Building Effective Services for Male Survivors

Barriers to Men Accessing Services for Sexual Abuse Survivors

Men disclose sexual abuse at lower rates than women and often delay disclosing for years or even decades. This is due to not knowing where to get support, fear of how they will be perceived, and ideas about masculinity that influence how men perceive themselves and their experience of sexual harm.

Gender norms that promote an image of masculinity as dominant and stoic make it harder for men to disclose abuse and mean that they are more likely to be viewed as a perpetrator than a survivor/victim.

Barriers to accessing services may be particularly acute for Māori and Pacific men, due to a lack of culturally responsive services and concerns about being treated in a discriminatory or culturally inappropriate way.

Different approaches to recovery

Feedback from experts consulted for the review was that while some men favour psychological therapies, others benefit from more practical approaches like group work and peer support. A mix of approaches, such as group work and individual therapy, may work well.

Alternative forms of therapy, such as art therapy, meditation and physical activity has been well received in some cases. However, research into the effectiveness of these approaches is needed.

It is important that services are culturally appropriate for male survivors. Services should consider diversity, by acknowledging and adapting services to men’s cultural and sexual identities. The evidence review did not find any literature on effectiveness of services for male survivors of sexual abuse who are Māori, Pacific, disabled or from ethnic communities, LGBTQIA communities.