Understanding the psychological impact of rape and serious sexual assault of men: a literature review

J Psychiatr Ment Health Nurs. 1997 Aug;4(4):267-74. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2850.1997.00064.x.


Until recently, very little attention has been paid to male victims of sexual abuse in childhood and male victims of rape and sexual assault in adulthood. Increasingly, researchers and clinicians are turning their attention to the particular problems encountered by male victims of abuse and sexual assault. Recent changes in British Law have acknowledged the existence of rape of male victims and have highlighted the need to identify the number of male victims of sexual assault and plan appropriate clinical services. A review of the literature reveals very little British empirical research on the psychological impact of rape upon male victims, although the studies that have been carried out provide clear evidence of a wide range of psychological consequences, both in the immediate period following the assault and in the long-term. Differences and similarities with female victims of rape are discussed. The particular problems encountered by male victims mean that they are even less likely than female victims to report an assault; when they do seek help the most pervasive themes that emerge from the literature concern their problems in reconciling their masculine identity with their experience of being a sexual victim. Issues concerning treatment of male victims are also discussed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child Abuse, Sexual / psychology*
  • Crime Victims / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Crime Victims / psychology*
  • Female
  • Gender Identity
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Men / psychology*
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care
  • Rape / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Rape / psychology*
  • Self Concept
  • Survivors / psychology*
  • United Kingdom