O’Barr said if there was enough interest, his department would provide a male-identified survivor group, but being the only male in a female-identified survivor group could create problems.
“It could be harmful to the male survivor if he is the only male survivor in a support group,” he said.
O’Barr said his department frequently refers both male and female survivors to support groups at the Orange County Rape Crisis Center.
Shamecca Bryant, executive director of the Orange County Rape Crisis Center, said the center gets direct referrals from CAPS and other mental health professionals.
Of the 597 primary and secondary survivors of sexual violence the rape crisis center served last year, 16 percent identified as male, Bryant said.
“For the past three years, we have served roughly 100 male-identified survivors annually on our 24/7 help line and our support group services,” Bryant said in an email.
Sophomore Zackary Green said support for male survivors is not as prominent because it challenges the typical norms regarding sexual violence.
“Since sexual assaults against males are usually perpetrated by other males, this makes it an issue that falls outside the prevalent heteronormativity that governs our society, which marginalizes focus on the subject,” he said.
The discrepancy in services offered for male and female survivors of sexual assault is evident, even in the University’s bathrooms.
Senior Garrison Gordon said he has never noticed sexual assault information fliers in men’s bathrooms on campus. The fliers, which are on almost every stall door in women’s bathrooms, are scarce in men’s bathrooms.
“Posters about support and reporting options for sexual assault are placed in restrooms throughout campus, including men’s restrooms,” Ew Quimbaya-Winship, UNC’s Deputy Title IX Coordinator, said in an email.
Gordon said he sees the sexual assault of men and women as very different conversations.
“The sexual assault of women is interesting because there are institutions of culture around University life that promotes sexual assault of women, whereas with men it tends to be more interpersonal,” he said. “When a weekend happens at UNC, there are different rituals that promote sexual assault of women that doesn’t do the same for men.”
Gordon said he thinks male and female survivors have difficulty speaking out for different reasons.
“It’s like addressing an instance of a man being sexually assaulted versus addressing the culture that promotes sexual assault of women,” he said. “I think they are equally as valid.”
Gordon said his involvement in Carolina United and Nourish-UNC, both social justice-oriented programs, has allowed him to become a part of the more vocal conversation around sexual assault on campus.
“There are lots of groups in the Campus Y doing work related to sexual assault and gender violence,” he said. “I think it’s an up-and-coming conversation around the general sexual assault conversation happening on campus.”
Bryant said male sexual assault survivors can feel uncomfortable reporting and asking for help.
“The stigma around sexual violence still makes it challenging for men to feel comfortable accessing services,” she said. “Additionally, there is often a lack of support available for men, particularly in smaller communities where confidentiality may be of the utmost concern.”