Male survivors of sexual assault and abuse can find themselves in a particularly lonely and misunderstood place. Common beliefs—like the false idea that guys can’t be sexually assaulted—make it harder for men to seek support and harder for the people around them to provide it.
Hundreds of students told us how much they appreciated our #GetEmpowered feature (November 2015) on how to support a male friend after sexual assault (click to read). Many readers said this was the first time they had seen the topic addressed. Evan Walker-Wells, the writer, was one of Yale University’s first communication and consent educators, working with students and groups around campus to build a more positive sexual and romantic culture.
Sample comments from students:
“I’m a male who’s been assaulted and this is the first time I’ve ever seen someone care or try to help.” (US nontraditional student.)
“[What I liked most was] that you guys actually included male victims of assault. Usually they are laughed at and dismissed. Thank you for bringing some change to this world.” (US undergraduate)
“It’s such a hush-hush subject and I’m so glad to see Student Health 101 talking about it and bringing it to light.” (Canadian undergraduate)
“Many people (especially on college campuses) experience sexual assault in one way or another. Whether they are a victim, or someone close to them is, it affects a lot of people. And for the school to put out advice on how to help those affected, it makes a huge difference. A lot of people want to help, but they just don’t know how to. And this article teaches them just that.” (US undergraduate)
“Fantastic article, commonly avoided topic. I like reading articles that make readers think about sensitive issues. Consent is simple but so many people don’t get it because it’s not commonly discussed.” (Canadian undergraduate)
“I am in a sex and gender sociology class that is talking about that sort of stuff. This article helped me learn more about what the class didn’t tell me.” (US nontraditional student.)
“It’s a tough subject for people to talk about and the article gave great guidelines on how to be supportive without pushing a hidden agenda on your friend.” (US nontraditional student.)
“I honestly had never really thought [sexual assault] ever happened to guys.” (Canadian undergraduate)
“I was shocked that people would brush off these stories like they didn’t happen simply because the person was a male.” (US undergraduate)
“Nothing will change if we treat a certain group as if their pain is lesser then another’s. Men can be sexually assaulted and it is the job of all to help them the same way we help women and not belittle them for their terrible experience.” (US undergraduate)