Fort Refuge - Abuse Survivors Support Group

Rape of Men:
Myths and Facts

Monologue on the video was written and performed by Andrew Bailey. It can be upsetting/triggering, but if you watch it - watch till the end before passing judgment.

Rape of men has been a taboo topic for centuries. Society expects men to be strong and invulnerable, so being a survivor of sexual violence (and needing support to recover from this trauma) feels emasculating and shameful. The topic isn't well researched, and there are social stigmas, stereotypes, and wildest misconceptions surrounding it, making it exceptionally hard for male survivors to speak of their experience and get the support they need for the aftermath of this trauma.

Men can't be raped

For some reason when hearing "rape" people imagine two healthy and free adults of opposite genders, wrestling to determine whether an intercourse will occur or not. It might work this way with rhinos, but humans are more complicated than that. Many rapes aren't violent, and many victims are physically and mentally stronger than perpetrators. It's hard to accept, but anyone can be in position of vulnerability at some point or another in their life: minors, inmates, prisoners of war, elderly, disabled, drugged, blackmailed. A rape means someone took advantage of your vulnerable position, it's not a fair fight. You can't wrestle with a gun held to your head, either literally, by prison staff, or figuratively, by a priest who says you'll go to hell if you resist his advances. Statistically, one in six men gets raped during his lifetime.

Men can't be raped by women

Statutory rapes aside, this stereotype is based on pure semantics. Rape means non-consentual sex, a forced intercourse. Due to obvious anatomical differences, a female victim of a heterosexual rape is penetrated, while a male victim is being forced to penetrate. Yet surveys define "raped" as "being penetrated", so male victims don't count (unless they were raped anally). When CDC added “being made to penetrate" to the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey in 2010 (under "other sexual violence", not under "rape"), they found that 1.267 million men were violated this way in the preceding 12 months, compared to 1.270 women who were victims of forced penetration in the same time period. Moreover, sexual violence surveys (like the above one) often do not include POWs or prison inmates, who can and do get raped, both by men (inmates or staff) and by women (female staff, a lot more common than one would imagine).

Men are lucky to get sex

Rape isn't sex. I don't know what could be more humiliating than to have your privates manipulated against your will, even if there's no physical violence involved. For example, many teen boys feel confused, violated, and traumatized by a sexual intercourse with an adult woman, even if they did fantasize about it. It just doesn't feel like they thought it would, in fact it feels pretty bad - but they had no prior sexual experience, don't know what sex is supposed to feel like, have nothing to compare it to, and try to reconcile this confusion by blaming themselves for not liking sex, feeling betrayed by their bodies, wondering if this means they are gay, hoping that they'll grow used to it and enjoy it more the next time, and definitely not admitting their feelings to anyone. Rape is a serious psychological trauma that can result in self-esteem problems, anxiety, nightmares, depression, post traumatic stress disorder, sexual dysfunctions, addictions, or various other issues. Suicide rates for male survivors of rape are incomparably higher than for any other demographic, including terminal cancer patients.

I must have liked it because I had an erection

People who have reached puberty experience sexual arousal multiple times a day, with or without sexual thoughts or feelings. Aside from desire for sex, an erection can be produced by physical stimulation (wanted or not), full bladder (many men experience erections in the morning, when they just woke up and need to use the bathroom), fear or anxiety (common example is public speaking, presentations in front of a class), and various other means (for example, many men ejaculate when executed by hanging; I doubt they are enjoying the experience). Having or not having an erection says nothing about your likes or dislikes.

I'm now damaged goods

Millions of men were raped or abused in other ways and recovered from the impact of this trauma; it takes time and effort, but it's doable. Sadly, this myth can turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy: studies show that PTSD might be caused by incorrect perception of the trauma one suffered or the impact it had on them. Take this test to see how's your perception and whether you're likely to develop long-term PTSD - results page explains this concept. Recovery is possible: please read on the topic, consider therapy, join support groups, talk to other survivors. These things do help.

Men who were abused will abuse others

The infamous "vampire syndrome" probably originates from the fact that many perpetrators of abuse have been abused as children. However, it uses faulty logic: all rhinos are animals, but not all animals are rhinos. Just consider the stats: there are 20.4 million male survivors of child sexual abuse and 0.4 million registered sex offenders in the USA. Even if all registered sex offenders were male, that still calculates to less than 2 sex offenders out of 100 male abuse survivors. You have a higher chance of getting killed in an accident within the next year, than of becoming a sex offender ever in your lifetime.

If you've been raped, please know: it's not your fault, you're not alone, and things will get better.

It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.
~ Confucius
This page was last updated on December 26th, 2015
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