From a legal perspective, sexual abuse of men can be divided into two categories: abuse against children and abuse against adults.
Abuse against children
Abuse against children (up to the age of 16) is generally referred to as Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) and happens when an adult or older adolescent uses a child or younger adolescent for sexual stimulation.
CSA can take many forms including asking or pressuring a child to engage in sexual activities (regardless of the outcome), exposure of the genitals to a child, displaying pornography to a child, actual sexual contact with a child, physical contact with the child’s genitals, viewing of the child’s genitalia without physical contact, or using a child to produce pornography.
Abuse against adults
Abuse against adults falls into the following broad categories:
Under the Sexual Offences Act 2003, it is an offence for any male to penetrate with his penis the vagina, anus or mouth of a female or male without their consent. Male rape became recognised in law in 1994 but the 2003 legislation made victims of rape gender neutral.
Assault by penetration
This happens if any male or female penetrates the vagina or anus of another person without their consent. The offence is committed where the penetration is by a part of the body (for example, a finger) or anything else (for example, an object) for sexual intent.
Where any male or female intentionally touches another person sexually without his or her consent.
What does ‘consent’ mean?
In simple terms, it’s all about permission (or agreement). This is something that must be clearly established between two people before any kind of sexual act or behaviour and you can change your mind at any time.
It is important to be clear:
- If you are under 16, you are not able to give consent
- If you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you are not able to give consent
- If you are a vulnerable adult who, because of learning or mental health difficulties doesn’t have mental capacity, you are not able to give consent
- If you are asleep, you are not able to give consent
- If you are physically or emotionally coerced or controlled or if you are blackmailed in any way, you are not able to give consent
Services you may want to consider
If you have been affected by male sexual abuse, whether you or a friend or loved one are a survivor, and wish to speak to someone then you can try our online helpline as a first step.
If you would like to know more about the possibility of taking legal action in the aftermath of male sexual abuse, you may want to know more about ISVAs.