How can I support a male who has identified themselves to me as a sexual assault survivor?

Q:

How can I support a male who has identified themselves to me as a sexual assault survivor?

A:

If you have a friend that is male-identified how would you support them?

Would it be any different than supporting a female-identified friend?

No, someone is still coming to you and trusting you with this life-changing thing that has happened to them. It is hard for any survivor to share their experiences with others. With a male-identified person, a different level of shame tends to be attached to the trauma. There is an extra nuance that male-identified people are supposed to be strong and unaffected by anything around them. Male-identified people are supposed to be able to deal with any situation and protect themselves from assault. The truth is that any human can be assaulted, regardless of their gender identity. If a male-identified friend comes to you with information that they have been assaulted, you should believe them. A lot of male-identified people do not come forward because of stereotypes and because when seeking assistance, they are met with more distress.

The next thing to know is to try to avoid questions about when, where or why the assault happened.

If someone trusts you with this information, you should:

  • Avoid digging for any additional details.
  • Thank them for trusting you with this information.
  • Ask what they need. A lot of times they may not know what specific support they may need at the time.
  • Know that just showing up and being present for them can be very helpful.
  • Let them know they have options and choices, such as going to the hospital for a SART exam. (For survivors of sexual assault, obtaining a survivor-sensitive medical examination through a Sexual Assault Response Team, or “SART,” program can help to reduce additional trauma during the medical and/or criminal justice process.) Note that this is only an option if the assault took place within the last 72 hours. There are psychological services as well.
  • Resources for male-identified people are unfortunately few and far between. But a few resources you can share include 1in6, RAINN, Jim Hopper, MaleSurvivor.Org.

Please also take note that a lot of male-identified people are scared to come forward because when they do, they are often shamed after coming forward.

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Written by Jimanekia Eborn
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Jimanekia Eborn has worked in mental health for the last 10 years, which is where she saw the need for sexual education and sexual trauma support. This has led to her passion for assisting and supporting those that are sexual assault survivors and those without access to comprehensive sex education. Her compassion and passion for these populations has pushed her to continue building safe spaces for clientele, sharing education, and supporting their mental spaces.

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