October is domestic abuse prevention month and it seems that for months leading up to it social media and various news media outlets have been awash reporting on the topic of abused boys, and, in some cases, men. Is this phenomenon — the reporting of abused boys in the context of sexual abuse, in particular — merely a documenting of the latest cause du jour; or, is the issue so prevalent we simply can no longer ignore the ugly truth? I think the answer is, “It’s both.”
My desire in writing about this ugly truth is to initiate a safe and respectful “blogversation” (yeah, I coined that term) that will be ongoing and not just a one off blog article. This continuing conversation, I hope, will seek to educate in a non-salacious manner deconstructing fallacies that sexual abuse of boys is rare, or that the consequences are less serious than for girls. Additionally, that if you’re an adult survivor of childhood sex abuse (CSA) – particularly you men – you are NOT alone and you no longer need hide in the shadows silently carrying the burden of shame, guilt, confusion, humiliation, pain, and fear. Lastly, through reading this article and ones to follow you will be encouraged to come out of the shadows of this burden you’ve carried for too long and to find the care, counsel, and substantial healing you so richly deserve.
Sex abuse is “…any touch or other behavior between the child and the adult that must be kept secret will be considered abuse.”
As this blogversation unfolds it’s important that we arrive at a clear definition of what sexual abuse is. Because, after all, once we know what it is impacts how we react to it. Here I like the succinct definition provided by Dr. Mic Hunter: Sex abuse is “…any touch or other behavior between the child and the adult that must be kept secret will be considered abuse.” Regardless of the adult’s protestations and/or intentions, if harm was the result for the child, the adult is the responsible party. Sadly, I would also add that this definition applies to an older minor-aged child engaged similarly, beyond developmental curiosity, with a younger-aged child. The “Who is responsible?” portion here obviously presents a host of challenges for parents and or those who are “mandate reporters” who discover abusive behaviors between minors; increasingly, the courts are answering this question.
“So what are we talking about here, Frank?” Well, it’s not the scope of this or follow on entries to enumerate what is certainly an inexhaustible list of ways that adults and older-aged minors mistreat children. But what I do know from anecdotal reporting, my own research on the topic before us, and what I deal with therapeutically with male clients is:
- Conservatively, 1 in 6 (16.66%) males have experienced some form of sex abuse prior to their 18th
- Male survivors of CSA often time lack the recognition and/or vocabulary to name what in fact happened to them.
- Over time, victim-survivors are at greater risk for developing maladaptive coping mechanisms and/or acting out behaviors which impact their health, relationships, and vocation.
Questions to help identify your thoughts and emotions (Hunter):
- What has been your definition of sexual abuse or incest? After reading above do you feel it may be changing?
- Does your working definition for sex abuse allow you to feel the weight of your own abuse or that of a loved one?
- How common do you think sexual abuse is in your gender?
I hope this initial start to this blogversation has a struck a chord with you. If so, please add your thoughtful comments, questions here. If you wish to have a more confidential conversation on this or other topics or other issues impacting your life please give me or one of my colleagues a call here at Avenues Counseling Center.
Resources for your consideration and growth:
- Abused Boys: The Neglected Victims of Sexual Abuse by Dr. Mic Hunter (Fawcett Books: 1990).
- The Wounded Heart: Hope for Adult Victims of Childhood Sex Abuse by Dr. Dan Allender (NavPress: 2008).
by: Frank Theus, PLPC