Get Help


If you need immediate information you can call one of these 24-hour toll-free hotlines.

  • Rape Abuse & Incest National Network
  • 800-656-4673
  • Childhelp USA
  • 800-422-4453
  • National Domestic Violence/Abuse Hotline
  • 800-799-7233


Not What’s Supposed to Happen to Males

Many guys feel like they’re not a ‘real man’ – like that’s not even an option for them.

Women who’ve had such experiences may feel like ‘damaged goods,’ but they rarely wonder if they’re ‘real women.’

Many men fear their masculinity has been robbed or destroyed, that they’ll be exposed as a ‘fake’ – even if no one has a clue about what happened or thinks twice about their masculinity.

Why? Having unwanted or abusive sexual experiences means being:

  • Sexually used or dominated
  • Vulnerable
  • Overwhelmed
  • Flooded by intense emotions

All of that is the opposite of how males are supposed to be.

And men’s confidence and self-esteem can greatly depend on how ‘manly’ they feel, and how manly they believe other men and women see them as being.

Experiences that totally contradict the masculine ideal

Proving Manhood and Self-Protection

It should be no surprise that some men go overboard to prove – to themselves and everyone else – that they’re not not only ‘real men,’ but super manly.

Countless men have said that as boys, teenagers and young adults, they’ve gone to great lengths to prove their masculinity: playing aggressive sports in super-aggressive ways, sexual conquests, bulking up by lifting weights, picking fights, extreme drinking and drugging, reckless driving and other daredevil stunts, joining the Marines…

You can become completely comfortable with your manhood.

The list goes on and on. And many men only realize years later that a major motivation was to prove that they were ‘real men’ – even though they couldn’t shake the belief that their childhood sexual experiences meant it wasn’t true.

Another big motivation is to protect themselves from further attack – to be the kind of guy no one messes with, to belong to a group of men that everyone sees as tough and beyond any challenge to their manhood.

Confusion or Fears About Your Sexuality

Another way that it’s different for many men: If the sexual experiences involved another male (or males), they may have major doubts and confusion about whether they are gay.

It’s very common to ask oneself:

  • Did it happen because I’m (really) gay?
  • Am I gay because it happened?
  • If anyone finds out, will they think I’m gay?
  • Can I ever be a real man if I was sexual with another male?

Whether you are straight, gay, or bisexual is totally fine. Of course, in different cultures and subcultues, these ways of being sexual are accepted, or not, to different degrees.

In most cultures, though, whatever your sexual orientation, if you’ve had unwanted or abusive sexual experiences as a boy, the question, ‘Am I gay because that happened?’ can bring lots of torment. For straight men, they may doubt that they are ‘really’ heterosexual. For gay and bisexual men, they may wonder if their attraction to men was caused by their childhood sexual experiences.

Totally Normal, Understandable, and Can Be Overcome

Such concerns and worries about one’s masculinity and sexuality are common and totally normal. But it’s absolutely possible to sort them out, and to become completely comfortable with who you are as a man and a sexual being. Many other guys like you already have.

Finally, you may want to read a paper on the psychological impact of such experiences on men, by Dr. David Lisak, a colleague of mine. It has many powerful quotes from interviews with men, which are grouped into themes and discussed in terms of how the effects can be different for men. (At first glance it may look ‘academic,’ but it’s not.)