I think most people would agree that when you hear phrases such as “sexual abuse” and “rape”, we are likely to think of men as perpetrators and women as victims or survivors. What we don’t often hear about are the boys and men who have been victimized. Whether it’s due to stigma, taboo, or feeling shamed into silence, we need to talk about the sexual abuse of boys and men.
Perhaps you can recall the huge news break of Jerry Sandusky, coach at Penn State and mentor to boys through his non-profit organization in Pennsylvania. The countless number of men who have disclosed years of sexual abuse at the hands of their clergy across all religions and faiths. It sometimes takes years for a male survivor of sexual violence to break their silence and disclose to someone about their experiences.
All survivors of sexual violence suffer in some way and generally speaking it is difficult to talk about what’s happened, whether it was hours or years ago. Men and boys often experience an added layer of stigma and shame because of our gender role expectations as a society and in many cultures. Men are supposed to be strong and be providers. We have a difficult time seeing them as victims or powerless at the hands of another. And when the perpetrator is a woman, it seems even more difficult to believe.
After working with survivors for years, I can tell you that these myths and stigmas only serve to hurt survivors and helps to silence them. We must respect the courage it takes to come forward and talk about what’s happened.
In therapy, treatment centers around obtaining education about the impact of sexual abuse and empowering men to have a voice in their healing process. A safe, therapeutic relationship with a therapist is important, as is the ability to connect with other men who have experienced something similar. If you or someone you know is interested in seeking therapy to address sexual abuse, please call Specialized Therapy Associates at 201-488-6678.