10 Colleges Increasing Awareness of Sexual Assault Against Males


An estimated one out of every four college women will experience an attempted or completed sexual assault or rape. Because of this unfortunate reality, surviving sexual violence has become feminized in the minds of the general public. “Only women can be raped,” they say! “Because men always want sex, there’s no way anyone can force it on them! Strong men can’t suffer; that makes them victims – and everyone knows only the ladyfolk can be victimized!”

Um. No.

Perpetrators of rape, sexual assault, child predation, and other forms of nonconsensual sexual exploitation and humiliation hail from all gender and gender identity backgrounds. As do the survivors of their crimes. Tragically, social mores stigmatizing the masculinity or validity of men brutalized by sexual violence lead many survivors to process their pain in silence, silence that heightens their risk of depression, substance abuse, suicide, and other dangerous behaviors.

College is already a vulnerable enough time. Adding unaddressed trauma only exacerbates the uncertainty, so schools should reach out and ensure students feel safe, healthy, and loved no matter their survivor status. Going even further, they must ensure enrollees perceive the critical problem through a lens of facts rather than relying on exceedingly dangerous fictions for information. Here, we show some love to the colleges and universities out there devoting their time, money, and resources to ensure that the discussion of issues impacting survivors follows a path toward gender inclusiveness. Hopefully more will follow suit and forever alter the way Americans approach sexual violence.

  1. John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York:

    The nonprofit MaleSurvivor brings together male survivors of sexual assault, rape, incest, and child predation from all ages and backgrounds in the interest of promoting healing and destigmatization. This month will see its 13th annual International Conference, based around the theme of finding the strength to move past trauma and live as happy and healthy as possible, and a continuing partnership with John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Part of the City University of New York system, the school will host workshops, guest speakers, presentations, documentary screenings, and roundtable discussions about issues unique to male survivors, with this year focusing in part on sexual victimization within the sporting world.

  2. University of Colorado at Boulder:

    Male survivors at University of Colorado at Boulder have a few on- and off-campus resources at their disposal when it comes to finding solace from deep pain. Local psychotherapist and UCB alumni Daniel Blausey, himself a survivor, is a major voice in encouraging his fellow men to reach out and share their stories in the interest of alleviating the stigma and promoting healthy healing — in fact, the city now hosts more than 30 groups devoted to the cause. On campus, the Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender Queer Resource Center held an event educating students, parents, faculty, and staff about the realities faced by male survivors. It involved a screening of Boys and Men Healing, a popular documentary about recovery from sexual exploitation from a male perspective, and a frank panel discussion featuring men opening up about their traumatic experiences.

  3. Hood College:

    Like the GLBTQ Resource Center at UCB, Hood College also reached out to marginalized men who survived sexual abuse through organizing panels and showing Boys and Men Healing. Its partnership with 1in6, another nonprofit devoted exclusively to empowering male survivors, yielded training seminars for mental health professionals, as well as those in leadership positions such as the clergy, law enforcement, and advocacy. These classes opened them up to the unique sociology and psychology behind men who suffered from childhood or adult sexual abuse in order to help them formulate the best strategies for healthy healing processes and proper care.

  4. Temple University:

    Nancy Chi Cantalupo addressed the Clery Center for Security on Campus in October 2012 with a clarion call to colleges and universities to start involving male survivors when offering sexual assault and rape support. Between 6% to 11% of incidents involve a man as the recipient of horrific sexual violence, but the majority of programs offered on campuses across the country focus mainly on serving women. Understandable, but a highly isolating and extremely dangerous mindset all the same. The Temple University professor believes shifting the rhetoric from feminizing survivorhood to something entirely gender-inclusive will prove key in establishing the most effective education, prevention, and relief efforts. While the first priority always should be keeping students as safe as possible, destigmatizing male survivors also provides more reliable reporting and statistics so researchers, professionals, and the general public better understand the issue at hand.

  5. Pennsylvania State University:

    Following the gut-wrenching news of legendary Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky’s sexual predation of young boys through his nonprofit and the subsequent cover-up, the college seriously needed to make restitution for enabling such dehumanizing crimes. In October 2012, it hosted guest speakers — and survivors — Sugar Ray Leonard and Elizabeth Smart at its first Child Sexual Abuse Conference to emphasize how pedophiles and ephebophiles terrorize both males and females. Acknowledging that sexual violence does not see gender or gender identity means a major sea change in the way healthcare professionals, educators, activists, and law enforcement officials (not to mention society at large) perceive and address the serious problem.

  6. University of Vermont:

    Since 2006, University of Vermont has kept Keith E. Smith on staff as the Men’s Outreach Coordinator in its Counseling and Psychiatry Services department. His responsibilities revolve around educating young men on how to make healthy sexual choices, particularly when it comes to understanding the nature of violence. Through events and mentoring through group and individual sessions, Smith simultaneously teaches the males on campus how to recognize and prevent sexual assault and rape as well as healthily processing the trauma that comes from surviving such terrifying experiences. Suicide prevention and substance abuse frequently factors into the proceedings as well, because they stem from the same (wrong) mindset that strong men suppress their emotions. Both men and women are encouraged to attend the workshops and advocacy programs he organizes throughout the year.

  7. University of Michigan:

    For a time, most students, faculty, and staff considered the Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center at University of Michigan the sole domain of female survivors, meaning many men avoided seeking its services for fear of further stigma. In 2004, Men’s Activism launched in order to address this misconception. By February 2012, 30 male students involved themselves with the program, which covers both prevention as well as how to best provide physical, emotional, and mental support for male survivors. It partners with Students Against Rape to provide safe group settings for healing and hopes that communicating with other groups on campus, such as the athletic department, will spread the discussions busting up harmful myths society frustratingly perpetuates regarding rape, sexual assault, and child predation.

  8. Columbia University:

    Like many campus initiatives aimed at including men in sexual assault and rape prevention, education, and survivor support, the Men’s Peer Education Program at Columbia University covers a wide range of roles men play in the issue. It seeks to dismantle the social ills permitting sexual violence against women and the unfortunate victim-blaming backlash that all too often results, but at the same time drives home reminders that men themselves survive these tragedies as well. Through workshops and other events, participating students learn and teach about how arbitrary gender roles and stereotypes preclude healthy sexual decisions as well as sustainable healing measures.

  9. University of Texas at Austin:

    The simplest way to raise public awareness of male sexual violence survivors remains assuring them that they are not alone and providing the same services as their female counterparts. At University of Texas, the Counseling and Medical Health Center explicitly understands the social pressures preventing male survivors from seeking adequate professional help and provides a plethora of excellent recommended resources, both online and off, for better understanding how they work. It encourages individuals of all genders and gender identities, regardless of their survivor status, to participate in its Voices Against Violence campaign’s events, training, workshops, and other efforts.

  10. University of California Santa Cruz:

    Although it does not provide the same level of outreach for male survivors of rape and sexual assault as some of the other colleges listed here, University of California Santa Cruz deserves credit for dedicating part of its Student Health Center website to breaking the stigma and silence. In the “Sexual Assault and Dating Violence” section, it details the unique circumstances men surviving sexual violence experience following the inciting incident(s) and lists local, state, and national resource centers to contact for further information. Nobody has to suffer.

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