James Dean, Carols Santana, Greg Luganis, Robert Blake, Axl Rose and Henry Rollins were all victims of sexual abuse. A sexually abused male will frequently hide his experiences, only to suffer depression and other Post Traumatic Stress-related symptoms as an adult. Symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder include:
- hypervigilance for one's safety
- bursts of anger
- physical complaints (such as headaches, stomach distress, back and neck pain)
- inability to trust others
- feelings of hopelessness
- emotional numbing
- intrusive thoughts, reminders, triggers of the event
- anxiety, nervousness, panic attacks
- poor concentration
- physically/emotionally distancing from loved ones
- self-destructive behaviors (such as driving fast, binging on drugs/alcohol, sexual promiscuity)
~Types of sexual abuse: Exposing a child (minor under the years of 18) to sexual materials, sexually inappropriate language or teasing, asking a child to watch the perpetrator masturbate, asking a child to masturbate, touching of a child's genitalia (either over or under clothing), coercing a minor to touch another's genitalia (either the perp. or another person's), forcing a child to give or receive oral copulation. Less common sexual abuse includes anal intercourse (sodomy) and insertion of objects.
~The abuser does not need to be of adult age - 18 or older. Courts typically recognize abuse when the predator is 2-4 years older than the minor child, e.g. victim is 7 and the abuser is 15.
- Men rarely disclose their past childhood abuse to girlfriends or wives because they fear "looking bad" or being perceived as weak. In fact, men frequently spend an entire lifetime keeping this painful secret from everyone. The most common examples of abuse typically include molest by a) older male sibs b) older male relatives, and c) men in positions of trust or authority.
- Men abused as children will ask themselves, "Why me?" "Maybe he didn't intend to hurt me," "I should be over this by now," or "I could have done something to stop it." No child ever does anything to warrant or deserve abuse, sexual exploitation, or physical violation. Children are weak and vulnerable; they trust adults and are taught to follow direction. Sexual behaviors are strange and unfamiliar; children usually have no way of understanding what is exactly happening in the midst of their molest encounter. In the face of stress or confusion, children will freeze, or "go along. " Frequently, children comply with an abuser in order to protect another sibling or a parent, "If you tell, I will hurt your sister." Children are easily tricked, lured, or emotionally manipulated into believing that they (the child) will be in trouble, or, a parent will be angry or upset at them, so they don't tell. Again, it is never, ever - not ever - the child's fault.
- Men who have been abused do not usually become abusers themselves. Men who abuse almost always have been abused. Men who have been victims of sexual molest or rape will not/do not become homosexual because of this trauma, yet, these fears and shameful thoughts deeply affect male survivors ("If I was picked as a molest victim by another male, I must be gay," or, "Since I developed an erection while I was molested, I am obviously attracted to men." )
- If a child tried to tell a mom or dad, and was not believed, this victim may grow up feeling rage, rejection, helplessness, or worthlessness. These feelings will intensify over time and ignoring them - pushing away the memories or thoughts - will not be effective over the course of a lifetime. Yes, repressing or distracting will work for awhile, but eventually the truth of our life experience must be brought into the light.
- Research indicates that men who have experienced childhood sexual abuse view themselves in a negative light, feel contempt for their partners and become defensive more frequently than men who have not been abused.
- The sooner abuse is dealt with, the better off the individual will be. It's common for adult survivors to "wait" to deal with the experience until things are calm enough to be addressed, financial security is in place, or some major milestone in life is achieved i.e. college, promotion, grown kids, etc. But, typically, men seek therapy when the banana's have hit the fan; relationships are stalled or empty, substance abuse has hit break-neck speed, or a partner is urging you to "deal with your past." Some common thoughts that prevent men from seeking counseling: "Why does it matter now?" "I should be over it at this point," "Talking about it will only make it worse," or "If I allow myself to go there, I will flip out/go crazy/want to kill someone." Therapy helps an individual recognize the reality of their life experience, reconcile the events into some form of acceptance, distance enough to maintain healthy relationships with safe people, and finally feel validation for the intensity of their painful and confusing thoughts and feelings. Talking about the abuse, while difficult, will be the difference between a happy life and an unhappy life, closeness to your children, intimate partners, and learning to trust others. An experienced clinician can work through this complex emotional terrain with you.
Well-Known Male Victims of Abuse