions answered

Within our society there is much ignorance, taboo and misinformation on the crime of male rape and sexual abuse. We know that in order to help the many of men and women who have suffered this terrible ordeal, we need to dispel the myths and break down the taboos of male sexual assault.

Here are some of the most common questions that we are asked about male rape and sexual abuse. If you have suffered from male rape or sexual abuse, or if you're trying to understand what a partner, friend or family member has been through, we hope that the answers will help.

What is male sexual assault?

Male sexual assault is when you have been forced to take part in any sexual act with another man or woman which you did not willingly consent to. Even if you did not resist or fight back at the time of the attack, it is still assault.

Who can it happen to?

Quite simply, anyone. It could have happened to you whilst you were a child or a teenager, or as an adult. It is not a 'gay crime' - it happens to more straight men than gay men.

Who are the perpetrators?

Again, it could be anyone - male or female. But the facts show that more men were abused from within the family than outside, and more men were raped by people they knew rather than strangers. In our years of experience, we've been contacted by men who have been abused by all different types of perpetrator.

How common is it?

It's much more common than most people think. Research statistics tell us that almost 3% of men reported a non-consensual sexual experience as adults and over 5% of men reported sexual abuse as a child [source: Coxell A, King M, Mezey G, Gordon D. Lifetime Prevalence, characteristics, and associated problems of non-consensual sex in men] hundreds of men and women contact Supporting Survivors of Abuse UK every year.

Is it a crime?

Changes to the 1956 Sexual Offences act in 1994 made the rape of a man an equal crime to rape of a woman ( exception Scotland). Further updates to the Sexual Offences act in 2004 mean that the different types of sexual assault that men can experiences have been defined. Our helpline will be able to help you in considering whether you want to report what happened to you to the police and put you in touch with legal specialists.

What kind of effects can male survivors experience?

Again, it varies from individual to individual, but we find that common effects include; feelings of isolation, depression, anger, anxiety, issues about sexuality and gender, substance abuse, self-harm, eating disorders, negative body image, fears about abusing, hyperconsciousness of body and appearance, and even split or multiple personalities.

Who else is affected?

The psychological and mental health issues which survivors often experience, can also lead to real problems with relationships, so anyone who shares his life, be it partner, friend or family, can be affected. We often receive calls from people, who are looking for help in dealing with the effects of male rape or sexual assault on the man in their life.

Why is male rape and sexual abuse such a taboo subject?

Firstly, few people even realise that male rape exists. So a man who is trying to come to terms with sexual assault can feel like there is nowhere to turn. Secondly, society itself places certain expectations on men - they are supposed to be "strong" and "able to take care of themselves". This only heightens the sense of confusion and self-doubt felt by survivors of male rape and sexual abuse; many of them end up blaming themselves.

Why do so many men suffer in silence?

Because of our society's taboo about male rape and sexual assault it is rare that a victim will go to the police or seek immediate help - on the contrary, he will often be as desperate to keep it a secret as his attacker is. As well as the trauma and feelings of shame, many of our clients face the difficulties of people's attitudes to male rape and abuse.

With thanks to Survivors UK for this article.

Male victims of sexual assault - hidden crime

Since 1994 the law has recognised the rape of men as a criminal offence. There is much myth around the sexual assault of men, which leads to many misunderstandings about the crime and the victims it affects. This has consequences in the way that men see themselves as victims of sexual crimes and stops them from talking about what has happened to them and getting help.

Is it different for a man ?

Men experience similar feelings to women, such as shame, self-blame and guilt. They may have extra issues to deal with, due to society's belief that men should be able to protect themselves. Male sexual abuse or rape has no bearing on who you are or your sexuality.

Last updated on 05/03/2015
By Sally Jardine
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