Counseling Services for Individuals, Couples & Families
Rape, Abuse, Incest, National Network (RAINN) reports on their website, https://www.rainn.org, about 10% of the victims of sexual assault, sexual abuse, and rape are men or boys. These victims often feel a great sense of isolation which is worsened by a society that has difficulty acknowledging the sexual abuse of boys.
The sexist belief that men, even as children, are invulnerable to sexual victimization stops many people from believing male survivors of sexual abuse, or from taking the abuse seriously.
In Western culture, men are raised to deny and mask their emotions. They are expected to be “strong,” productive, physically active, and concerned with making money. There is little room for them to feel scared, vulnerable, or sad. Anger is often the only outlet offered to men. Abused men who act out of their anger often end up in the criminal justice system.
Other men numb themselves to the pain of their abuse, telling themselves that it wasn’t so bad, or hoping it will just go away. They may end having mental health issues, or in drug and alcohol treatment programs. Either way, they are invisible as sexual abuse and incest survivors, leaving them alone, depressed, angry, and without appropriate support and treatment.
As listed on the RAINN’s website, https://www.rainn.org, the items below are a number of treatment issues specific to men who have been sexually abused:
- Sense of self and concept of “reality” are disrupted.
- Profound anxiety, depression, fearfulness.
- Concern about sexual orientation.
- Development of phobias related to the assault setting.
- Fear of the worst happening and having a sense of a shortened future.
- Withdrawal from interpersonal contact and a heightened sense of alienation.
- Stress-induced reactions (problems sleeping, increased startle response, being unable to relax).
- Psychological outcomes can be severe for men because men are socialized to believe that they are immune to sexual assault and because societal reactions to these assaults can be more isolating.
Heterosexual Male Survivors
- May experience a fear that the assault will make them gay.
- May feel that they are “less of a man.”
Homosexual Male Survivors
- May feel the crime is “punishment” for their sexual orientation.
- May worry that the assault affected their sexual orientation.
- May fear they were targeted because they are gay. This fear may lead to withdrawal from the community.
- May develop self-loathing related to their sexual orientation.
Relationships / Intimacy
- Relationships may be disrupted by the assault.
- Relationships may be disrupted by others’ reactions to the assault, such as a lack of belief/support.
- Relationships may be disrupted by the survivor’s reaction to or coping with the assault.
- Anger about the assault, leading to outward- and inward-focused hostility.
- Avoidance of emotions or emotional situations, stemming from the overwhelming feelings that come with surviving a sexual assault.
Here at Monarch, Bryon Bratt, MA, LIMHP, LPC has extensive experience in these issues. He can help sort through the confusion and help guide you on the road to healing.