Why Don’t More College Men Report Sexual Assault?

The numbers show a gender gap in sexual assault reporting – but that doesn’t mean it’s not happening.

By Alain Stephens September 22, 2015 7:31 am| ,

Every parent knows that when they send their student off to college, they face a variety of dangers. One of the more grim realities is that of sexual assault.

The Association of American Universities surveyed over 150,000 students at 27 universities across the nation on the prevalence of sexual assault. The University of Texas at Austin was a participant in the survey, where a little over 18 percent of female undergraduates reported being a victim of sexual assault since enrollment – male students reported at about five percent.

But some say that gap may not be as wide the statistics show – because many male sexual assaults simply go unreported.

Gloria Gonzales Lopez is sociology professor at the University of Texas at Austin who studies sexual violence and gender. She speaks with the Standard about these discrepancies.

“We live in a society that is incredibly homophobic and there’s always some kind of stigma,” González-López says, referencing her research concerning men with histories of sexual abuse during childhood and later in life.

“It goes hand-in-hand with this fear of compromising their sense of manhood,” she says. “Also, the idea that unwanted sexualized behavior that is not physically violent is at times very difficult to make sense of.”

González-López says the silence behind sexual violence of boys and young men is caused by a combination of social factors.