Are you a sexually assaulted man? How and where to find help

The Gender-Based Violence report by the National Crime and Research Centre (NCRC) shows that men hardly report sexual assault.

The Gender-Based Violence report by the National Crime and Research Centre (NCRC) shows that men hardly report sexual assault.

What you need to know:

Few men will openly admit to being raped. The brave ones who do are subjected to trolling and ridicule. Onyango Otieno, a rape survivor, mental health advocate, and trauma therapist who runs a safe space for sexually abused boys and men, says people do not believe men who say they have been raped, especially by women. “When I came out with my story in November 2019, about being sexually abused by our house manager at 20, men ridiculed me saying there was no way a man could be raped by a woman. People, including men, claimed that I was seeking clout. Or that I must have enjoyed the rape,” he says.

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How society views assaulted men

The reasoning for most people who disbelieve male victims of rape is that the man is always the initiator and the primary actor in the act of intercourse. “The man is expected to achieve arousal, an erection, and penetration. Since this process puts him in a dominant position, the idea of a man being raped becomes hard to grasp for some people,” says psychiatrist consultant Geoffrey Nyamweya. The societal doubts and the ridiculing of abused men are the primary reasons why male victims prefer to carry their shame and humiliation in silence. “The society is generally hostile towards men who have been raped or battered by women. If a man comes out to say he was raped by a woman or even battered, the general reaction is that he is a wussy, has been henpecked, or is a liar. The damage to his ego and self-esteem becomes nearly irreparable,” he says.

According to Otieno, society has been conditioned to think of men as unemotional beings who must always be strong in the face of danger or adversity. “The society expects that a man must always be ready to defend himself. This is aggravated by the fact that we're socialised to think of women as weaker than men, physically and in other spheres of life,” he says. By the time rape occurs, the victim is usually vulnerable and helpless. When he was raped, Otieno was battling depression. He had grown up in an abusive home and had a complex relationship with his father. He was too vulnerable emotionally and physically to grant consent or understand the ordeal. “I contracted a sexually transmitted infection from the ordeal,” he says.

Why assaulted men don’t report

With statistical evidence showing that more than 90 percent of perpetrators of sexual and gender-based violence are men, society perceived men more as perpetrators than as victims. “A man is often assumed to be strong enough to protect himself from sexual abuse of whatever nature. So when it happens we don't know how to navigate that reality,” says Otieno. At the police station, a man reporting sexual assault is very likely to be mocked. When John Omondi, a medical student at the University of Nairobi went to report that he had been gang-raped by his friends on Friday, July 17, 2016, in Umoja, Nairobi, during a birthday party, the police mocked him for being weak “They asked what I had been doing at the party and why I couldn’t fight or scream yet I am a man,” he says.

The Gender-Based Violence report by the National Crime and Research Centre (NCRC) shows that men hardly report sexual assault. Only 7.4 percent of sexually abused men will report sexual violence in contrast to 15.2 percent of women who will come out to report sexual violence. The Economic Survey Report 2020 shows that between 2015 and 2019, a total of 471 incidents of rape by women were reported to the police. In the same duration, a total of 4,000 incidents of rape by men and 421 incidents of sodomy by men were reported.

The rapist’s profile

There are two instances where rape is most likely to occur. In the first, rape will involve someone who is very well known to the victim. In the second instance, rape will involve someone who is unknown to the victim. “The greatest percentage of rape cases are perpetrated by persons who are familiar with the victim,” says Mberia Gitonga, a security consultant at Universal Security Training and Consultancy. Also, the Rape Incest and Abuse National Network platform say that about 70 percent of all cases of rape and sexual assault are committed by people who are well known to the victim. About 40 percent of rapists are the victim’s friends or acquaintances. 28 percent will be intimate acquaintances while 7 percent will usually be relatives.

The dishonest victims

There are men who have mastered the dirty art of using rape to access Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) drugs after engaging in careless sexual escapades. These are medications that are taken to prevent HIV infection after rape. They are usually taken within 72 hours of the rape incident.

According to a 2017 sexual assault research in Kenya, medical experts from the University of Nairobi, Kenyatta National Hospital, the University of Washington, US, and the University of Manitoba, Canada, theorised that a majority of men who reported being raped at Kenyatta National Hospital were lying.  “Men claiming sexual assault by women raised the question if theirs were genuine sexual assault cases or they were just afraid to seek post-exposure treatment after consensual sex,” the researchers said in the study, Sexual Assault and HIV Post-Exposure Prophylaxis at an Urban African Hospital.

What to do to stop a sexual assault

There are three main steps a man can take to prevent or stop sexual assault. According to Mr. Gitonga:

  • Do not engage with persons who take drugs especially if you are looking to start dating. They will most likely attempt to sexually assault you or put you in an environment where sexual assault is possible.
  • Do not take alcohol in places you would normally not feel safe and without the presence of your trusted friends. Unguarded alcohol consumption will increase the chances of non-consensual sex or rape. A potential predator will use it to decrease your comprehension and inhibition.
  • Never leave your drink unattended especially at parties to avoid being spiked. Form a habit of tagging your trusted friends to parties, drinking together, and guarding each other’s drinks. Be fully aware of your surroundings. Once you arrive at a party, evaluate possible escape routes.