Adult Sexual Assault – More For Men
Few men expect to be sexually assaulted but it does happen. Sexual assault can happen to anyone.
Myths About Male Sexual Assault
Many of the ideas we have about male sexual assault are based on misperceptions that exist is our society about sexual assault and what it means to be a man. Myths can discourage male survivors from sharing their experience with others and receiving the support they are entitled to.
Myth: Strong men don’t get raped.
In Fact: Being strong is no defence against rape. Surprise, shock, a weapon, threats, being out-numbered or frozen by fear makes fighting back impossible for most victims. The attackers are almost always other men.
Myth: Rape only happens to certain groups of men.
In Fact: Sexual assault is not just a problem in prisons. Nor is it limited to gay men. Any man can be sexually assaulted.
Myth: Rapists are gay men
In Fact: Most sexual offenders identify themselves as heterosexual.
Remember: You are not to blame for the abuse.
Effects of Sexual Abuse
While many of the effects of sexual abuse are the same for both males and females, males more typically experience some effects. These include:
- confusion/anxiety over sexual identity and relationships
- over-compensation to prove they are ‘real men’ by engaging in very macho-type behaviours.
- abuse of alcohol, drugs or other addictions. These behaviours frequently become self-destructive and damaging to others and can make it extremely difficult for men to heal from their abuse.
Video – Nina Burrowes – Psychologist
As our society encourages men to suppress their feelings and emotions (other than anger) from a young age, it can be hard for men to open up and tell people about their abuse. However, breaking the secrecy around the sexual abuse is a vital first step in enabling you to deal with it and begin to heal.
- It is your choice who, when and how you tell. You should never be forced into telling someone.
- Getting support for yourself (e.g. counsellor) can be useful as it can help you work through your feelings about the abuse.
- Give family and friends you tell some time and space to process what you have told them. You may want to give them some information to read to help them understand what you have been through (see For Family and Friends).
- Think about what you would like others to do that would be of help to you and share this with them.
- Not everyone will necessarily react in the way you would hope. It’s not your fault and do not be discouraged. You have shown a great deal of strength to tell someone, which is an important step.
There are some specialist support services for male survivors of sexual violence in New Zealand that you may wish to contact for additional support (see Links).
If you would like more information, please contact us.
Two hundred male survivors of sexual abuse on the Oprah Winfrey Show stand together showing photos of themselves as boys in the 2010 TV production.
Local Manawatu Agency for Men
Benedict, Helen 1994 How to survive sexual assault: For Women, Men, Teenagers, Their Friends and Families, Columbia University Press, New York.