Male military rape happens a lot more than you might think. Here are 5 lies about men who are sexually assaulted in the military that need to stop.
When the topic of rape in the military comes up, many people assume that it only happens to women. In truth, military men are raped too and by an alarming rate.
According to research published in a 2015 American Psychological Association’s journal entitled: Don’t Tell: Military Culture and Male Rape, approximately 50% of service members who are sexually assaulted are males.
Those numbers could be higher because the majority of men serving in our armed forces do not report what happened to them.
Mentioned in the research:
“Though it is acknowledged that most males who are assaulted in the military do not report their assaults, the extent of underreporting is not well understood.
The department of Defense (United States Department of Justice, 2013) estimates that 67% of women and 81% of men do not report their military sexual assaults.
There are a number of issues connected to the rape of men in the military, which largely are connected to organizational culture.”
Because we care about our service members, we’ve done some deep research on this topic and are publishing 5 lies about military rape that need to stop.
Our hope in this article is to expose the myths that exist about men who are raped in the military and to stop the culture of lying about an issue that is not often discussed and widely misunderstood.
Let’s jump right in!
1. “Real Men Don’t Get Raped”
One of the most damaging lies about male military rape is that “real men” don’t experience sexual assault. Connected to this mistruth is “strong men don’t get raped”.
Here are the facts:
- There is a toxic male culture of “toughing it out” in the military, which fuels many from reporting an incident.
- No man is “too big” to be sexually assaulted. Being a victim of male rape has nothing to do with masculinity.
- Fears of disrupting group cohesion by a raped male in the service stop many who are assaulted from talking about their trauma.
2. “Men Get Pleasure from Being Raped”
Another caustic mistruth is that men who are raped gain pleasure from the experience. In truth, a research study appearing in the Journal of Sex Research appearing found that 47% of men believe that men who are sexually assaulted by women get sexual pleasure from the occurrence.
Here is the real deal:
- This lie propagates stereotypes about male sex roles
- Men are less likely to gain sympathy if the sexual assault happened by a woman
- According to scholarly research, men are more likely to believe that men who allege they were sexually assaulted by a woman gain pleasure from the experience.
3. “Only Gay Men Get Raped”
This particular lie serves to stereotype and stigmatize male rape victims and is a not so thinly veiled in homophobia. As stated in the APA study: “There is a common belief that male rape is homosexual sex and therefore, that only homosexual men get raped and only homosexual men perpetrate rape”.
The truth is:
- Male rape is an equal opportunity destroyer. It happens to straight and gay men
- Men who are sexually assaulted are fearful of reporting an incident because they do not want to be tagged as “gay”.
- Misperceptions about masculinity often act as a barrier for discussing an incident by a victim
4. “Male Rape Isn’t Serious”
Unfortunately, military culture seems to reinforce the denial and/or repression of emotional distress and expects the service member to suppress their issues for the good of the unit.
- Continued fear of reporting incidents has the paradoxical effect of continuing the myth that male military rape doesn’t happen.
- Incidents of males who have been sexually assaulted and the emotional aftermath appear to minimize the seriousness of the trauma.
- Re-victimazation can be part of the dynamic because men who are raped continually feel they must justify and support their claims.
5. “Retaliation Doesn’t Happen”
The final lie is that retaliation for reporting rape doesn’t happen. While the military certainly has made great strides in this area, research suggests that male rape victims do feel they experience a negative consequence for speaking out.
Because of this lie:
- Many cases of male rape go unreported
- Victims of male rape must live with their unspoken trauma
- Serious psychological harm is inflicted on male rape victims
Be sure to watch this video about the topic of male sexual assault in the military and how justice is denied.
“This is perhaps one of the most underreported issues of our time. Male survivors of military rape often experience feelings of shame for many years after separation from the service.
Because they feel so minimized, many are more likely to experience symptoms of depression, anxiety and other health problems. Sadly, more than a few of these men contemplate suicide.”