On an almost daily basis we hear stories of female sexual harassment and abuse in the media. Sadly, male sexual abuse is fairly common, but the issue is underreported by the media and society in general.
One US-based study found that 1 in 6 boys experience some form of sexual abuse by the age of 18. Other research suggests the ratio may be as high as 1 in 4.
Why is sexual abuse against males not reported more often?
To start, most men are embarrassed to be the victim of sexual abuse, particularly when it is perpetrated by other men. In our culture, men are supposed to be invulnerable and not feel emotional pain. In other words, guys are supposed to be the strong, silent type. It simply goes against the silent rules of being a man to acknowledge trauma and admit that you are suffering.
Childhood Sexual Abuse in Males
It can also be difficult as an adult male to allow yourself to acknowledge you were a victim of sexual abuse as a child. Whether it be by an adult relative, a cousin, a parent, or even a peer, the level of fear, shame, and embarrassment is overwhelming. It’s easy to to try and push these memories away and pretend as though they never happened.
But, as hard as you try to push them away and “move on” or “get over it”, memories and thoughts and feelings still pop back up. This repression of experience and emotion can and often does lead to isolation, anger, sadness, shame, guilt, and fear. It shows up back in your life in
- Thoughts that are difficult to ignore
- Stomachaches or nausea
- Anxiety or Panic Attacks
- Substance abuse
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Or even in your over protective and hyper vigilant form of parenting
You’re Not Alone
If you are a victim of sexual abuse, it’s important to get help and understand that you are far from alone. As the topic becomes more mainstream, there is less judgement by those who don’t understand how a man could be victimized in such a way. Education regarding male sexual abuse and demystifying misconceptions surrounding rape, assault and childhood sexual abuse is essential to help male survivors heal and speak out.
While more needs to be done to bring this subject to mass awareness, it’s important that individual victims seek support. A therapist will be able to help you deal with your complex emotions and offer strategies to move through and past feelings of depression and anxiety. In time, healing can and does occur.
If you or someone you know is a male victim of sexual abuse and would like to discuss treatment options, please get in touch. We would be more than happy to discuss how we may be able to help.