Disclosure Response Team, Health and Wellbeing

Support for male victims of sexual assault

Anyone can be affected by sexual violence.

Sexual violence can happen to anyone, no matter your age, your sexual orientation, or your gender identity. Men and boys who have experienced sexual violence, experience the same feelings and reactions as other survivors of sexual assault, but they may also face some additional challenges because of social attitudes and stereotypes about men and masculinity (RAINN).

Common experiences of male survivors

If something has happened to you, please know that you are not alone. The following list includes some of the common experiences shared by men and boys who have survived sexual assault. It is not a complete list, but it may help you to know that other people are having similar experiences:

  • Anxiety, depression, fearfulness, or post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Avoiding people or places that are related to the assault or abuse
  • Concerns or questions about sexual orientation
  • Fear of the worst happening and having a sense of a shortened future
  • Feel like “less of a man” or that you no longer have control over your own body
  • Feeling on-edge, being unable to relax, and having difficulty sleeping
  • Sense of blame or shame over not being able to stop the assault or abuse, especially if you experienced an erection or ejaculation
  • Withdrawal from relationships or friendships and an increased sense of isolation.

Male victims

Due to the societal pressures placed on the male gender, it can be difficult for a male survivor to be fully recognised as being victimised by the assault which has happened to them. During sexual assault, it is common for the incident to elicit a natural and uncontrollable aroused response and even climax. Further, as males often display a more explicit physical response, such as an erection, men are often found to be more heavily stigmatised by themselves and others because arousal, pleasure and consent are confused. During sexual assault, arousal is common place, however pain can still be experienced.  Whether the perpetrator was a male or female is irrelevant. Yet another common response to a male’s assault is the criticism of their sexuality, for not ‘enjoying it’.

To commit an non-consented sexual act is a violation of an individual’s basic human right to autonomy and personal safety, it is criminal and degrading. Therefore, as listeners and as people we must understand that consent is consent. To breach consent can be catastrophic. When a survivor shares a traumatic experience we must listen and believe them, no matter what their gender.

Victim blaming is not gender-bound

It appears that victim blaming is a universal phenomena on the topic of sexual violence.

“Gender and heterosexist stereotypes, such as the idea that all men are sexually insatiable or that gay male victims ‘asked for it,’ can perpetuate dismissive attitudes toward male victims… Yet such dismissal runs counter to evidence that men who experience sexual victimisation report depression, suicidal ideation, anxiety, sexual dysfunction, and more…”

– Lara Stemple, Law professor, UCLA

Can only men rape?

Legally speaking only males can rape and women can only commit a sexual assault, despite committing equivalent acts. This is because by law, for an act of sexual violence to be considered ‘rape’ the individual must penetrate the victim with a penis. Although this is a matter of semantics, it could have a detrimental effect on our notion of the profile of a rapist. Statistics on the number of reports of sexual violence do indicate that women are more commonly victims of sexual assault and men the perpetrators. However, we must consider that these statistics are based on cases that are reported. Due to male stigmatisation, under-reporting could be a reality affecting these figures.

Male victims lack of representation in the media

The media reflects our socio-cultural norms. As such, it is evident that the gross under representation of male sexual assault and rape in mainstream media is a reflection of society’s common misconceptions and influence of cultural stereotypes on our beliefs. This is a damaging cycle which leads to the isolation and lack of recognition of the trauma experienced by male victims. Sexual violence  is an issue that can affect anyone regardless of gender.

Male survivors representation and acknowledgement in the media

Teen Vogue recognised that men are often demonised, excluded, or they are held responsible for perpetuating rape culture in the current conversation surrounding sexual assault. As a result they kicked off a new campaign called It’s Not Your Fault,  in an attempt to change the conversation. As part of a series of videos men were invited to read out stories of sexual violence. The men featured are cisgender, transgender, black, white, Christian, Jewish, Agnostic, Buddhist, gay, straight, and pansexual. The campaign’s motive was to encourage young men to step forward as allies and join the fight against sexual assault. Initially, the series shares stories of females but the last, Alex’s, is shared by Alex himself. It is a grand display of courage as a victim speaking up. Nothing will change until everyone – the community – is part of the conversation.

 


WE KNOW, violence and abuse affects our students. IT’S NOT ON, and we are addressing it. WE CAN HELP, our Disclosure Response Team offer practical support. YOU CAN HELP, recognise the signs, tell us if you know a student is at risk.


WE CAN HELP

If you have experienced violence or abuse of any kind, you are entitled to free, non-judgmental support. Please don’t be afraid to reach out to us.

The Disclosure Response Team:
Let us know using the online disclosure tool.
email: disclosureresponseteam@cardiff.ac.uk
hours: Monday to Friday, 09:00 – 16:30
phone: 029 2087 4844
out of hours: 0808 8010 800 (Live Fear Free Helpline)
search:Violence and Abuse‘ on the student Intranet for more.

YOU CAN HELP

As an individual, you have the power to affect real change by leading by example. You can play your part by:

  • Recognise the signs of violence and abuse and signpost the survivor onto support services.
  • Practice being a good listener if someone discloses an incident of violence or abuse to you.
  • Consciously challenge your stereotypical beliefs on sex, gender, and traditional roles associated with both
  • Speak up for what you believe in!
  • Become an empowered bystander. The Bystander Effect states that we are less likely to intervene and help someone when part of a crowd. As the number of people present increase, the responsibility is diffused and often this results in someone being left helpless.

Your feedback and help please

Have you found this blog post useful?  Please help us by commenting in the comments bar below, and  if there is anything further you’d like to know ask your questions there too.

We’d also be grateful if you can share this information by re-tweeting or sharing with your fellow students who may find this useful – you can do this by using the share buttons or via twitter and facebook.

Best wishes,

Nichola (Placement Student) and Sophie (HEFCE Marketing Project Lead),
Counselling, Health and Wellbeing Team.

10169438_10203867942278260_2837167837685484005_n

Your Student Life, Supported.

The Student Support Centre has a range of services dedicated to helping students make the most of their time at University, including: Advice and MoneyCareers and EmployabilityCounselling, Health and WellbeingDisability and Dyslexia and International Student Support.

The Student Support Centres are located at 50 Park Place, Cathays Campus and Cardigan House, Heath Park Campus.

For further details of services, events, opening times and more find us on the University Intranet.

Comments

No comments.

Leave a Reply