Male Rape Victims



I find this to be an extremely sensitive topic. I wrote this as my first college paper and it means a lot to men. Rape, other than homicide, is the worst thing ever. Men who are victims should not be laughed at, but equally consoled. They must be given justice, so here´s my part in that:

“Sexually Assaulted Men: Mocked and Carelessly Forgotten"

Of the worst horrors abominations of the endless reaches of human behavior, one of the oldest and cruelest is arguably the greatest violation from one human to another. It is an inhumane atrocity that occurs daily - Rape. It is a sensitive topic amongst anyone you meet. Every person knows a victim, has known one, or will know one in their lifetimes because unfortunately it is much too prevalent. According to an article in the New York Times entitled "A Natural History of Rape", "In one study, 13 percent of the surveyed American women of ages 18 and older reported having been the victim of at least one completed rape" ("A Natural History of Rape", Palmer, Thornhill). And yet, how about men? Much less frequently discussed, according to Adrienne Sere, a respected feminist activist, states on the topic of rape, "Yet if the argument that men are rapist by nature is taken seriously, the only reasonable conclusion is that women should immediately get away from, and indeed, organize against those who pose an extreme irresolvable danger to their lives and sexual integrity" (Sere). Though Sere's quote has validity and expresses her opinion reasonably, her argument is based solely on male perpetrators and female victims, which offers justifiable reason to identify her statement as a form of gender bias. Luckily, in today's western societies, awareness, support, self-defense classes, books, and assortment of resources are widespread available to educated victimized and non-victimized women alike. Additionally, modern technology has offered scientific tools to identify a rape victim and offer evidence for the conviction of their attackers. What must be noted here is that these technologies can identify a rape victim, no gender specified, and yet these resources are directly for solely women. Factually and inevitably, any person can become a perpetrator, male or female, and therefore any person can be a victim regardless of gender and therefore these resources must be available for both genders. Of course there is no question and never will be any question that the majority of victims are women. Still, though women are the primary victims of rape, men also comprise a significant portion of rape victims and the lack of awareness and support offered is alarming and most importantly, unacceptable.

It is reasonable to state if men are victims as well, why aren't they more vocal and expressive of these issues on their own? Isn't our society still unfortunately male-dominated, a patriarchy, or at the very least, reminiscent and very influenced by patriarchy? Haven't men always had the opportunity to seek the resources that would seem crucial for them if they are victims alongside women? Well, in nostalgic retrospect, patriarchal societies have ordered specific gender roles to differentiate between the two sexes. It may seem that these gender roles would certainly benefit men, the expectations placed on men are neither appropriate nor reasonable and definitely play a large role on why victimized men seem to be of less importance. For example, the following statements overbearingly have proved uniformly misfit upon American men (and which, in turn, backfire such as in the male-exclusive draft or in parental custody battles): “men cannot be overlyemotional” [including with family], "men don't cry", "men have to be tough", "Men are the boss", "Men have to be strong", are definitely going to be on every male's mind after they have been assaulted. These universally-known stigmas, foolish or not, hold validity within people in a psychological sense, primarily those involving the physical dominance of men, will leave men at an extreme risk to be subjected to ridicule if they voice their victimization. According to David Lisak, psychiatrist specializing in sexual abuse, interviewed several male rape victims for a study and addressed the consequences of this, explaining, "Helplessness emerged in men's need for control. Many of the men struggled to acknowledge to themselves that they were in fact abused, and that the abuse had greatly affected them" (Lisak 13). These stigmas on men definitely contribute to the lack of support for men and the underreported amount of male victims. According to Mic Hunter in The Neglected Victims of Sexual Abuse, "A review of several national studies put the prevalence of sexual abuse in males at between 2.5 percent and 16 percent. If the rate of abuse is constant from year to year, than at least 46,000 - 92,000 boys under the age of thirteen are sexually abused each year in the United States alone" (Hunter 26). Jim Hopper, a psychologist who has researched sexual abuse for 15 years, states on his website "Approximately one in six boys is sexually abused before age 16" (Hopper). Given these numbers, this is clearly a topic needing to be addressed just as the topic of female victims needs to be addressed. Just because there are less male victims doesn't mean they aren't valid as well.

Once society decides to address this critical issue, there must be firm education given to men just as it is offered to women. Just as girls are educated in school, so should boys. Some assume that only gay men are at risk, but this is far from the truth. Jim Hopper explains on the subject of male college students, " Studies of male college students have found prevalence rates from 4.8% to 28%" (Hopper). Whether the numbers are at the lower and higher end of the scale is less significant then the essential fact that the assault is there. In Abused Boys: The Neglected Victims of Sexual Abuse, Mic Hunter explains, "Most child sexual abuse is perpetrated by men who are heterosexual and do not find sex with other men at all attractive" (Hunter 22). He later explains that this is the same with older victims as well. However, many boys hold the fear that if they are a victim it means they are gay, and many believe that all attackers are homosexual. No boy should be left to assume he is not at risk - Rape is about power and control.

Males in society are taught to be invincible almost, always thought of as the protector, never the one that must be protected. There is a slow built-up superiority complex in a male's life towards other males and certainly women. This can be linked back to religious text, and in terms of western society, the most prevalent would be Christianity. Interestingly enough, there is a story in the Old Testament of the Bible (included in both Judaism and Christianity) in the Book of Genesis, in which a man is assaulted by his two daughters in his sleep after the two had made sure he had gotten very drunk. Rape is rampant throughout the Bible, but in this sick and unusual story the word rape is never used, and it isn't even clearly described as sexual assault (New English Bible, Genesis 19: 30-38) The Bible is literature of course, but it is the best-selling literature of all time. Considering the Bible's heavy continuity of sexism against women throughout the Bible, it's interesting that even in this story these women aren't even described as rapists.

In David Lisak's journal article "The Psychological Impact of Abuse: Content Analysis of Interviews with Male Survivors", he explains, "Almost a third of the men had victimized others at some point in their lives" (Lisak 6). This is extremely important as this number is pretty substantial. If society draws more attention towards male victims, perhaps more male victims will seek treatment and support and hopefully not become perpetrators themselves. Through this, it only makes society a safer place for everyone in it. Why should this pattern be repeated? Are old, ignorant stigmas really worth endangering people past the unavoidable when there could be more done to prevent such occurrences?

However, it is only fair to state that some male victims are given attention and justice, thankfully. This would be the juvenile victims, because, as with most crimes, the severity increases drastically once there is child involvement. In this case, a boy is nearly always though to be victimized by their father or some male member of their family, or some other random, sick man. Rarely is there any attention paid to female pedophiles. Generally speaking, most people would assume there are fewer female pedophiles than male, which is true. This doesn't mean they aren't responsible for a significant portion, though, and as they are perpetrators on their own, why should they be forgotten? Mic Hunter's Abused Boys: The Neglected Victims of Sexual Abuse contains narrative from some male victims, and one victim, on the topic of his mother's abuse recounts, "I knew that Mom and I had slept together frequently, but we didn't have intercourse. That couldn't be incest - or could it? Could I have been abused?" (Hunter 168). The answer to his question is yes on every account, and no boy should ever hold such disturbing confusion. In fairness, it is notable that cases of statutory rape are addressed concerning female offenders. Often publicized are cases of female teachers developing relationships with their male students. Unlike concerning male offenders of statutory rape, there seems to constantly be a split amongst many on whether these boys were victimized or not. If a statement like this was made about a female victim, there would be an uproar. This is just another example of gender bias in society. What is worse is this bias is not simply limited to the common person. It seems to extend over to the justice system as well.

One very famous case of this is the sexual offender Mary Kay LeTourneau. She dated and slept with her sixth grade student. Their relationship began when he was merely twelve-years-old. She had known him for four years previous casually, believing he had artistic talent, and then he eventually became her student in the sixth grade. At the end of the year she took him to dinner for his achievement of good grades. According to Katherine Ramsland, crime psychologist and author, "[a]fter the meal, they talked together in Mary Kay's car and he said he wanted to kiss her. Within a few days, they were making love on the roof of her house. She was 35; he was 12 and a virgin" (Ramsland 5, par. 2). She was charged with statutory rape because the boy was n his early teen years when she was finally arrested, though in most states there would be no leniency; she would be charged as a pedophile. The courts in Washington must have felt differently considering she served an astounding five months in state prison for raping a twelve-year-old boy. Out on parole, she had to follow strict probation ultimatums such as no contact with her victim, a given, and yet the sick woman repeated the offense. She then was ordered to serve a full seven years, but this can definitely be described as a case of "too little, too late" (Ramsland 5, par. 7). However, in contrast, Debbie LaFaye got two years of HOUSE ARREST for raping a fourteen-year-old boy in Florida, a strict state, among others, according to Ramsland later (Ramsland 6, par. 1). {Note: I live in Florida and recently saw another teacher rapist on the news who got five years for statutory rape! About time!)

By offering female offenders leniency such as in the cases described above, the justice system indirectly verbalizes to the people, female offenders specifically, that these crimes are not as severe if a female is the culprit. It is unacceptable for it to be a custom for women to get leniency in such circumstances. Ramsland states, "[s]uch women represent 10 percent of all sexual offenses, and their abuse often involves their own child or children. Some have only one victim, many have several. Psychologist A.J. Cooper cites a study that 20 percent of these sex offenders even resort to force" (Ramsland 6, par. 3). Ten percent is a significant number, and once again, not one perpetrator should be overlooked, and not one victim should be forgotten. Regarding adult male victims by female perpetrators, the stigmas are endless, the crime is underreported, and drastic recovery must be made to bring attention to this aspect of sexual abuse.

As for male perpetrators, the pre-conceived notions are endless. Many believe all are gay. Many believe all victims are flamboyant boys because real men are capable of defending themselves. This is ridiculous -anyone can be overpowered by a number of means of force, whether it be a deadly weapon or a drug. Others argue that these incidents are just the exceptions. Jeff Kulley, P.h.D. and professor at the University of Texas, explains, "Heterosexual, gay, and bisexual men are equally likely to be sexually assaulted. Your sexuality has no more to do with being raped than being robbed" (Kulley par. 3). Therefore, there is absolutely no reason for it to seem humorous if any male is victimized or any way for it to be the subject of some sort of sick joke. The subject is definitely acknowledged, but it is generally the subject of prison jokes. Most do not understand the true nature of the crime. Kulley further explains, "Most men who sexually assault other men identify themselves as heterosexual. This fact helps to highlight another reality - that sexual assault is about violence, anger, and control over another person, not lust or sexual attraction" (Kulley, par. 4). This proves in its revelations a serious need to educate all our youth on the dangers of sexual assault, without question of gender. It must be made clear that there is nothing wrong with a man admitting to be victimized, that his gender has nothing to do with the fact that he was sexually assaulted. No one victim should be left forgotten. Feeling abandoned and isolated after being sexually assaulted can have can dire consequences. Kulley elaborates, "As a result of their guilt, shame and anger some men punish themselves by getting into self-destructive behavior after being sexually assaulted" (Kulley par. 20). In Mic Hunter's Abused Boys: The Neglected Victims of Sexual Abuse, there are several chapters with narratives of victims, each with their own sick stories, whether it be incest or random assault, or even both. Many seemed to fear that law enforcement wouldn't take them seriously (Hunter 9-19). Not only is this cruel, but this against the law and should never be acceptable in any police bureau. There have been some improvements since this book however, given its 1990 release, such as in New York's statue regarding rape in the first degree. Previously it stated that only a man could be guilty of rape, but the statue has been re-written stating, "A person is guilty of rape in the first degree when he or she engages in sexual intercourse with another person by forcible compulsion; or who is incapable of consent by reason of being physically helpless" (NY Penal 130.35). This is precisely how rape should be defined.

Rape has many meanings to every person. Everyone has met a victim or even knows one personally, whether they are aware or not. Some would call it worse than homicide as it traumatizes and affects every victim in its own unique, detrimentally sick way. Everyone knows that the act is an abhorrence and should be condemned, and not many would argue with this. However, once a male rape victim is discussed, the topic becomes something of a taboo, somehow a controversy, now under question whether it is an abhorrence or not. Why should any victim be subjected to this because of their gender? It is a true paradox in itself. Every victim is equal in the abuse, in the violation, in the terror they were forced to face in such heinous, unacceptable acts. Rape is violence, rape is control - And rape has no gender.