Yes, men and boys can also be victims.
In fact, the consequences can be the same regardless of the sex or gender identity of the person who has experienced sexual violence. The prejudices related to masculinity can become obstacles on the path to getting better.
People may believe that it doesn’t happen to men because women and girls are more frequently victims of sexual violence or because of the stereotype that men must be strong and fight. This leaves male victims thinking that it couldn’t happen to them… Talking about it for the first time is very difficult when you have trouble understanding or accepting what happened. Some will remain silent for decades. But it happens to men and it happens to boys.
Sometimes a victim’s body can react in a misleading way to the touch or stimulation of the assault, like with an erection or ejaculation. This reaction can lead to questions and concerns like “Maybe I wanted it?” The answer is no. Pleasant sensations are normal physiological reactions to genital stimulation. It doesn’t mean that there was consent. It is also important to remember that children are not capable of consenting to sexual acts.
In some cases, such as when a boy is sexually assaulted by a man, he may question his sexual orientation. Sexual orientation is not caused by sexual abuse. Questioning does not mean determination. A man who has been sexually abused and likes men has not become gay or bisexual because of the abuse.
Sharing these experiences is essential to beginning the road to recovery. It is important for loved ones to offer a non-judgmental ear. It is possible to be able to discuss the details of the violence while at the same time have difficulty naming and putting into words one’s emotions. Each person tells their story and confides in others at their own pace.
Asking for help is not a weakness. On the contrary, it takes a great deal of strength to acknowledge that you what has happened and to acknowledge difficult thoughts and emotions. There are resources that address the diverse needs of victims, regardless of gender identity. There are also resources for people who are questioning their gender identity and specialized resources for male victims of sexual violence.