Sorry, you need to enable JavaScript to visit this website.

Barriers to Reporting Sexual Violence

Sunday, April 14, 2024

April is both Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Awareness month. The following article is the third article of a five-week series focusing on raising awareness about sexual assault and child abuse. Locally, HCWC served 616 community members that experienced sexual assault or abuse and 899 children that suffered abuse and their protective caregivers.

SEXUAL ASSAULT SURVIVORS AND THE STRUGGLE WITH SELF-BLAME “My heart had shattered and scattered in the wind, hoping no one would realize that I have ceased to exist in society.” -Anonymous Survivors of sexual assault face strong and unexpected changes, not because of natural events, but because a perpetrator felt entitled to cross the limits without their consent.

Many people who experience sexual assault blame themselves for what happened. They feel ashamed, guilty, and unsure if what happened was really an assault. This self-blame can stop them from telling anyone about what happened.

Some survivors think they somehow caused the assault because of how they acted or dressed. They might also feel like their experience isn't 'bad enough' to count as assault. This confusion and self-blame make it hard for them to ask for help or report the assault to the police.

There is a lot to understand and navigate regarding sexual assault, including the psychological, physiological, and legal components that truly impacts a survivor’s autonomy. Survivors experience a detriment in their individual rights, especially those related to personal autonomy and intimacy. Similarly with their collective rights, every so often, instead of encountering guidance and protection from the community, they must cope with uncertainty, distrust, and criticism.

It is important for survivors to know that they are in control of their present and future. The pace of the healing process is unique for each survivor and there is no right or wrong way to move forward.


“Male sexual assault survivors face unique challenges in seeking support and healing. These survivors often suffer in silence, battling societal stereotypes and disregarding their trauma. According to recent studies, over one in six men experience sexual abuse, challenging the misconception that sexual violence primarily affects women.

In therapy sessions, common themes emerge among male survivors, including feelings of shame, guilt, and emasculation. Many struggle with intimacy, trust, and self-esteem, while also experiencing complex emotions and trauma-related symptoms. Early on, boys are socialized to believe that they should be strong, stoic, and in control of their emotions. Expressing vulnerability or seeking help is often viewed as weakness or femininity, which can lead male survivors to feel ashamed or emasculated if they acknowledge their trauma. They may fear judgment or ridicule for not being 'man enough' to prevent or stop the assault, exacerbating feelings of shame and guilt. Additionally, social expectations lead many survivors to internalize the belief that they should be able to handle their trauma on their own, further isolating them from support networks.

Societal norms around masculinity often deter men from seeking help, fearing judgment, or questioning their masculinity. Additionally, limited awareness of available services and fear of not being taken seriously are common barriers they face. It's important to raise awareness, debunk myths, and provide safe spaces for male survivors to access support and resources. By breaking the silence and promoting understanding, we can empower male survivors to heal wounded parts and restore their selfworth and dignity.

Understanding these reasons is crucial for creating a supportive environment that empowers survivors to seek justice and healing. HCWC has 24-hour emergency hospital response for sexual assault survivors seeking forensic exams and employs counselors and advocates that specialize in working with those who have experienced sexual assault and abuse. Support groups for survivors are available both virtually and in person. If you or someone you know needs help, please call the free and confidential 24-hour HELPline at 512396-4357.

San Marcos Record

(512) 392-2458
P.O. Box 1109, San Marcos, TX 78666