An estimated 1 out of every 6 men has experienced CSA. 1 Similar to women, men sexually abused in childhood report many challenges stemming from the maltreatment. 2 However, men are less likely to disclose an abuse than females, so these estimates may underestimate the true extent of the issue for men. Although the risk for CSA increases for girls as they enter adolescence, boys are at greater risk for sexual abuse when they are younger.1 Along these same lines, whereas the perpetrators of CSA among young girls are predominately male, there is increasing evidence that a proportion of CSA among young boys is perpetrated by females. Both women and men are at a higher risk of developing chronic or diffuse pain, anxiety, depression, eating disorders, and self-neglect. Both men and women are 4-5 times more likely to abuse illicit drugs or alcohol, and two times more likely to be obese, physically inactive, or smoke.4-6
Men are less likely to tell others about their experiences with abuse
Many men do not disclose their abuse histories. Several factors may contribute to a man’s lack of desire to tell anyone of the CSA. Some studies have shown that the age of abuse and by whom he was abused play a role in choosing whether to disclose or not. 4 Specifically, men who experience the abuse at older ages as compared to younger ages are less likely to disclose. Similarly, the more familiar the abuser is to the victim such as an immediate family member, the less likely he is to report the abuse.5,6 The delayed reporting can lead to long-term health effects such as severe depression, anxiety, or posttraumatic stress, which can take a toll on a man’s overall quality of life. Additional factors that may impact whether a man discloses CSA history are sexual orientation and masculinity concerns.3 Since the majority of abusers are male, it’s possible that a male child was abused by a male perpetrator. This may cause normal feelings of confusion towards a developing sexual identity.
Males who have experienced CSA may also experience a loss of control over their body that may make them feel like they are “less of a man.” These feelings may lead a man to question or struggle with his masculinity, as well as cause feelings of self-doubt and low self-esteem.4 While confusion over sexual orientation and struggles to reclaim masculinity may happen for some, they don’t necessarily happen to every man who has experienced CSA. If a man is experiencing these emotions and they are impacting his quality of life, counseling, therapy, medical attention, or support groups may be helpful. There are national organizations dedicated to supporting men who are survivors of CSA, including, but not limited to:
- Pérez-Fuentes G, Olfson M, Villegas L, Morcillo C, Wang S, Blanco C. Prevalence and correlates of child sexual abuse: a national study. Compr Psychiatry. 2013 Jan;54(1):16–27.
- Grayston AD, De Luca RV. Female perpetration of child sexual abuse: a review of the clinical and empirical literature. Aggressive Violent Behav 1999; 4:93–106.
- Gallo-Silver L, Anderson CM, Romo J. Best clinical practices for male adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse: “Do no harm.” Perm J. 2014; 18(3), 82-87.
- Sorsoli L, Kia-Keating M, Grossman FK. “I keep that hush-hush”: Male survivors of sexual abuse and challenges of disclosure. Journal of Counseling Psychology. 2008; 55(3), 333-45.
- Easton SD. Disclosure of child sexual abuse among adult male survivors. Clinical Social Work Journal. Dec 2013; 41(4), 344-55.
- O’Leary, P. J., & Barber, J. G. (2008). Gender differences in silencing following childhood sexual Abuse. Journal of Child Sexual Abuse, 17(1), 133-143.
- Grossman, F. K., Sorsoli, L., & Kia-Keating, M. (2006). A gale force wind: meaning making by male survivors of childhood sexual abuse. American journal of orthopsychiatry, 76(4), 434.