Some possible options (depending on your comfort and his openness to further discussion) include:

  • Offer encouragement for his willingness to consider a challenging question,
  • Listen neutrally. Ask him what factors make him think it might have been abusive. Avoid defining what happened for him.
  • Explore whether he feels there was a power imbalance in the relationship
  • Offer to help him find resources to learn more about unwanted and abusive sexual experiences for males and why it might be difficult, but important for a man to address it.
  • Do a safety check. See if he has healthy strategies to manage negative feelings when he starts thinking about this question. If not, help him a men’s referral service should he start to feel overwhelmed.