In the United States, men are sexually assaulted just as often as women. That might sound unbelievable, but the numbers are almost identical. Between 2010 and 2012, 1.267 million men and 1.270 million women claimed to be victims of sexual violence.
It’s a fact that goes against a lot of what we think we know. But there’s only one reason those numbers are so surprising: For years, our definition of “sexual violence” has been designed to say that men can’t be victims.
The government specifically defined “rape” as “the carnal knowledge of a female, forcibly and against her will.” There was no mention of male victims until 2012. Even after that, most studies worked off the idea that it’s only rape if the victim was penetrated—eliminating men who have been forced to penetrate their attackers against their will. And that happens more often than you’d think. Approximately 46 percent of male rape victims were raped by women.
It doesn’t lessen the horrors that female victims go through. But it’s something that happens a lot more than we like to admit.
10 A Woman Who Raped A Man At Knifepoint Was Released Without Any Time In Prison
Lestina Marie Smith violently raped a man at knifepoint and filmed herself doing it. It was as clear-cut and brutal as a rape case could possibly be—and in the end, the courts didn’t even send her to prison.
Smith’s victim was an ex-boyfriend of sorts. She’d dated the man for a short two months before the relationship collapsed in a messy breakup that ended with him calling her a “whore” on Facebook and her viciously attacking him with her fists.
Shortly after they broke up, Smith climbed into the man’s car, stabbed him in the arm, and forced him to perform oral sex on her. The whole time, she held a steak knife in one hand and threatened to stab him in the eye if he didn’t do as she said. In her other hand, she held a cell phone so that she could film the whole thing.
It’s a horrifying crime by any standard regardless of the genders involved. But when this one went through the courts, Smith was only sentenced to five years of probation.
The only time she spent in jail was the time served before the court case began, and the only real punishment she received was a $1,000 fine. However, she wasn’t fined because she’d raped a man at knifepoint. It was because she’d damaged his car in the process.
9 A Babysitter Who Raped A 12-Year-Old Was Charged With ‘Contributing To A Child’s Misconduct’
Of course, not every sexual assault happens at knifepoint. When it doesn’t, the courts can be even more unfair to the victims.
In 1987, a 12-year-old boy had a sexual relationship with his 16-year-old babysitter, Colleen Hermesmann, that ended with her becoming pregnant. By all usual definitions of the law, it was an act of statutory rape. The boy hadn’t tried to force her off, but he was only a child. He couldn’t be expected to understand the ramifications of his actions.
When Hermesmann was arrested, though, the court changed the charge from “statutory rape” to “contributing to a child’s misconduct.” Instead of putting her on trial for taking advantage of a child, she was treated like an accomplice to a crime masterminded by a 12-year-old boy.
The courts didn’t stop at just implying that the relationship was the young boy’s fault. They outright said it. In the documents, the judge said that the child conceived by Hermesmann was “the only truly innocent party” in the whole case.
In the statutory rape case between a 16-year-old female babysitter and a 12-year-old boy, the judge outright said that the 12-year-old boy was guilty.
8 Statutory Rape Victims Have Been Forced To Pay Child Support
That last case gets even more frustrating. A few years later, Hermesmann sued the male statutory rape victim for child support—and she won.
Their case set a legal precedent that still applies to this day. Due to that ruling, any young boy who has sex with an adult woman today can be forced to pay child support. That precedent has never been overturned.
When courts rule against male victims of statutory rape in child support cases, it is often based on whether the court perceives the victim to have “consented” to sex. Critics argue that this goes against studies showing that minors do not have the same decision-making skills as adults. There are other issues as well.
In 2012, Nick Olivas found out just how harsh this could be. He was hit with a letter that had three pieces of news that he never could have imagined: He had a six-year-old daughter, the mother was the woman who had sex with him when he was 14 years old and she was 20, and she was demanding $15,000 in unpaid child support bills.
Olivas had no idea that he even had a daughter until he was sued for child support. He tried fighting in court. But even though legally he had been raped, the courts followed precedent and forced him to pay her every penny she asked for, even for the years when he was still in school.
The law on this is clear—and it has been upheld time and time again by judges who refuse to see underage boys as victims in sex crimes. The courts have made their decision. When a young boy’s rape results in a pregnancy for the woman involved, the law books state: “The victim also has responsibilities.”
7 Bloggers Called A Woman Who Kidnapped And Repeatedly Raped A Man A ‘Hero’
Some people have flat-out cheered on female rapists. When a viral news story spread about a woman named Olga Zajac beating up a robber, tying him up in the back room of her salon, and repeatedly raping him over the course of three days, the reaction revealed a lot about how society sees male rape victims.
Discussions cropped up about whether a man could really be a rape victim and whether the man had actually enjoyed it–and those were among the more civil comments.
Olga was hailed as a “feminist hero” in some of the stranger quarters of the Internet. A Facebook fan page was even dedicated to her. People flooded the post with comments like “Olga, you are my hero!” and called her sex crime an act of “female empowerment.”
In time, it came out that the story might have just been a hoax—and the reaction was every bit as disturbing.
One blogger wrote:
Is it wrong to hope that Olga exists and is kicking butt all over Russia? Absolutely. But, sorry, I can’t help it. [ . . . ] Guess it goes to show that no matter how hard you wish for the woman-keeps-sex-slave story to be true, at the end of the day, it might turn out to be fake.
6 Multiple News Outlets Have Shared Galleries Of ‘Hot’ Pedophile Teachers
The Hollywood Gossip has a gallery of 31 teachers whom they have called “2 Hot 4 Students.” The gallery consists of the sexiest photographs the editors could find of adult women who have committed statutory rape.
It’s a dark glimpse into how we perceive adult women who take advantage of young boys sexually. But it’s hardly one of a kind. When 26-year-old Stephanie Peterson was arrested for having a sexual relationship with an eighth-grade boy, the headline at Fox News did not talk about her as a predator. Instead, it said that she “sent nudes [and] had sex romps” with a “teen boy.” Almost as soon as the story broke, a photograph of her fishing in a bikini spread over every corner of the Internet.
Likewise, when Erin Elizabeth McAuliffe was charged with having sex with multiple students, Maxim excitedly released an article that promised “more racy photos” of the woman they described as a “viral sex scandal.” Inside, the writer quipped: “Where the hell was this teacher when we were in high school?”
It’s all treated as a fun joke. What gets ignored is that the boys in the story aren’t eager men. They’re little boys who have barely even started puberty. When Stephanie Peterson’s middle-school victim reported that he was being sexually abused, he burst into tears and told his parents: “Anyone could molest you.”
5 Multiple Celebrities Have Bragged About Being Statutory Rape Victims
There’s no telling how often male rape actually happens. Men are statistically far less likely to report sexual assaults, especially when they think that their complaints might make them seem less macho. As a result, a lot of disturbing stories come out as people bragging.
Lil’ Wayne revealed in an interview that he was raped at 11 years old by a 13-year-old girl who bluntly told him to “f—k“ her. At the time, Wayne was so young that he didn’t know what the word meant. When the girl tried to take off his pants, he struggled but failed to push her off.
None of that, though, was told as a story of trauma. It was told as a boast. In response, the interviewer just asked him, “Are you good in bed?” and then, “Ever had a threesome?”
Likewise, Anthony Kiedis revealed in his autobiography that he lost his virginity to his father’s adult girlfriend when he was 11 years old and high on a quaalude. And Chris Brown has talked about being raped by a 15-year-old when he was only eight, as if it was something to brag about.
Which is perfectly normal. According to trauma recovery experts, men tend to justify statutory rape by telling themselves, “I’m a stud, I got laid.” When a statutory rape makes them feel powerless and emasculated, they rewrite how it happened in their heads to feel as if they’d been in control—even when they obviously weren’t.
4 A Man Who Reported Being Raped Was Beaten Up By Friends And Left By His Wife
An anonymous married man on the Internet recounted the story of how he was raped by his friend’s wife. He’d fallen asleep at a party and woke up to find his pants at his knees and his friend’s wife at his hips, performing oral sex on him while he was asleep.
The man asked what she was doing. She just stared at him in reply, never saying a word even while he pulled up his pants and rushed out of the room.
He tried to tell both his friend and his wife what had happened, but neither seemed to particularly believe that he hadn’t wanted it. And things only got worse when his attacker started going around telling people that they’d had consensual sex.
He tried to convince his friends that he’d been asleep when it happened, but none of them were willing to believe that a man could be an unwilling party to sex. One woman even punched him in the face for daring to suggest that he’d been raped.
He lost everything. “I don’t hang out with those people anymore,” the man said. “I’m not married to that wife anymore. I never see my friend (whose wife was responsible) anymore. I lost kind of a lot over that because ‘girls can’t rape boys.’ ”
3 A Judge Praised A Teacher Who Raped A 15-Year-Old Boy
When teacher Erica DePalo was arrested for raping a 15-year-old boy, the people in her hometown were so outraged that they sent the judge more than 30 letters in support of the person they felt was the victim.
But they didn’t think the victim was the 15-year-old boy. They thought it was the teacher.
The whole community rallied around DePalo, with the local paper writing that she was a former Essex County Teacher of the Year “loved by students and respected by colleagues.” They also justified her actions by saying that “hidden behind her cheerful facade was a woman suffering from extreme depression and anxiety.”
They believed that DePalo’s depression and anxiety were the only reasons why she’d raped a 15-year-old boy–and everyone involved in the court case concurred. The prosecution and the defense quickly agreed to give her a plea bargain without any jail time, and DePalo was set free.
It wasn’t an entirely unusual ruling. On average, male teachers who sexually abuse students serve 50 percent more time in jail than female teachers do and are sent to prison significantly more often.
In his final statements, the judge declared that the case had touched him. He told the court that he had “never seen such an outpouring of love and affection.” Yes, you read that right. The “outpouring of love and affection” that touched the judge wasn’t for the 15-year-old victim. It was for the grown woman who had raped the boy.
2 An Eighth Graders’ Parents Publicly Supported The Teacher Who Was Molesting Him
Sometimes, even the parents don’t try to protect the children in these cases. That’s what happened when eighth-grade teacher Alexandria Vera was caught having sex with a 13-year-old boy. His parents came out in support of the teacher.
Legally, it was statutory rape. Vera was almost twice the boy’s age, and she was his teacher. By every interpretation of the law, she was a sexual predator and he was a victim of molestation.
His parents, though, were happy to treat their child’s molestation as a romantic relationship. They admitted to the police that they were fully aware that she was sleeping with their child and said that they were “supportive of the pair.” Reportedly, they had even invited Vera over to have dinner with the family.
But there’s a reason that 13-year-olds aren’t considered capable of understanding the impact of things like this. Vera got pregnant with the young boy’s baby. He could have been liable to pay child support for the rest of his life. However, when child services came knocking on her door, Vera had already aborted the child as a dark way of ditching the evidence.
1 A Woman Who Raped Her Boyfriend While Wielding A Machete Wasn’t Charged With Rape
Things haven’t changed much. Just recently, Samantha Ray Mears was arrested for attacking her ex-boyfriend with a machete and forcing him to have sex with her. When the police came, they didn’t bother charging her with rape.
Mears had been hiding behind her ex-boyfriend’s door when she jumped out behind him and put a machete to his neck. She forced him to lie down on the bed and strip off his clothes. Then she raped him. The machete was in her hand the whole time to make sure that he understood what would happen if he tried to resist.
The victim managed to call 911 by pretending that he was calling a friend. As soon as the police arrived, he grabbed his sister and fled from the house, afraid for both of their lives.
The case was pretty clear-cut. The victim had bite marks on his skin, and he managed to snap a few pictures of Mears threatening him with the knife. And the police certainly didn’t let Mears go. They charged her with aggravated burglary, assault with a weapon, and unlawful restraint.
But they didn’t charge her with rape. They were willing to prosecute her for tying a man down, forcing him to strip off his clothes, and attacking him with a machete. But they still weren’t willing to believe that the man didn’t consent to having sex.