Barriers to Reporting and Seeking Services:

  1. Overview
  2. Sexual Violence
  3. Barriers to Reporting and Seeking Services:

The socialization of males in Western culture historically has encouraged the repression of feelings of vulnerability and promoted the unrealistic expectation that males can protect themselves from any kind of attack. A male victim may be reluctant to report and seek services due to the following:


  • Fear of being judged
  • Fear of his sexuality and/or masculinity being questioned
  • If threats were made against his family by the offender
  • To protect his family against societal scrutiny
  • Intense feelings of shame, guilt or humiliation
  • Confusion if he was physically aroused
  • Stigma associated with stereotypes that "males are not victims"
  • Unsure of available services or if services are available for males
  • Fear of being "outed" if he is gay, bisexual or transgender


It is important to note that just because a victim's body may have had a physiological response during the assault does not mean that he enjoyed the abuse. Erections and ejaculation are physiological responses that can occur even in traumatic or stressful situations. Perpetrators often use the victim's feelings of confusion and shame to maintain control and discourage reporting of the crime.


A gay, bisexual or transgender male may feel that he is to blame for the assault because of his sexual orientation or gender identity. Homo/bi/transphobia—fear or hatred of lesbian, gay and bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people—keeps many male survivors from reporting the assault and seeking services. One of the most persistent myths about sexual assault—that it is a sexual act and not an act of power and dominance—is particularly damaging to male survivors because it becomes intertwined with homo/bi/transphobia.


Sexual assault is not the result of a male's sexual orientation nor will it change his orientation afterward.


If you have been victimized:


  • Go to a safe place.
  • Call someone you trust for emotional support.
  • Seek medical attention. You may have internal injuries and medical staff can provide prophylactic treatment for sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Valuable evidence can often be collected by trained hospital personnel.
  • In order to preserve evidence, if possible avoid eating, drinking, smoking, combing your hair, showering, urinating or defecating before going to the emergency department.
  • Consider reporting the assault to law enforcement. However, forensic evidence can be still collected at a licensed medical facility without contacting law enforcement (in non-mandatory reporting situations).
  • Get help from a trained advocate or counselor.

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