Three perspectives on police work with male rape – victims, victim advocates and police investigators

Primary investigator: Stefan Sjöström

Collaborator: Jens Lindberg, Umeå univerity

Grant: Forte 2016-2019

There is only scarce knowledge about male rape. Even though men are less likely to become victimized, male rape constitutes a significant social problem. The international literature suggests that male rape victims largely suffer the same psychological, sexual, interpersonal and physical consequences as women.

The police plays a major role in how rape victims experience the crisis they face, but also in finding and convicting the perpetrators. There is currently an intense debate about how the police contributes to secondary victimization and fails to solve rape cases with female victims. Several studies indicate that the investigation of male rape partly requires different approaches. No Swedish research exists on this topic, although the Swedish National Police Agency has proclaimed a need to improve the routines and the training for the investigation of sexual offences.

The proposed project investigates the Swedish police force’s work with male rape. Two types of data are gathered: a) the written documentation from police investigations, and b) interviews with crime victims, crime advocates and police offices with experience from male rape cases.
1) How are police investigations carried out?
2) How do police officers communicate with rape victims?
3) What are the consequences of police work on part of male rape victims?

These questions are put into the broader context of rape against women. The project rests upon the assumption that cultural understandings of male rape impact on how the police carries out its work. Views on victims, sexuality and gender thus become central to how the police interacts with and investigates male rape.

Results from the project are relevant for the police in developing methods for investigating sexual offenses, and male rape in particular. Moreover they feed into discussions about future redistribution of resources within the police and reforms of legislation.