Sexual assault and abuse can happen to anyone, regardless of gender, age, or sexual orientation. And while our society has placed increased attention on female survivors, males are vulnerable and victimized, too. Male survivors are less likely to open up about sexual assault and face unique challenges in dealing with the stigmas, societal attitudes, and false stereotypes surrounding this sensitive topic.
There is the tragic misconception that male survivors of sexual assault are somehow less traumatized than their female counterparts. Male victims often voice their struggles in reconciling their masculine identity with being groped, touched, or forced into sexual acts against their will. Whether it happened during childhood, as a teenager, or adulthood, many victims blame themselves. After all, males are usually the ones who initiate sexual encounters; they are the aggressors and should be “strong enough” to ward off unwanted advances. In reality – especially in cases involving young boys – this could not be further from the truth.
Effects of Sexual Assault on Men
The effects of sexual assault on men can be profound and often go unrecognized or misunderstood. Whether the assault occurred as a child or an adult, they may have many of the same feelings and reactions as other survivors. However, they may also face additional challenges because of social attitudes and stereotypes about masculinity.
For example, according to RAINN, shame is common. Men may believe they should have been strong enough to fight off the alleged perpetrator. In addition, men who experienced an erection or ejaculation may think that they enjoyed it or invited the assault instead of understanding that it is an involuntary physiological response of the body.
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Here are additional effects of sexual assault on men:
Men who have experienced sexual assault may grapple with other complex emotions such as guilt, anger, fear, and confusion. As noted, stereotypes and expectations about masculinity can further complicate the issue, making it challenging to express their feelings or seek help.
Sexual assault can have significant psychological consequences for male survivors. They may experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety, and feelings of powerlessness. Flashbacks, nightmares, and intrusive thoughts are common, impacting their overall well-being and quality of life.
These may include physical injuries sustained during the assault, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), chronic pain, and sexual dysfunction. It is crucial to address these physical aspects of recovery alongside the emotional and psychological ones.
Social and Relationship Challenges
Male survivors of sexual assault may face unique social and relationship challenges. They may struggle with trust issues, difficulty with intimacy, and maintaining healthy relationships. Feelings of isolation and stigma can make it challenging to disclose their experiences.
Finally, male survivors of sexual assault need to know that they are not alone and that help is available. Encouraging them to reach out to therapists and support groups specifically for male survivors can provide them with the guidance and understanding they need. Our dedicated team of Dallas sexual assault victim lawyers is here to provide compassionate legal assistance and help you pursue justice.
Culture of silence for male survivors of sexual assault
In the context of sexual violence, males are almost always portrayed as the abuser, the perpetrator – and rarely the victim. Yet, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 16 percent of American males experience sexual abuse before the age of 18. Sexual assault against boys and men occurs in many different ways and settings. It happens in schools, where teachers methodically groom their targets to gain trust and intimacy. It happens in churches, in the military, in youth programs, in the workplace, in universities, in the prison system, and in what are often considered the safest, most family-friendly of neighborhoods.
A 2014 study of high school and college boys found that 43 percent reported being coerced into unwanted sexual intercourse. Of these sexual assault reports, 95 percent were committed by female perpetrators. Time and time again, researchers have discovered that males who suffer sexual abuse at the hands of women are less reluctant to disclose the abuse. Males are socialized to view themselves as strong and self-sufficient, and they are less likely to identify their experiences as being abusive.
Sexual contact without consent is assault, and whether you are the parent of an abused child or an adult male survivor, you are not alone. Talk to an experienced Dallas sexual assault victim lawyer at Crowe Arnold & Majors, LLP, about your rights. Our caring legal team is highly experienced in this complex area of the law. We appreciate the special challenges faced by male victims of sexual abuse, and provide sound legal representation in civil cases.
Unique challenges facing boys and men
Many men, espousing an antiquated ‘strong man’ mentality, just wall off the trauma of sexual assault completely. Male survivors often have intense struggles with self-blame, and they choose not to share their story for fear of being ridiculed, accused of weakness, or being perceived as homosexual.
When involuntary physical arousal occurs, male survivors – especially young ones – become confused and may even question their sexual orientation when the perpetrator is another man.
Some male survivors develop intimacy issues, pull back from relationships, and end up isolating themselves. Some are unable to enjoy normal sexual relationships with a partner due to flashbacks and the trauma of their assault.
Other survivors are so riddled with guilt and shame after being sexually abused that they spiral into self-destructive patterns. They may turn to drugs or alcohol to numb the pain or become more aggressive in general, undermining their educational or professional efforts.
Victims often suffer from depression, anxiety, and PTSD. One study found that although male victims of sexual assault were 2.5 times more likely have suicidal thoughts than men who had not been abused, less than 16 percent sought counseling.
Fortunately, there is legal recourse for survivors of sexual abuse and assault – regardless of gender. Working with a skilled personal injury attorney is an excellent starting point for connecting with support resources, and obtaining the justice you deserve.
Legal options for victims of sexual assault
As a survivor of molestation, rape, or sexual assault, you may be eligible to bring civil claims against the person who abused you, and any organization or entity that enabled the harm. Crowe Arnold & Majors, LLP, can hold predators accountable and fight for the justice you deserve.
To discuss your sexual assault case with a compassionate sexual assault victim attorney, please contact us to arrange a free and confidential consultation.