12 Jun

Male sexual abuse, what it is.

Male sexual abuse is one aspect of Gender based violence that often is not talked about. Men and boys, like women also face abuse in sexual and many other forms. The perpetrators of these abuses can be friends, family, neighbors or even teachers. The abuse for men can be in the form of forced oral or anal penetration, and harassment. Sexual violence against males is sometimes committed with the intent of ultimately causing the victim’s death for instance through heavy bleeding as a result of violence to the victim’s genitals or anus as opined by Lewis (2009).

Why male sexual abuse survivors do not report incidents

Male sexual abuse victims are often reluctant to disclose abuse due to some existing socio-cultural narratives. For instance;

  • Existing gender stereotypes. Society has ascribed some behaviors and traits to individuals on the basis of their gender. Men are expected to show manly traits i.e., be tough, not show emotions, strong and aggressive. A man who reports incidents of sexual violence is seen as fragile and often times not considered a real man.
  • Sex is always to be enjoyed by men. This notion keeps victims in silence as they see it a much favorable option. According to this narrative, there’s nothing such as pain or humiliation or abuse when it comes to sex and so it is not considered a crime.
  • The long held expectations of men makes them cower and not report abuse. For fear of being called weak, emotional, feminine among others, a male sexual abuse victim may discard any thoughts of reporting the incident for fear of stigmatisation or ridicule.
  • The “you wanted it” card. People often dismiss the experiences or trivialize sexual abuse reports from men because of the erroneous notion that men are mostly the initiators of sex or any other sexual related activity. Hence, may not give attention to the victim.


As like other victims of sexual abuse, male victims may suffer some physical, psychological and social repercussions. Physically, they may suffer harm to the penis and testicle, be exposed to sexually transmitted infections and anal rupturing in cases where physical force was applied in penetration. Psychologically, these survivors met suffer shame, guilt, fear, emotional trauma resulting from the incident(s), depression, drug or alcohol abuse and attempts of suicide in some cases. Socially, stigmatisation and ridicule from friends and family may persist.

Conclusion/ Recommendations

It is important to give attention to male sexual abuse survivors and begin to address their needs.

Photo credit: Mokotedi, Lehlogonolo

Description: Man with his head in his hands Raise awareness, social commentary I’m vulnerable too… South African Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse

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