Getting support if you have been a victim of sexual abuse

Studies show that 1 in 6 men have been targets of rape or sexual abuse, that’s 5 million men in the UK. Abusers don’t discriminate – it can happen to any man, of any age, race, class or sexual identity. 

Everyone reacts to traumatic events in their own complex way. Research has shown that some common effects men may experience are thoughts and feelings of anger, shame, guilt, numbness, or flashbacks, nightmares, and physical or mental health problems.

Getting confidential support can be key to helping men who have experienced sexual abuse to recover, no matter how long the abuse originally took place.

One male sexual abuse survivor said: “It was only after I could no longer bear the flashbacks that I finally decided to seek help. My initial fears and qualms about getting support were carefully managed, and I was eased into it. Although therapy brought out feelings of anger and hurt, the pain associated with the trauma gradually started to recede. There were many challenges to overcome and I continue to receive support, but I’m now in a new relationship and the flashbacks have been eradicated almost entirely.” (supplied by Breaking the Silence).

Getting confidential and independent support

Taking the first step to getting support can be hard and the experience will be different for everyone, but there is lots of different support is available to help you.

You can:

  • tell someone what happened
  • get help to access services in your local area
  • get emotional support including from trained counsellors and therapists
  • get medical support from specially trained doctors, nurses and support workers
  • get help to understand how the criminal justice system works

Supporting someone you know that has experienced sexual abuse

Whether it happened a long time ago or more recently, it can be really hard to know what to say to a friend or family member who has confided in you about the sexual violence and abuse they suffered.

For many survivors, support is a crucial part of the healing process, and receiving compassionate responses from friends and family can make a real difference. However, it can feel very overwhelming and it is important to look after yourself too.

As a friend or family member of a victim or survivor of sexual violence, you can help by listening, letting them speak and telling them that you believe them. You can then help them to get support if this is something they wish to do.

If you’ve ever experienced sexual violence or sexual abuse, or want to find out more about how to support a friend or family member who has been sexually abused, you can get confidential support from specialists who will listen to you, believe you and understand how hard it is to talk about.

Visit #ItStillMatters at to see the support on offer.

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