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Men and sexual assault

There are many assumptions about sexual assault and men’s sexuality that create a harsh environment for men who have been sexually assaulted, and it’s important to distinguish the myths from the realities. The most important things to remember are that men can be sexually assaulted; men who have been sexually assaulted experience emotional reactions to their assault; men who have been assaulted are entitled to the same medical, legal and emotional support. Men who have been sexually assaulted are never to blame for their assault.

  • It is a myth that all men are always looking for or willing to participate in sexual activity. Consent to sexual activity needs to be expressly given by men as well as women. Not wanting to engage in sexual activity does not make someone less of a “real” man.
  • It is a myth that men are only sexually assaulted by other men. Women can sexually assault men. Remember that sexual assault does not always involve penetration, but includes any unwanted sexual contact.
  • It is a myth that gay men are more likely to assault other men, or that all men who sexually assault other men are gay. Sexual assault is not about lust or sexual attraction, but about exerting power and control over someone else.
  • It is a myth that men who get an erection or ejaculate during a sexual assault gave consent or enjoyed the assault. Erection and ejaculation are physiological responses that can’t be controlled and can even result from stress. These responses can be confusing for a man who has been sexually assaulted and can make him wonder if he really did enjoy or want the sexual contact. An erection or ejaculation does not equal consent.
  • It is a myth that a “real” man can and should always be able to resist an assault. It is common for both men and women to freeze during a sexual assault, and in some cases drugs, alcohol or the presence of a weapon or the threat of other force or injury can prevent someone from fighting their assailant.

All of the resources listed on this website are as available to men who have been sexually assaulted as they are to women. The Women’s Clinic at Purdue University Student Health Center (PUSH) is prepared to provide services to men, including testing for sexually transmitted infections and the administration of a post-sexual assault medical examination.