Why Male Rape Victims Do Not Report
Posted on Monday, October 7th, 2019 at 9:28 pm
The long-term effects of sexual abuse against women by men have been studied extensively, however, there has been minimal research exploring the effects of sexual abuse by men on other men. Male victims of rape and sexual assault in adulthood have received very little attention, until recently. Moreover, male rape in the military has been prevalent in our society for decades and yet, even less attention has been paid to males in such circumstances. Studies have shown that, similar to female rape victims, adult male rape victims rarely turn to the medical, legal, or mental health systems for assistance. Another similarity that is shared between both male and female sexual abuse victims is the sense of humiliation, fear, shame and self-blame. However, adult male sexual abuse victims are even less likely than females to report an assault.
A lost sense of manliness has been a common theme discovered while treating male sexual abuse victims. Many of these victims feel as though they have been made “less of a man,” and this is something male rape victims struggle to reconcile with. Statistics have shown that 5% to 10% of sexual assaults committed in the United States involve male victims. As many as 1 in 10 men will be sexually assaulted in their lifetimes, some experts say. Many people are surprised by these numbers because the problem of sexual abuse against men isn’t talked about very often.
Although often concealed, sexual assault against men happens in many different ways. Some men may be assaulted by someone they know, while others are assaulted by a stranger or a group of strangers. While men are sometimes sexually assaulted by women, more often the male victim is attacked by another male. Trauma is something that does not discriminate against gender, and it is sadly something most sexual abuse victims suffer. The loss of control of one’s own body is a disturbing scar on the victim’s soul.
The fact that men get sexually assaulted is one of our society’s greatest denial. Denying the existence of sexual abuse against males is heavily rooted in the belief that men are immune to falling victim of such attack. Society grasps this notion that men should be able to fight off any attacker if they are a, “real man.” Society also struggles to understand that men can be forced into sex too, even when they don’t want it. In turn, these mistaken beliefs in society increase the pain and suffering that is felt by male survivors of sexual assault. Men often feel ashamed, isolated, alone and again, “less of a man.”
Very few men actually seek help after being sexually abused. The harsh reality is that only 5-20% of all victims actually report the crime, with the percentage for male victims even lower. Many male victims suffer in silence after being sexually assaulted due to overwhelming feelings of confusion and self-blame. The idea of being a victim is very difficult to handle for most men. Men are raised to believe that they should be able to defend themselves against anything. Society has deeply ingrained in our minds that men are meant to be “manly” and “masculine.” What society doesn’t realize is that, these beliefs result in feelings of inadequacy for the male survivor of sexual assault.
The sad truth about these societal beliefs are that they force men to question whether they deserved or somehow wanted to be sexually assaulted, because men often believe they failed to defend themselves. Frequently, male survivors of sexual assault often feel disgusted with themselves for not fighting back. The feeling of a “loss of manhood” in these types of situations is normal, however, the thoughts attached to such a feeling isn’t necessarily. It is of critical importance for a male sexual abuse victim to remind themselves that they did what they could in the situation to survive. There is nothing unmasculine about that.
As a result of being sexually assaulted, male victims often punish themselves by getting into self-destructive behavior after such attack. Several men begin abusing drugs or alcohol as a means to cope with the trauma. For others, they may cope with such trauma by arguing with friends or co-workers, or even being aggressive towards strangers. Relationships often deteriorate, as the victim begins to isolate from those close to them. It is quite common for male survivors to develop sexual difficulties after being abused. Male survivors struggle to resume intimate relationships or to begin new one due to the unwanted memories of the assault to trigger flashbacks. Every male survivor copes with the aftermath differently, so it’s normal for intimacy to take a while before being resumed.
Sexual assault against heterosexual males frequently results in questioning and confusion about one’s sexuality. As sexual assault against males has often been perceived to only target homosexuals, heterosexual males sometimes begin to believe that they either are gay or will become gay. Consequently, some survivors being to question their own sexual assault, as abusers often accuse their victims of enjoying the assault. Sexual orientation, whether it be past, present or future, has no correlation with being sexually assaulted. Being sexually assaulted does not make people “become gay.”
Gay-bashing motivated by hatred and fear of homosexuality are often the underlying trigger for sexual assaults of men. Verbal abuse by the perpetrators against their victims often state that the victims deserved to be sexually assaulted. The aftermath of such verbal abuse coupled with the physical abuse suffered can lead to lifelong detrimental effects on these victims. However, sexual assault is a vulgar act of violence and it’s crucial to remember that it stems from power and control, and that no human deserves.
Every day that passes is another day further from the traumatic attack, it’s another day to move forward from it. Male victims of such abuse need to understand that the reactions they experience post-abuse are both normal and temporary. Although one’s life may be disrupted for while from the trauma, the emotions of distress and puzzlement lessen with time. Some days will be better than others, as some reactions may be triggered by places or things connected to the assault. Other days, such reactions may appear to come from out of the blue.
Understandably, speaking about the assault can be really difficult to do, however, it’s important to stress the benefits of talking about it with others. In order to heal and regain a sense of control over one’s own life, eventually facing these feelings will have to occur. Many male victims have a sense of wanting to forget the assault ever happened, and to let the past be the past. However, communicating with someone who will understand, listen and comfort is a key part of this process.
Male victims of sexual assault often detach from society and their daily routines. Following a major trauma such as sexual assault may cause a victim to be unable to function at 100% capacity. Symptoms such as anxiety, loneliness, inability to concentrate and remember things are just a few caused by sexual assault. Some days are better than others, and some aspects of life may take longer to recover. The need for time to recover and rebuild oneself is essential to the healing process.
The most important step a victim can take to achieve justice is to immediately consult and hire an experienced, compassionate and committed attorney who knows how to aggressively protect your rights. As these traumatic experiences often shake adult male victims to their core and result in delayed disclosure and reporting, litigating claims that span several decades become complicated. New York state has progressed immensely with its’ receptiveness to abuse victims’ voices. It is imperative that male survivors of sexual assault understand the explicit and unequivocal need for attorneys who can handle such complicated litigation. Hach & Rose is versed in complicated lawsuits and its attorneys are fearless in taking on lawsuits with powerful Defendants.
At Hach & Rose, LLP, we are committed to working persistently and passionately to represent those who could not protect themselves. If you or a loved one has suffered from any form of sexual abuse, it is critical to act now. Do not hesitate to contact the New York sexual abuse lawyers at Hach & Rose, LLP today at (212) 779-0057. Our compassionate, knowledgeable and skilled attorneys will work diligently to uncover whether criminal charges, a civil lawsuit – or both – can be filed against the perpetrator or negligent third party who is responsible for the abuse and its damages to you.