Sexual assault can happen to anybody, irrespective of age, sexual orientation, or gender identity. Men and boys who have been sexually assaulted or abused may have many of the same traumatic feelings and reactions as the survivors of sexual assault or harassment, but they may also face some additional challenges because of social attitudes and stereotypes regarding men and masculinity.
Men and boys who have been sexually assaulted or harassed may experience the same effects of sexual assault as other survivors, and they may face other challenges as to satisfy other social norms adding more uniqueness to their experience.
Some men who have survived sexual assaults as adults feel shame or self-doubt, believing that they should have been “strong enough” to fight off the perpetrator, making them question their abilities, masculinity and strength. Many men who experienced an erection or ejaculation during the assault may be confused and wonder what this means, thus blaming themselves for feeling as if liking it or giving such impression, this leading to self-blame and hatred towards themselves. These normal physiological responses do not in any way imply that you wanted, invited, or enjoyed the assault, they just mean sometimes your body is not in your control and it’s completely okay. If something like this happened to you, know that it can never be your fault and you are not alone.
Men who were sexually abused as boys or teens(early stages of life) may also respond differently than men who were sexually assaulted as adults(with better understanding and knowledge). The list mentioned below includes some of the common experiences and after effects faced by men and boys who have survived sexual assault.
• Anxiety, panic attacks, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, flashbacks, and eating disorders
• Avoiding people or places(same or of similar orientation) that remind you of the assault or abuse
• Concerns or questions about sexual orientation(self doubt), lack of confidence
• Fear of the worst happening and having a sense of a shortened future
• Feeling 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
• Worrying about disclosing for fear of judgment or disbelief
Who are the perpetrators of sexual assault against men and boys?
Perpetrators can be of any gender identity, sexual orientation, or age, and they can have any relationship to the victim(family, neighbors, friends, stranger). Like all perpetrators, they might use physical force or psychological and emotional coercion tactics or any other means to fulfill their evil demands.
Below given are a few suggestions on how you can support a man or boy who discloses to you that he has experienced sexual assault or abuse:
• Listen: Many people in crisis feel as though no one understands them and that they are not taken seriously. Show them they matter by giving your undivided attention. It is hard for many survivors to disclose assault or abuse, especially if they fear not being believed because of stereotypes about masculinity.
• Validate their feeling:. Avoid making overly positive statements like “It will get better” or trying to manage their emotions, like “Snap out of it” or “You shouldn’t feel so bad.” Make statements like “I believe you” or “That sounds like a really hard thing to go through.”
• Express concern. Tell them in a direct way that you care about them by saying something like “I care about you” or “I am here for you.”
• Do not ask about details of the assault: Even if you are curious about what happened and feel that you want to fully understand it, avoid asking for details of how the assault occurred. However, if a survivor chooses to share those details with you, try your best to listen in a supportive and non-judgmental way.
• Provide appropriate resources: There may be other aspects in men’s lives that could limit their ability to access resources and services after experiencing sexual assault or abuse. For example, trans men may face barriers when navigating medical care or black men may have concerns about reaching out to law enforcement. Be sensitive to these worries, and when supporting a survivor try your best to suggest resources you feel will be most helpful.
• Need of better and gender neutral laws: People should now understand that sexual assault doesn’t depend on gender anymore. Females as well as males need protection, especially little kids. Because they are most vulnerable and can scan them for life. Strict laws should be there, thus protecting each and ever human from sexual harassment or assault.
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