When Boys Are Victims

To Schedule an Appointment, Contact:

John P. Harris, LCSW

Old Town Neighborhood, Chicago.

Males are victims of childhood sexual abuse in large numbers (1 in 6 boys is sexually abused by age 18). Yet, as a population they are significantly under-represented as therapy clients. There are unique effects when the victim is a male that contribute to this problem.

In the dominant culture, males are viewed as strong and unemotional and are encouraged to 'keep a stiff upper lip' - boys and men are simply not allowed to cry.

There also exists a powerful cultural perspective that holds that early sexual 'activity' of boys is a 'badge of honor' rather than what it actually is - sexual abuse.

It is widely believed that boys, especially during adolescence, do not experience sexual abuse as traumatic. That there may have been sexual pleasure only complicates and enhances the degree of trauma.

Boys, like girls, are molested much more frequently by men than they are by women. As an adult, whether the male is heterosexual, gay or bisexual, the victim very often experiences confusion regarding his own sexual orientation. This can largely be attributed to the physically pleasurable aspects of the abuse.

The defining aspect of childhood sexual abuse is the age differential of the perpetrator and the victim - not the gender of the participants.

It is known generally that most perpetrators of childhood sexual abuse were themselves abused as children. This does not mean, however, that most victims become offenders. The vast majority do not perpetuate the cycle of abuse. Those who do typically leave many victims in their wake.