Myths & Realities

There are lots of myths surrounding sexual violence against men, which can add to feelings of confusion and even prevent men from seeking the support they need.

Remember, everyone reacts in different ways, so don’t be alarmed if what you’re experiencing feels unsettling or different. Take a look at our ‘Common Reactions’ section if you’d like to know more about just some of the ways in which people can react to incidents of sexual violence.

Myth: “Only women can be raped or sexually assaulted – it can’t happen to men”

Reality: An estimated 3 in 20 men have been affected by sexual violence and it is something that can and does happen to men regardless of their sexual orientation, size, strength or appearance. Men can be raped or assaulted by other men or assaulted by a woman.

Myth: “I must have done something to ask for it”

Reality: Absolutely no one deserves to be victimised, attacked or violated. It’s a common misunderstanding that if you have consensual sexual contact with someone and then despite withdrawing your consent, they continue, that it’s not classed as rape or assault, which it is. No means no and if you’ve not agreed to it then it’s wrong.

Myth: “It’s not rape/assault because I know them”

Reality: Many cases of rape and sexual assault involve perpetrators who are known by the victim; whatever relationship you might have with the perpetrator, it doesn’t give them the right to engage in sexual activities you haven’t consented to.

Myth: “Getting an erection/ejaculating must mean that I consented to it/enjoyed it”

Reality: The body will react in certain ways whether we want it to or not. Getting an erection or ejaculating doesn’t mean that you enjoyed it or gave consent. Some perpetrators use this as a way of gaining more power and control and can use it to manipulate the other person and cause confusion and feelings of powerlessness.

Myth: “I was assaulted by a woman, so it doesn’t really count”

Reality: Anyone can sexually assault another person, regardless of their gender or gender identity. To be classed as rape, the assault needs to include penetration with a penis (orally, anally or vaginally), however women can be perpetrators of sexual assault and assault penetration.

Myth: “I thought sexual assault and rape were always violent acts with a struggle involved”

Reality: Every rape and sexual assault that happens will be different and just because it didn’t include a struggle or violence of any kind, doesn’t mean that it’s any easier or worse.

Some people who are assaulted or raped are with people they trust, or are caught so off guard that the sense of shock can cause feelings of paralysis.

Whatever the circumstances, if you’ve been raped or assaulted, it shouldn’t have happened and there being no struggle doesn’t make it any less traumatic.

Myth: “It happened weeks ago, there’s no point in reporting it now, nothing will be done”

Reality: No one can force you to report a crime, but if you feel that this is something you want, then it shouldn’t matter how long ago the incident occurred.

Forensic evidence (such as saliva, skin particles, hair) tends to diminish quite soon after an incident due to washing, going to the loo and clothes being washed. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t report it to the Police if this is what you want, no matter how hazy your memory. If you know the perpetrator, then the Police should provide guidance on staying safe.

The hours, days, months and years following a sexual assault or rape will be different for each person. Sometimes how we react and how we feel in the aftermath of a trauma, have no bearing on how ‘strong’ we are or ‘how much of a man’ you may be; it is just getting by in whatever way we can.