Research found that an alarming number of men have been forced to have sex by women who have used threats, blackmail, and even violence against them.
The study, conducted by Dr Siobhan Weare from Lancaster University Law School and charity Survivors Manchester, also found that a distressing 14% of men were ‘compelled to penetrate’ by force.
This included women using their bodyweight to pin down their victims, or even threatening them with a weapon.
Another 22% of men who took part said that women had threatened to end their relationship or spread rumours about them, or had used other forms of verbal abuse in order to force them into sex.
Sexual violence against men remains a taboo – especially when the attack is perpetrated by a woman.
Although the sample size was small (only 154 men took part), Dr Weare said this was a reflection of the issue being woefully under-reported and under-discussed.
Coming to terms with what’s happened to you may feel daunting, but remember that you’re not alone.
Here’s what to do if you’re a man who has been made to penetrate someone against your will.
Go to a doctor
You may be at risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), so you should get checked out by your doctor as soon as you can.
Tell your GP, or the doctor at the GUM clinic, about what happened while you’re there.
As well as knowing what to check for, they will also be able to refer you to a Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC).
You can access a SARC the same way any other victim can
If you have been a victim of rape or sexual assault within the last 10 days, you can go to a SARC and receive immediate help and support.
It doesn’t matter that you’re a man – male victims can access the support at SARCs the same way any other victim can.
One SARC, New Pathways, says: ‘Many people think that rape and sexual assault is something that only affects women but this is certainly not the case.
‘It is true that the majority of victims are women, however each year on average about 10% of our SARC clients are male.
‘When you consider that each year we support between 800-1000 SARC clients this is quite a significant number.
‘Therefore if you are a male victim of rape or sexual assault you can access exactly the same level of service and support from New Pathways and we would encourage you to speak to us and get some help.
‘You will find that our staff are highly sensitive to the needs of male clients and will be able to answer any questions that you may have.’
What happens at a SARC?
When you arrive at the centre, you’ll be met by a crisis worker who will speak to you in private about any concerns you may have, and to go over what happens at an SARC.
They will then speak to you about what you might want to do next – namely, whether you want to go to the police.
If so, they’ll give you the opportunity to make a report to the police about what has happened.
They’ll also ask you if you want to undergo a forensic medical examination, which is a way of gathering any forensic evidence after a sexual assault.
This could later form important evidence if your case goes to court.
Remember that it is not your fault
You will likely be experiencing a cocktail of emotions right now.
Men share many of the same feelings of female victims of sexual violence. You may be feeling shame, anger, sadness, fear of being blamed, judged or not believed, and even denial. You may feel like withdrawing into yourself rather than confiding in anyone.
But at the same time, you’re likely to experience these differently to women.
You may feel as though you’re somehow at fault for not preventing the assault, for example, or like what happened to you has made you ‘weak’, ‘dirty’, or less of a ‘real man’.
And if you’ve been ‘compelled to penetrate’, you may be worried about having had an erection.
According to another SARC called The Rowan: ‘If a male victim became sexually aroused, had an erection or ejaculated during the sexual assault, he may not believe that he was raped.
‘These are involuntary physical reactions. They do not mean that the victim wanted to be sexually assaulted, or that the survivor enjoyed the traumatic experience.
‘Just as with women, a sexual response does not mean there was consent.’
Who can I contact if I need help or support?
Survivors UK is a charity dedicated to male victims of sexual assault and rape. You can chat to them on their website’s chat programme, via WhatsApp on 074 9181 6064, or over text on 020 3322 1860.
Survivors Trust has a hotline you can call for support, advice and information – 0808 801 0818.
Survivors UK, Survivors Manchester and other male victim support groups have joined forces to form the Male Survivor Partnership, which runs a helpline on 0808 800 5005. It also has a directory of local services in your area, which can be found on their website.
Will things change for male victims of sexual violence and coercion?
Duncan Craig, chief executive of Survivors Manchester, told Metro.co.uk that the research will hopefully be instrumental in helping male victims come forward.
Survivors Manchester collaborated with the University of Lancaster to carry out this important, groundbreaking research.
‘It’s an incredibly important area of work, because it’s so under-researched,’ he said. ‘This is possibly one of society’s last taboos – that of the common views that females are victims and men are perpetrators. It’s difficult for a lot of people to digest and understand, but part of the reason it’s so difficult is because it inverts our idea of gender norms.
‘The idea of masculinity and feminity needs to be redefined or re-understood.
‘This research is the beginning of us understanding.
‘In terms of support, what we’d want to do is acknowledge that it may feel harder to step forward if you are a self-identifying heterosexual male, and we have to say to those men that ‘we believe you, and there are organisations that are out there, ready to support you.’