On an almost daily basis, we hear stories of female sexual harassment and abuse in the media. Sadly, male sexual abuse is common, but the media and society underreport the issue 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 this abuse not reported more often?
Men are often 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 seems to go against the unspoken rules of being a man to acknowledge trauma and admit that you are suffering.
As a result, male survivors of sexual abuse often shove their feelings down and deny what happened. This repression of experience and emotion can and often does lead to isolation, anger, sadness, shame, guilt, and fear. Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), major depression, anxiety, and substance abuse are also common responses.
It’s essential to get help.
If you are a survivor of sexual abuse, understand that you are far from alone. As the topic becomes more spoken about, there is less judgement by those who don’t understand how men could be victimized in such a way. Education regarding male sexual abuse and demystifying misconceptions surrounding rape 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 vital that individual survivors 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 survivor of sexual abuse and would like to get support, please get in touch. I would be more than happy to discuss how I may be able to help.