Information for Men

If we haven’t covered a concern or question you have, you can also talk to a trained Safe Helpline staff member online or by phone, at 877-995-5247.

You're not alone. 

Sexual assault can happen to anyone, no matter your age, your sexual orientation, or your gender identity. Men who have been sexually assaulted or abused as boys and teens prior to military service may have many of the same feelings and reactions as other survivors of sexual assault. They may also face some additional challenges because of social attitudes and stereotypes about men and masculinity.

Common reactions:

If something happened to you, know that you are not alone. The following list includes some of the common experiences shared by men who have survived sexual assault. It is not a complete list, but it may help you to know that other people have had similar experiences:

  • Anxiety, depression, fearfulness, or post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Avoiding people or places that are related to the assault or abuse
  • Concerns or questions about sexual orientation
  • Fear of the worst happening and having a sense of a shortened future
  • Feeling like "less of a man" or that you no longer have control over your own body
  • Feeling on-edge, being unable to relax, and having difficulty sleeping
  • Sense of blame or shame over not being able to stop the assault or abuse, especially if you experienced an erection or ejaculation
  • Withdrawal from relationships or friendships and an increased sense of isolation
  • Anger issues/lashing out
  • Substance abuse issues

Information for Men - FAQ

Who are the perpetrators of sexual assault against men?

Perpetrators can be any gender identity, sexual orientation, or age, and they can have any relationship to the victim. Like all perpetrators, they might use physical force or psychological and emotional coercion tactics.

How does being assaulted affect sexual orientation?

Sexual assault is in no way related to the sexual orientation of the perpetrator or the survivor, and a person’s sexual orientation cannot be caused or influenced by sexual abuse or assault. Some men have questions about their sexuality after surviving an assault or abuse—and that’s understandable. This can be especially true if you experienced an erection or ejaculation during the assault.

What if abuse happened when I was a child or teen?

The effects of abusive childhood or adolescent experiences can be very complex and affect survivors differently and at different points in their adult lives. For more information, visit https://www.rainn.org/articles/sexual-assault-men-and-boys

Physiological responses to assault

Physiological responses like an erection or freezing are involuntary, meaning you have no control over them.  Freezing, also known as “Tonic Immobility” essentially means you couldn’t move.   Sometimes perpetrators, especially adults who sexually abuse boys, will use these physiological responses to maintain secrecy by using phrases such as, “You know you liked it.” If you have been sexually abused or assaulted, it is not your fault. In no way does an erection or freezing invite unwanted sexual activity, and ejaculation in no way condones an assault. Consent is about being able to communicate and make an agreement with another person. To learn more about what consent looks like, click here.

What if the assault or abuse occurred when I was an adult?

Some men who have survived sexual assault as adults feel shame or self-doubt, believing that they should have been “strong enough” to fight off the perpetrator. Many men who experienced an erection or ejaculation during the assault may be confused and wonder what this means. These normal physiological responses do not in any way imply that you wanted, invited, or enjoyed the assault. If you were sexually assaulted, it was not your fault.

How are hazing and bullying related to sexual assault?

Some men may feel as though what happened to them was not a criminal act because their experience with sexual violence was disguised as bullying, hazing or other abusive acts. Bullying is typically an exclusive behavior with the ultimate goal to belittle, breakdown, and further hurt an individual. Hazing is an inclusive behavior, with the goal to bring an individual into the “fold” or “brotherhood.”

How will this affect my relationship?

Coming forward about surviving sexual assault or sexual abuse can be difficult. It requires a lot of trust and understanding. What is most important is having the space to open up and discuss your experience.  Also, know that with open communication healthy relationships are possible after an assault. Contact the Safe Helpline to learn more about how to talk to a loved one or friend. 

Finding support

If something happened to you, know that you are not alone:

  • Call or chat with Safe Helpline. Call or chat anonymously and confidentially with a Safe Helpline staff member who can provide support, walk you through your options, and when you’re ready you can connect directly with local resources.
  • Consider therapy or other behavioral health support locally. Find contact information about on-base medical and mental healthcare providers as well as your local Sexual Assault Response Coordinator through the Safe Helpline Responder Database. You may also consider joining the Safe HelpRoom male survivor sessions. For more information click here.
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