about Men and Rape
Men get raped by other men and even women
Rapists who rape men are heterosexual in 98% of the cases
Both homosexual and heterosexual men get raped
all parts of society (not just in prisons)
Men are less likely to report rape
us grow up thinking that rape happens only to women.
If male rape survivors think so too, they may feel isolated and
If people in our community believe that, they may further this sense
of isolation on the part of male rape survivors.
usually share many of the same feelings of female sexual assault
survivors. They may feel:
concern regarding their safety
are, however, special issues that may be different for men:
concerns about sexuality and/or masculinity
reporting to law enforcement
finding resources and support
or weak, outgoing or withdrawn, homosexual or heterosexual, old or
young, male or female; no one does anything that justifies sexual
about Men and Rape
matter what was said or done or worn, no one "asks for" or deserves
to be assaulted. Sexual assault has nothing to do with someone's
present or future sexual orientation. Sexual assault is a crime of
violence and power, not of lust or passion.
Unfortunately, many doctors, nurses, and law enforcement officers do
not realize that men as well as women may be sexually assaulted.
This may affect the way they treat men who have been raped.
Sometimes a stereotyped view of masculinity, rather than the
physical assault of the crime becomes the focus of the medical exam
or law enforcement investigation.
myths about homosexuality may also affect the way men are treated.
Many people wrongly believe that only gay men get raped. Many people
also believe that assaults against men are committed only by gay
men. Both of these are myths, not facts, but they may affect the way
male rape survivors are treated, and/or how male survivors feel
about the assault and themselves afterwards.
Can We Do
Recognize that men and boys can and will be sexually assaulted.
aware of the biases and myths concerning sexual assault.
Recognize that the harmful sex-role stereotypes which create
narrow definitions of masculinity, as well as lies about
homosexuality, make it difficult for male survivors to disclose
about being raped.
individuals and as a community we must work to combat and
challenge these attitudes.
is important that male rape survivors have support around them
and that they be able to make their own decisions about what
course of action to take.
RESPONSIBILITY FOR RAPE AND RAPE AWARENESS
Unfortunately, most men do not recognize that there is a problem
here, and fewer still acknowledge responsibility for any part of it.
As a result, rape is seen, if at all, as a "women's issue." The
impression remains that men are in no way connected to sexual
assault, neither in its occurrence, nor through its effects, nor by
THREE WOMEN AND ONE IN SEVEN MEN... WHAT DOES THIS MEAN
important that men learn to see how this cultural reality by itself
has great impact on our lives. Men are connected to this world in
which women and men are assaulted and men are connected to the women
who are forced to adjust their behavior accordingly. These
connections--through the effects of sexual violence against
women--should not be for men a "women's issue." As women are
affected whether or not they are actually raped, men's lives are
greatly changed whether or not they are actually assailants.
DO ALL THESE RAPISTS COME FROM?
rape. This Is Fact One, and no discussion of sexual assault should
distract us from this reality. Historically, men have always denied
and evaded Fact One. This is Fact Two, and no discussion of the
causes of sexual assault should deflect us from this responsibility.
Recognition of reality and acknowledgment of responsibility can come
with great difficulty to most men. Evasions, denials, and
defensiveness, however, miss the point and simply will no longer
OBJECTS MAKE SEXUAL TARGETS
story of sexual assault in our culture is not just about rape.
Rapist are not born, they are made. And remade. And the culture
which makes "them" also makes "us."
question of why some men rape is thus connected to the question of
why sexual violence is tolerated. This connection exists at a double
intersection: between attitudes and actions, between violence and
notions of masculinity. Men are all connected to these intersections
because this is where they have grown up as men.
have the power collectively to end rape.
Unfortunately, so far, this male collective appears to be composed
mainly of men who rape, men who hold attitudes similar to rapists,
and men who undoubtedly do care in their own personal lives, yet
remain quiet in the community where rape occurs.
raising of the question is far more important than its phrasing.
WOULD OUR LIVES BE DIFFERENT IF THERE WAS NO SEXUAL VIOLENCE?
MEN CAN HELP PREVENT RAPE:
examine your own attitudes about women and men that may reflect
misconceptions about rape
assertively interrupt jokes, comments or actions that lead to
attitudes or situations that can cause rape
assist women with precautions that decrease their chances of
support women's actions to take charge of their own lives; to be
confident and strong
listen to women's feelings about being victimized
ACTIONS MEN CAN TAKE:
a woman says "no" to your sexual advances, respect that "no" at
face value. Do not accept the myth that "no" means "yes."
a dating or intimate relationship communicate clearly how you
feel and what you want. Do not assume your date or partner feels
the same way. Respect the other person's feelings and needs.
aware of situations that increase a woman's vulnerability. How
would you respond if you witnessed an intoxicated woman at a
party being escorted by two or three men to a bedroom.
Confront men who are harassing women on the street or at a
party. Point out sexist comments and behavior with your friends
Tell men that you do not think rape jokes are funny.
feel uncomfortable confronting other men on sexist issues, then get
in touch with other men who share your views. Build your confidence
in how you feel and learn how you can make an impact by being an
Whether or not WE as individuals are violent, WE support and
encourage THE MEN who rape both by the actions that support a
sexist society and the inaction that condones the
violence. If WE work together to educate ourselves and THE MEN
around us about the devastating effects of rape and sexual
assault and how WE can eliminate the violence and sexist
attitudes that precipitate rape WE can make it end.
TO RECOGNIZE EMOTIONS IN YOURSELF AND OTHERS
Violence generally does not erupt from nowhere. There are clues when
anger is becoming unmanageable. The ways people handle their anger
are divided into two general categories:
Those who stuff anger down inside
themselves and deny its presence, suffer feelings of low self
esteem, and self doubt, intellectualize their situations. They
become progressively withdrawn, depressed, tense, until it
becomes too much and they explode in violence.
Escalators are easier to identify. They
begin their sentences with "you." They blame and call names.
Eventually their anger escalates into a blow-up and violence.
Identifying these signs early allows more options for change.
IMMEDIATE ALTERNATIVES TO VIOLENT BEHAVIOR
are feeling out of control with your anger and think you may hurt
someone or yourself, you can do something immediately to squash the
impulse and leave yourself better able to deal with problems:
meditate or do breathing exercises to relax
take a cold shower, or relax in a hot bath
work on a hobby
into another room and scream
complete or begin projects around the house or yard
take a "time out" and leave the scene completely for a
hit a pillow
take a walk
LIFESTYLE CHANGES TO MODIFY VIOLENT BEHAVIOR
develop a daily decompression time from work to home
establish regular family fun time
develop a positive self-confidence so that you can be assertive
rather than aggressive in communicating
reduce the number of factors which reinforce violence in your
identify activities which produce a lot of stress in your life
and work on eliminating or modifying those activities
examine the addictions in your life which may increase the
chance for violence
develop good health habits: eating, sleeping well and daily
exercise can make a difference
develop fun time for yourself
identify groups which may provide you with support in dealing
with particular problems
take self-help classes in communication, parent education, etc..
think of long term changes you wish to make to decrease the
stress in your life
is becoming increasingly aware of male rape. However, experts
believe that current male rape statistics vastly under-represent the
actual number of males age 12 and over who are raped each year. Rape
crisis counselors estimate that while only one in 50 raped women
report the crime to the police, the rates of under-reporting among
men are even higher (Brochman, 1991). Until the mid-1980s, most
literature discussed this violent crime in the context of women
only. The lack of tracking of sexual crimes against men and the lack
of research about the effects of male rape are indicative of the
attitude held by society at large -- that while male rape occurs, it
is not an acceptable topic for discussion.
Historically, the rape of males was more widely recognized in
ancient times. Several of the legends in Greek mythology involved
abductions and sexual assaults of males by other males or gods. The
rape of a defeated male enemy was considered the special right of
the victorious soldier in some societies and was a signal of the
totality of the defeat. There was a widespread belief that a male
who was sexually penetrated, even if it was by forced sexual
assault, thus "lost his manhood," and could no longer be a warrior
or ruler. Gang rape of a male was considered an ultimate form of
punishment and, as such, was known to the Romans as punishment for
adultery and the Persians and Iranians as punishment for violation
of the sanctity of the harem (Donaldson, 1990).
A. Nicholas Groth, a clinical psychologist and author of Men Who
Rape: The Psychology of the Offender, says all sexual assault
is an act of aggression, regardless of the gender or age of the
victim or the assailant. Neither sexual desire nor sexual
deprivation is the primary motivating force behind sexual assault.
It is not about sexual gratification, but rather a sexual aggressor
using somebody else as a means of expressing their own power and
has been written about the psychological trauma associated with the
rape of female victims. While less research has been conducted about
male rape victims, case research suggests that males also commonly
experience many of the reactions that females experience. These
reactions include: depression, anger, guilt, self-blame, sexual
dysfunctions, flashbacks, and suicidal feelings (Isley, 1991). Other
problems facing males include an increased sense of vulnerability,
damaged self-image and emotional distancing (Mezey & King, 1989).
Male rape victims not only have to confront unsympathetic attitudes
if they choose to press charges, they also often hear unsupportive
statements from their friends, family and acquaintances (Brochman,
1991). People will tend to fault the male victim instead of the
rapist. Stephen Donaldson, president of Stop Prisoner Rape (a
national education and advocacy group), says that the suppression of
knowledge of male rape is so powerful and pervasive that criminals
such as burglars and robbers sometimes rape their male victims as a
sideline solely to prevent them from going to the police.
There are many reasons that male victims do not come forward and
report being raped, but perhaps the biggest reason for many males is
the fear of being perceived as homosexual. However, male sexual
assault has nothing to do with the sexual orientation of the
attacker or the victim, just as a sexual assault does not make the
victim survivor gay, bisexual or heterosexual. It is a violent crime
that affects heterosexual men as much as gay men. The phrase
"homosexual rape," for instance, which is often used by uninformed
persons to designate male-male rape, camouflages the fact that the
majority of the rapists are not generally homosexual (Donaldson,
In a well-known study of offenders and victims conducted by Nicholas
Groth and Ann Burgess, one-half of the offender population described
their consenting sexual encounters to be with women only, while 38
percent had consenting sexual encounters with men and women.
Additionally, one-half of the victim population was strictly
heterosexual. Among the offenders studied, the gender of the victim
did not appear to be of specific significance to half of the
offenders. Instead, they appeared to be relatively indiscriminate
with regard to their choice of a victim -- that is, their victims
included both males and females, as well as both adults and children
(Groth & Burgess, 1980). The choice of a victim seemed to be more a
matter of accessibility than of sexual orientation, gender or age.
Many people believe that the majority of male rape occurs in prison;
however, there is existing research which shatters this myth. A
study of incarcerated and non-incarcerated male rape victims in
Tennessee concluded that the similarities between these two groups
would suggest that the sexual assault of men may not be due to
conditions unique to a prison and that all men are potential victims
(Lipscomb et al., 1992).
Research indicates that the most common sites for male rape
involving post-puberty victims are outdoors in remote areas and in
automobiles (the latter usually involving hitchhikers). Boys in
their early and mid-teens are more likely to be victimized than
older males (studies indicate a median victim age of 17). The form
of assault usually involves penetration of the victim anally and/or
orally, rather than stimulation of the victim's penis. Gang rape is
more common in cases involving male victims than those involving
female victims. Also, multiple sexual acts are more likely to be
demanded, weapons are more likely to be displayed and used, and
physical injury is more likely to occur, with the injuries that do
occur being more serious than with injured female rape victims
assault and rape include any unwanted sexual acts. The
assailant can be a stranger, an acquaintance, a family member, or
someone the victim knows well and trusts. Rape and sexual assault
are crimes of violence and are used to exert power and control over
another person. The legal definitions of rape and sexual assault can
vary from state to state (National Center for Victims of Crime,
INFO LINK, No. 70. However, usually a sexual
assault occurs when a someone touches any part of another person's
body in a sexual way, even through their clothes, without that
person's consent. Rape of males is any kind of sexual assault that
involves forced penetration of the anus or mouth by a penis, finger
or any other object. Both rape and sexual assault includes
situations when the victim cannot say "no" because he is disabled,
unconscious, drunk or high.
In some states, the word "rape" is used only to define a forced act
of vaginal sexual intercourse, and an act of forced anal intercourse
is termed "sodomy." In some states, the crime of sodomy also
includes any oral sexual act. There are some states that now use
gender-neutral terms to define acts of forced anal, vaginal or oral
intercourse. Also, some states no longer use the terms "rape" and
"sodomy," rather all sex crimes are described as sexual assaults or
criminal sexual conduct of various degrees depending on the use and
amount of force or coercion on the part of the assailant (National
Center for Victims of Crime, INFO LINK, No.
not uncommon for a male rape victim to blame himself for the rape,
believing that he in some way gave permission to the rapist (Brochman,
1991). Male rape victims suffer a similar fear that female rape
victims face -- that people will believe the myth that they may have
enjoyed being raped. Some men may believe they were not raped or
that they gave consent because they became sexually aroused, had an
erection, or ejaculated during the sexual assault. These are normal,
involuntary physiological reactions. It does not mean that the
victim wanted to be raped or sexually assaulted, or that the
survivor enjoyed the traumatic experience. Sexual arousal does not
necessarily mean there was consent.
According to Groth, some assailants may try to get their victim to
ejaculate because for the rapist, it symbolizes their complete
sexual control over their victim's body. Since ejaculation is not
always within conscious control but rather an involuntary
physiological reaction, rapists frequently succeed at getting their
male victims to ejaculate. As Groth and Burgess have found in their
research, this aspect of the attack is extremely stressful and
confusing to the victim. In misidentifying ejaculation with orgasm,
the victim may be bewildered by his physiological response during
the sexual assault and, therefore, may be discouraged from reporting
the assault for fear his sexuality may become suspect (Groth &
Another major concern facing male rape victims is society's belief
that men should be able to protect themselves and, therefore, it is
somehow their fault that they were raped. The experience of a rape
may affect gay and heterosexual men differently. Most rape
counselors point out that gay men have difficulties in their sexual
and emotional relationships with other men and think that the
assault occurred because they are gay, whereas straight men often
begin to question their sexual identity and are more disturbed by
the sexual aspect of the assault than the violence involved (Brochman,
Rape as an Act of Anti-Gay Violence
Unfortunately, incidents of anti-gay violence also include forcible
rape, either oral or anal. Attackers frequently use verbal
harassment and name-calling during such a sexual assault. Given the
context of coercion, however, such technically homosexual acts seem
to imply no homosexuality on the part of the offenders. The victim
serves, both physically and symbolically, as a "vehicle for the
sexual status needs of the offenders in the course of recreational
violence" (Harry, 1992, p.115).
If You Are a Victim
and sexual assault include any unwanted sexual acts. Even
if you agree to have sex with someone, you have the right to say
"no" at any time, and to say "no" to any sexual
acts. If you are sexually assaulted or raped, it is never
your fault -- you are not responsible for the actions of
Richie J. McMullen, author of Male Rape: Breaking the Silence on
the Last Taboo, encourages seeking immediate medical attention
whether or not the incident is reported to police. Even if you do
not seem injured, it is important to get medical attention.
Sometimes injuries that seem minor at first can get worse. Survivors
can sometimes contract a sexually transmitted disease during the
sexual assault, but not suffer immediate symptoms. Even if the
symptoms of that disease take weeks or months to appear, it might be
easily treated with an early diagnosis. (If you are concerned
about HIV exposure, it is important to talk to a counselor about the
possibility of exposure and the need for testing. For more
information about HIV transmission and testing, contact the Centers
for Disease Control National HIV/AIDS Hotline. Check the contact
list at the end of this bulletin for the phone number and address
Medical considerations making immediate medical attention
Rectal and anal tearing and abrasions which may require
attention and put the you at risk for bacterial infections;
Potential HIV exposure; and
Exposure to other sexually transmitted diseases.
plan to report the rape to the police, an immediate medical
examination is necessary to collect potential evidence for the
investigation and prosecution.
Some of the physical reactions a survivor may experience in response
to the trauma of a sexual assault or rape include:
Loss of appetite;
Nausea and/or stomachaches;
Loss of memory and/or concentration; and/or
Changes in sleep patterns.
the psychological and emotional reactions a sexual assault survivor
may experience include:
Denial and/or guilt;
Shame or humiliation;
Fear and a feeling of loss of control;
Loss of self-respect;
Flashbacks to the attack;
Anger and anxiety;
Retaliation fantasies (sometimes shocking the survivor with
their graphic violence);
Nervous or compulsive behavior;
Depression and mood swings;
Withdrawal from relationships; and
Changes in sexual activity.
Survivors of rape, and often of attempted rape, usually manifest
some elements of what has come to be called Rape-Related
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (RR-PTSD), a form of
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Apart from a small number
of therapists and counselors specializing in sexual assault cases,
few psychotherapists are familiar with the symptoms and treatment of
RR-PTSD. For this reason, a rape survivor is usually well-advised to
consult with a rape crisis center or someone knowledgeable in this
area rather than relying on general counseling resources. The same
applies to those close to a rape victim, such as a partner, spouse
or parent; these persons become secondary victims of the
sexual assault and have special issues and concerns that they may
need assistance in dealing with effectively.
Local rape crisis centers offer male sexual assault victims direct
services or referrals for services, including: counseling, crisis
services and support services. Victims may contact their local rape
crisis center, no matter how long it has been since the rape
occurred. Counselors on staff can either provide support, or help
direct the victim to trained professionals who can provide support.
Most rape programs are staffed by women; however, some programs have
male and female counselors. If you prefer one or the other, make
that preference known when you initially contact the program.
Whether or not they have male staff on call, almost all rape crisis
centers can make referrals to male counselors sensitive to the needs
of male sexual assault survivors. In addition, many communities
across the country have support groups for victims of anti-gay
Counseling can help you cope with the physical and emotional
reactions to the sexual assault or rape, as well as provide you with
necessary information about medical and criminal justice system
procedures. Seeking counseling is an important way to regain a sense
of control over your life after surviving a sexual assault. Contact
your local rape crisis program even if services are not expressly
advertised for male rape survivors. The number can be found in your
local phone book listed under "Community Services Numbers,"
"Emergency Assistance Numbers," "Survival Numbers" or "Rape."
Sexual assault and rape are serious crimes. As a sexual assault
survivor, you have the right to report the crime to the police. This
decision is one only you can make. But
because authorities are not always sensitive to male sexual assault
victims, it is important to have a friend or advocate go with you to
report the crime for support and assistance.
Brochman, Sue. (July 30, 1991). "Silent Victims: Bringing Male Rape
Out of the Closet." The Advocate, 582: 38 - 43.
Bureau of Justice Statistics. (1997). Criminal Victimization in
the United States, 1994. Washington, DC: Bureau of Justice
Statistics, U.S. Department of Justice.
Bureau of Justice Statistics. (March 1985). The Crime of Rape.
Washington, DC: Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of
Donaldson, Donald. (1990). "Rape of Males," in Dynes, Wayne, ed.
Encyclopedia of Homosexuality. New York: Garland Publications.
Groth, A. Nicholas and Ann Wolbert Burgess. (1980). "Male Rape:
Offenders and Victims." American Journal of Psychiatry,
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Groth, A. Nicholas and B. A. Birnbaum. (1979). Men Who Rape: The
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Gregory and Kevin Berrill, eds. Hate Crimes: Confronting
Violence Against Lesbians and Gay Men. Newbury Park, CA: Sage
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Literature Review and Group Treatment Model," in Burgess, Ann, ed.
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McMullen, Richie J. (1990). Male Rape: Breaking the Silence on
the Last Taboo. London: GMP Publishers Ltd.
Mezey, Gillian and Michael King. (1989). "The Effects of Sexual
Assault on Men: A Survey of 22 Victims." Psychological Medicine,
19(1): 205 - 209.
National Center for Victims of Crime. (1992). "Rape-Related
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National Center for Victims of Crime. (1995). "Sexual Assault
Legislation," INFO LINK, Arlington, VA.
Porter, Eugene. (1986). Treating the Young Male Victim of Sexual
Assault. Syracuse, NY: Safer Society Press.
Christopher et al. (1991). "HIV Vulnerability and the Adult Survivor
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Bradway, Becky. (1993). Sexual Violence Facts and Statistics.
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Burgess, Ann and Timothy Baker. (1992). "AIDS and Victims of Sexual
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additional information, please contact:
for Disease Control National HIV/AIDS Hotline
American Social Health Association
P.O. Box 13827
Research Triangle Park, NC 27709
342 - AIDS
344 - SIDA (Spanish)
243 - 7889 (TDD)
Provides information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, about HIV/AIDS
and will send free, written information, including legal services,
counseling and therapies.
12 Southeast 14th
Portland, OR 97214
(503) 235 - 3433
Men Stopping Rape
306 North Brooks Street
Madison, WI 53715
(608) 257 - 4444
National AIDS Clearinghouse
Centers for Disease Control
P.O. Box 6003
Rockville, MD 20849
(800) 458 - 5231
(800) 243 - 7012 (TDD)
Distributes a variety of educational materials to the public.
Provides expert referrals.
National Coalition Against Sexual Assault
125 N. Enola Drive
Enola, PA 17025
(717) 728 - 9764
National Crime Victims Research & Treatment Center
Medical University of South Carolina
171 Ashley Avenue
Charleston, SC 29425
(843) 792 - 2945
National Gay & Lesbian Task Force
2320 17th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20009
(202) 332 - 6483
Your state Attorney General, county/city prosecutor, or
county/city law enforcement:
Check in the Blue pages of your local phone book under the
appropriate section heading of either "Local Governments," "County
Governments," or "State Government."
INFO LINK ©: A Program of the National
Center for Victims of Crime.
All rights reserved.
Copyright © 1997 by the National Center for Victims of Crime. This
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