Male sexual abuse-Living with the trauma
One of the best books dealing with this subject
Male Sexual assault the mental scars
This is my story of the mental scars of being sexually assaulted, and the need for closure.
I am calling it sexual assault and not abuse as it only happened the once, but the trauma is just the same.
A lot has been written, and there are many books out there about dealing with abuse many of which I have read, but only a victim can fully understand the mental scars.
Some facts about male sexual abuse
1 in 6 men report having had unwanted direct sexual contact with an older person by the age of 16. This figure is as high as 1 in 4 if indirect or non-contact sexual behaviour such as indecent exposure is included.
Common symptoms for sexually abused men include: guilt, anxiety, depression, interpersonal isolation, shame, low self-esteem, post-traumatic stress reactions, poor body imagery, sleep disturbance, nightmares, and compulsive behavior like alcoholism, drug addiction, gambling, overeating, overspending.
The vast majority, (over 80%) of sexually abused boys never become adult perpetrators.
There is no compelling evidence that sexual abuse fundamentally changes a boy's sexual orientation, but it may lead to confusion about sexual identity and is likely to affect how he relates in intimate situations.
Boys often feel physical sexual arousal during abuse even if repulsed by what is happening.
Perpetrators tend to be males who consider themselves heterosexual and are most likely to be known but unrelated to the victims.
It was forty-two years ago I was assaulted but I can still remember it like it was yesterday. I was12 at the time. A few months earlier I was waiting on my friends coming out of the swimming baths when I was approach by a man I knew, we chatted in general and he asked if I wanted to wait in his house, as it was next to the pool. I said no it was alright as they would be out soon, so he said bye and left. I realise now with hindsight that I was already a target.
I was returning home from the fish and chip shop at about 10pm when I met him, he had been drinking and asked me if I would help him upstairs to his flat, I didn’t think anything wrong with this and said okay. We chatted away about nothing in particular, he asked me things like did I have a girlfriend? When we got into his flat (I know this sound far fetched but its true) he asked if I wanted to see some pictures. He lifted a small loose floorboard in his hall and took out pictures of naked women, he touched me and asked if I was getting aroused, fear had now taken over. He told me to get in the bedroom and get into bed; all sorts of things were now going through mind do I try to get out? Will he get violent? Will he kill me? If I just do what he says everything will be okay? I will leave the gory details of the assault and get back to the real reason for this article.
I did question my sexuality for a few years after this. Was I homosexual? did this guy see something in me to to prove this?If he did does everyone else? But apart from that I managed to bury the ordeal deep in my subconscious. It was about 30 years later before the nightmares started, and the shame and blame began. I must also add, by this time I am an alcoholic is this related to the ordeal? Don’t know and honestly don’t care, as it would just be something else to blame. I blamed my parents, they shouldn’t have let me out at that time of night. I blamed myself for being a coward. I felt ashamed with myself for allowing it to happen,
So I started to read about child sexual abuse and who to overcome the guilt, by now the nightmares are more frequent and the drink isn’t helping. I have now started attending therapy session with a psychiatrist.
Recovery is slow,but 2 years later I am now a recovering alcoholic and the nightmares have stopped .How did this happen? With professional help. I now know the guilt belongs with the attacker and not the victim.
Don’t be like me, if you are a victim seek help from professionals, counsellors, pyschitrists, therapists. Don’t let it fester in your mind for years. If you have the courage go to the police and report it. I Didn’t have the courage and won’t totally get closure.
Effects of abuse
Being abused as a child may have serious and long-lasting effects on a person. Such effects can include:
Loss of confidence, dignity and self respect.
Low self-esteem and poor self-worth.
Loss of hope for the future.
Adverse effects on both physical and mental health.
The inability to trust others even close family and friends.
The inability to relax and enjoy life.
Loss of innocence and childhood.
Anxiety, guilt and fear.
Sexual dysfunction, withdrawal, and acting out.
Difficulties in relating to the opposite sex.
And may also lead to:
Alcohol and drug abuse
Obsessive behaviour and strict routines.
Self-harming e.g. cutting, scratching or burning.
What is sexual abuse?
Sexual abuse is any sexually related behaviour between two or more people where there is an imbalance of power. This can include adult-child, older child-younger child, adolescent-younger person, or any situation where the other person is forced to participate.
Why has this happened to me?
Remember the abuser is always to blame for the abuse not the Victim.
No matter how long ago you were abused, your feelings about what happened to you are important. You have the right to be listened to, no matter what you want to say. Through speaking about your abuse you may well be able to overcome any difficulties that you experience as an adult.
What help is available to me?
If you were sexually abused, it is important to know that good counselling can help you overcome problems arising from the abuse. Normally there will be a waiting list to see a counsellor but try and not be too impatient. There are counsellors and counselling services that offer specialist treatment to adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse.
Knowing what to expect in counselling can make it easier
How can I help myself?
Talk to someone in confidence
Deciding to get help is not an easy decision but one which only you can make. Remember, however, that you are not alone and that many other people who have experienced the same problems as you have made the same decision – and many have been helped as a result.
Your family doctor is always a good starting point and he/she is likely if you are agreeable to refer you to a professional counsellor who has specific expertise in this area