Teenage boy crying beside a railway station

Sexual Assault: Not Just A Women’s Issue

Sexual assault has been in news headlines regularly for quite some time. Over the past few years, the public has become increasingly more aware of the dangers college students face while on campus and the number of victims who are in our country’s own military. As people everywhere demand change to prevent such atrocities from occurring and attempt to provide support for the victims, one group is often overlooked.

Men account for a percentage of the country’s sexual assault victims. Most people assume that the victim of any sexual violence is a woman, and in many cases that is true. Yet, according to RAINN, 1 in 33 men (3%) have experienced attempted or completed rape in their lifetime.

What is Sexual Violence?

Sexual violence comes in many forms and affects people of all races, sexual orientations, and ages. Despite the belief commonly held by many, men are susceptible to sexual violence as well. Listed below are the various types of sexual violence with a brief description of each.

  • Male Sexual Assault or Rape – This population is often forgotten or underserved due to stereotypes.
  • Rape – Forced penetration by either a body part or an object. Anyone can be a victim of rape.
    • Acquaintance rape – In this case, the victim is coerced into sexual activities which are imposed on them by someone they know.
    • Partner rape – Sexual acts committed without a person’s consent or against their will when the perpetrator is the victim’s partner (married or not).
  • Child Sexual Abuse – Any sexual activity with a minor. A child cannot consent to any form of sexual activity.
  • Dating or Domestic Violence – When an intimate partner or family member uses violence or force against their victim.
  • Incest – Sexual contact between closely related family members, usually an older family member abusing a child.
  • Hate Crime – Victimization which is based on an individual’s gender, race, sexual orientation, nationality, ethnicity, or religion.
  • Sexual Harassment – Includes physical or verbal contact of a sexual nature which impedes a person’s work or school performance and creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work or school environment.
  • Stalking – When an individual follows a pattern of behavior that leaves the victim feeling nervous, harassed or afraid.

Statistics on Male Sexual Assault Teenage boy crying beside a railway station

There are several stereotypes that are associated with male sexual assault and rape that can be very damaging to survivors. Victims often struggle with feelings of guilt and shame. The misconception that a man should have been able to “fight off” his perpetrator can leave lasting effects on victims who are already suffering from a traumatic violation.

According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, 1 out of 71 men will be raped in their lifetime and 9% of rape and sexual assaults in America are against men. The chances of being a victim increase for men who are college students as they are 78% more likely to become a victim of rape than nonstudents. It can be difficult to obtain accurate statistics due to the fact that so many people do not report instances of sexual assault. In fact, 68% of all sexual assaults are not reported to law enforcement.

Supporting Male Survivors

In an effort to provide needed support for male survivors The Joyful Heart Foundation, in partnership with 1in6 and Viacom, has expanded on their “NO MORE Excuses” campaign. They have new PSAs in the form of a series of video and print ads which urge the public to change their view on male sexual assault. These PSAs are part of the Male Survivor Series and several celebrities have gotten involved hoping to shed light on how damaging the  misconceptions the public holds about sexual assault can be.

In addition, to kick off Sexual Assault Awareness Month, RAINN has started a new campaign entitled The RAINN Survivor Series. The campaign encourages victims to reach out for help and support through the National Sexual Assault Hotline either by phone (800-656-HOPE) or via online chat (online.rainn.org) which has seen success in a 10% increase in the last year.

A male survivor of assault was featured, not only in RAINN’s campaign but in a news article on cnn.com in which he described some of the additional challenges he faces as a male survivor. He wants to help other survivors like himself and stated: “Speak up and don’t be afraid people won’t believe you because they will.”

 

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