Survive is committed to supporting male survivors of sexual abuse and assault.
It is estimated that 9,000 men are raped or sexually assaulted each year, and yet fewer than 900 incidents are reported to the police.
Survive recognises the sad reality that men are also the victims of crime, and recognises that many men may deal with this differently. Many people think rape does not happen to men, but it does and when it does it is usually violent, degrading and humiliating. Rape is not about sex. It is about the abuse of power, domination and inflicting pain. Men can be raped by individual men or gangs of men. Men can also be sexually assaulted by women.
Men surviving childhood sexual abuse
Boys may be sexually abused by both men and women. They might also be sexually abused by older children or groups of peers. Research evidence suggests that as many as one in eight boys may be sexually abused. This figure is probably a severe underestimation, as many boys and men will never reveal to anyone what they have suffered.
Many male survivors of sexual abuse are confused by how their bodies reacted to the abuse. It is quite normal for boys to get an erection due to ‘the fear’ hormones that are being stimulated by the abuse, but this does not mean you either wanted or enjoyed the attention. Whatever was done to you and however your body reacted had nothing to do with your sexuality at the time of the abuse.
Sexual abuse and rape can be perpetrated by anyone, regardless of their sexuality. It is a myth that men who rape are homosexual or that homosexual men enjoy being raped. More usually the men who commit rape on men are heterosexual with their actions motivated by the desire to intimidate and control rather than their interest in sex.
Power and Control
Boys and men are taught that they should be strong, independent and in control. For boys who are being sexually abused there is no sense of being in control or strong. The power is with the abuser. If you have had this experience it would not be surprising if you do your best to remain in control avoiding any situation where you might end up feeling vulnerable or dependent. Boys and men are also not encouraged to talk about what they feel. This makes the experience of being sexually abused or raped extremely isolating, and can prolong the effects that getting support can relieve. It takes a lot of courage to speak out and look for help. Speaking out can stir up feelings of shame about being a man and needing help. However the traumatic impact of the experience can be reduced by being less isolated.
How Survive can help
At Survive our phones are answered by women. However if you choose to meet face to face with us for individual support it is possible to meet with a man or a woman, depending on whom you would feel most comfortable talking to. In a face to face meeting a Survive worker or volunteer will help you to work out what your next steps might be, answer your questions or find out information for you, or help you work out how to cope with a problem. It is also possible for male survivors to borrow self help books.
A men’s drop-in is offered in York. It is open to men who are survivors of childhood sexual abuse and adult rape. If you think you might be interested in meeting with other survivors in a relaxed and supportive environment please contact us to find out more about how to become a member.