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Sexual violence is a term meant to include any type of unwanted sexual contact. This can include words and actions of a sexual nature including but not limited to:

  • Rape
  • Sexual assault
  • Incest
  • Child sexual assault
  • Date and acquaintance rape
  • Grabbing or groping
  • Sexting without permission
  • Ritual abuse
  • Commerical sexual exploitation (i.e. prostitution)
  • Sexual harassment
  • Sexual or anti-LGBTQ bullying
  • Exposure and voyeurism
  • Forced participation in the production of pornography

Some forms of sexual violence are illegal, such as rape and incest. Others are not illegal, such as sexist and sexually violent jokes, street harassment and catcalling, but this does not make them any less threating or harmful to the person victimized.

A person may use

  • force,
  • threats,
  • manipulation, or
  • coercion to commit sexual violence.

There is a social context that surrounds sexual violence. Social norms that

  • condone violence,
  • using power over others,
  • traditional constructs of masculinity,
  • the subjugation of women, and
  • silence about violence and abuse contribute to the occurrence of sexual violence.

Oppression in all of its forms is among the root causes of sexual violence. Sexual violence is preventable through collaborations of community members at multiple levels of society—in our homes, neighborhoods, schools, faith settings, workplaces, and other settings. We all play a role in preventing sexual violence and establishing norms of respect, safety, equality, and helping others.

Nearly 24 percent of men experience some form of sexual violence in their lifetime (CDC, 2010).

Sexual violence against men often receives less attention than sexual violence against women.  However, one in six boys is abused by age 18.  Men who experienced sexual abuse as children live with the effects of the abuse throughout their lives (Finkelhor, 1990).

In the United States:

  • 1 in 71 men have been raped in his lifetime (CDC, 2010). 
  • In adulthood, men are most likely to experience sexual violence in their 20’s and 30’s (Bullock & Beckson, 2011).
  • In most cases, the assault is committed by someone the man knows (Bullock & Beckson, 2011; CDC, 2010).

Men have many emotional, mental, and physical reactions to sexual assault.  Some common reactions include an increase in depression, substance abuse, and risk-taking behaviors (Turchik, 2012).  Men may feel alone and ashamed about what happened because of beliefs about what it means to “be a man” (Bullock & Beckson, 2011).

Help is available.

Contact your local rape crisis center to find out about free and confidential counseling, support groups, and other services. Men who identify as LGBTQ may have additional needs and questions. For more information, visit our LGBTQ page.


Rape in prisons

Substance use and sexual violence

Why should a victim of sexual assault visit a hospital?

Campus Sexual Assault

What to know about sexual harassment


Centers for Disease Control. (2010). The national intimate partner and sexual violence survey.  Retrieved from Centers for Disease Control website:

Bullock, C. M., & Beckson, M. (2011).  Male victims of sexual assault: Phenomenology, psychology, physiology. Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, 39(2), 197-205.

Finkelhor, D., Hotaling, G., Lewis, I., & Smith, C. (1990). Sexual abuse in a national survey of adult men and women: Prevalence, characteristics, and risk factors. Child Abuse and Neglect, 14, 19-28.

Turchik, J. A. (2012).  Sexual victimization among male college students: Assault severity, sexual functioning, and health risk behaviors.Psychology of Males and Masculinity, 13(3), 243-255.