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6 Ways to Help
Male Survivors
of Sexual Assault

Being a support to anyone who has experienced a trauma can feel intimidating and often people feel unsure how to be a good support. In cases of male sexual assault, friends and loved ones may feel unsure about how to be a good support because of the stigma and stereotypes associated with masculinity. Men and boys may feel hesitant to disclose their experiences for fear of being judged, disbelieved, or seen as weak. 

 

The #MeToo movement has provided support, advocacy, education and resources to survivors,  but there continues to be an underrepresentation of male survivor’s of sexual assault.  Men and boys who are sexually assaulted may experience a range of emotions and reactions similar to other survivors, but face unique challenges because of social attitudes and stereotypes about men and masculinity. 

The Stigma surrounding Male Survivors of Sexual Assault

        Sexual assault can affect individuals of all genders, ages, and backgrounds. However, it is not openly discussed, and often the conversation around sexual assault focuses on female survivors. Sexual assault against men and boys is a topic that is not as widely spoken about, yet it has far-reaching effects on the survivors. 
     According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, one out of six men in the United States have experienced sexual assault or abuse. This number is believed to be much higher, but because of the stigma and shame associated with being a male survivor of sexual violence, men and boys are less likely to report an assault.

Common Mental Health Challenges experienced by male survivors of sexual assault

Sexual assault survivors may experience feelings of fear, anxiety, depression, and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. They may also have a sense of shame and self-doubt, feeling that they were not strong enough to fight off the perpetrator. Furthermore, they may be confused about their physical reactions during the assault, such as having an erection or ejaculation. However, it is important to note that these responses are physiological and do not imply any consent or enjoyment of the assault. 

 

Men and boys who were sexually assaulted as children or teenagers may have different responses than those who were assaulted as adults. They may develop eating disorders, avoid places or people that remind them of the abuse, experience anxiety and depression, and withdraw from relationships or friendships. They may also struggle with their sexual identity and may report feeling emasculated. These experiences may leave survivors feeling powerless and alone. It is essential to acknowledge their pain and provide them with support.

Harmful Myths around male sexual assault

“Perpetrators who assault men and boys can only do so if they are “stronger”
Sexual assault against men and boys can be committed by anyone, regardless of their gender, sexual orientation, or age. Perpetrators may use physical force coercion tactics to abuse their victims. Like all perpetrators, they take advantage of their victims’ vulnerabilities, whether it be through grooming, manipulation, or threats. It is important to note that the majority of sexual assaults are committed by someone familiar to the victim or is committed by a person who is in a position of power.

 

“Sexual assault can impact the survivor’s sexual orientation”

Sexual assault is not related to, nor can it change, the sexual orientation of the perpetrator or the survivor. It is a traumatic experience that can leave survivors with many questions, including concerns about their sexuality. Survivors may wonder if their involuntary physical reactions during the assault imply a change in their sexual identity. However, these responses are beyond the individual’s control and do not imply any consent to the assault. Sexual abuse does not cause a change in sexual orientation.

How to Best Support male Survivors of Sexual Assault

It can be difficult for male survivors of sexual assault to open up about their experience, especially if they fear not being believed.

 

  1. Show that you care by giving them your full attention and letting them know that they are not alone.
  2. Avoid minimizing their experience or trying to fix their emotions. Instead, acknowledge their pain and show empathy by saying things like “I believe you” or “I can only imagine how difficult this must be for you.”
  3. Let them know that you care about them and want to support them. Simple statements like “I’m here for you” or “I care about you” can go a long way.
  4. While you may be curious about what happened, it’s important to respect their boundaries and avoid asking for specific details about the assault. If they choose to share this information with you, listen in a supportive and non-judgmental way.
  5. Accessing resources and services can be difficult for some survivors, depending on their individual circumstances
  6. Be mindful of any barriers they may face, and suggest resources that you feel would be most helpful..

 

You deserve to live a life free from the burden of trauma.

If you or a loved one has experienced sexual assault or abuse, it’s important to seek professional support. Mind by Design Counseling is here to help. Our trained therapists are experienced in working with survivors of trauma, and can provide a safe and supportive space for healing and growth. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us today to schedule a session and begin your journey towards healing.

If you are in danger or need immediate assistance, please call 911.

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Do you offer traditional talk therapy?

of course! though we have some unconventional therapy approaches, we are rooted in evidenced based practices. Talk therapy is a major player in the therapy room! See What we Treat and Integrative Services for more information

Is Online Therapy As Effective As In-Person Therapy?

Online therapy is essentially face-to-face counseling, just conducted remotely. Studies show that teletherapy is as effective as traditional counseling. Professional organizations and state governments recognize its benefits and have set regulations for it. However, like any therapy, its success in achieving your goals isn’t guaranteed. It’s important to discuss with your therapist whether teletherapy is working for you.

Can I Change Therapists If I'm Not Happy?

Yes, you can switch therapists to another provider within the practice, or we can provide you a referral if preferred. We want to ensure that your time and effort are well spent, and that you are getting the relief you need, that’s why we work collaboratively with each other in the practice, as well as outside therapists who we know and trust.

How Do I Know If Therapy Is Helping?

You should feel like you’re making progress. Signs it’s working include:

Feeling comfortable talking to your therapist
Your therapist respects boundaries
You’re moving towards your goals
You feel listened to
You’re doing better in life
Your self-esteem is getting better

Is Online Therapy Easy to Use for Non-Tech-Savvy People?

Yes, it’s pretty simple to access sessions. You’ll need basic internet skills, such as opening and visiting the patient link sent to you via email. It’s similar to video chatting like Facetime or Zoom. We can also walk you through it on the phone the first time to ensure a strong connection

What Questions Should I Ask My New Therapist?

Feel free to ask anything. Some good questions are:

  • How often will we meet?
  • What do you specialize in?
  • What experience do you have with my issue?
  • What outcomes can I expect?
  • How will I know I’m progressing?
  • How long do you usually work with clients?
  • How will we set my treatment goals?

How Should I Prepare for My First Session?

Showing up is all that you need to do! But if you really want to get the most out of session, it could help to take some time to think about what you want from therapy. It helps to write down your goals, questions you have or things that you feel are important to share. 

What is the difference between associate therapists & fully licensed therapists?

Our Qualifications:

Our founder, Rebecca Sidoti, is a highly qualified, state-licensed therapist and supervisor with extensive training in anxiety related disorders and innovative treatment such as Ketamine Therapy. Mind by Design Counseling adheres to standards set by the our governing counseling boards.

To see each providers credentials, training and licenses, visit our “Meet the Therapists” Page to learn more.

 

  • LAC/LSW are therapists who may practice clinical work under the supervision of a fully licensed therapist.
  • LPC/LCSW are therapists who have completed the necessary clinical hours post-graduation under supervision and can practice clinical work independently.

What Geographic Areas Are Served?

Currently, we serve clients in New Jersey and are expanding to other states as telehealth laws evolve. While telehealth offers the convenience of attending sessions from anywhere, state laws require clients to be in-state during their session.

Is Virtual Counseling Suitable for Everyone?

Online therapy might not be as effective for individuals with chronic suicidal thoughts, severe trauma, significant mental health history, or those recently in intensive care. Such cases often benefit more from traditional, in-person counseling. We’ll help you decide if our online services are right for you during your intake and evaluation.

What Equipment is Needed for Online Therapy?

To join a session, log in using the credentials we provide. No downloads are needed. Our platform, compatible with both individual and group sessions, requires:
A computer or mobile device with a webcam and internet access.
We’ll help you test your setup before your first appointment to ensure a reliable connection. iOS users should use the Safari browser for mobile and tablet sessions.

What Questions Will Therapists Ask Me?

It depends on your goals. Expect questions about your thoughts, feelings, relationships, work, school, and health. They’ll ask to understand your therapy goals.

How Do You Keep Client Information Secure?

Security and Confidentiality of Sessions:
Your privacy is crucial to us. We use TherapyNotes, a HIPAA-compliant platform, ensuring secure and confidential teletherapy sessions. This platform’s security features include encrypted video connections, secure data transfers, and encrypted databases, ensuring your information is safe at all times.

What is VRT used for?

we use VRT to support Exposure Therapy, a long standing traditional therapy modality to treat phobias, anxiety and stress. we send a headset directly to your home so you can access VRT from anywhere.

VRT not only helps with exposure therapy for phobias, but is great for ADHD, mindfulness, PTSD and social anxiety.

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