Studies show that sexual assault of men is wildly underreported. The Adult Survivors Act offers a second chance at justice to male victims of sexual assault.
The NY Adult Survivors Act opened a short window of time for victims to hold their abuser accountable, no matter how long ago the abuse took place, through the civil justice system. We are addressing those who may not have sought accountability in the immediate aftermath of a sexual assault to let them know about this brief opportunity to seek justice.
Male victims of sexual assault: what does the data say?
- At least 1 in 6 men have been sexually abused or assaulted, whether in childhood or as adults, according to 1in6.
- 1 in 10 rape victims are men and 1 in 33 men have experienced an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime (RAINN).
- Only 15% of men report sexual assault to the police, according to Now-NYC.
Why don’t men report sexual assault?
Adults of all sexes and identities may struggle with involving law enforcement after a sexual assault, and for good reason. When a sexual assault victim is male, evidence shows that common tropes of masculinity can serve as barriers to reporting crimes of assault.
Male victims of sexual assault may not report an incident if they have been socialized to repress their emotions or experiences, think no one will believe them, has seen others treat the abuse of men as a joke, fear the abuser or potential retaliation from the offender, community, employer, or someone else.
In general, we often see that people don’t come forward at the time because of:
- fear of secondary victimization by the police; of victim blaming, insensitivity, or incompetence (note that an experienced law firm can provide helpful support and advocacy during a law enforcement investigation, as this client’s story illustrates)
- the victim’s perception of the assault; that it wasn’t that serious, or that healing would be most expedient if it were shrugged-off as quickly and quietly as possible
- the victim’s relationship to the offender; perhaps they were a coworker or a customer, or maybe they were a powerful and connected public figure, perhaps they were a friend or intimate partner, maybe they were your doctor.
- a victim may not understand his options or know that he is entitled to pursue a civil claim for financial damages – not just from the offender but from whoever enabled them, whether it be an employer, a supervisor, a record label, a hospital, a prison, a college, etc.
- a victim may not understand that an experienced law firm can handle a civil claim in the least disruptive way possible.
Common cultural myths about male victims of sexual assault
Myths about men and sexual assault can make it hard for them to talk about their experiences of sexual assault, locate support, and report offenses to the police.
Myth #1: Real men should be able to defend themselves.
- Society perpetuates false stereotypes that men should always be able to protect themselves. Men may fear that they will be perceived as failures if they express emotional or physical vulnerability.
- Male victims of sexual violence may fear that they will be blamed because they are viewed to have failed in their masculine identity. This is a false and harmful narrative. All victims of sexual assault deserve the dignity of receiving services, support, care and justice.
Myth #2: Men are perpetrators, not victims, of abuse.
- The media tends to focus on female sexual assault, yet men are also victims of sexual abuse and assault. Rape myths perpetuate the misconception that it is impossible for men to have unwanted sexual experiences and that men always want sex.
Myth #3: There are no resources or support available for male victims.
- It may seem like there are more resources available for women than men when it comes to sexual assault. But there are many organizations and services which support men with this issue. Please see the resources section below for more information, helplines, organizations, and New York State specific services available to male survivors of sexual assault. There are also law firms, such as C.A. Goldberg, PLLC, that are highly experienced in supporting male victims.
Myth #4: Men can shake it off and move on more easily.
- Dealing with traumatic experiences is not a linear process. Male survivors of sexual assault may experience long-term symptoms of anxiety, depression, PTSD, eating disorders, feeling on-edge or unable to relax, difficulty sleeping, withdrawal from relationships or friendships, and more. Sexual assault is not something that you can shake off—it is important for all people who experience sexual assault to seek help as soon as they are ready.
Myth #5: Gay or bisexual men will harm the LGBTQ+ community if they report abuse.
- Anyone who has experienced sexual abuse deserves the opportunity to seek justice and healing. No victim is obliged to stay silent about abuse to protect a wider community. On the contrary – survivors can find solidarity, strength, and empowerment through seeking justice, and help to protect their community by discouraging perpetrators from repeating similar abuses in the future.
Myth #6: Erection or ejaculation during sexual assault means that you consented to it.
- Physiological responses such as developing an erection or ejaculation do not necessarily mean that a man invited, consented, or enjoyed a sexual act.
Approximately 1 in 10 men in have experienced contact sexual violence, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner during their lifetime and reported some form of IPV-related impact. (CDC)
How does the New York Adult Survivors Act (ASA) help male victims of sexual assault?
The Adult Survivors Act (ASA) provides an avenue to pursue justice for all adult victims of sexual assault, harassment, or abuse in New York—regardless of their sex.
The ASA gives victims a one-year window (which began in November 2022) to hold their abuser accountable, no matter how long ago the abuse took place.
The ASA may apply to you if:
- You were sexually assaulted when you were aged 18 or older
- You are interested in pursuing a civil lawsuit against the offender or those that enabled them
The ASA covers a wide variety of offenses, including squeezing, grabbing, pinching, or touching the sexual or other intimate parts of another person for the purpose of degrading or abusing the victim, or for the purpose of gratifying the offender’s sexual desire, and more. See Article 130 of the NY penal code for more information about the kinds of actions that are considered sexual offenses.
About Survivors Law Project
Trailblazing lawyers Carrie Goldberg and Susan Crumiller, whose firms represent plaintiffs in sexual abuse and harassment litigation, have teamed up to create a co-counsel initiative called Survivors Law Project. Survivors, committed advocates, and best friends, Goldberg and Crumiller represent plaintiffs in assault cases brought under New York’s ASA and similar legislation.
Support services for victims
Hotline: 212-514-SAFE (7233)
32 Broadway #1101 New York, NY 10004
This organization hosts resources for survivors of sex assault online and via their hotline. Includes crisis counseling, safety planning, assistance with finding shelter & information about resources.
227 Madison Street New York, NY, 10002, United States
Free healthcare and social services for those who have experienced any form of sexual violence.
40 Exchange Place, Suite 510 New York, NY 10005
Provides free of charge services such as crisis intervention, individual and group trauma-focused therapy, legal advocacy, and psychiatric consultation.
Manhattan: One Gustave L. Levy PlaceBox 1670 New York, NY 10029
Queens: 25-10 30th Ave., Long Island City, NY 11102
Provides free services to victims of sexual assault. Has a general counseling program as well as one for Orthodox Jewish survivors. They also provide legal and emergency room advocacy.
Provides expert consultation, training, resource development, & policy advocacy. NYSCASA’s member rape crisis programs provide free, confidential services including: 24/7 emergency hotline; crisis intervention; individual counseling; support groups; advocacy and accompaniment through medical, law enforcement, and court systems; information and referral.
Provides training, support, technical assistance, & advocacy to local direct service domestic violence agencies
Sexual Assault hotline: 1-212-227-3000
Visit https://www.safehorizon.org/find-us/ for program locations.
Provides services for victims of crime and abuse, including child abuse, and their families. Includes: legal and court programs, domestic violence shelters, counseling center, and multiple hotlines.
Visit RAIIN for more information about laws in New York
Visit New York State Office of Victim Services for compensation for medical and other costs related to a crime
Visit New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence for definitions, statistics, & laws on domestic violence.