Lately, the topic of male survivors of childhood sexual abuse have been seen more throughout the media. Oprah is reshowing her interviews with Tyler Perry as he addresses the sexual abuse that he endured as a child, and then replaying her two-part series displaying 200 male survivors. Senator Scott Brown recently released a book which describes being sexually abused by a camp counselor in his youth. Throughout research and media coverage it is becoming more widely accepted that boys are also at high risk of being victimized by sexual violence, but there are still obstacles that many survivors feel stand between them and disclosure and seeking treatment.
Research shows that there are some feelings that are more unique to male survivors than their female counterparts. While a sexual assault leaves both genders feeling as though power and control were taken away from them; male survivors live in a society that dictates that these are key components to what it means to be male. Therefore, they are left without a sense of power and control and possibly questioning their ‘fulfillment’ of the gender. Many male survivors who were assaulted by males are also left questioning their sexuality. And since research shows that many perpetrators were themselves victimized, many male survivors state that they are afraid to disclose abuse for fear that society will think that they might perpetrate against others.
Like female survivors, males who have been assaulted tend to look for validation of their abuse from fellow survivors. Male survivors can seek this validation through literature, such as Senator Brown’s new book, media outlets such as the abovementioned Oprah shows, or online forums such as www.malesurvivor.org, or face-to-face contact with other survivors. Research shows that such validation can come from male survivor groups; Kali Munro, M.Ed. states that “while individual therapy may be best suited to the initial stages of treatment, it is the group experience that is the most powerful tool for healing and change.”
RCASA is beginning such an experience for male survivors of sexual abuse by creating a male centered survivor support group. The groups will address key issues related to sexual assault and highlight those that are unique to male survivors. For more questions, or to register, please call 540-371-6771.