The long-running British soap opera Coronation Street will soon feature a storyline in which a male character is drugged and raped by another man. The show’s producer hopes this male rape story will highlight the “culture of silence” surrounding male sexual assault — many men don’t report sexual assaults, worried that it will emasculate them — but it raises an important question: How often does male-on-male sexual assault actually happen? The statistics below may surprise you.
In short, it’s tough to say for several reasons. Rape, generally speaking, goes under-reported, and few studies of rape throughout history have focused on men. In fact, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) didn’t even start including men in their rape statistics until 2012, and even then, they only included instances involving penetration.
Despite the silence, the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) estimates that one in 33 men has been victimized by rape sometime in their lives. (That’s 3% of all men.) They also say that men account for 10% of all reported rapes, but other studies put that percentage much higher.
A 2015 report from The National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) said 40.2% of gay
men, 47.4% of bisexual men and 20.8% of heterosexual men will report sexual violence other than rape sometime during their lifetimes. In 80% of all cases, the survivors know their attackers.
There’s also evidence suggesting that instances of rape increase for transgender and Native American men.
While the NSVRC report said that 63% of sexual assaults aren’t reported to police, a recent report of prison rape stated, “Queer men and women were two to three times more likely to report abuse,” meaning that the culture of silence may be dissipating more quickly for queer men then for their straight counterparts.