Can Men be Sexually Assaulted?

*This section was adapted from materials provided by the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault.

Men and boys are often the victims of the crimes of sexual assault, sexual abuse, and rape. In fact, in the U.S., about 10% of all victims are male.1

The term sexual assault refers to a number of different crimes, ranging from unwanted sexual touching to forced penetration.

Male survivors and others affected by sexual violence can receive free, confidential, live help through RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Hotline, 24/7. Call 1.800.656.HOPE to be connected to a local rape crisis center in your area, or visit the National Sexual Assault Online Hotline to get live help in an instant-messaging format.

Support

Although it can be difficult for male survivors to seek help for fear of how others will react, there are support resources available. Survivors can receive live help through RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Hotline, 24/7.

Sometimes male survivors find it easier to first tell an anonymous hotline staffer rather than a loved one. This allows the survivor to speak to someone who is impartial and trained to listen and help.  Many male survivors find that talking to the hotline first makes it easier to tell friends and family later.

What concerns do male survivors have when seeking support for a sexual assault?

Safety

Often, perpetrators use force or threats to prevent a survivor from seeking help. RAINN has tips and resources to help survivors stay safe. In addition, survivors can find local sexual assault service providers here on RAINN’s website. These organizations may be able to offer additional safety options and support in their local communities. The hotlines are also available to educate survivors about the resources available (1-800-656-HOPE and online.rainn.org).

Privacy

Sexual assault is a very personal crime. Many survivors do not wish to share what happened to them publicly and fear that disclosing or reporting the attack may require them to talk publicly about their assault. There are several ways to learn more about recovery and resources anonymously by using the National Sexual Assault Hotlines (1-800-656-HOPE and online.rainn.org), which are free and confidential.

Self-blame

Male survivors may blame themselves for the assault, believing they were not ‘strong enough’ to fight off the perpetrator. Many are confused by the fact that they became physically aroused during the attack, despite the assault or abuse they endured. However, these normal physiological responses do not in any way imply that the victim ‘wanted’ or ‘liked’ the assault.

Is it normal to feel this way?

While not every male survivor of sexual assault reacts in the same way, many reactions are quite common. If left untreated, these effects can have a long-term impact on a survivor’s well-being.

What are some possible effects of sexual assault on a male survivor?

Psychological

  • Sense of self and concept of “reality” are disrupted.
  • Profound anxiety, depression, fearfulness.
  • Concern about sexual orientation.
  • Development of phobias related to the assault setting.
  • Fear of the worst happening and having a sense of a shortened future.
  • Withdrawal from interpersonal contact and a heightened sense of alienation.
  • Stress-induced reactions (problems sleeping, increased startle response, being unable to relax).
  • Psychological outcomes can be severe for men because men are socialized to believe that they are immune to sexual assault and because societal reactions to these assaults can be more isolating.

Heterosexual Male Survivors

  • May experience a fear that the assault will make them gay.
  • May feel that they are “less of a man.”

Homosexual Male Survivors

  • May feel the crime is “punishment” for their sexual orientation.
  • May worry that the assault affected their sexual orientation.
  • May fear they were targeted because they are gay.  This fear may lead to withdrawal from the community.
  • May develop self-loathing related to their sexual orientation.

Relationships / Intimacy

  • Relationships may be disrupted by the assault.
  • Relationships may be disrupted by others’ reactions to the assault, such as a lack of belief/support.
  • Relationships may be disrupted by the survivor’s reaction to or coping with the assault.

Emotional

  • Anger about the assault, leading to outward- and inward-focused hostility.
  • Avoidance of emotions or emotional situations, stemming from the overwhelming feelings that come with surviving a sexual assault.

If you, or someone you know, is experiencing any of the thoughts or feelings listed above, please contact The National Sexual Assault Hotline, either online or by phone at 1-800-656-HOPE to speak with a trained staffer.

Other Organizations

Survivors of military sexual assault can receive help via the Department of Defense (DoD) Safe Helpline, a groundbreaking crisis support service for members of the DoD community affected by sexual assault. The service is anonymous, secure, and available 24/7 to the worldwide DoD community — providing victims with the help they need, anytime, anywhere.


Private Violence

“Private Violence” is almost complete. It’s the amazing documentary on domestic violence put together by my very talented friends Kit Gruelle, Cynthia Hill, Rex L. Miller and Rebecca Cerese, among many others. It is my priviledge to share t…

his link with you and to ask you to contribute to the campaign to help them fund their final edits. The film features Gloria Steinem, Ellen Pence, Deborah Tucker and too many other important survivors and advocates for me to even begin to list here. It’s the first of its kind and this story must be shared! Please donate! Help us spread the word and watch the trailer here: http://igg.me/p/193824?a=933200

The Wounded Healer by Carmen Mojica

In today’s midday conversation with my wonderful housemate, I was  sharing some of the challenges I am experiencing in my transition at the  moment. She was asking me how I was feeling, and what I needed.

I  mentioned to her that I needed to be acknowledged as a wounded human,  and not a wounded healer. Her reaction affirmed the thoughts that  formulated after – when a person known as a healer experiences pain and  distress, the assumption is that we are somehow way more equipped to  handle and transcend suffering than the average human being. The tragedy  of this is that healers are, in fact, very much human and because of  the healing work they engage in, are prone to being affected by pain and  suffering on a level the average human being is not necessarily  completely conscious of.

Wounded healers, in my personal  experience, are less likely to be vocal about their troubles, sometimes  less likely to demand a pity party and much more likely suffer alone  because others (and sometimes themselves) assume “they got this.” People  around them tend to assume that healers can also magically heal  themselves and have a much better rebound time than most folks, so why  would they the same level of attention as the folks they serve?

The  truth is, healers can be susceptible to incurring an incredible amount  of trauma. First, the healers I have come into contact with choose to  transform into channels of healing because they have experienced a deep  excruciating level of pain. This pain woke them the hell up; it awoke  something in them to use their troubles as the very medicine to bring  them out of it. That’s the first step to being a channel for healing:  healing yourself.

Second, they decide to facilitate healing for  others. That is to say, there is a difference between curing and  healing: curing is the act of restore someone’s health in which they are  not necessarily involved in the healing of themselves. To cure someone  is only to address the symptom and not the underlying psychosomatic  roots of their illness. Healing requests the active participation of the  ailing individual to engage in facing themselves while the healer is  only holding the space for them to transform. It is not out of the  question for a healer to be retraumatized or triggered by those that  they are holding space for. The healing sessions can also be draining  because of the amount of time, energy, lack of food and sleep that is  required at times (for me as a birth doula, that could mean anywhere  from 7 to 24+ hours of being present for a birthing woman). And because  of this, healers have to also be healed.

When I use the word  healer, I don’t mean just the typical image of a sage, shaman or  medicine person. A healer is someone who facilitates healing, and in my  broad definition, that can be any person on this planet who has decided  to heal themselves and have in turn used their experiences to bring  healing to others who want it. Musicians, painters, writers, doctors,  librarians, mothers…anyone can be a healer in their own right because  the truth is that we all have the capacity to heal ourselves and others.  It is those of us who have consciously and powerfully made the choice  to make healing their path that are pointed at as healers. Regardless of  a title, a healer’s suffering needs just as much attention as the next  person.

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From Ashes to Angel’s Dust: A Journey Through Womanhood. The Review

December 14, 2011

On October 3rd, 2011 at the Brect Forum I experienced an innovative, well written and directed staged reading of the Choreopoem, “From Ashes to Angel’s Dust: A Journey Through Womanhood”  by Playwright, Author and Domestic Violence Advocate Zoe Flowers.

From Ashes to Angel’s Dust: A Journey Through Womanhood addresses the issues of sexual and domestic violence. Ms. Flowers utilizes  poetry, drama and dance to tell the horrific stories of women’s experiences.  These stories rare familar. If not personally, they’re the stories of a  family member, friend, co-worker or acquaintance.  

Ms. Flowers  addressed domestic violence and rape at the hands of men and women. Woman on woman rape is a subject that is rarely spoken of nor taken seriously yet it exists.

From Ashes to Angel’s Dust: A Journey Through Womanhood was adapted from a book by the Choreodrama’s Playwright Zoe Flowers. The acting was powerful in its delivery. This was the result of extraordinary performances by its cast members. They are Peggy Johnson, Chantal Morris, Sherri Pullum and Vesta Walker. Each actress brought a depth and exuberance to their characters. The staged reading ended with a question and answer segment with the actresses, director and playwright. This gave the audience an opportunity to gain insight into the production’s roots.

The author’s words as presented in The Ashes Manifesto, and her aspirations for this production.

From Ashes to Angel’s Dust: A Journey Through Womanhood is for our ancestors that died so that we might live, that starved so that we might prosper. It is for those silenced by violence, oppression, homophobia, shame or the impulse to please. This play is for the little girls that grown into women looking for fathers in the arms of strange men. It’s for all those who ask “why does she stay.” This show is for women who recognize that protection, unconditional love and unconditional freedom can occupy the same space. For all who understand that loving another and one’s self is a revolutionary act-the most revolutionary act.

In short, From Ashes to Angel’s Dust is for complicated, simple, uncompromising, weak, independent, gold digging, hardworking, hard living, bitchy, vulnerable, strong, happy, and angry women and all those that choose to love us.” Zoe

Zoe Flowers is the Founder of the Angel’s Dust Theatre Company and a poet who has worked nationally and internationally on the issue of domestic violence and sexual violence for nearly ten years. From Ashes to Angel’s Dust was initially born from her experiences as a survivor of dating and sexual violence but has expanded into the journey to self-love. Zoe looks forward to taking the voices of survivors worldwide.

I have no doubt this extraordinary work will do that and more!

10/31/11 original posting.

©Lorraine Currelley and The Currelley Literary Journal 2011. Unauthorized duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given Lorraine Currelley and The Currelley Literary Journal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.