Getting raped by someone and then being mocked at for the same injury is the worst pain one can suffer. While the rape of females is established and is considered as a serious crime everywhere, the same offence against men not only denies justice to the victim but also derives a lot of ridicule for the victim. If the man is raped by a woman then almost no one tends to believe him and almost everyone thinks he had been ‘lucky enough’ to get raped by the woman. If the woman is good-looking (remember nymphomaniacs may look beautiful as well) then the luck factor is considered very high.
It is very often noticed that there exist multiple popular myths about male sexual assault which very often leads to their not getting justice. The fear of being ridiculed and shamed is so high for these victims that they tend not to report such crimes happening against them. We will try to understand some of these myths that prevent male victims of sexual assault from getting justice.
Myth #1 – Men in a non-institutional setting are rarely raped
In a study conducted by Dr Clayton M Bullock and Dr M Beckson  studied at least 13 different studies on sexual assault on men and found that only 3-7% of male victims report such crime. These studies all conducted in the US and designed differently with different samples and following different models all concluded that the sexual assault on men is anything but rare.
For example, in one study with a randomized community sample, Sorenso and others found that about 7.2% of male respondents were sexually assaulted. Another study conducted by Coxell and others on men attending general practitioner clinic found that at least 2.89% of males were rape victims. Different other studies done by different other groups on patients presenting to sexual assault referral centres in the US found about 3-5% male victims seeking assistance or trauma care.
One more interesting fact that has come out in these studies was that men are more likely to get assaulted by more than one assailant and they mostly suffer from stranger assault compared to women.
So, it can be easily understood that there exist a lot of male victims of sexual assault, but they don’t come out in the open or the cases registered because of the fear of being ridiculed and shamed.
Myth #2 – Male victims are responsible for their assault
Globally men are not considered to be rape victims of women. Even in the countries where rape laws are gender neutral and where males are considered as rape victims, normally other males are considered as perpetrators. In some cases where the male is a minor and the woman is an adult or in some authority position, women may be held as the rapist. In India, the situation is even worse. After amendment of Juvenile Justice Act, even younger minor boys can be considered as rapists of adult women. We already had an example of a 12-year boy from Kerala held as a rapist of a 16-year old woman. This is the reason men who are raped by their own girlfriends like this one often do not dream of getting their case registered or getting justice.
In marriage situations, when a wife forces herself upon the husband when the husband is not fully ready for sex or when a woman tries some unnatural way of sexual pleasure that the husband doesn’t conform to, very often the man can’t report the incidence as rape. If you reverse the gender, however, you will clearly see rape in both these situations. Very often husbands in these situations are termed as impotent whereas the same denial by a woman is considered as her empowerment and choice.
In a study, conducted by Donnelly and Kenyon  who surveyed 30 agencies working on rehabilitation of rape victims, 11 reported they did not provide any service to male victims; 10 had some capability to serve male victims but had never done so; 5 had dealt with at least one male victim. The authors of the study noted that feminist-based crisis centres and law-enforcement officers are least likely to offer any assistance to male rape victims.
They observed that feminists view rape as a product of male dominant society and hence males themselves being a victim contradicts the very own principle of rape. Also considering females as perpetrators of the crime doesn’t fit that model at all.
In another study, Burt and DeMello  conducted a study in Australia to understand this blame attribution to victims. They have prepared three different sexual assault stories with a change in the sexual orientation of the victim. It was found that a homosexual man is blamed more for the crime against him compared to a heterosexual man who in turn was blamed more than the heterosexual female.
In a review of many similar studies, Davies and Rogers,  found that the male victims are often blamed in such situations for their inability of ‘fight back’ or for being ‘scared’. Psychologists like Symonds M  and King MB , however, mention this response as “Frozen Helplessness”. [5, 6]
Myth #3 – Male sexual-assault victims in the hands of women, are ‘lucky’
It is considered to be great luck even by many males to get raped by females. Surely enough they have not experienced the pain or maybe desperately seeking sexual favour from women but this is one prominent myth that denies males justice. In fact, many males envy such victims of sexual assault.
In a popular Bollywood movie, Aitraaz, that showed sexual assault of a male victim in the hands of his female boss this was clearly shown. Very often such victims are told to just enjoy the feelings and shut up as they had experienced something ‘unique’.
In this scenario added to the non-existence of a gender-neutral rape law that considers women as an equal level of perpetrators against other fully-grown males, getting justice is very often a distant dream for male victims. In a family or marriage situation when a wife forces herself upon her husband or performs some unnatural form of sex or resort to violence for the husband not able to perform in bed, are all forms of sexual violence against men that are not recognized by any.
In a such a reported case during my counselling time, a husband explained how his oversized wife got over him, put her full weight on him and forcefully entered him in her body while she remained seated on him. That excruciating penile pain prohibited him from performing sex for a long time. In the meanwhile, he was branded as impotent and also had to absorb a lot of physical and verbal abuses from the wife.
Myth #4 – Male sexual assault victims suffer less trauma compared to women victims
It is very often believed that male victims of sexual assault undergo less pain and less trauma compared to women. As most of such crimes are reported by homosexual men, it is assumed that they might have invited the assault or since they want anal sex, they might have undergone less pain compared to others.
When the perpetrators are women and the victim is a male, it is not even considered as a crime as ‘women can’t penetrate’. But I have heard of many cases where women almost choked their lovers with their huge boobs or almost broke their partners’ penis by putting their whole body-weight on those. An overheated woman in a sexual situation can act extremely violently and subject their partner to extreme pain and torture. In none of these cases do the male partner feel ‘lucky’ or less pain? They were almost on the verge of death.
If we consider rape by another male as most gay men suffer from, different studies mentioned above pointed out that men often get raped by multiple men. This is not so for women victims. Also, most male rapes are done by complete strangers or little-known people. These factors just add to the woes of male victims.
Added to the immediate physical and mental trauma inflicted by the perpetrators (and women) on males, men very often have to deal with a complete absence of any support system for them to come out of such trauma. Not only the society ridicules such victims, but even the agencies that exist for trauma care of rape victims also do not support male victims. So, when we look at all these factors together, we understand that the trauma undergone by a male rape victim is way more compared to a woman victim.
Myth #5 – Ejaculation is a sign of a positive sexual response
Studies like that done by Groth and Burgess [7, 8] and Huckle  states some anecdotal evidence of male sexual assault victims ejaculating when they are traumatized. Mezey and King  noted in their study that – “an extreme form of loss of control is demonstrated by those victims who are physiologically aroused while being terrorized.”
To understand this physiological phenomenon, we need to understand the concept of “electroejaculation” that is used to obtain sperm samples from male mammals. This is used for breeding purpose and for human males who due to spinal cord injury are unable to ejaculate. Studies by scientists reveal that male ejaculation is a ‘spinal cord reflex’ controlled by the brain rather than a function of one’s genitals. [11, 12]
So, it is possible to have a male sexual erection and ejaculation without his consent and that can be his negative sexual response.
Also, there are studies that show that extreme anxiety can be associated with premature or spontaneous ejaculation. [11, 12]
In a collection of case reports, Sarrel and Masters  have described a case of a 27-year old man who was drugged and rapes at knife-point by five women. At one point when he was not able to keep an erection, the women threatened to cut his scrotum by holding a knife there and after that, throughout the ordeal, he was able to keep an erection. In this aspect, Kinsey  concluded that “physiologic mechanism of any emotional response (e.g. anger, fright, pain) may be the mechanism of sexual response.”
Sexual assault on men is considered as a crime only when there is another man who is accused. Since most rape definitions include ‘penile insertion’ and women do not have a penis so women are not accused of rape. However, if we consider involuntary sex as rape, then we will understand how involuntary and unnatural sex with a man by a woman can be considered as rape.
While the laws worldwide need to be gender-neutral to include women as the same level criminals as men in sexual-assault cases, it is also important that we create a rehabilitation mechanism for male rape victims. If the existing bias in the legal process denies justice to men, then extreme lack of research on this matter makes it impossible for the MRAs to highlight these issues. Most of the research mentioned here are very old. Even though these are psychological research but there is some case-study based research [7,8,9] as well. These were done at least a few decades ago. Also, the study in this field was mostly done in the US, UK and Canada. Since this is an important topic that needs everyone’s attention, it is important that researchers from other countries focus on this as well.
- Dr Clayton M Bullock and Dr M Beckson; J Am Acad Psychiatry and Law, 2011
- Donnelly DA, Kenyon S: “Honey, we don’t do men: gender stereotypes and the provision of services to sexually assaulted males”. J Interpers Violence, 1996
- Burt DL, DeMello LR. Attribution of rape blames as a function of victim gender and sexuality, and perceived similarity to the victim. J Homosex, 2002
- Davies M, Rogers P: Perceptions of male victims in depicted sexual assaults: a review of the literature. Aggress Violent Behav 11, 2006
- Symonds M: Victims of violence. Am J Psychoanal 35:19 –26, 1975
- King MB: Male rape; victims need sensitive management, 1990
- Groth AN, Burgess AW: Rape: a sexual deviation. Am J Orthopsychiatry 47, 1977
- Groth N, Burgess AW: Male rape: Offenders and victims. Am J Psychiatry 137, 1980
- Huckle PL: Male rape victims referred to a forensic psychiatric service. Med Sci Law 35, 1995
- Mezey GC, King MB: The effects of sexual assault on men: a survey of 22 victims. Psychology Med 19, 1989
- Ohl DA, Wolf LJ, Menge AC, et al: Electroejaculation and assisted reproductive technologies in the treatment of an ejaculatory infertility. Fertil Steril 76, 2001
- Sonksen J, Ohl DA: Penile vibratory stimulation and electroejaculation in the treatment of ejaculatory dysfunction. Int J Androl 25, 2002
- Sarrel PM, Masters WH: Sexual molestation of men by women. Arch Sex Behav 11, 1982
- Kinsey AC, Pomeroy WP, Martin CE: Sexual Behavior in the Human Male. Philadelphia: WB Saunders, 1948