A study of male rape survivors

Walker, Jayne (2004) A study of male rape survivors. Doctoral thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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There appears to be appreciable literature on the sexual assault of boys, adult male survivors of childhood sexual assault and male rape in prison. However, where the victim is an adult male who has been raped in a community setting, there is little information. Study 1 investigated the nature and circumstances of such assaults and determined whether men who have been raped as adults differ significantly in their psychological adjustment from a well-matched control sample.

Forty male rape victims were asked to complete a background questionnaire involving
demographic and descriptive information such as the nature and circumstances of the assault and the long-term psychological effects on the victims. The long-term impact on the victim was assessed by comparing scores on established questionnaires (which researchers had previously used with other types of victims) with those from a well-matched control group.

Study 1 indicated that the sexual assault of men by men has similarities to female rape in terms of assault characteristics and subsequent psychological sequalae. However, problems unique to male rape victims were a perceived loss of masculinity and confusion over sexual orientation.

Most victims reported suffering from intrusive re-experiencing of the rape. Accordingly the
majority consciously recognised avoidance of certain ideas, feelings and situations. Compared to the control group, victims displayed significantly more somatic and affective symptoms, significantly higher levels of anxiety and depression.

Victims also displayed significantly lower levels of self-esteem and saw themselves as less positive and more unlucky than the control group.

The impact of adult male rape can be explained by the conceptual models of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (Horowitz, 1979) and Assumptive Worlds (Janoff-Bulman, 1985). Results were discussed in relation to previous research and differences and similarities between male and female victims are identified.

Study 2 explored the rape scripts of a sample of a 100 university students who were asked to write about a 'typical' rape where the perpetrator was male and the victim was either female or male. The scripts were coded on common dimensions and male rape and female rape scripts compared. Male rape scripts were also compared with the accounts from the male rape victims in Study 1.

Study 2 found that male and female respondents' depictions of a male to female and a male to
male rape did not dramatically differ. The majority of both male and female respondents depicted a 'typical' rape regardless of the gender of the victim, to be a stereotypical 'stranger' rape. The results further revealed that the respondents' scripts were not entirely realistic when compared to the first hand account from the victims. In contrast to the depicted 'stranger' rape, the vast majority of victims were raped by an acquaintance. Theoretical implications, limitations of the studies and future research were considered.

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