At one time, it was thought up to 90% of sexual abuse victims were female. A new awareness has changed these estimates but, unfortunately, we still don’t have accurate figures because abuse of males has always been under-reported.
Male survivors have taken longer to come forward and speak out
But the past decade has seen a growth in those prepared to bear witness publicly and to the support services available to them. Abuses in, for example, care homes and religious institutions have affected both sexes, but these cases have particularly brought to light the extent of assaults against boys.
While many issues are the same for male and female survivors, some are of special concern to men. These include:
- Fears about masculinity, male identity and sexuality.
- Intense shame at being a victim.
- Very low self-esteem and self-hatred.
- Fear of being perceived as a perpetrator of abuse, when the majority are not.
- Difficulties in forming and maintaining relationships.
- Anger issues, including extreme risk-taking behaviours.
- Male prostitution.
- How abused male patients are perceived and treated in drug; alcohol and mental health services
- Receiving diagnoses of psychosis and anti-social personality disorder.
- Meeting their needs in prisons, forensic services and special hospitals.
Many male survivors report that stereotyped prejudices still persist today.
Thus, traumatised men may be viewed as people who carry out "meaningless" violence or aggression, or as somehow weak – "less than a man".