Non-consensual sex experienced by men who have sex with men: prevalence and association with mental health

Patient Educ Couns. 2003 Jan;49(1):67-74. doi: 10.1016/s0738-3991(02)00055-1.


Little is known about the psychosocial factors associated with sexual assault experienced by males. Men (N=358), 19-35 years of age, recruited by community outreach, completed questionnaires. Eligibility criteria included: being HIV-negative and self-identifying as gay or bisexual. Lifetime prevalence rates of childhood sexual abuse, juvenile prostitution, and adult sexual assault were determined. The mental health of this population was explored including associations between sexual victimization and mental health disorders (alcohol abuse, suicidal ideation and attempts, mood disorders, and poor self-esteem). Almost 1 in 10 of the men had engaged in juvenile prostitution, 14% were forced into sexual activity before 14 years of age, and 14% were sexually victimized after the age of 14. Those exposed to non-consensual sex were 2.9 (95% CI: 1.8-4.7) times more likely to abuse alcohol than those free of victimization. Those who reported childhood sexual abuse were 3.3 (95% CI: 1.7-6.4) times more likely to have attempted suicide. Juvenile prostitution was associated with current depression (OR=6.4; 95% CI: 2.8-14.9). Health professionals have the responsibility to respond competently and sensitively to victims of sexual violence. To do this, many need to recognize the prevalence of male sexual trauma, to deconstruct their personal beliefs about same-sex sexual violence, and to learn to ask sensitive questions in their assessment interviews.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • British Columbia / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Child Abuse, Sexual / psychology
  • Child Abuse, Sexual / statistics & numerical data
  • Health Services Needs and Demand
  • Health Status
  • Homosexuality, Male* / psychology
  • Homosexuality, Male* / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Mental Disorders / etiology
  • Mental Disorders / psychology
  • Mental Disorders / therapy
  • Mental Health / statistics & numerical data*
  • Population Surveillance
  • Rape* / psychology
  • Rape* / statistics & numerical data
  • Risk Factors
  • Self Concept
  • Sex Work / psychology
  • Sex Work / statistics & numerical data
  • Suicide, Attempted / psychology
  • Suicide, Attempted / statistics & numerical data