The South Korean government released a report on the increased reporting of sexual violence against males. According to the report, the rate jumped 42% in 2014 compared to the prior three years:
According to the report released by the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family, the number of male victims of sexual offenses reported to the police has risen rapidly from 749 in 2011 to 828 in 2012, 1,021 in 2013 and 1,066 in 2014.
Following the increase, men made up 5.1 percent of victims of the total sexual offenses reported in 2014, up from 3.8 percent in 2011.
By type, sexual harassment represents 60 percent of cases for male victims, followed by rape with 20 percent.
The numbers show that South Korean men are reporting more instances of assaults. This may occur as a result of greater international coverage of sexual violence against males. South Korean, however, only recognizes forced vaginal penetration as rape. Same-sex assaults are defined as “rape-like” and carry lesser sentences. The law also does not recognize female-on-male assaults as rape.
The report also revealed the impact the assault had on men:
Among male victims who visited the Sunflower Center, a ministry-run support facility for victims of sexual violence, 53 percent expressed depression and anxiety while 26 percent showed anger after the experience.
Another article provided further insight:
According to a 2013 government survey, 70 percent of male sexual abuse victims who participated in the research said they began to harbor hatred toward random people, while 17.3 percent said they no longer felt safe.
The reason these two point are important is because many people think that sexual violence hurts men less. They assume that men and boys are more capable of getting over it or are less traumatized by the experience. If 70% of male victims say they hate random people, that is a good indication they are very affected by their experiences.
The Sunflower Center released a guide to combat some of the stigmas men face:
The guide said that male victims often suffer from sexual identity problems after experiencing a sexual offense. They tend to be confused about their masculinity because many think a lack of this was the reason for their victimization. Thus, they tend to hide their feelings of vulnerability or lethargy due to social misconceptions of masculinity.
“In recovering from their trauma, it is important for male victims to be free from the social norms of masculinity,” the guide said.
Also, when the perpetrators are men, the victims develop a negative perception of their own sexual identity. “In this case, they can develop homophobia,” the booklet said.
The materials said many people mistakenly think male victims would feel less pain and trauma than females.
“Such idea worsens the victims’ pain and makes it difficult to solve the problem,” said Im Gwan-sik, director general of the ministry’s women’s and youth rights promotion bureau. “We should change our perception that sexual violence victims are only women. It can happen to any gender.”
That is a valid point that needs to be repeated: we should change our perception that sexual violence victims are only women.
Granted, there are those who will oppose that effort, yet that does not mean we should not try. Male victims of abuse deserve the same support and concern that female victims receive. If we fail to help them, we leave many male victims to live in constant fear of what else might happen to them.