Men and boys can be raped.
This statement is one that not many have heard before. Sometimes when I tell people this, they give a small giggle until they realize that I'm being completely truthful. It first transfixes them and then their faces give an uncomfortable look as they work out in their head how that statement could possibly be true.
Before I go any further, I would just like to point out that this article is not to say that any one type of victim is more or less a victim than another type. It is simply to speak about the unspoken issue of men and rape. With rape and sexual assault cases occurring so frequently on college campuses, it's important to lay out some facts for a group of people that usually don't get much attention to when it comes to this issue.
So let me make one thing clear: it is true. Men and boys can be raped, and unfortunately many are. When talking about male rape and sexual assault victims, this is referring to any unwanted sexual acts, doing the action or otherwise.
Let's break it down with some statistics:
1. About 1 in every 10 rape victims will be a male.
2. About 7 percent of men have reported to have been forced to penetrate another person, either by physical force or intoxication.
3. Male college students are more at risk than males that don't attend college.
4. About 16 percent of men are sexually abused as a child.
5. Through studies and reports, close to 180,000 men in the military are assaulted, and up to 60,000 are raped. Many don't report the incident due to the stigma of "being a man" and that "men don't get raped." Many are starting to speak up about their incidents, something that the public needs to hear.
6. Many incidents stem from "Anti-Gay" Violence. Four out of every 10 gay men and nearly half of all bisexual men will experience rape, sexual assault or any other sexual violence in their lifetime.
So why is there such a low number of reports?
It is reported that only 5-10 percent of male rape victims will report the incident, while the other 90-95 stays silent. So why is there such a low number of reports?
1. Male rape victims have a high incidence of denial and/or repression after their assault.
2. The universal stigma in that there is weakness in being raped and that they just need to "grow a pair and be a man."
3. Many male victims have a hard time identifying an experience as sexual assault or rape.
4. Many victims (especially LGBT ones) put blame on themselves because they are stereotyped as overly sexual beings because of their sexual orientation.
5. In the case of all survivors, it may be stressful and hard to relive their experience by talking to someone about it. Sometimes it's thought to be easier to suppress the idea of the event ever happening than to tell someone about it.
What do you do if someone you love becomes a victim?
If someone you love becomes a victim of sexual assault, rape or any other form of sexual violence, do not blame them, do not bombard them with a million questions and certainly do not force them to report the incident or talk to any specialists.
1. First off, get them to a safe place.
2. Be supportive. Be there for them in any capacity they need you to be.
3. Be patient with them. It may take them time to be comfortable telling you what happened.
4. Listen to them. Believe them.
5. Encourage them not to shower, bathe, drink, eat or wash their hands if the incident just occurred. If the victim is willing to go to the police, any DNA that they have of their attacker can be vital evidence in a case.
6. Refer them to the right place. Encourage them to go to the police, sexual assault reference centers, rape centers or any hospitals in the local area.
7. Never blame the victim.
8. Remember what your friend or loved one has been through. Just your presence can help a lot with a victim, so never think that any actions are too small.
How to Reach Out
If you or anyone you know feels like they need to talk to someone, there are always people there to talk to. Never be afraid to reach out.
National Domestic Violence Hotline: (800) 799-SAFE (7233), (800) 787-3224 (TTY)
National Sexual Assault Hotline: (800) 656-HOPE (4673)
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: (800) 273-TALK (8255), 800-799-4TTY (4889)
National Teen Dating Abuse Helplineline: (866) 331-9474, (866) 331-8453 (TTY)
The Anti-Violence Project (serves LGBTQ people; bilingual): 212-714-1124
LGBT National Help Center (800) 246-PRIDE (1-800-246-7743) or online chat at http://www.volunteerlogin.org/chat/
Gay Men’s Domestic Violence Project Hotline: (800) 832-1901
Don't feel that you can't report a rape because of your gender. Remember: rape is never your fault.
Lead Image Credit: Malik Earnest via Unsplash