Symptoms Associated With Male Sexual Assault

Discover how male survivors of sexual assault experience the traumatic after-effects and learn the role male gender plays in male sexual assault.

Like their female counterparts, male survivors of sexual assault experience the traumatic after-effects. One significant difference - men who have been raped by another man may question their own sexuality.

What are some symptoms related to sexual trauma in boys and men?

Particularly when the assailant is a woman, the impact of sexual assault upon men may be downplayed by professionals and the public. However, men who have early sexual experiences with adults report problems in various areas at a much higher rate than those who do not.

Emotional Disorders

Men and boys who have been sexually assaulted are more likely to suffer from PTSD, other anxiety disorders, and depression than those who have never been abused sexually.

Substance Abuse

Men who have been sexually assaulted have a high incidence of alcohol and drug use. For example, the probability of alcohol problems in adulthood is about 80% for men who have experienced sexual abuse, as compared to 11% for men who have never been sexually abused.


One study revealed that a percentage of boys who suffer from encopresis (bowel incontinence) had been sexually abused.

Risk-Taking Behavior

Exposure to sexual trauma can lead to risk-taking behavior during adolescence, such as running away and other delinquent behaviors. Having been sexually assaulted also makes boys more likely to engage in behaviors that put them at risk for contracting HIV (such as having sex without using condoms).

How does male gender socialization affect the recognition of male sexual assault?

  • Men who have not dealt with the symptoms of their sexual assault may experience confusion about their sexuality and role as men (their gender role). This confusion occurs for many reasons. The traditional gender role for men in our society dictates that males be strong, self-reliant, and in control. Our society often does not recognize that men and boys can also be victims of sexual assault. Boys and men may be taught that being victimized implies that they are weak and, thus, not a man.
  • Furthermore, when the perpetrator of a sexual assault is a man, feelings of shame, stigmatization, and negative reactions from others may also result from the social taboos.
  • When the perpetrator of a sexual assault is a woman, some people do not take the assault seriously, and men may feel as though they are unheard and unrecognized as victims.
  • Parents often know very little about male sexual assault and may harm their male children who are sexually abused by downplaying or denying the experience.


  • Black, C. A., & DeBlassie, R. R. (1993). Sexual abuse in male children and adolescents: Indicators, effects, and treatments. Adolescence, 28, 123-133.
  • Etherington, K. (1995). Adult male survivors of childhood sexual abuse. Counseling Psychology Quarterly, 8, 233-241.
  • Gordon, M. (1990). Males and females as victims of childhood sexual abuse: An examination of the gender effect. Journal of Family Violence, 5, 321-332.

APA Reference
Staff, H. (2021, December 17). Symptoms Associated With Male Sexual Assault, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 22 from

Last Updated: January 2, 2022

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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