Common myths about men as victims of abuse

Myth: Men who have been sexually abused will eventually sexually offend against others.

Fact: Most people who have been sexually abused do not abuse children as adults. It is a small minority of men who eventually go on to behave abusively.

Myth: Most sexual abuse is done by “dirty old men”.

Fact: Boys can be sexually abused by anyone in a position of power in relation to them.

Myth: Men who have experienced sexual abuse by a male are or will become gay or bisexual.

Fact: Sexual abuse is an act of violence where sexual acts are the weapon. The abuse itself is not about sex, but power. Sexual abuse impacts sexuality. There is no research that identifies it being responsible for sexual orientation. Living in a homophobic social context is more directly related to this particular fear.

Myth: Childhood sexual abuse rarely happens to boys.

Fact: Research estimates that 20% of women and 16% of men experienced sexual abuse as children (2010).

Myth: Boys sexually abused by an adult female enjoyed it.

Fact: Abuse is nonconsensual and violating, but because the body is designed to respond to stimulations, physical reactions such as ejaculation can occur. This is not under the survivor’s control and contributes to shame and selfblame.

It is impossible to effectively work toward trust and safety with a person who has experienced trauma if service providers believe these myths that are prevalent in our society. These myths cause harm to people who have experienced trauma, and as long as they continue to be believed and replicated, men who have experienced sexual abuse will be less likely to get the recognition and help they need. As a result, the cycle of guilt, shame, anger and silence will continue.

For any man who has been sexually abused, overcoming these myths is an essential part of recovery. This can only happen, however, with providers who are willing to educate and support men in their healing process.

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