The Sexual Victimization of Men in America: New Data Challenge Old Assumptions

By Lara Stemple, Ilan H. Meyer
April 2014

Based on the analysis of large-scale federal agency surveys, men experience a high prevalence of sexual victimization, in many circumstances similar to the prevalence found among women. In one of the studies included in the analysis, the CDC found that an estimated 1.3 million women experienced nonconsensual sex, or rape, in the previous year. Notably, nearly the same number of men also reported nonconsensual sex. In comparison to the large number of women who were raped, nearly 1.3 million men were “made to penetrate” someone else. Despite the use of these two different categories, the CDC data reveal that both women and men experienced nonconsensual sex in alarming numbers.

The study also included the 2012 National Crime Victimization Survey, which found that 38% of all rape and sexual assault incidents were committed against males, an increase over past years that challenges the common belief that males are rarely victims of this crime. Among men in prisons and jails, gay and bisexual men and other men who identify as non-heterosexual are at greatest risk of sexual victimization.  For example, the Justice Department’s National Inmate Survey of 2011-2012 found that among non-heterosexual prison inmates, 12.2% reported being sexually victimized by another inmate, and 5.4% reported being sexually victimized by staff. Both inside and outside of prison, male victims are overlooked due to the stigma they face.

The study assessed 12-month prevalence of sexual victimization from five federal surveys conducted, independently, by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation from 2010 through 2012. The review of these surveys provides an unprecedented wealth of new data about male victimization, challenging long-held stereotypes about the sex of victims.

Click here for the full report.

Click here for the press release.

*Study published in the American Journal of Public Health