Exploring the Lived Helpseeking Experiences of Male Survivors of Adulthood Sexual Violence and Abuse
The exorbitant rates at which women experience Sexual Violence and Abuse (SVA) have resulted in existing research placing a heavy focus on the victimisation experiences of women. This has contributed to a research bias, where the bulk of research in the area of SVA centres on women and children as survivors and men as perpetrators. Despite the limited research on the topic, lifetime prevalence estimates indicate that men also experience moderate rates of SVA. However, little is known about the impacts or helpseeking behaviours of male survivors who have experienced SVA in adulthood.
To address this gap, this qualitative study explored the lived helpseeking experiences of male survivors of adulthood SVA. The study involved conducting a secondary analysis of transcripts from semi-structured, in-depth interviews with five male survivors who had experienced their first instance of SVA in adulthood. Through an Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA), two themes were identified related to the men’s helpseeking experiences for their experience of adulthood SVA. Dominant gender roles hinder helpseeking, and Men can heal when provided with responsive support.
These findings highlight a lack of adequate and appropriate care tailored to male survivors of SVA, the societal and internal barriers relating to masculine ideals, and a gendered narrative of SVA that dismiss and minimises non-stereotypical SVA experiences. This research contributes to a broader understanding of male survivors’ helpseeking experiences for SVA and informs areas of future research and policy design. Further research investigating the SVA and helpseeking experiences of atypical SVA survivors is necessary to inform and provide adequate and appropriate evidence-based treatment and intervention tailored to survivors’ unique needs.