Often, when discussing sexual violence, people think of women as the victims/survivors but it is important to recognize that victims/survivors can be those who identify as female, male, or transgender. We should be reminded that sexual violence is not about sex, but rather power and control.
It is reported that in the United States 43.6% of women, and nearly a quarter of men, experienced some form of contact sexual violence in their lifetime. For men, acknowledging and healing from their experience can have added challenges. They are likely to have many of the same experiences as other survivors including anxiety, depression, PTSD or a sense of blame or shame. Because of societal norms and pressures around masculinity, men find it even more difficult to report their assault and to seek services. They may feel less of a man for what happened or that they should have been strong enough to fight off the perpetrator.
We know that individuals with Intellectual Disabilities are at a much higher risk to be victims of sexual violence. Men with disabilities are twice as more likely to be victims1 than men without disabilities. Since the spectrum of sexual violence is more than rape and includes such actions as unwanted sexual comments, inappropriate touching or forcing someone to watch porn, without education about healthy sexuality, a man with an intellectual disability may not know that he is being violated. It is difficult for any survivor to share their experience. Understanding the societal norms that men in general and men with an intellectual disability encounter, can foster an environment where victims can come forward and know they will be supported and believed and can begin to heal.
1The Roeher Institute, 1995