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Dating Violence Against Men

Male Rape

It happens! Not just in prison or among gay men


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Alan W. McEvoy, Ph.D.
Dr. Alan W. McEvoy
author of If He is Raped: A guidebook for Parents, Partners, Spouses and Friends
Professor of Sociology, Wittenberg University, Springfield, Ohio

If He Is Raped book cover
If He Is Raped: A Guidebook for Parents, Mates, & Friends
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There are many reasons that male victims do not come forward and report being raped, but perhaps the biggest reason for many males is the fear of being perceived as homosexual. One of the greatest myths is that most male rapes occur in prison. Existing research shatters this myth. Another major concern facing male rape victims is society's belief that men should be able to protect themselves and, therefore, it is somehow their fault that they were raped. Dr. Alan W. McEvoy says that the stigma of rape is as devastating to male victims as it is to females who are attacked. The idea, for a man, that he cannot defend himself against such an attack can be embarrassing beyond words, or even thoughts.

Facts and Myths about Male Rape

Here are some facts and myths about male rape:

  • The most common site for male rape involving post-puberty victims is in prison.

    Research indicates that the most common sites for male rape involving post-puberty victims are outdoors in remote areas and in automobiles (the latter usually involving hitchhikers). Boys in their early and mid-teens are more likely to be victimized than older males (studies indicate a median victim age of 17). The form of assault usually involves penetration of the victim anally and/or orally, rather than stimulation of the victim's penis. Gang rape is more common in cases involving male victims than those involving female victims

  • Most adult men who are raped are gay or bisexual.

    Male sexual assault has nothing to do with the sexual orientation of the attacker or the victim, just as a sexual assault does not make the victim survivor gay, bisexual, or heterosexual. It is a violent crime that affects heterosexual men as much as gay men. The phrase "homosexual rape," for instance, which is often used by uninformed persons to designate male-male rape, camouflages the fact that the majority of the rapists are not generally homosexual

  • It is not uncommon for a male rape victim to blame himself for the rape, believing that he in some way gave permission to the rapist.

    male rape victims suffer a similar fear that female rape victims face -- that people will believe the myth that they may have enjoyed being raped. Some men may believe they were not raped or that they gave consent because they became sexually aroused, had an erection, or ejaculated during the sexual assault. These are normal, involuntary physiological reactions. It does not mean that the victim wanted to be raped or sexually assaulted, or that the survivor enjoyed the traumatic experience. Sexual arousal does not necessarily mean there was consent.

  • Rapists are non-white, lower class "criminal types".

    Rapists that fit the myth are more likely to be prosecuted but a rapist can be anyone: doctor, policeman, clergyman, social worker, or corporate president.

  • If there was no semen present, there was no rape.

    In cases where the assault was interrupted by external factors prior to the rapist having orgasm, there would not be semen present, but it is still rape.

  • The majority of all rapes are planned.

    In most cases the assailant either carries a weapon or threatens the victim with death if he resists.

  • Men can be and are sexually assaulted as boys and as adults.

    One in six boys will be sexually assaulted before the age of 16. Recent studies show that sexual abuse of children occurs three times more often than physical abuse.

  • Rape is motivated by sudden uncontrollable sexual urges.

    We have a myth that a rapist is a crazy sex-starved pervert who can be easily spotted in a crowd. The fact is that the average rapist is a 23-year-old white male who is married or has a girlfriend. He appears to have a normal personality and a sexual outlet. The difference between a rapist and other men is that rapists vent their frustrations and lack of power violently. They feel a need to control and have power over another person because they feel a lack of personal power and self-esteem. Eighty-five percent of convicted rapists were sexually abused as children. However, they are responsible for their own acts of violence regardless of having been victims.

  • Family members, spouses, and partners of rape victims are secondary survivors. So are people like friends, co-workers and roommates. They are "secondary" victims because they are also affected by the incident. When a person we love is assaulted, we must also respond to our feelings and emotions that result from the survivor's experience. Family and friends will all respond differently, depending on their past experiences in life and their belief in either the myths or facts of rape and sexual assault. Secondary survivors will experience intense feelings, because they care so much for the survivor. They may struggle to understand where the experience and feelings of a loved one ends and theirs begins.

  • Male victims of rape, like female victims, go through four stages of recovery: an acute state, pseudo adjustment, depression and the integration.
    • The first stage is the acute state when the person experiences disbelief and shock.
    • The second is the pseudo adjustment stage that can last anywhere from several weeks to several years. The survivor can experience mood swings.
    • The third is the depression stage that can overlap with the pseudo adjustment stage and can appear as classic depression. Self-blame begins to take its effect on the victim, and he or she often has a decreased sex drive or feelings of uncleanness. One example of this behavior is that many survivors will break up with their partners. One may feel like a burden because he or she cannot stand the thought of being intimate.
    • The final stage following rape is the integration stage when the person begins to accept the rape as a part of their life.

Alan W. McEvoy, Professor of Sociology, is a leading authority on the problems of violence and victimization, including the difficult circumstances of sexual assault, child abuse, gang violence and suicide. He has authored or co-authored the following books: "Creating Effective Schools"; "Preventing Youth Suicide"; "Abused Children"; "When Disaster Strikes"; "Youth and Exploitation"; "If She Is Raped: A Book for Husbands, Fathers, and Male Friends" and a new book, published in 1999, "If He Is Raped: A Guidebook for Parents, Partners, Spouses and Friends." He also has published numerous articles in professional journals, has appeared on national television programs, and has lectured extensively to educators, human service workers and other groups throughout the country. Dr. McEvoy serves as Senior Editor of the School Intervention Report, a national quarterly publication, and is a founding member and president-elect of the Safe Schools Coalition; a national non-profit organization devoted to reducing violence in schools and communities. Also, Dr. McEvoy teaches courses on criminology, deviant behavior, welfare and human services, and the sociology of education. He received his BA degree from Grand Valley State University and MA and Ph.D. degrees from Western Michigan University. Dr. McEvoy joined the Wittenberg University faculty in 1976.


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