Thursday, November 17, 2011

Why Must We Do This? On How Male and Female Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse Might Differ. May Trigger.

An article discussing male survivors of childhood sexual abuse covers much useful material and many opinions. Its relevance is obvious in view of the Sandunsky case.

But read this section of the piece:
Different experience for boys 

Sexual abuse has a different impact on boys than on girls, and they deal with it differently because of socialization, experts say.
“Men aren’t supposed to be victims. Men are supposed to be strong,” said Jim Hopper, clinical instructor of psychology at Harvard Medical School. “A man says I’m not a real man, because I let someone do this to me. I should have been tougher. Even after years of therapy they say this.”
Girls who are abused by men are psychologically damaged, to be sure, experts say, but boys abused by men often come to question their sexual identity and orientation.
“If they were sexually abused by a man, there’s this whole stigma — does that mean I’m gay, or did he do it to me because I look gay?” says Hopper.
Another difference: Boys who are forced into sexual acts may have an erection — a physiological response which makes them all the more confused and ashamed of the encounter, Gartner says.

I am not an expert in this field, but is it not the case that female victims of rape or other sexual abuse can feel sexual arousal and even orgasm? I'm pretty sure that I have read about that and the way it can cause feelings of shame and confusion.

If that's the case, the last difference mentioned is not an actual difference.

What about the second-but-last difference? The article compares two different types of abuse. In one type, adult men abuse young girls. In the other type, adult men abuse young boys. That male victims of the latter type of abuse are more likely to question their sexual identity and orientation may not be because they are boys. It may be because their abuser was of the same sex.

To properly compare boys and girls here the abusers should all be of the same gender as the victims or all of a different gender than the victims.

Finally, the first difference mentioned in the article: How boys are not expected to be victims. When you turn that around you get to the conclusion that girls ARE expected to be victims. I understand what the expert means here and I agree that this is a problem in getting the survivors to come forward when they need help.

At the same time, that's the part where I asked myself why we must do this? Why can't all victims of sexual abuse be taken equally seriously? Why must an article tell us how it might be harder if you are not viewed as born weak and a potential victim anyway? There are better ways of framing the important information about the difficulties men may face when seeking help.