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Supporting a man who has been raped or sexually assaulted

Rape is a sexual crime of violence, which despite wide spread belief affects both women and men. While women and men have some reactions in common, there remain some differences. This information is designed specifically to assist male victims of sexual assault.

Above all a man needs two things:

  • to be listened to
  • to decide himself how to deal with the assault

The important thing is for him to regain a sense of control over his life since the assault may have left him feeling powerless.

To Be Believed
This may appear to be basic but it is often the case that the man is not believed, or is questioned in a blaming or accusatory way.

To Be Listened To
Don't make assumptions about what has happened to him or how he feels about it. Let him tell you in his own words about his experience.

Men Need To Feel Safe After The Assault
This may include giving him privacy, a place to sit out of public view, company if this is what he wants and assistance to find safe accommodation.

A Non-Judgemental Attitude
Do not ask 'why'questions. It is important to remember - No one ever deserves to be raped.

Understanding Of Their Trauma
It is important to understand sexual assault as a life-threatening experience. The person's trauma is often not related to physical injury but to the threat of violence.

To Be In Control Of What Is Happening
Let him make choices where possible. It is important that he begins to regain control over his life.

Permission To Talk About The Attack At His Own Pace
Do not pressure him to tell you everything. He may not wish to discuss what happened at all. He may wish to talk to someone else.

Information About

  • common reactions to sexual assault so that he doesn't feel like he is going crazy
  • the legal system and his choices
  • his physical well-being eg the availability of medical care

Encouragement to accept help and support, as he may minimise his feelings about the rape or believe he doesn't deserve any assistance.

To Be Supported
The sexual orientation of a man is not the issue in sexual violence. Both straight and gay men are raped. Sexual violence is an act of power. The issue is that he has been violated and he needs your support.

Validation Of His Experience And Reactions
Men who are raped are likely to experience a range of feelings. These feelings may take a while to deal with. It is also important to know that men who have experienced attempted sexual assault experience emotional reactions similar to those who have been raped.

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Updated April 12, 2010
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