Many people believe that sexual assault is only committed by men against women. The majority of sexual assaults are perpetrated by men, but the fact is that 1 out of every 33 men is sexually assaulted. Victimization can also include childhood sexual abuse. Because our society fails to see that men can be sexually assaulted, men often have a difficult time accepting their own victimization and delay seeking help and support. This page offers information about the sexual assault of men, talks about the barriers male survivors often face, and offers a list of resources male survivors can contact to connect with a counselor or others who have been sexually assaulted.
Table of Contents:
- Understanding sexual assault of Men.
- Who can be a perpetrator of male sexual assault?
- What are some of the feelings a male survivor may experience?
- What should I do if I was assaulted?
- How can I help a male friend who has been sexually assaulted?
Sexual assault is any unwanted sexual contact. It can be committed by the use of threats or force or when someone takes advantage of circumstances that render a person incapable of giving consent, such as intoxication. Sexual assault of men can include unwanted touching, fondling, or groping of a male's body including the penis, scrotum or buttocks, even through his clothes. Rape of a man is any kind of sexual assault that involves forced oral or anal sex, including any amount of penetration of the anus or mouth with a body part or any other object.
Many people don't take sexual assault of men seriously. This is one of the reasons why men have a difficult time reporting what happened and why the rates of male sexual assault are thought to be significantly underreported. If a male survivor's friends think that male sexual assault is a joke, he will feel isolated and afraid to tell anyone. Sexual assault is a painful, traumatic experience for any victim.
Anyone, regardless of gender or gender identity, can sexually assault a man. However, most sexual assaults against men are committed by other men, who actually identify themselves as heterosexual. It's important not to jump to the conclusion that man-against-man sexual assault only happens between men who are gay. Sexual assault is not about sexual desire or sexual orientation; it's about violence, control, and humiliation.
Any survivor of sexual assault may experience the following feelings, but male survivors may experience these feelings in a different way:
- Guilt -- as though he is somehow at fault for not preventing the assault because our society promotes the misconception that men should be able to protect themselves at all times.
- Shame -- as though being assaulted makes him "dirty," "weak," or less of a "real man."
- Fear -- that he may be blamed, judged, laughed at, or not believed.
- Denial -- because it is upsetting, he may try not to think about it or talk about it; he may try to hide from his feelings behind alcohol, drugs, and other self-destructive habits.
- Anger -- about what happened; this anger may sometimes be misdirected and generalized to target people who remind him of the perpetrator.
- Sadness -- feeling depressed, worthless, powerless; withdrawing from friends, family, and usual activities; some victims even consider suicide.
If a man became sexually aroused, had an erection, or ejaculated during the sexual assault, he may not believe that he was raped. These are involuntary physiological reactions. They do not mean that the person wanted to be sexually assaulted, or that they enjoyed the traumatic experience. Just as with women, a sexual response does not mean there was consent.
The experience of sexual assault may affect gay and heterosexual men differently. Rape counselors have found that gay men have difficulties in their sexual and emotional relationships with other men and think that the assault occurred because they are gay. Heterosexual men often begin to question their sexual identity and are more disturbed by the sexual aspect of the assault than any violence involved.
If you are a man who has been sexually assaulted, remember:
- It was not your fault that you were assaulted.
- You are not alone.
- There are resources available to you.
Persons experiencing a sexual assault may exercise the following options:
- Report the sexual assault to university or off-campus police (if the sexual assault occurred off campus), particularly if the individual desires prosecution through the criminal justice system; and/or
- Request an administrative investigation from Title IX/SHO; and/or
- Seek counseling and support services; or
- Choose not to report.
There are benefits of reporting right away, so if you might want to take legal action in the future, we encourage you to call the police as soon as possible. If you choose not to, you can still access confidential support services.
There are many options and resources as well as information available both on campus and in the Santa Cruz community to provide response, medical services, counseling, and support services to victims of sexual assault. Following is a listing of the most important resources.
Staff, students, faculty, and members of the community experiencing a sexual assault on campus will receive a speedy response from the University Police. (For sexual assaults off campus, local police should be contacted.) In addition, the police and only the police can arrange for medical examinations in order to provide admissible evidence when the complainant desires prosecution through the criminal justice system.
If the University Police are contacted, an officer trained in sexual assault cases will be dispatched to the scene, and will explain police and medical procedures to the complainant. If the police transport the complainant to Dominican Hospital, which is equipped to perform medical examinations for legal purposes, then an advocate and a specially trained nurse/examiner who are members of the Santa Cruz Sexual Assault Response Team (S.A.R.T.) will be dispatched to the hospital to be available to the complainant. A Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (S.A.N.E.) must conduct a medical examination as soon as possible to maximize the collection of evidence for criminal prosecution. It is important to note that S.A.R.T. and S.A.N.E. involvement is only possible when a police report is filed.
The police will interview the accused and witnesses and collect evidence. At the conclusion of the police investigation, if warranted, the accused may be arrested, or the case may be forwarded to the District Attorney for consideration of prosecution. The services of the Victim/Witness Program will be available to the complainant if s/he decides to file a police report. Such services include counseling, court escort and advocacy, and assistance with financial compensation.
It is important to remember that "reporting" a rape is not the same thing as prosecution through the criminal justice system. If the complainant files a report and then later refuses to prosecute through the criminal justice system or cooperate in a police investigation, there is little that the police or courts will be able to do. On the other hand, if the complainant initially decides that s/he does not want to file a police report and then, a month later, wants to prosecute through the criminal justice system, s/he has lost the opportunity for best evidence, not only in terms of immediate police investigative interviews, but also the collection of physical evidence. For these reasons, the University strongly encourages victims of sexual assault to call the police as soon as possible.
Title IX/Sexual Harassment Officer (Title IX/SHO):
Responsible for receiving and conducting the administrative investigation of all reports of sexual assault filed on campus by students and employees and is available to discuss options, provide support, explain university policies and procedures, and provide education on relevant issues. The Title IX/SHO investigation is not a criminal procedure.
Students, employees, and members of the community experiencing a sexual assault on campus should receive medical attention promptly from the Health Services and/or one of the local hospitals. It should be noted that medical examinations at the Student Health Center are not admissible for legal purposes; medical attention provided through the services of S.A.R.T. are strongly advised (this means reporting the sexual assault to the University Police). In addition, it is important to note that any health center or physician treating the complainant of a violent crime is obligated by law to report the crime to the police.
Colleges and Residential Facilities:
Individual College Administrative Officers and Residential Life Coordinators, the Director of Summer Conferences, the Manager of Family Student Housing, the Manager of Graduate Housing, and/or the Judicial Affairs Officer, in conjunction with the Title IX/SHO, may arrange for the person accused of the sexual assault or the complainant to be moved temporarily to another dwelling if the complainant and the accused live in close quarters.
Other Campus Resources Include:
Counseling and Psychiatric Services offers confidential short-term and crisis counseling to all members of the campus community on an emergency basis, or by appointment. Psychiatric referrals are also available.
SHOP is available to any member of the campus community who has been raped or sexually assaulted by a stranger, acquaintance, or partner. A State Certified Sexual Assault Crisis Counselor can discuss options, provide support in making decisions about how to proceed, and follow-up to help the complainant get action. These services are available only during working hours.
Resident, Community, Neighborhood Assistants, Coordinators For Residential Education, and Associate College Administrative Officers are educated and supportive people for students to contact.
The Women's Center offers campus and community referral services.
The Judicial Affairs Officer hears student concerns and can assist directly or make referrals to appropriate resources.
The Ombudsman can assist anyone in the campus community by providing information about campus policies and procedures.
Emergency Blue Light Telephones are available throughout the campus. These telephones connect directly with a police dispatcher in a similar manner as dialing 9-1-1.
Whether the incident occurred recently or long ago, it is never too late to get help. Ask for support. Talk with someone you trust and/or get help by calling one of these sexual assault resources. You can ask to speak with a male or female counselor. Even if they don't have male staff on call, almost all rape crisis centers can make referrals to male counselors who are sensitive to the needs of male sexual assault survivors.
- Take it seriously.
- Ask him what you can do to support him.
- Let him know that it was not his fault.
- Let him know he is not alone.
- Find out about resources that are sensitive to male victims and let him know his options.
- Tell him that help is available and encourage him to call a rape crisis hotline.
- Don't pressure him to do certain things. He needs to know that he has choices and that you support him.
State Certified Sexual Assault & Crisis Counselors on Campus
UCSC Women’s Center
The mission of the University of California Police Department at Santa Cruz is to provide safety and security related services to the University community and to enforce all laws pertaining to orderly conduct on its premises.
Santa Cruz Police
Hate/Bias Advisory (Student Judicial Affairs)
The Student Judicial Affairs Office is responsible for the overall coordination of the student conduct process and policies on campus. This includes the interpretation of policies from UC General Counsel as well as federal and state laws that may apply to students.
Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS)
CAPS staff provides the UCSC community with a wide range of mental health services, including short-term individual and couples counseling, group counseling, crisis assessment and intervention, and referral services.
Campus Conflict Resolution Services
The office provides professional consultation, mediation and training to members of the UCSC community. Its emphasis is on prevention, effective management, and informal resolution of conflict at all levels. All services are free, voluntary and confidential.
Dean of Students
Associate Vice Chancellor/Dean of Students Alma Sifuentes is committed to direct communication and dialogue with students.
UCSC Title IX/Sexual Harassment Office
Title IX/Sexual Harassment Office provides assistance in investigating and resolving complaints of sexual assault and harassment.
Rape, Abuse, and Incest Network (RAINN)
This web site offers information and statistics on sexual assault and can locate a local rape crisis center in your area.
Rape Treatment Center
This web site offers information on the impact of rape, date rape drugs, facts and statistics, as well as a comprehensive list of links to other resources.
National Sexual Violence Resource Center
The National Sexual Violence Resource Center serves as the nation’s principle information and resource center regarding all aspects of sexual violence.
For Men Only: Male Survivors of Sexual Assault
This page is from the Counseling and Mental Health Center at the University of Texas at Austin and offers another source of information for male survivors of sexual assault.
Gay Men's Domestic Violence Project
The Gay Men's Domestic Violence Project is a grassroots, nonprofit organization providing community education and direct services for clients. GMDVP offers shelter, guidance, and resources to allow gay, bisexual, and transgender men in crisis to leave violent situations and relationships.
This project serves lesbian, gay, transgender, bisexual and HIV-positive victims of violence, and others affected by violence, by providing free and confidential services enabling them to regain their sense of control, identify and evaluate their options, and assert their rights.
Stop it Now!
Stop It Now provides information on childhood sexual abuse, answers commonly asked questions and provides resources and related links.
Suicide Prevention Hotline
831-458-5300 or toll free: 877-ONE-LIFE (663-5433)
24-hour Suicide Crisis Line is an anonymous and confidential service that provides distressed people a safe place to express suicidal thoughts and feelings. Volunteers are trained to assess each call for potential lethality and to respond appropriately to ensure the safety of the caller.