Males can and do experience sexual abuse and assault. According to the 2004 General Social Survey (Victimization), males are involved in approximately 15% of sexual assaults (Statistics Canada, 2004).
The Criminal Code of Canada’s definition of sexual assault was amended in 1983 so it would equally apply to both men and women. Yet many still believe that sexual assault happens only to women; that men and boys, are not targets of sexual assault. This is simply not true. Unfortunately, the majority of men fail to report their victimization due to social stigma, thus skewing the prevalence of these crimes and often leading to the false conclusion that male sexual victimization is rare.
Sexual assault happens to males regardless of their age, physical appearance, or sexual orientation, and can leave the survivor feeling confused, mistrustful, angry, guilty, embarrassed and ashamed. Male survivors may experience flashbacks, nightmares, and suicidal ideations.
“I was scared – people would think I’m a wimp.”
“I thought people might think that I’m gay.”
“I am embarrassed that another guy touched me sexually.”
“The offender threatened to beat me up if I said anything.”
“I did not realize what was happening.”
“I thought he was my friend.”
“I could lose my place on the team if I told the coach.”
“What if girl’s won’t like me anymore?”
“No one will believe me.”
“The court will not take my case as seriously as a female victim.”
Prevalence of Sexual Assault Perpetrated Against Boys and Men
A majority of studies confirm that an estimated 5-10% of males will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime (Tjaden, and Thoennes, 1998). The National Violence Against Women Survey found that 1 out of every 33 men in the United States had experienced an attempted or completed rape as a child or an adult (Tjaden, and Thoennes, 1998). Prevalence, Incidence and Consequences of Violence Against Women.
Both women and men can be the perpetrators. Studies report that females commit between 2-4% of reported sex offences against children. A Bureau of Justice Statistics study reports that 6% of offenders who sexually assaulted juveniles were female, and 1% of adult perpetrators were female (Bureau of Justice, 2000).
Female perpetrators of sexual assault tend to use persuasion rather than force or the threat of force during their crimes (Holmes and Slap, 1998.).
Sexual assault in interpersonal relationships is an extremely prevalent form of violence. Men involved in physically abusive relationships with other men may be especially vulnerable to sexual assaults by their partners. In a study of 162 gay men, 52% reported at least one incident of sexual coercion by their same-sex partner. Nearly 7 million men are sexually and/or physically assaulted by an intimate partner in their lifetime. And each year, 834,000 men are sexually assaulted by their partners (Tjaden and Thoennes, 1998.).