Knowing If Your Sexual Consent Has Been Violated and What to Do About It

Men Can Be Sexually Abused, Too — One Guy Recalls His Trauma and Its Effect on Life Today

When it involves violations of sexual consent, males are usually seen because the perpetrators. 

They’re those drugging drinks on the bar, copping a really feel on a bus and grabbing kids within the park. Men are those saying more and more inappropriate issues, giving more and more inappropriate appears at work, within the taxi and within the elevator. 

Wherever and nevertheless it’s taking place, in our imaginations, the perpetrator is nearly solely a person. 

RELATED: Here’s What You Should Know About Sexual Consent

However true that notion could also be — and numbers suggest that just about 4 out of 5 perpetrators of sexual violence are males — it doesn’t account for an additional essential reality: In many circumstances, and whatever the gender of the perpetrator, the victims of rape, sexual abuse, sexual assault are male. Toddlers. Boys. Teens. Adult males. 

On high of male victims not receiving a lot airplay, the individuals on the heart of those incidents are poorly served on the subject of understanding what has occurred to them (and what to do about it). Because boys be taught early on that they must be sturdy with a view to be “real” males, acknowledging the horrible issues which were achieved to them can really feel extremely troublesome, if not inconceivable. 

But whereas sexual trauma is a horrific factor to expertise, it’s not one thing that should outline you. 

AsokayMen spoke with a number of therapists, psychologist and consultants in sexual trauma, in addition to a person who was sexually assaulted as a boy, with a view to give guys a greater framework of how violations of sexual consent can have an effect on them as survivors.


What Do Male Rape, Sexual Assault and Abuse Mean?


“When I was 6 years old, I was at a friend’s house,” *Curtis stated over the cellphone.

“There was an older boy there. At some point, we all got separated from playing, and he pinned me down. He beat me and pretty aggressively molested me. It was unambiguous sexual abuse. It happened two more times that I can remember over the course of that one summer. I only really recently came to terms with that. It was 28 years ago. I only spoke up about it recently.”

We reached out to Curtis after seeing a now-deleted observe on Twitter about one thing that had occurred to him as a child. For many males, that’s the place sexual trauma begins — as kids. 

In Curtis’s case, it was repeated bodily molestation paired with bodily abuse, however sexual trauma can take many kinds. 

A violation of your sexual consent is “any type of sexual behavior that is done against someone’s will,” says Dr. Janet Brito, a intercourse therapist based mostly in Hawaii. “This may include being touched in a sexual manner, having one’s genitals touched, rubbed, caressed, being penetrated, being made to penetrate, forced to perform or receive oral sex, etc.”

In sum, she says, it’s “when you are forced, coerced or unable to consent enthusiastically.” 

Rape

Different types of these violations are usually described in distinct methods. From a felony perspective, essentially the most severe one is mostly understood to be rape.

“Rape, a legal term, generally refers to forced penetration (no consent is present or one is coerced) from a penis into a vagina,” says Jor-El Caraballo, a relationship therapist and co-creator of Viva Wellness. “It is only recently that the federal definition of rape has changed to include a victim of any gender and penetration by any object by a perpetrator.”

Assault

However, even in case you weren’t forcibly penetrated, what occurred to you could possibly nonetheless qualify as sexual assault. 

“Sexual assault occurs when consent is not present and can happen by brute force (which is more rare), intoxication (from drugs, medications or alcohol), psychological coercion or manipulation, or due to age differences (statutory rape laws differ by state),” notes Caraballo. “While we don’t often think about men being the victims of sexual assaults, the reality is that men are sexually assaulted or raped at a rate of one in six men,” he provides, citing a figure that’s well-known within the sexual psychology neighborhood however maybe surprising to these exterior it. 

Harassment

Even if no bodily contact has occurred, you may nonetheless be the sufferer of sexual harassment if another person makes use of sexual phrases, threats or gestures that make you are feeling uncomfortable regardless of repeated makes an attempt at making them cease. 

It won’t really feel prefer it, however sexual consent violations are a reality of life for a lot of males — whether or not it’s penetrating them anally in a hazing ritual, thwacking your scrotum on them in a so-called “teabagging” in a dorm room or utilizing sexual language in the direction of them in an try and rattle them throughout a yard basketball sport.


How Being Assaulted, Raped or Abused Can Make You Feel


Knowing that sexual consent violations can take all types of kinds, the actual metric for what constitutes it’s the way it makes you are feeling. That may tackle many various kinds, however the fixed will likely be that it’ll make you are feeling detrimental, intense feelings. 

For occasion, the abuse Curtis suffered by the hands of the older boy when he was 6 had a direct and highly effective affect on him. 

“It does a couple things. It teaches you to lie and it teaches you to hide things,” he says. “You’re scared that people will think it was your fault. Then you’re embarrassed — you feel like less of a man. You feel like your masculinity is diminished. You don’t necessarily understand it in those terms, but you feel weak and less-than. You hate yourself and you pray that no one will ever find out because you’re afraid that if they do, they’ll think you’re a piece of garbage.”

Not everybody will expertise that precise sensation, however it’s a frequent one for males and boys who’ve been abused or assaulted. 

“In my experience, most people who have experienced sexual assault (or rape) experience a mixed bag of feelings,” says Caraballo. Quite a lot of survivors expertise a variety of feelings, together with disgrace, worry, panic, anger, irritability, nonchalance, and many others. The emotional (each inner and exterior) responses of survivors are diverse and have a tendency to additionally change over time. For anybody who has skilled this, attempt to be affected person with your self, particularly in case you expertise dramatic shifts in your thought course of or emotions after the actual fact. This is regular and a licensed therapist may help you kind by the expertise and heal with non-judgmental help and instruments for restoration.”

In reality, Curtis did search out remedy as an grownup, however after turning into so good at hiding what had occurred to him as a baby, he additionally hid the total fact in his classes. 

“I had been in therapy for years, on antidepressants, drinking a lot, doing whatever I could to numb the pain,” he says. “You bullsh*t a therapist for an hour and you’re like, ‘OK, I feel a bit better.’ Underneath it all, you feel like you’re disgusting. You feel like a net negative for the world. You being alive feels like a problem for so many people. You might not be thinking that in so many words, but you’re always feeling it.”

Until he was capable of open up concerning the ache this expertise had been inflicting him for nearly his complete life, that feeling self-hatred was a relentless for Curtis, and a few model of that’s frequent for a lot of males who’ve been abused or assaulted. 

Until then, he says he’s “never felt whole, never felt safe,” however that he “channeled some of that into [his] work, trying to help people, buying my soul back or trying to redeem myself constantly.”

Just a few moments of ache and worry as a younger boy modified the course of his life endlessly. 

Sexual Assault and Sexual Arousal

One fantasy that’s essential to debunk round how sexual assault makes individuals really feel is the concept it’s atotally separate idea from consensual sexual touching. 

The roots of this notion are current in the concept most rapes are perpetrated by strangers (most sexual assault victims knew their assailant beforehand), and the concept somebody will need to have deserved, earned or wished their assault (a apply referred to as victim-blaming that’s significantly prevalent in conversations round feminine victims). 

When it involves male victims, nevertheless, the dialog tends to go in a special route. Particularly if it’s a girl violating a person’s consent, the scenario is commonly reframed as completely regular consensual intercourse. It’s not unusual for individuals to learn tales of boys being victims of statutory rape by older girls, coming to the conclusion that the boy is a “real man” now, having cherished the expertise. 

The fact? Even in case you expertise bodily sexual arousal within the second or afterward, that’s not an indication that you just totally consented. 

Consent is one thing that may solely be given by somebody who’s legally sufficiently old to have intercourse, who’s of sound thoughts sufficient to comply with it, isn’t being coerced, threatened or misled, and who’s genuinely passionate about what’s taking place. However, it’s potential to exhibit indicators of sexual arousal even when not all the above are true. 

“An erection is a organic response that will happen with or with out sexual or psychological stimulation,” says Brito. “Some men may feel sexually aroused but may not have an erection, while others may have an erection without feelings of sexual excitement. This is called arousal non-concordance.”

Basically, in case you’re scared, confused, unsure otherwise you don’t know the way you are feeling, your penis being erect isn’t proof of consent, both for you or anybody else. 

Under some emotional states, Brito additionally notes that “some males might present bodily arousal (get an erection, orgasm, and ejaculate), however it might not imply they need to interact in sexual exercise. The presence of an erection doesn’t imply consent. Consent to have interaction in any kind of sexual exercise or bodily contact entails: 

  • a verbal ‘Yes,’ 
  • a ‘Yes, I want to do what you are asking me to do,’ 
  • ‘Yes, I want to do ________________.’ 

Physical arousal must correlate with emotional arousal to represent consent.”

RELATED: How to Talk About Consent in Bed

Let’s say it once more: Having an erection, whether or not a full or partial one, doesn’t imply you consented. 

And in case you didn’t consent however nonetheless grew to become aroused when serious about it, had a sexual dream about it or masturbated watching porn that reminded you of it indirectly, that’s additionally not an indication that you just consented. Sexual assault is merely a deeply complicated challenge that’s by no means going to be simple. 


How Common Is It for Males to Be Victims of Sexual Assault?


As many as 1 in 6 males could also be victims of some form of sexual assault or abuse, nevertheless it’s onerous to pinpoint a precise statistic. 

“Sexual violence impacts people of all genders,” agrees Sarah Beaulieu, writer of “Breaking the Silence Habit: A Practical Guide to Uncomfortable Conversations in the #MeToo Workplace.” “When men experience sexual violence, they are less likely to disclose their experiences given the society shame and stigma. Furthermore, men who experience sexual abuse or assault are far more likely to face serious mental health challenges in their lifetimes, including depression, addiction and suicide.”

RELATED: Misconceptions About Mental Health Many Guys Have

Why So Few Men Admit to Being Survivors or Victims

Men being so reluctant to discuss their experiences raises the query: Why? 

For Curtis, an enormous a part of it was grappling with a way of the methods victimhood — particularly within the context of sexual violence by the hands of one other boy — didn’t line up with the issues he’d been taught about masculinity. 

In order to manage, he “created a second version” of himself that was “very strong and loud and masculine.”

“I would do dangerous things,” he stated. “I was constantly in this struggle to prove that I was a man. I developed an unhealthy relationship with lying. I would lie about anything — if it was unpleasant, I wanted to suppress it.”

As he grew older, that reckless persona he’d developed to masks his ache started to intersect with substance abuse in detrimental methods. 

“In college I was drinking a lot, and when I drank I would drink way to excess,” stated Curtis. “I numbed it with achievements and attention from women and men, and by being this perfect person. I presented this image where I was handsome and charming and everyone liked me, and it was exhausting.”

That deeply draining quest to fill the outlet created by his childhood trauma is all too frequent for males who’ve been sexually assaulted or abused. 

Men are particularly reluctant to inform others about their experiences “due to society’s view on what it means to be a man,” explains Brito.

That can present itself in a number of completely different particular fears, however some frequent ones embody: 

Not Wanting to Be Seen as Weak

In the case of older male victims, asking why they didn’t struggle the perpetrator off is an all-too frequent, victim-blaming response that ignores the immense shock and worry that may overwhelm individuals within the second they’re being assaulted. 

“For men, there is this belief that our physical strength or ability to control a situation prevents us from being assaulted or raped,” says Caraballo. “These are fallacies of being able to control the experience and given the statistics, many men are assaulted and often feel internalized shame for not being ‘man enough’ to prevent it.”

Not Wanting to Be Seen as Gay

“When a man is assaulted by another man, it can led to internal questioning of one’s sexual orientation or fear of a projection from others that the victim is gay (and somehow wanted it, because ‘men never turn down sex’),” says Caraballo.

That side resonated with what Curtis stated about his personal assault. In years afterward, the homophobia that his friends expressed made the truth that his violator was one other boy an additional damning reality in his thoughts on the time. 

“When I started to learn about homosexuality, I wondered if [the assault] meant I was gay,” he stated. “It confused me about my sexuality. This [was] the ‘90s — people being called homophobic slurs was just how little boys communicated. For a while, I was scared that maybe I was gay, because being gay is associated with so many negative things in pop culture.”

Not Wanting to Be Disbelieved

Another cause some males don’t come ahead is the chance that others will attempt to deny that the horrible expertise even occurred to start with (or didn’t occur how they remembered).

“Ultimately, the reluctance of men to tell their stories boils down to not thinking they are going to be believed, or thinking that reporting their abuse will lead to emasculation and ostracizing from their peers,” notes Caraballo. 

Not Knowing What to Do Afterwards

It might be daunting to inform others about an assault merely since you’re undecided the place issues will go from there. Keeping issues a secret is a means of retaining management over your life, stopping change in new and scary methods on account of what occurred to you. 

Curtis, for one, was afraid that opening up about it could make his family and friends really feel responsible for not having prevented it.

“I was scared that the people I knew would think they were responsible somehow,” he stated. 


All these fears Curtis skilled meant that, on high of not telling any dad and mom, mates or his therapist, he additionally hid the actual fact of his abuse from his then-significant different for over a decade. 

“For 13 years, I had a really supportive partner who I never had the courage to tell,” he stated. “I know rationally that it wouldn’t have changed how she saw me, but I still couldn’t bring myself to tell her. And I regret that immensely.”

The total uncertainty about what the world appears like after opening up about your abuse is a terrifying one which retains many males silent for much too lengthy — however that doesn’t must be the case. 


What Should You Do If This Has Happened to You?


For Curtis, even because the years handed, conserving his abuse a secret was the one choice. The means the incidents made him really feel — like he was a foul one that might by no means be entire — was getting in the best way of being pleased and having fun with life. 

“Rationally, I know that it wasn’t my fault. But we’re not rational people. In my bones I felt like it was a reflection of my worth,” he stated. “I was on a trip with some friends and I hated myself the whole time. I was having fun, but I was constantly worrying ‘these people are going to realize that I’m awful and they’ll leave me and I will deserve it.’”

Not lengthy after he had these darkish ideas on the journey, he started to go over the assaults he skilled as a baby. That led to bouts of extreme suicidal ideation. 

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“I kind of broke down, and I started to engage in really self-destructive behavior,” he stated. “I came really close to killing myself. Really wanting to die, having a plan and getting ready to execute that plan. My girlfriend at the time helped me check into the hospital and essentially saved my life.”

Curtis’ story is all too frequent for a lot of males — not understanding strategy the trauma when it occurs, as an alternative attempting to cover it. That sample of hiding turns into so ingrained, they don’t really feel like telling these round them or searching for assistance is even an choice. As a outcome, self-harm can start to really feel like the one choice left.

There’s No One Right Response

It’s essential to acknowledge that despite the fact that it is probably not the healthiest strategy in the long run, remaining silent about what occurred to you is an comprehensible and regular response to sexual trauma. 

“There’s no right way to respond to having your consent violated,” explains Beaulieu. “You may feel sad, ashamed, angry or overwhelmed. You may feel absolutely nothing at all. You may want to forget about it or talk about it. You may want to spend time in the gym or numb yourself out with drugs or alcohol. You may have positive feelings for the person who violated you.”

Believe Your Own Story

According to Caraballo, a very powerful factor you are able to do in this type of scenario is acknowledge {that a} violation of your consent did occur — it was actual and deeply hurtful, nevertheless it wasn’t your fault. 

“It takes hard work to get through self-shame and that’s often helpful to work through with a professional, like a therapist,” he says. “It all starts with allowing yourself to not feel responsible for what’s happened to you. No one deserves sexual assault. No one asks for this. The only people who can truly prevent rape and sexual assault are the perpetrators themselves. These acts are a willful choice by perpetrators to enact their desires, and power and control over someone else irrespective of the other person’s feelings or potential consequences.”

Consider Telling Someone

“Seek support from individuals or organizations that are trained to manage male rape,” says Brito.

Beyond that, she notes, be sure you’re not feeling pressured to reply in a means that doesn’t really feel best for you. 

“Pace yourself, set your own rhythm and when you are ready, decide what course of action you want to take ( file a police report, seek legal action, get a therapist, talk to a friend),” provides Brito. “Most of all, don’t feel pressured by someone else’s agenda. You get to decide what is best for you.”


For Curtis, opening as much as his then-girlfriend concerning the darkish place his trauma had led him to was solely the start. 

“My work was great with it,” he says. “I was so scared of telling my boss, but I have so much support at work. Colleagues, bosses, management, they’ve been great about it.”

He additionally began seeing a therapist he did inform concerning the abuse, and the affect it had on his persona. “I did a bunch of therapy and I’m starting to come to terms with the sh*tty things I did,” he stated. “I’m not saying any of that trauma excuses what I did and what I became, but it definitely gives context to a lot of the toxic masculinity and a lot of the lying and unhealthy behavior.”

Opening up has helped Curtis really feel like he has a brand new lease on life. 

“In the last month, I feel like I’m on a new path, a good path,” he confidently stated. “I have people in my life who love me. I know I’m not the worst things that I’ve done, and I’m not the worst things that were done to me. There are some days when I’m very happy with who I am. I have tons of regrets, but I also have a lot of love in my life and a really nice family. I know that I bring joy into their lives and they bring joy into mine. I know that the empathy that I have for them when they make mistakes is the same as the empathy they have for me when I make mistakes. I know that I’m working towards being the kind of man I want to be.”

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Now, he realizes that the trauma of what was achieved to him doesn’t must outline him. 

“It doesn’t make me any less of a man and it doesn’t make me any less of a person. But it takes a long time to be able to say that,” he acknowledged. “It’s not straightforward, it’s not a straight line. You have moments of weakness. Or you relapse.” 

But, he notes, “for the first time in my entire life, I feel OK with myself.” 

If you’ve been abused, assaulted or raped, you don’t must maintain it a secret. It’s not your fault, you’re not alone, and there are sources on the market designed that will help you. If you’re in a troublesome place and contemplating self-harm, please attain out. 1in6.org has one-on-one chat and group chat choices for survivors of sexual hurt. If you’d desire to speak over the cellphone, you may name 1 800 656-HOPE (4673). 

*Name modified for privateness causes

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