It's likely that you never thought sexual violence could happen to you, probably because we are socialized to see sexual assault, relationship violence and stalking as crimes against women, not against men. Sexual violence is devastating to all victims, regardless of gender, and many reactions are shared by both male and female victims. You may feel rage, shame, guilt, powerlessness, helplessness, concern regarding your safety, and/or symptoms of physical illness.
However, there are special issues that may be different for you such as doubts about your sexuality or masculinity or reluctance to be examined for medical procedures. You may hesitate to report the sexual assault or act of sexual violence to law enforcement for fear of ridicule or fear that they won't believe you. The same feelings apply to telling other people you know and to finding appropriate resources and support. This is true even if you experienced the incident when you were very young and only now are realizing you need help. You need to know that strong or weak; outgoing or withdrawn; gay, straight, or bisexual; old or young; whatever your physical appearance, you have done nothing that justifies this violence against you. At no point and under no circumstance does anyone have the right to violate or control another. Sexually violent crimes are often embedded in issues of violence and power, not of lust or passion.
You may need special support: you may call a crisis line anonymously and request a male counselor; you may request an older or male nurse to assist in treatment at the hospital; and you can find a support group of male survivors to help you in your healing process.
As a man, many factors or fears may influence your decision to report or not report to law enforcement. The advantages of reporting include:
- The assailant may be caught and brought to trial;
- Your report may help protect others.
- Collection of medical evidence will be paid for by the Commonwealth's Attorney's Office;
- You are eligible to apply for Victims of Violence Crimes Compensation
There are some disadvantages as well:
- You may be treated in an insensitive manner;
- You may not be believed;
- Prosecution is often unsuccessful.
If you are gay or bisexual, you may feel that somehow you "brought this on" yourself. You may fear disclosure of your sexual orientation. You may fear for your safety or feel "survivor's guilt" if you survived a hate crime. And you may know your assailant; he could be an acquaintance, a friend, a colleague, a date, a partner.
Feeling responsible is a normal reaction to sexual violence. However, sexual violence is never the responsibility of the survivor; you did nothing to deserve this. We encourage you to come forward and obtain the resources and support that you need.