Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse face the same problems women survivors face with two exceptions–they judge themselves more harshly, and they have a very hard time recognizing they have been abused.
Men’s indoctrination since childhood dictates that they are to prove their sexual prowess. Sexual activity for boys as young as 12 is seldom considered inappropriate. Therefore, if an older girl initiates sex with a younger boy, he considers it an introduction to sex, proving his manliness. Additionally, men are indoctrinated to defend themselves against all odds–to fight to the death to protect their manliness. They are expected to risk their life or sustain severe injury to protect their pride and self-respect. These distorted beliefs about manliness and masculinity are deeply ingrained and can lead to intense feelings of guilt, shame and inadequacy for the male survivor.
Both male and female survivors generally question whether they deserved or somehow wanted to be sexually abused; they believe if they failed to defend themselves, they must have wanted it. Although both female and male survivors frequently view their abuse as a loss of manhood or femininity and are disgusted with themselves for not fighting back, men judge themselves more harshly. As a result of their guilt, shame and anger, both men and women punish themselves by engaging in self-destructive behavior such as: alcohol or drug use, prostitution, rape and numerous other criminal behaviors.
For some men self-destructive behavior means engaging in aggressiveness, such as road rage, arguing with friends or co-workers, or picking fights with strangers, as well as domestic violence as a way to regain their honor. Both men and women pull back from intimacy and end up feeling more and more isolated.
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