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Male survivors of sexual violence and abuse: Barriers and facilitators to reporting and accessing services

Through Budget 2019, the Government invested $90.3 million over four years to strengthen support for victims/survivors and services that address harmful sexual behaviour. This included funding to support services for male survivors of sexual abuse. As these services are relatively new, research was needed to inform ongoing development and address gaps in services for male survivors.

The researchers interviewed 52 male survivors to learn about their experiences of reporting and accessing help. Thirteen service workers also completed an online questionnaire.


Male survivors can take many years to both reach out for help and report sexual violence and abuse. The study identified five key themes from male survivors’ experiences that impact help seeking:

  • Gendered social norms and myths, including that sexual violence doesn’t happen to men, are a barrier to seeking help.
  • The complex nature of trauma delays male survivors seeking help.
  • The availability and quality of social support can help or hinder men who reach out for help.
  • Services need to be affordable, visible and tailored to male survivors to encourage men to seek help.
  • Quality support from service workers can build the agency of male survivors and help men report and stay engaged with services

The research highlights that a diverse group of male survivors’ needs have to be understood to develop targeted and effective prevention and early intervention initiatives. Recommendations for improving services include training for specialist and non-specialist service workers and gender-inclusive education campaigns to enable and encourage men to reach out for help.

Content Warning

This research report and associated content features descriptions and accounts of sexual abuse and violence.

If you or anyone you know is affected by sexual violence or abuse, please reach out to any of the services below for support and assistance.

  • Safe to talk - 0800 044 334, free text 4334, webchat and info at www., email (24/7)
  • Shakti Crisis Line – 0800 742 584 for migrant or refugee women living with family violence (24/7)
  • Women’s Refuge Crisisline – 0800 733 843 (0800 REFUGE) for women living with violence, or in fear, in their relationship or family (24/7)
  • Rape Crisis – 0800 88 33 00 for support after rape or sexual assault
  • Male Survivors Aotearoa – support for the well-being of male survivors of sexual abuse
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