Sexual assault can happen to anybody, anywhere, no matter their age, race, gender or sexual orientation. Often, when speaking about sexual abuse at any age, the main focus falls on sexual assault on women and girls. In reality, the same can happen to men and boys.
Male victims of sexual assault experience many similar effects to their female peers. Common reactions that male victims of sexual assault experience include shame, the feeling that they should have been “strong enough” to fight off the assailant or even worries that they enjoyed the assault. According to RAINN, some ways to show support to male survivors of sexual abuse are to validate the victim’s feelings and to provide appropriate resources.
Many people, when faced with disclosure of sexual assault, immediately try to make the victim feel better. However, the approach matters. It is not a good idea to make extremely positive statements like “things will get better.”
Male victims of sexual assault also have others attempting to manage their emotions. Many male victims report hearing phrases like “get over it,” or “do not let it get you down.” Instead, try offering statements like, “I believe you,” or “I am here to support you.”
Resources are not a one-size-fits-all approach. For instance, a black male survivor of sexual assault may have strong reservations about contacting law enforcement. Trans men also face significant challenges when it comes to accessing medical support. Additionally, many general resources for sexual abuse aim at women and girls rather than men and boys.
Male victims of sexual assault face unique challenges and stigma. By providing robust emotional support and resources tailored specifically to the abuse victim, you can help.