What I find interesting about this study, is not just the results, but also the cultural factors that make it so hard to even get there in the first place.
“The study, “Caring for Boys Affected by Sexual Violence,” is a four-country research in 2018 that involves the Philippines, Cambodia, India and Nepal. There were 79 respondents from the Philippines, originally 100 from five population groups but the researchers were not able to achieve this number because of the difficulty of getting male victims who are willing to speak.
“We believe that the issue of boys as victims of sexual abuse is an issue that we have neglected but whose time has come for us to embrace,” says Rosales. “Boys are as sexually abused and more physically abused and neglected than girls. Boys also experience incarceration more than girls. Yet our energies and neighborhood conversations about sexual abuse seem to focus only on our girls,” she adds”
The article is from the Philippines, and it reminded me that, as much progress as we have made in some areas, there are still far too many male child abuse survivors who simply won’t even talk about it because they live in a culture where boys don’t get abused, period. Sexual abuse is something that happens to girls, resources are dedicated to girls, and boys have nowhere to go even if they wanted to talk about it.
We may, in Western cultures, talk about the rates of male sexual abuse being lower than female sexual abuse, even as we do make some resources available for male survivors, but I think we tend to forget that when it comes to truly knowing how many victims are out there, male and female, we really don’t know. Are there more female survivors identified because there are more victims? Possibly. Have we just made it easier, and more acceptable,for only certain types of victims to publicly talk about their abuse and be counted? These kinds of studies would lead me to believe that is also possible.
Truthfully, we have victims of sexual abuse all over the place, across all of the various ways we want to define groups. Whether you look at gender, race, economic status, geography, etc. you’re going to find victims.
Our available resources should reflect that fact. Our understanding and how we talk about sexual abuse should reflect that as well.