According to the RAINN anti-assault organization, an American is sexually assaulted every 98 seconds. Each year, this comes to an average of 321,500 victims, ages 12 and over. While victims are disproportionately female, males are victims, too. Sadly, social stigmas make it just as hard for survivors to share their story and seek the help they need afterwards.
All assault is difficult to speak of, especially in a society that already shuns talking about healthy sexual relationships. Add some toxic hyper-masculinity to the equation, and you have a seriously problematic combination.
The National Sexual Violence Resource Center states that about 1 in 71 men will be sexually violated at some point in their life, but other estimates say that only 1 in 10 of these cases will even get reported. Whether the offender is male or female, these horrible incidents are underreported and understudied, largely due to the shame felt on behalf of survivors or society’s denial to take the cases seriously.
Many survivors have found strength and solidarity in sharing their difficult and often harrowing stories with each other, shedding important light on the subject for us all to understand and learn to look out for signs and stop more people from getting hurt.
It’s hard to narrow it down, because there’s so much ignorance about the issue of rape against males in general. I was sexually abused continuously by some of my mother’s friends over a 4 year period, and when I did get around to telling people about it (the school principal, a teacher, and eventually a couple of my “friends”) the responses ranged from disbelief that such a thing actually happened to the inevitable “you got laid by a older woman, what are you complaining about?”
So the biggest source of ignorance I’ve encountered in my own experience as a male ex-victim of rape has been the idea that rape against males isn’t a serious thing: either that it doesn’t happen, or that even when it does it’s not really damaging. It doesn’t help that too many people still have the idea that if a male gets an erection that must mean he’s consenting to sex and/or that he’s actually enjoying the experience
In my case, I was a pre-teen boy and my rapists happened to all be women, and of course I’ve often ran into the misconception that a woman raping a young boy isn’t rape, that it’s what all boys fantasize about and what all men wish had happened, and generally that it’s a victimless crime that causes no harm
Even though society and especially the media perpetuate this absurd notion, most people really have no idea how psychologically and emotionally devastating these kinds of experiences are, and how they’ve affected my life, my perceptions on sex and women, and my relationships (or lack thereof) with people even now about 14 years later
A lot of people don’t really see this kind of thing as “real” rape in the first place and they don’t understand how traumatizing it actually is for a boy to go through something like this. But it is, and ultimately it’s sexual abuse like any other and the rapist being a woman and the victim being a boy doesn’t somehow make it positive or any less violating (HeForeverBleeds)
Society & Double Standards
It will always in part be treated by about 99% of the public, male or female, that it is in some manner your own fault. They will tell you that if you got hard you must have liked it. They will tell you you are a “Man” and you should have liked it. Or my favorite when I’m told that its not a big deal because its worse for a woman and completely invalidated. Unfortunately, its a bit difficult to point out things people don’t know about specifically because too often it seems like people know EXACTLY what we are trying to communicate and too afraid of challenging their worldview to actually acknowledge the incident as a crime instead of going into denial. (Shiro_Yukianesa)
Well-meaning people always believe that help is readily available. “See a therapist,” they’ll say. “Or go to a rape crisis center.”
Unless they’ve personal experience of trying to find it for themselves or for a family-member or friend, they’ve no understanding of how minimal are the resources that exist. In a lot of countries — Britain, New Zealand, much of Canada — most rape-crisis centers are women-only. Those that aren’t often confine the assistance they offer to men to counselling by telephone, sometimes for just a couple of hours a week. Many of the most effective forms of intervention, like support groups, don’t exist. Male counsellors are extremely unusual; the constantly reiterated claim is that one (female) size fits all. Where RCCs are open to men, as in the United States, no serious training is provided to staff on the realities of male sexual victimization (in fairness to them, at present there’s nowhere to go to get such training). Even if a male client succeeds in overcoming the obstacles in his way, then, he’ll almost certainly be dealing with someone who is learning on the job, and who may or may not be all that keen on interacting with male rape victims in the first place.
What’s true of the RCC sector is no less the case among the psychiatric and psychotherapeutic professions. No training; practically no awareness; inadequate clinical research; lots of unhelpful preconceptions that will need to be overcome.
People here on Reddit get very angry whenever I point this out. They’d like to believe that effective help can be had for the asking, although none can actually say from a standpoint of genuine knowledge where it is to be had. So they insist that it’s there, because it must be.
The most important and urgent requirement for men who have been raped is the availability of accessible services geared to our needs. We don’t have that yet, or anything like it, anywhere in the world. Until people are willing to address that shortcoming, nothing else will do much good. (thrfscowaway8610)