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FACT SHEET: Men, Sexual Abuse and Sexual Assault

Males are victims too

According to 2003 data from the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, a significant number of Canadian sexual assault survivors (as reported to 154 police agencies) are male:

  • 29% of child abuse victims were boys
  • 12% of youth victims were male
  • 8% of adult victims were male; over half of them (53%) were acquaintances of their attacker

Gay or disabled men can become targets for sexual assault.

  • According to one study, between 5 and 10% of sexual assaults against gay men were committed by heterosexual males as a form of "gay bashing" (Berrill, 1990).
  • Research (McClennen, Summers and Vaughan, 2002) suggests that 28% of gay men experience sexual assault committed by their partner.
  • Adult men with disabilities experience sexual abuse more often than those without them: 30% of sexual abuse survivors with disabilities are male (Sobsey, 1994).

Survivor impacts

Research into the sexual assault of adult men is limited. However, one American study (Isley & Gehrenbeck-Shim, 1997) makes these observations:

  • 92% of adult male survivors suffered from depression
  • 89% of adult male survivors felt shame about being sexually assaulted
  • 69% of adult male survivors increased their use of alcohol or drugs
  • 46% experienced thoughts of suicide

Like women, male child abuse survivors pay a heavy price. An American examination of 166 studies (Homes and Slap, 1998) found these common symptoms for men who suffered sexual abuse as children:

  • Higher rate of post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Higher rate of suicide attempts
  • Anger
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Major depression
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Paranoia
  • Dissociation
  • Bulimia
  • Poor self-image
  • Poor school performance
  • Running away from home
  • Legal problems

Offender statistics

Men commit most sexual assaults against other men. The same U.S. study of the sexual assaults of adult men (Isley & Gehrenbeck-Shim, 1997) also provides statistical information about offenders:

  • 94% of the offenders were male
  • 6% of the offenders were female
  • 90% of the offenders were hetrosexual
  • 69% of the adult male victims knew the offender
  • 41% of the sexual assaults involved more than one offender
  • 60% of the offenders used physical force to commit the assault
  • 49% of the offenders used a weapon during the assault

AASAS welcomes your suggestions and recommendations about other relevant Canadian research references that could be included on this website. Please e-mail us at


Berrill, K.T. (1990). Antigay Violence and Victimization in the United States: An Overview. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 5, 274–294.

Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics. (2003). Juristat, 23 (6), 1 - 26.

Holmes, W. and Slap, G. (1998). Sexual Abuse of Boys: Definition, Prevalence, Correlates, Sequelae, and Management. Journal of the American Medical Association, 280, 1,855–1,862.

Isley P. and Gehrenbeck-Shim, D. (1997). Sexual Assault of Men in the Community. Journal of Community Psychology, 25 (2), 159 - 166.

McClennen, J., Summers, A. and Vaughan, C. (2002). Gay Men's Domestic Violence: Dynamics, Help-seeking Behaviours and Correlates. Journal of Gay and Lesbian Social Services, 14(1), 23 - 49.

Sobsey, D. (1994). Violence and Abuse in the Lives of People with Disabilities: The End of Silent Acceptance? Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes.