As we are at the beginning of sexual assault awareness month, many are starting to share various resources and personal stories regarding sexual assault. 

When thinking of sexual assault, one might think of a female relative or loved one who has experienced sexual violence. Others might think of the overwhelming statistics regarding the number of women who have been sexually assaulted.

Although such resources and education are helpful, many of them are catered only to women. 

This can invalidate men who have experienced sexual assault, which is beyond damaging. 

Despite contrary beliefs, men are just as entitled as women are to resources for sexual assault. Yes, it is true that a greater percentage of women are victims of sexual assault, but the fact remains that men can be victims too.

The U.S. Department of Justice says that an estimated 91 percent of victims of rape & sexual assault are female and 9 percent male. Nearly 99 percent of perpetrators are male.

One must remember that this statistic only covers the cases that were reported, which is significantly lower in males than it is for females

The Journal of Interpersonal Violence says, nearly 25 percent of undergrad women and transgendered people, and five percent of men, report sexual assault—numbers that are likely underreports by both victims and institutions.

Additionally, says, “Furthermore, it is estimated that male survivors report sexual assault and abuse even less frequently than female survivors.” 

The same patriarchal system that encourages sexual violence and discourages women from reporting also enforces toxic gender roles that prevent men from coming forward. 

Many choose to invalidate male victims by making comments along the lines of I bet he enjoyed it or A real man would not complain. Unfortunately, these statements are justified by age-old systems that categorize men as aggressors, as well as systems that always label perpetrators as men. 

Although men can experience sexual assault from a female, they also can be assaulted by another male. 

Washington Adventist University says that more than 86 percent of male survivors are sexually abused by another male. That is not to say, however, that we should overlook boys or men who are victimized by females. 

In addition to toxic gender roles, homophobia also discourages male survivors from reporting as many do not provide as many resources, support or validation to men, especially homosexual men, who are assaulted by another man.

The Journal of Sex Research says, participants held themselves responsible for needing to be more assertive within sexual encounters to avoid coercion. Many believed that unwanted sex is unavoidable among men who have sex with men: if ‘you are gay, it’s just what happens.”

Individuals should seriously consider eliminating their biases and provide support for all victims of sexual assault, not just women. One’s sexuality does not and should not determine the legitimacy of his or her experience, nor should it determine the level of support and resources one is able to use. 

If our society is to successfully address sexual violence, we must consider how prejudice and discrimination affect victims of sexual violence. Our society invalidates both women and men in their experiences with sexual assault, and more support, if any, is given preference to heterosexual individuals. 

Men deserve support, Men are entitled to be represented in statistical reports as well as in the distribution of resources. One’s gender or sexual orientation does not determine whether or not he or she will be a victim of sexual assault. 

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