A study conducted by researchers at the University of Missouri found that four in ten high school boys and male college students were the victims of unwanted sexual contact at some point in their lives.
“Sexual victimization continues to be a pervasive problem in the United States, but the victimization of men is rarely explored,” lead author Bryana H. French said in a statement. “Our findings can help lead to better prevention by identifying the various types of coercion that men face and by acknowledging women as perpetrators against men.”
The results of the study, which involved 284 U.S. high school and college student, were recently released in the American Psychological Association’s Journal of Masculinity and Men. The study found that 18 percent reported sexual coercion by physical force; 31 percent say they were verbally coerced; 26 percent describe unwanted seduction by sexual behaviors; and 7 percent say they were compelled after being given alcohol or drugs.
Half of the victims said the result was sexual intercourse with the rest reporting unwanted fondling or kissing.
The report stated that the experiences did not seem to affect the victims self-esteem the way similar victimization affected females. Interestingly however, it goes on to say that there was a high correlation between the effect of victimization and self-destructive behaviors such as drinking and risky sexual behavior – the same behavior often observed in female victims of unwanted sex.
“We’ve known that buried in research for years that boys and men are victims of sexual predation–by women as well as men–in far greater numbers than almost anyone in the common culture wants to believe.” Says Dean Esmay, Director of Operations at A Voice for Men, who himself is a victim of childhood sexual abuse. “Let’s hope this latest news helps bring more sanity to discussions of sexual assault; it’s not a gendered issue, it’s a human issue.”