In most states, the legal definition of rape is ‘the forcible penetration of a female’. The director of the Rape Recovery Center in Salt Lake City, Mara Haight, tells me that “This narrow definition makes it difficult to estimate the number of sexual offenses against men.” That being said, the Health Department’s ‘Cost of Sexual Violence Study,’ conducted in 2015, estimated that each year, 18,178 males are victims of sexual violence in Utah.
Male rape isn’t talked about much in society, and it seems to me that the topic comes up only in fictional TV shows or movies about men in prison. Yet, given this statistic from the Health Department, almost 50 men are sexually assaulted in Utah each day. The report breaks the statistics down to this: 1,328 male children under the age of 17 (versus 2,281 females), 3,302 adult rapes of males over the age of 18 (17,364 of females) and 13,548 ‘other sexual assaults’ of males (41,194 of females).
Who rapes men? We know from statisticians that women are most likely to be raped by someone they know. It’s the same for men, says Haight: “The trend for men is similar to the trend for women, with the large majority of men being assaulted by someone they know.” It’s not the creepy guy hiding in the bushes as the perpetrator, but the guy who lives in your building, the one you see in the hallway, the man you know from class at school, or the man who sits behind you in church each week.
If you’re raped, who can you talk to? I was president of the board of the Rape Recovery Center, and I can guarantee that if you call the 24 hotline for help, they don’t have caller ID. You can call them if your friend was raped, or if you were assaulted, and the volunteer at the end of the phone line will be glad to talk to you. There is a man who works on the Center’s ‘Hospital Response Team’ and 10 active male volunteers who also answer the crisis line. Interestingly, the director says that male survivors are often more comfortable speaking with women volunteers due to ‘male socialization around these issues’.
If sexual violence happens to you, you’re not alone. There are male rape survivors who meet at the center for support and they also have a close partnership with a group called Male Survivor, an organization dedicated to serving you as a male rape/sexual assault survivor. They hold weekend retreats/events and support.
Male or female survivors can call the Rape Recovery Center 24/7 at 801.467-RAPE to talk and find help. The RAINN network is the nation’s largest support group in the country (started with the help of singer Tori Amos) at 800.656.HOPE. Of course, if you need immediate medical attention, call 911 or go to your nearest hospital.