Men, Sexual Trauma, and Healing…
by Frank Theus, LPC
Back in October 2014, I wrote a blog article entitled Abused Boys http://avenuescounselingcenter.org/abused-boys. My commentary invited readers to enter into an ongoing blogversation shattering the silence specifically for men who were discovering that they were survivors of sexual trauma, in particular, and other forms of abuse. Now two years later, in light of the work I do as a Certified Sex Addiction Therapist (CSAT®), I felt the need to re-visit this e-discussion.
Did you know that according the U.S. Veterans Administration (VA) 1 in 10 men* – that’s 10% of the male population – have suffered trauma resultant from sexual assault.
Per U.S. Census data that would translate into the following:
- Approximate # of Males in the U.S. 138,053,563 (49.1% of gen’l population) = 13.9 million Male sexual assault victims*
- Approximate # of Males in St. Louis County 493,000 = 49,300 Male sexual assault victims*
Imagine with me what these numbers might mean to you. If you attend a church service on Sunday morning, which has on average 185 persons in attendance; and, if it reflected the U.S. general population, there would be approximately 91 male attendees. Of that number there would likely be nine fellow image bearers of God who are sitting next to you, serving alongside of you, suffering in silence regarding their past abuse or assault. These men aren’t numbers, they are our fathers, brothers, nephews, grandsons, veterans, coworkers, clergy, coaches, elders, deacons, husbands, neighbors, bosses, friends…
But Who Would Do This?
- “Those who sexually assault men or boys differ in a number of ways from those who assault only females.
- Boys are more likely than girls to be sexually abused by strangers or by authority figures in organizations such as schools, the church, or athletics programs.
- Those who sexually assault males usually choose young men and male adolescents (the average age is 17 years old) as their victims and are more likely to assault many victims, compared to those who sexually assault females.
- Perpetrators often assault young males in isolated areas where help is not readily available. For instance, a perpetrator who assaults males may pick up a teenage hitchhiker on a remote road or find some other way to isolate his intended victim.
- As is true about those who assault and sexually abuse women and girls, most perpetrators of males are men. Specifically, men are perpetrators in about 86 out of every 100 (or 86%) of male victimization cases.
- Despite popular belief that only gay men would sexually assault men or boys, most male perpetrators identify themselves as heterosexuals and often have consensual sexual relationships with women.
- These same male victims may have an additional burden of confusion, shame and humiliation if their abuser was a female.” (VA)
- Early onset exposure to pornography due to adult permissiveness (neglect) or intentionality (abuse). (Theus)
- Covert incest wherein the male child feels more like the emotional-romantic-surrogate partner to mom. (Adams)
As these men make their way into counseling and, in particular, the ones who come to see me for my help as a CSAT®, it’s usually due to problematic/at-risk behaviors around sex and sexuality that they have sought to hide for so many years but now has exploded into the light of day. These hurting men are at a tipping point or have “hit bottom” and, much like someone drowning, desperately need rescue.
As the rescue operation unfolds it oftentimes reveals a life story of various forms of at-risk behaviors from adolescence into adulthood, porn-induced erectile dysfunction (PIED), STDs, immersed in shame-guilt, feeling stigmatized, dissociating, confusion, distorted-negative core beliefs, lack of boundaries, anxiety-depression-PTSD, anger, and addictive-compulsive behaviors around the use of substances and other process addictions (e.g. money, work, gambling, food, video gaming, and tanning) as an attempt to have “control”, to “survive”, to “escape” and/or to “numb out”.
As important as it is to know that rescue has been extended, my clients begin to realize that what they are undertaking is a journey into sustainable sobriety-recovery and wholeness of their mind, body, spirit, and vital core relationships.
This process is akin to a crucible, yet one wherein the client is extended invitations to explore the deepest issues of their heart in order to grow deeper insights and tools to engage their stories, past, present, and future with real courage and hope. (Allender)
Are you ready to journey? I pray you are.
*NOTE: Many believe – as do I — that the actual conservative number is 1:6 men or 17% of the male population has been sexually abused. If so, the above numbers would be adjusted to:
24 million men nationally
84,00 men within the county
15 men inside our sanctuaries.