Sexual abuse of children is a taboo subject that has historically been kept hidden in the closets of people around the world. It is a subject that no one wants to believe is real, and yet we see the results of this maltreatment all around us every day.
The definition of sexual abuse is “unwanted sexual contact involving force, threats, or a large age difference between the perpetrator and the child.” However, this definition does not cover all the sexual encounters that a little boy may have that are abusive. Sometimes the abuse feels good, and the boy’s body responds. Even though the boy responds, he is still just a child and is in no way responsible for the abuse perpetrated against him.
An even harder subject for society to speak about is the fact that one in six boys suffer sexual violence before turning the age of eighteen. Most of these victims, 34% will be victimized by a family member.
The Sad Statistics of Boyhood Sexual Abuse
Sadly, the statistics of the ages at which the victimizations take place are very disheartening as well, showing that 27.8% of these innocent little boys become victims before the age of ten.
The above statistics are even more mind-boggling when you consider they were only speaking of male victims of child sexual assault in the United States. Although many believe that these figures hold up in all society across the globe.
Far beyond the numbers shown in the statistics above is the human toll. Not only are men who are sexually abused in childhood physically and emotionally harmed, but the effects of that maltreatment also carry over into their adult lives as well.
Like female victims of child sexual abuse, male victims are more prone to being raped as adults. While some question how assault against a is possible, it is an undeniable fact that it happens, and more often than people want to believe.
The Effects of Childhood Sexual Abuse on Men
The National Sex Violence Center, reports that one in sixteen men survive sexual assault while attending college. Also, 35% of male survivors report long-term effects such as post-traumatic stress disorder.
Men who survived sexual abuse as children are far more likely to have problems holding jobs, maintaining meaningful relationships and are at high risk for suicide. They are also left open by their childhood experiences to becoming addicted to drugs or alcohol.
Below you’ll find a partial list of some of the most common reactions traumatized men have in their lives.
Post-traumatic stress disorder
Having a sense of blame
Having a feeling of shame
Suicidal thoughts or ideations
The sad reality of this list of the effects experienced by boy sexual abuse survivors shows is that this list is endless.
Common Myths about Male Survivors
There are several myths concerning men who experienced sexual abuse that need to be addressed and laid to rest.
First, the fact that a man survived abuse as a child has nothing to do with how masculine or feminine they are. Sexual abuse is an act of violence perpetrated against a child, not an act of sex.
Next, if the boy liked the attention he was receiving or was sexually aroused, it was still abuse. Period. The child did not like or want to the sex abuse; they were victims. In no way was what happened to them their fault then or now.
Little boys face abuse at the hands of an assortment of people. This list includes straight and gay men and women. Abusers take advantage of a child’s helplessness to feel powerful and have nothing to do with the sexual orientation or gender of the abuser.
Sexual orientation has nothing to do with it. There are global myths people hold as true that the child or man who has been a victim of sexual abuse was gay in childhood or turned gay as an adult.
This myth about victims of childhood assault remain in hiding and never to seek treatment due to the stigma involved. To make matters worse, homosexuality is against the law with steep penalties from imprisonment to death.
Perhaps the most horrendous myth of all holds that most men who suffered molestation as children will become child molesters themselves. This myth is patently false. It may be true that many sexually abused children will grow to abuse others, most of the boys do NOT become sexually violent with children.
To allow ourselves to think that men who lived through child abuse will automatically become perpetrators sets them up for undeserved disbelief and fear from society.
The Extreme Difficulties of Finding Help
Women who are survivors of sexual violence in childhood have their choice of therapists and support groups around the world. There are even large movements in society today that focus on sexual assault and harassment.
However, the landscape is radically different for men who have experienced sexual violence.
Societies views on how men should behave and how much emotion they should show limits the abilities of men to seek out help. Men are taught from a young age to be tough, always put on a strong front and never to weep.
Then there is the problem of finding outside sources for help. Support groups dedicated to male survivors are hard to find even in large metropolitan areas. There might be many in a nearby city, they are usually well-hidden and have a small number of members.
If a man lives in a rural area and needs help dealing with his childhood assault, it is even harder to find anyone to speak to.
Therapists and other mental health professionals are undertrained in dealing with the issues surrounding male childhood assault. Therapists may not be aware or able to face the truths involved in the violence perpetrated against little boys or know what to do if he/she does.
There remains much misunderstanding among well-meaning mental health professionals about the facts of surviving boyhood sexual assault. These may include the fact that some victims experience pleasure or their confusion about their sexuality.
These misunderstandings by these professionals can further reinforce the man’s sense of shame and unmanliness and send them back into the world feeling helpless once more.
What Can We All Do to Help?
There are many things society can do to not only prevent little boys from falling prey to sexual violence but to help the survivors of these crimes.
First and foremost, we must bring the sexual abuse of little boys out of the closet and into the light of day. It is agreed by all that the conversations that must take place will be uncomfortable. However, if we are to end this crime against humanity and alleviate the suffering of millions, we must open our mouths and begin the conversation.
We can do this by having conversations at our dinner tables, in our churches and our schools about the truths and dispel the myths about sexual violence.
We can also write articles like this one and demand society face the truth.
We can begin a #me too movement for men adding their anguishing stories to those already being told by woman all over the globe.
Only by banding together can the human race erase and eradicate the unfortunate reality of sexual assault perpetrated against innocent little boys in our world.
Should you or someone you know have lived through the experience of sexual violence when you were a little boy, there is help.
More than anything else, to help men survivors heal love and believe them when they finally open up to you about their experiences. Having a sympathetic and open ear listening to these injured men will go a long way towards helping them overcome their hard childhood experiences.
“Sometimes it takes dealing with a disability — the trauma, the relearning, the months of rehabilitation therapy — to uncover our true abilities and how we can put them to work for us in ways we may have never imagined.”
~ Tammy Duckworth
Note from Author:
An organization known as 1 in 6 is available online to help you help yourself or someone you love. Don’t hesitate to look them up and find peace in your life. Their site is full of helpful information and will help you begin your healing journey.