“When we began this study, we thought for sure that we would find that females who were sexually assaulted would exhibit higher depression scores than males who were sexually assaulted,” said Dario, assistant professor at the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Florida Atlantic University. “I think this is probably because of antiquated ideas that men and women experience emotions differently. What we actually discovered, much to our surprise, is that sexual assault is traumatic regardless of gender.”
Unsurprisingly, victims of sexual assault of both genders reported higher levels of depression than the rest of the population. The May 2017 study, published in the journal Women & Criminal Justice, analyzed data from the National Violence Against Women Survey conducted in 1995-6 for almost 6,000 women and the same number of men.
The assumption that men and women react differently to sexual assault is also due to a gap in research, whereby male victims are “a hidden population,” Dario said. “Unless you’re a juvenile or an inmate, there’s very little research on sexual assault in men.”