About 14% of reported rapes involve men or boys, and that 1 in 6 reported sexual assaults is against a boy and 1 in 25 reported sexual assaults is against a man . As with male sexual violence against women, sexual violence against men is motivated by the desire to dominate and use sex as a weapon against the victim. The majority of the perpetrators of sexual violence against men are white, heterosexual men .
Male victims experience similar effects of sexual violence as female victims such as shame, grief, anger and fear. Male victims may also have issues surrounding their sexual and/or gender identity after a sexual assault. Issues of reporting and talking about their experiences, challenges for all victims of sexual violence, may be especially difficult for male victims because of gender socialization issues.
For our society to acknowledge that men are raped, we must first recognize and acknowledge that men can be vulnerable. Both men and women are socialized to see men as powerful, assertive and in control of their bodies. It may be challenging for some to think of men being the victims of sexual crimes because it is challenging to recognize men as “victims” and still think of them as men. This socialization can make it less likely for men to seek services and can make it less likely that appropriate services are available.
Men and boys who have been sexually victimized have a right to a full range of recovery services in settings that fully support their needs. Rape crisis centers should make every effort to ensure that:
volunteers and staff are trained on the needs and experiences of male victims; the availability of services for male victims is included in advertising and outreach; and the full range of services at the center, including support groups, is available to male victims.
In addressing sexual violence against male victims, it is important to consider sexual violence in institutionalized settings. Until very recently, the issue of sexual violence against those in prison has not been seen as critical. In 2001, Human Rights Watch brought this issue into sharp relief with the publication of its 378-page report, “No Escape: Male Rape in U.S. Prisons,” in which it reported that prison rape is widespread and brutal. In order to eliminate sexual violence and to appropriately address sexual violence against male victims, it is imperative that advocates and policy-makers address sexual violence in prisons and other institutions such as the military, fraternities and mental health facilities.
Advocates and policy-makers must also address the prevalence of sexual assaults targeting gay and transgender males, or those perceived to be so, perpetrated by other males who victimize those who do not fit into cultural norms around masculinity and sexuality.