A friend recently brought an article to my attention about a seasoned sexual assault detective who, after years on the job, was sexually assaulted. Aside from the irony of the victim’s profession, I read the article to see why else this story had attracted so much attention. It was not surprising to read that the officer-turned-victim experienced the same shame and anxiety that is common for most victims of sexual assault. Additionally, like 95% of sexual assault victims, the officer did not want to report the crime to the proper authorities. There was only one outlier in this story: the rape victim was an adult male.
When most people hear the term “rape victim,” the image of an adult male is not what typically comes to mind. In cases of rape, men are usually associated with assailants rather than victims. Perhaps this is because 90% of rape victims are female, and the majority of rapists are male. These statistics do not make men immune from rape, in fact, 1 in every 33 men are sexually assaulted in their lifetime. In the US a sexual assault occurs every 2 minutes.
Why is it that most people think of women when they hear the term “rape victim?” Is it because of statistics, or has the media and culture accepted this as the status quo? Globally there are still many cultures that shun female rape victims. Victim blaming occurs, even in modern American society. Think back to two of the most common excuses made by victim blamers and rapist sympathizers: “She was dressed provocatively,” and “She had a bad reputation.” Both excuses not only sexualize rape crimes, but place the blame of rape on the female victim’s sexuality.