Don’t Tell: Military Culture and Male Rape


This study explores the rape of men within a military context, using data collected from veterans with military sexual trauma (MST)-related posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The impact of ‘male rape myths’ and related concepts present within military culture are taken into consideration, in order to fully explore the issues that may prevent people seeking help and support following this type of trauma.


The issue of sexual assault that occurs during military service has been a focus of attention over the past several years. Although approximately 50% of survivors of military sexual assault are men, virtually all of the literature focuses on the assault of female service members. Research has demonstrated that cultural variables are robust correlates of the sexual assault of women. This paper proposes that cultural variables are equally important when examining the rape of men, especially when this assault occurs in military contexts. We discuss male rape myths and related constructs as they are expressed within military culture. The results of data analysis from a treatment sample of veterans with military sexual trauma (MST)-related posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and clinical case examples are presented to further explore the concepts. We conclude that male rape myths and related beliefs that arise from cultural norms, and are further amplified and modified by military culture, impact male MST survivors and delay or obstruct their recovery. Suggestions for clinical application and future research are offered to encourage further efforts in this important area of practice.

Full Reference

O'Brien, C., Keith, J., Shoemaker, L. Psychological Services, Vol 12(4), Nov 2015, 357-365.