I’ve Experienced a Sexual Assault – What Do I Do?

If you have been sexually assaulted, go to a safe location away from the perpetrator. Remember, you are not alone and help is available. There are many people ready to assist you when you are ready.

Men who have experienced sexual assault report having thoughts and feelings such as shame, embarrassment, fear, depression and/or anxiety. Men may be more likely to engage in behaviors used to manage a multitude of trauma related symptoms. These coping mechanisms include substance use, hypervigilance, increased anger, fighting or other violent outbursts. Men, just as other survivors of violence, may feel numb or isolate themselves, again by use of substances or simply distancing from relationships.

The following list offers some common thoughts reported as being experienced specifically by men. Please note, this list is neither all-inclusive nor absolute; every person experiences and processes traumatic events differently, but the list offers a glimpse at what a man might be thinking and/or experiencing post-assault.

  • Disbelief, questioning what just happened and “what a real man would have done”
  • Questioning or doubting one’s masculinity and/or sexual orientation
  • Questioning one’s own bodily, physical response
  • Doubting that he will be believed “I’m not worthy of being helped/no one will believe me/people will hate me”

If you or someone you know has experienced sexual assault, there are many resources available to assist you. You may contact your local Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC), Victim Advocate (VA) or healthcare provider for confidential (except in specific circumstances) communication. You may also talk with a Chaplain, your chain of command or law enforcement (military or civilian). Each of these individuals are trained and ready to listen to you and walk with you, at your speed, through the next steps.

For additional resources and support, visit the Resources for Military Men Who Have Experienced Sexual Assault [link to page].

You may also speak confidentially through the following:

  • DOD Safe Helpline is confidential, secure and available 24/7, worldwide. Call 1-877-995-5247 or talk with a professional immediately through a live, secure chat. Highly trained staff will listen to you, provide support and discuss your short-term and long-term options for seeking assistance.
  • Safe HelpRoom Sessions for Military Men are held every Sunday at 1300-1500 EST for military men that have experienced sexual assault. Safe HelpRoom is an online community of sexual assault survivors in the military that meet to support each other in taking next steps after a sexual assault. The Sunday sessions are specifically for men who have experienced a sexual assault and provide a safe, confidential platform for men to share, encourage and talk with others that have similar experiences.

Options for Reporting

Recent DOD reports indicate that just 17 percent of men report a sexual assault as compared to 43 percent of women. We know almost just as many men experience an assault than women, yet are more reluctant to report the incident. The Army is focused on ensuring all who experience a sexual assault or sexual harassment feel comfortable reporting the incident and have trust in the reporting process.

The Army urges all people who experience an assault or harassment to report the incident. Even if the assault occurred prior to military service, you may make a report to be eligible to receive supportive services from a SARC or VA.

There are two ways to report a sexual assault:

  • Restricted Reporting allows a person who has experienced a sexual assault to confidentially report the assault to specified individuals and receive medical treatment and counseling, without initiating an official investigation.
  • Unrestricted Reporting triggers an official investigation of the alleged crime and allows a person who has experienced the sexual assault to receive medical treatment, counseling and legal assistance.