Rape is a traumatic event for the victim and their loved ones, who often wonder how to address the sensitive topic. When most think of rape, a female victim and a male assailant comes to mind. Many define rape as intimidating, forceful, or even violent, sexual intercourse or contact with an unwilling female victim. However, there are a number of cases, though not as frequently reported, where men fall victim as well.
The Male Rape Victim
Men are victims of rape as well. Sometimes at the hands of women and sometimes other men. Male rapists aren't all necessarily gay, but being gay does not make one exempt from being a rapist either.
Just as with gay domestic violence, many gay rape cases go unreported. Victims often hesitate to report cases to the police or get help for fear of ridicule or exposure of their sexuality.
There are also few hotlines or help resources dedicated to glbt rape survivors. Most support groups are also comprised of heterosexual women. Gay participants must either hide their sexuality or come out to the entire group.
Have you been raped? Ask yourself:
- Was I forced or coerced into having sex against my will?
- Was I threatened unless I performed sexual acts?
- Was I drugged, then forced to have sex?
- Was I forced to have sex after drinking?
- Did he continue to have sex with me or perform sexual acts after I said 'no'?
Gay Rape Myths
There are many myths associated with gay rape. As a result, some victims don't get help or the authorities refuse to take their cases seriously.
- Myth #1: Men can't be raped.
Men are victims of rape though fewer cases are reported (oftentimes for the reasons above). According to the U.S. Justice Department, one in 33 men in the United States has been a victim of a rape or attempted rape, compared with one in six women.
- Myth #2: He wanted to have sex.
Some people think being gay is all about sex, refusing to see the mental, spiritual and emotional side of same-gender-loving people. They assume if a gay man has engaged in sexual acts with another man, it was desired and consensual. However, any forced or intimidated sex is rape, especially without consent. It is not the victims fault that he was violated.
- Myth #3: He knows the person, he wasn't raped.
Rape is all about power and control. It's not always a random act at the hands of strangers. A gay man can be raped by his partner, a friend or a date if intimidated or forced into having sex or performing sexual acts without his consent.
- Myth #4: He wanted to have sex, but changed his mind... So it's ok.
Rape is never OK. Even if a victim at first consented to sex and then changed his mind, it is not ok to continue having sex with or forcing sex upon him. Some victims feel it's their fault for changing their minds, but rape is never the fault of the victim. No means no at any point and sexual partners have an obligation to respect that decision.
- Myth #5: He doesn't look like a rapist.
It's easy to assume rapists have a certain 'look' or 'profile'. How can one resist generalizing rapists given the number of TV crime shows and movies that portray rapists as the same uniform type of person. In reality, rapists don't have a certain 'look'. Rapist come in all shapes, sizes, personality and genders. Don't assume just because someone is nice or has a pleasant personality that they are not capable of rape. Also, never assume the victim is making up the incident because the assailant seems like a nice guy.
- Myth #6: It wasn't rape, it was rough play.
Some gay men like S and M/bondage or simple like rougher sexual play. However, gay men engaging in this activity should use a "safe" word that let's their partner know their limits. A gay man can be violated if the acts continue beyond the consensual point before the safe word.
If you or someone you know has been the victim of rape, urge these following steps:
- Call the police immediately.
If you are in a dangerous situation or at home with your partner who's just raped you, try and run to a safe place then call the police. Call a trusted friend to be by your side. Even if you feel embarrassed or uncomfortable talking about the act or disclosing your sexuality, know that your safety and getting help is more important than any discomfort coming out to strangers.
- Get medical attention.
The police should take you for medical care, but don't leave the decision up to them. Insist on getting medical attention. Once at the hospital, despite any embarrassment, insist that they perform a rape kit.
- Get an HIV test.
In addition to dealing with the emotional side affects of the rape, you will have to deal with possible HIV or STD transmission. Get an HIV test and STD check immediately. Unfortunately, it can take 3 weeks to 6 months to detect HIV so you will need to get tested over the next 6 months. Most medical facilities can also provide experimental antiviral medication for rape victims called post-exposure prophylaxis. Ask your doctor.
- Join a support group.
Many gay community centers offer support groups for gay victims of abuse and rape. Don't keep your emotional pain inside. There are many trained professionals that can help you get your life back on track. Your gay community center can also refer you to gay-affirmative therapists who deal who are experienced and empathize with your situation. Don't be afraid to get the help you need!