Sexual Experiences and Mental Health in Men: The Ganymede Study
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Sexual violence is a prominent issue in the U.S. and worldwide. Although the majority of research has focused on women, 1 in 6 men in the U.S. have experienced sexual violence, and this statistic is likely an underestimate due to markedly low rates of men identifying and reporting these experiences as sexual assault, rape, or sexual abuse. The current study investigates the ways in which nonconsensual sexual experiences (NSEs) affect men’s subjective mental health and attitudes toward help-seeking behaviors later in life, while considering the roles of hegemonic masculinity, patriarchal social roles, and minority group membership (e.g., sexual orientation). An online survey was administered to both community (U.S.; n = 108) and undergraduate (University of Texas at Austin; n = 49) samples. A series of multivariate regression analyses were used to assess the amount of variation in outcome variables that could be explained by NSEs and minority status. Findings support predictions that NSEs have a negative impact on subjective mental health and attitudes toward physical health help-seeking behaviors, and that there is a combined effect of NSEs and minority status on support preferences, such that NSEs are detrimental to inclinations to seek support in this relationship. However, the relationships between NSEs and mental health help-seeking behaviors, and the effects of minority status on the other outcomes, should be studied in more detail in replications. These results suggest the need for treatment providers to address the intersectionality of sexual violence and sexual minority status of men as barriers to treatment, and the necessity of considering this in the application and development of treatment options for this population.