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Male Sexual Assault: Resources and Legal Information for Survivors

Sep 23, 2023
Last updated May 13, 2024
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When we think of sexual assault, we usually assume a female survivor. However, many male survivors of sexual violence suffer in silence. Prevailing stereotypes portraying men as sexual aggressors and physically strong, along with homophobia, makes it difficult for male sexual assault survivors to come forward and seek help and resources.

While much of the focus around sexual assault is placed on female survivors, male survivors face several challenges when it comes to seeking justice. If you or a loved one is a survivor of male sexual assault, you do not have to suffer alone. A sexual assault lawyer can help provide the guidance and support you need to share your story and reclaim your voice. Contact our experienced and compassionate lawyers at Edwards Henderson for a free and confidential consultation.

Key Takeaways

  • While sexual assault is commonly perceived as sexual violence against women, many men are sexually assaulted as well.
  • Male survivors of sexual assault may have the right to hold their abuser and any potentially negligent third parties accountable by filing a civil sexual assault lawsuit.
  • An experienced sexual assault attorney can help male survivors of sexual assault pursue justice.

What is Sexual Assault?

Sexual assault involves any unwanted sexual contact without mutual consent. It includes rape (including oral sex), fondling, touching, forcibly showing pornographic materials, or other types of unwanted sexual behavior. Sexual assault is an often unreported act of violence that leaves survivors isolated in their pain and suffering.

Any person can be sexually assaulted regardless of gender. Sexual assault centers around power and control, not the gender of the survivor. Unfortunately, due to the stigma and shame associated with male sexual assault, many men avoid reporting or even talking about their experiences.

Male Rape

Male rape has been largely ignored or overlooked in the past, with many people believing sexual assault only affects women. In reality, men of all ages and backgrounds can be survivors of rape or attempted rape. Under the modern criminal provisions, rape is gender neutral, meaning anyone regardless of gender can be raped or commit rape.

Because female survivors of sexual assault receive more media attention and coverage, the lack of recognition and support for male survivors may create a sense of isolation and feelings of shame, guilt, confusion, or denial. Men may find it difficult to seek help, and letting the trauma go untreated may lead to serious mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.

Female-on-Male Rape

According to the sexual violence survey by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 4.8% of men reported they were being “made to penetrate.” The report states that over 5 million men in the U.S. have been subjected to rape during their lifetime, either through intimidation, coercion, or incapacitation. Despite being less prevalent than other forms of sexual assault, female-to-male rape is still a very real issue and has lifelong effects on survivors. Many men avoid coming forward after being assaulted by a woman because of the associated stigma and the fear that they may not be taken seriously. This is further complicated by many people believing that a woman is not capable of raping a man.

Male-on-Male Rape

Male-on-male rape involves a male perpetrator and a male victim. It occurs commonly in prisons, as a form of hazing, or as an initiation ritual in fraternities and sports teams. Male survivors of sexual assault often face even more challenges in receiving support and justice than their female counterparts because of harmful societal stereotypes about masculinity and sexuality. Survivors may also struggle with internalized homophobia, and may not report the assault for the misplaced fear of being labeled as weak.

Male Sexual Assault Statistics

According to the NSVRC, nearly 24.8 percent of men in the United States have experienced some form of contact sexual violence in their lifetime. Forty-three percent of men have reported experiencing some form of sexual harassment or assault in their lifetime. As of 1998, 2.78 million men in the U.S. had been victims of attempted or completed rape, according to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN). Further, the nonprofit 1in6 reported that one in six men has experienced sexual abuse or assault as an adult or child.

These statistics highlight the reality of male sexual assault as a widespread issue that needs to be addressed by society as well as our justice system. By acknowledging and discussing the prevalence of male sexual assault, we can work towards creating a society where survivors feel safe and supported, and where perpetrators are held accountable for their actions.

The sexual assault lawyers at Edwards Henderson are here to represent survivors of male sexual assault and ensure they receive justice and fair compensation from the perpetrator and/or the potentially negligent third-party organization that enabled the crime.

Effects of Sexual Assault on Men

Male sexual assault survivors face a range of debilitating and long-lasting physical, emotional, and psychological effects. Unfortunately, society often equates masculinity with strength, power, and control, creating the misconception that men can protect themselves from assault and fight off the associated trauma by “being strong enough.” This stigma makes it incredibly difficult for male survivors to come forward and seek the support needed to heal.

The lack of reporting and discussion around male sexual assault only reinforces this stigma. Media outlets, advocacy groups, and healthcare providers focus primarily on female survivors, creating the impression that male sexual assault is rare or less significant. As a result, men who experience sexual assault may feel isolated as they suffer from physical, emotional, and psychological consequences of sexual assault, including:

  • Mental health issues: Sexual assault survivors may experience some degree of anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and/or other mental health conditions. They may have trouble sleeping, suffer from flashbacks or intrusive memories, and struggle with feelings of worthlessness and helplessness.
  • Addiction and eating disorders: Survivors of sexual assault are at a higher risk of addiction and eating disorders. Male sexual assault survivors are more likely to use drugs or alcohol as a coping mechanism after an assault. Some may develop disordered eating patterns, either as a way to regain control over their bodies or as a form of self-punishment.
  • Concerns about sexual orientation: Some male survivors experience confusion or questioning around their sexual orientation or gender identity. They may worry the assault means they are gay or that they would be perceived as weak or feminine.
  • Guilt, shame, fear, disgust, and other emotions: Many survivors feel a profound sense of guilt or shame after a sexual assault, believing they somehow invited or deserved the attack. They may also experience intense fear, either of their abuser or of future sexual encounters, as well as a host of emotions related to the assault.
  • Effect on relationships: Sexual assault may strain relationships with partners, friends, and family members. Survivors may have difficulty trusting others or opening up about their experiences, and they may withdraw from social activities or intimacy.
  • Sexual difficulties: Survivors of sexual assault may experience difficulty with sexual intimacy, which can lead to further emotional and psychological distress.

For gay men, the effects of sexual assault are particularly challenging, as some may already struggle with shame related to their sexuality. In some cases, sexual assault of men is motivated by fear and homophobia in the form of gay-bashing. This only adds to the complexity of the emotional trauma suffered by male survivors.

No matter the circumstances of the sexual assault, you should seek out the support and resources you need to begin the healing process. A compassionate and experienced sexual assault lawyer can help you process the trauma and file a lawsuit against those who may be responsible for the crime.

I Am A Man Who Recently Experienced Sexual Assault. What Do I Do?

  • Get to a safe place: The first and most important step after an assault is to get to a safe place where you feel safe and protected.
  • Seek immediate medical attention from a nearby hospital: Even if you feel fine, get a medical evaluation and assess any physical injuries you may have sustained. You can ask for a rape kit which can collect important evidence showing you were assaulted. It is important to ask for a rape kit even if you are not ready to file a report.
  • Keep evidence related to the assault: Evidence related to the assault includes the clothing you wore, contaminated food or drink, and any other relevant items. Avoid washing, cleaning, or changing any clothing, sheets, or towels until the evidence is documented by law enforcement officials.
  • Consult a mental health professional: Like most heinous crimes, sexual assault is a traumatic experience. A mental health professional can help you process the trauma and manage symptoms of PTSD, anxiety, depression, insomnia, and more.
  • Speak to an experienced sexual assault attorney: An experienced sexual assault attorney can help you understand your legal rights and options. They can help you navigate the criminal justice system and pursue compensation for your pain and suffering, medical bills, lost wages, and other damages.

How to Support Sexual Assault Survivors

As a friend, family member, or ally of a survivor of sexual assault, your support can make all the difference in their recovery journey. Here are some tips on how to support a survivor:

  • Validate their feelings: Sexual assault can leave survivors feeling violated, alone, and helpless. You should validate the feelings of your loved one without minimizing them, blaming them, or offering overly positive statements.
  • Express concern and offer help: Let them know that you care about their well-being and offer any support they may need. Statements like, “I’m here to support you in any way that I can” or “You don’t have to go through this alone” can help.
  • Listen in a supportive and non-judgmental way: If a survivor shares details of their assault with you, you should listen in a supportive and non-judgmental way. Avoid asking questions that may come across as victim blaming, like asking if they were drinking or why did they not fight back. Instead, listen and offer support by saying things like, “I’m so sorry this happened to you” or “You didn’t deserve this.”
  • Provide appropriate resources: You may not have all the answers, but you can help connect survivors with appropriate resources. Depending on their situation and concerns, this may include medical care, legal resources, and counseling services. Be mindful of the survivor’s barriers or concerns, such as a transgender person’s concerns about appropriate medical attention or an undocumented immigrant’s fear of breach of privacy about their residential status.
  • Seek legal help: A civil sexual assault lawsuit can help survivors access financial compensation from the perpetrator and potentially responsible third parties, such as a hospital, nursing home, or university that neglected to take reasonable measures to prevent the crime or even covered up the assault. This is where a sexual assault lawyer is invaluable. Connect your friend of loved one to an experienced sexual assault attorney who has a proven track record of helping survivors of sexual assault.

Male Sexual Assault Resources

If you are a male survivor of sexual assault, remember it is not your fault. Sexual assault is about domination, control, and a lack of understanding about boundaries, and does not have anything to do with you. Here are some resources that may be helpful for you to recover from the long-term effects of sexual assault:

  1. RAINN: RAINN is the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization offering support, educational resources, and advocacy. RAINN also operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline which offers 24/7 support and information for survivors of male sexual assault. It has a hotline number as well as a confidential online chat option.
  2. NSVRC: The NSVRC provides information and resources on sexual assault and violence. They also offer training and support for professionals who work with survivors of sexual violence.
  3. MaleSurvivor: MaleSurvivor is an organization dedicated to supporting male survivors of sexual abuse and sexual assault. They offer resources for healing, including therapist directories, retreats, and peer support groups.
  4. 1in6: 1in6 is an organization dedicated to helping men overcome unwanted or abusive sexual experiences and live healthier, happier lives. They offer support for survivors, as well as educational resources for professionals and the general public.
  5. Darkness to Light: Darkness to Light is an organization that works to end child sexual abuse. They offer educational materials and resources for survivors of child sexual abuse.

Coming forward and sharing your story as a male survivor of sexual assault can be challenging, but it can also be incredibly empowering. By speaking out, you can help break down the stigma and shame that often surrounds male sexual assault. By connecting with other survivors and undergoing therapy, male survivors of sexual assault can move forward from the trauma.

Should I File a Civil Sexual Assault Lawsuit?

If you were sexually assaulted, one way to take your power back is by speaking up about what happened to you. Civil sexual assault lawsuits enable survivors to hold their abusers and the institutions that may have enabled them legally responsible for the harm they caused. Types of compensation available in a civil sexual assault lawsuit include:

  • Pain and suffering: This includes compensation for physical and emotional pain and suffering caused by the assault.
  • Past, present, and future medical bills: Medical costs add up quickly and include everything from emergency medical treatment to ongoing therapy, psychiatric treatment, and medication for conditions associated with the assasult.
  • Psychological trauma, emotional distress, and mental anguish: Compensation for any mental or emotional harm caused by the assault, including anxiety, depression, or PTSD.
  • Loss of enjoyment of life: Sexual assault may have a profound impact on one’s ability to enjoy activities and relationships they once cherished. Male sexual assault survivors deserve compensation for these losses.

Lost wages if you missed time at work due to the assault: This includes both the wages already lost and the potential wages you would lose in the future due to missed work.

Male Survivors of Sexual Assault: FAQs

1. I Was Sexually Abused As A Child. What Can I Do Now?

If you are a male survivor of child sex abuse, you may be able to still pursue legal action, even if years have passed since the abuse. Some states have implemented “lookback windows” that allow adult survivors of child sex abuse to file a lawsuit for compensation, even if the statute of limitations has expired. These laws vary by state, so if you are considering filing a lawsuit, seek legal advice from a trusted sex abuse attorney who has experience in your relevant state.

2. Who Are the Perpetrators of Male Sexual Assault?

The perpetrators of male sexual assault can be anyone, including acquaintances, friends, family members, coworkers, romantic partners, and strangers. Perpetrators may also use positions of power or authority to abuse male survivors, such as teachers, coaches, or members of the clergy.

3. Is it Sexual Assault if I Ejaculated?

Yes, it is still considered sexual assault if you ejaculated during an unwanted sexual act. Ejaculation does not negate the lack of consent or force involved in the act. The key factor in determining sexual abuse is whether consent was given. If there was no consent, regardless of ejaculation, it is still sexual assault.

4. I Am a Male Sexual Assault Survivor. Can My Sexual Assault Affect or Change Sexual Orientation?

Many survivors of male sexual assault worry the experience can change or affect their sexual orientation. Sexual orientation is a deeply personal aspect of an individual’s identity and cannot be changed or influenced by external factors. No matter the type of sexual assault experienced, even if the survivor experienced erection or ejaculation, it cannot alter their sexual orientation.

5. Who Can Be Held Responsible for Male Sexual Assault?

You can file a civil sexual assault lawsuit against the abuser who committed the crime, as well as a third-party organization that may have neglected to prevent the crime or covered it up. Institutions have been held responsible for hiring untrained staff, failing to conduct background checks on employees, understaffing, and failing to report the abusive employee or member for committing sexual assault. At Edwards Henderson, we have experience with the following types of cases and settings:

  • Hospitals:Unfortunately, medical professionals have been known to abuse their positions of power and trust to commit sexual assault against patients. This may include inappropriate touching during an exam to rape, and everything in between.
  • Schools or colleges: Students may be sexually assaulted by classmates, teachers, coaches, or other staff. It is not uncommon for schools to mishandle or cover up reports of sexual assault, which can make it even harder for survivors to come forward.
  • Sports teams: Athletic culture can sometimes foster an environment where sexual assault is normalized and victim-blaming practiced. This can be especially true for male-dominated sports like football or wrestling.
  • Religious institutions: Clergy members, religious figureheads, and spiritual practitioners have been implicated in numerous cases of sexual abuse and assault against children and adults. This type of abuse is especially damaging, as many survivors may feel conflicted or guilty about coming forward due to their faith or the perceived moral authority of the perpetrator.
  • Boy Scouts of America: The Boy Scouts have been the subject of numerous lawsuits related to sexual abuse of young boys by adult leaders.

6. What Percentage of Men are Sexually Assaulted?

According to RAINN, about 3 percent of men (or 1 in 33 men) experience sexual assault in their lifetime. This number may be underreported due to societal stigma surrounding male sexual assault and a lack of awareness on the resources available to men. It is crucial to understand that sexual assault is a serious issue that affects individuals of all genders and should be addressed.

7. What is the Statute of Limitations on Male Sexual Assault?

The statute of limitations (SOL) is the time frame during which a survivor must file a lawsuit against their abuser. The SOL on male sexual assault varies state by state, with some states such as New York and California allowing for a longer period than others. These limitations range based on the type of assault and the age of the survivor at the time of the assault.

8. Can I Afford a Male Sexual Assault Attorney?

Most sexual assault attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, so they only get paid if you win your case or reach a settlement. This makes it easier to pursue justice without worrying about the financial burden of legal fees. At Edwards Henderson, we know that you deserve justice and support, which is why our attorneys are here to help you achieve both.

We Believe You: Talk to a Compassionate Male Sexual Assault Lawyer

Talking about sexual assault is never easy, which is why it is important you know that you are not alone. While finding the courage to come forward and seek help may seem harrowing, remember that sexual assault is never the survivor’s fault.

If you have experienced male sexual assault, you should reach out to a compassionate sexual assault lawyer who can guide you on the best course of action. At Edwards Henderson, we believe your story and are here to support you. Our sexual assault lawyers are nationally recognized for their success in recovering justice for sexual assault survivors. Contact us today for a free and confidential consultation.

Article Sources

  1. National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey | CDC
  2. Statistics | NSVRC
  3. About Sexual Assault | RAINN
  4. RAINN
  5. NSVRC
  6. MaleSurvivor
  7. 1 in 6
  8. Darkness to Light

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