It's A Guy's Issue Too
Myths and Facts About Male Sexual Assaults
As long as people believe these myths, the true causes and effects of sexual violence of boys and men will not be understood or addressed. Believing in these myths keeps males isolated, and makes it difficult for them to get the support they need.
Myth - Sexual assault/abuse of males is rare.
- Fact - Estimates show that 1 in 6 men will experience some form of sexual violence during their lifetime. Sexual assault/abuse occurs in every economic, ethnic, racial, age and social group
Myth - Sexual assault/abuse is a crime of passion or sex.
- Fact - Sexual abusers want power and control, not just sex.
Myth - It is okay for a woman to seduce or sexually initiate a teenage boy.
- Fact - Sexual contact between an adult and a child or adolescent is sexual abuse because the inequity in power, control and knowledge between the two is too great.
Myth - All perpetrators are male.
- Fact - Although the vast majority of perpetrators are males, females can also be sexually abusive.
Myth - Men who were sexually abused become perpetrators.
- Fact - The vast majority of abused men never go on to abuse. Research also shows that some, not all, perpetrators have been sexually abused. A variety of factors influence someone to become abusive.
Myth - Adult men are sexually assaulted only in prison.
- Fact - Sexual assault can happen to men and boys in all segments of society.
Myth - The only adult men who are sexually assaulted are gay or bisexual.
- Fact - Men, regardless of their sexual orientation, are vulnerable to sexual abuse/assault.
Myth - Sexual abuse is perpetrated by strangers.
- Fact - The vast majority of individuals are sexually abused by someone they know and trust - a family member, babysitter, coach, friend of the family.
Myth - If you didn't say NO, it must be your fault.
- Fact - People who commit sexual assault/abuse are trying to gain power and control over their victim. They want to make it extremely difficult, if not impossible, for their victim to say no. You did not need to actually say the word NO to make it clear that you did not want to participate.
Myth - If you got aroused or got an erection you must have enjoyed it.
- Fact - It is normal for the body to react to physical stimulation. Just because you became physically aroused does not mean that you asked for it, or wanted it. You may have experienced some physical pleasure but this does not take away the effects or feelings of abuse.
Myth - Boys and men should be capable of protecting themselves from sexual violence.
- Fact - Size and physical strength do not necessarily enable you to protect yourself. People who commit sexual assault/abuse often have the upper hand because they have more power in the situation. They may be in a position of trust or authority, be older, have more social status or be seen as more credible. They may use threats, force other means to coerce their victims into complying.
Myth - If you don't clearly remember the abuse, it couldn't have really happened.
- Fact - Many people cannot remember all the details of their experiences with sexual violence. People often bury memories deep in their subconscious as a way of coping with the aftermath of the sexual assault/abuse. No one can make you believe that you have been sexually abused/assaulted if you haven't been.
Myth - Boys are less traumatized by the abuse experience than girls.
- Fact - Studies show that long-term effects are quite damaging for either sex. Males may be more damaged by society's refusal or reluctance to accept their victimization, and by their belief that they must "tough it out" in silence.
Myth - Boys abused by males are, or will become gay or bisexual.
- Fact - Sexual violence does not affect sexual orientation or gender identity. Sexual orientation is a complex issue and there is no single answer or theory that explains why someone identifies himself gay, heterosexual or bisexual. Whether perpetrated by older males or females, sexual violence is damaging in many ways, and can cause confusion about one's sexual identity and orientation.