Actually, I think it usually takes something like this, or the scandal in the Boy Scouts, etc, to remind people that oh yeah, sometimes it’s boys who are targeted en masse for sexual abuse. I suspect we don’t often think about it because, as it turns out, many men don’t feel like they can talk about having been abused.
That’s why it was a bit heartbreaking to read Phil Goldstein’s recent opinion piece:
As Phil points out, for a variety of reasons, male survivors tend not to talk about being an abuse victim, and the numbers back that up.
Research from Scott Easton, an associate professor in the mental health department at Boston College’s School of Social Work, found that it takes “between 17.2 and 21.4?years, on average, before survivors of CSA tell someone about their experiences, and the longer the delay before disclosure, the more serious the symptoms are” from the abuse later in life.
For men, that timeline is even longer. “Male survivors typically do not disclose their histories of sexual abuse and assault for 20 to 25 years,” Joan Cook, a professor of psychiatry at the Yale School of Medicine, and Amy Ellis, an assistant professor and director of the Trauma Resolution & Integration Program at Nova Southeastern University, have written. “They may deny, minimize, or fail to see the connection between sexual abuse and subsequent mental health difficulties. Sometimes they dissociate and do not fully register or remember what happened.”
Phil continues to talk more about some of the reasons for this, so please go read the whole piece, but the thing that I have seen so many times, including in my own experience, is that many times, male survivors have had it so ingrained in them that boys don’t get sexually assaulted, or raped, that they don’t even realize they were victims of sexual abuse until later in life. It usually takes hearing or reading some other male survivors telling their stories of abuse before they even put it together.
So, while this investigation, and others like it, are shocking and painful, this is important. Those survivors deserve to have their stories told, the truth revealed, and every other man out there who’s been abused in similar circumstances needs to see their story for what it is so that they can begin to heal.
So, survivors, keep telling your stories and keep elevating the voices of other survivors as they tell theirs. You never know who’s life will be changed by seeing it.